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Home > The colors of November, the job, financial stuff

The colors of November, the job, financial stuff

November 2nd, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I remember the Novembers of my youth as being gray, chilly days. Not so the fall of 2013!

When many other plants are spent, the scraggly beauty berry is at its best...

Too bad the berries don't dry well; they basically shrivel up. But they're still pretty to look at.

I can't get enough of the Japanese maple. This small one is a volunteer that just started growing, and I let it be.

Not to be confused with the much larger red maple here:

I am pooped, but I am done with this weekend's writing assignment about a small luxury custom home development in lower Westchester County priced at $1.4 mm each. It took me about 4 hours to write and I'll gross $300 for it. Right after that I mowed the back lawn; tomorrow I'll do the front.

I've had freelance real estate writing assignments every weekend since I started my new f/t job, and I feel like I could use a break. There doesn't seem to be much time left over for...well, me.

But I can't complain. Don't want to say "no" and risk shutting off the spigot since this f/t job will (probably) eventually end and then I'll really value the two freelance clients giving me all this work.

The new job is going ok. The commute isn't too bad (35 minutes) and the money is decent (especially since I don't have a mortgage to pay). I think my boss is pretty happy with me, but there are big changes coming down the pike which could lead to layoffs. I suspect the perm employees have more to worry about since contractors like me are already saving them money. Still, I'm a little uneasy about it all and it just further incenticizes me to save as much money as possible, while I can.

I had been told by other contractors that this company routinely furloughs contractors for a week or more around Tgiving and Xmas, to further save money. I asked my boss about it and she said that since I'm the only writer Smile she'd like me to make myself available for at least part of those holiday weeks, which was exactly what I was hoping for, since if I don't work, I don't get paid, and I'd rather not lose two weeks of pay if I don't really have to. So I proposed I take off the 2 holidays plus 2 days, but will come in for 3-day work weeks those 2 weeks. Oh, and I guess the office will be closed New Year's as well.

I am beginning to learn the lay of the land there. Meaning, there are way too many people who have input into writing various letters that go out to customers, and it seems nigh impossible to get agreement on the language. I understand that decision-making by consensus can be desirable at times, but I think there needs to be someone in charge who can make a final call to expedite the process.

I have someone I walk with daily at lunch, but her assignment will likely be ending by year's end. I am also friendly with the 2 women who sit near me but otherwise haven't really had occasion to get to know others too much. It's been over 3 weeks, I guess, and I did finally get my first full-time paycheck for a 40-hour week, which netted out to $999 for 1 week.

So I was able to make my first $1,000 deposit to replenish my emergency savings account, an online money market earning .90%. It's where I put money that I want to remain more or less liquid (ie, not invested in the stock market) and I often transfer funds into it from my checking account, which earns no interest. I funnel $500 into this account every month so I'm sure I'll have enough to pay my twice a year property tax bill. Right now I think I've got about $6,000 in there and I'd love to see it get to $20,000, but I won't get there in 10 months (the term of my contract job) unless I step up my monthly contributions.

I am feeling hopeful that the company will see fit to renew my contract when my term is up next July since my walking buddy said they often renew contract job terms for 3, 6 or 9 months, sometimes more than once. She herself has been there nearly 2 years. Even better, of course, would be a perm offer. Trying not to think about it too much since there's still plenty of time and also, I was greatly disappointed when I was in the same scenario working for Prudential and it didn't pan out.

This weekend I want to take advantage of some great gift card offers including Staples where you can buy $75 worth of gift cards to Home Depot or other stores and then get a $25 credit when you purchase with your Amex card. Similar deal with Amex when you go to Lowes.

On the credit card front, I thought I had pretty much exhausted all the lucrative credit card bonus deals of at least $100 (the business cards that require $3,000 spend are too much for me), but by going directly to the credit card websites instead of just googling credit cards or going to some place like creditcards.com, I found more deals that weren't listed elsewhere.

For instance, Bank of America has at least three more deals where you can get $100 cash back by charging just $500 on the card within the 1st 3 months of having it. They have one card that benefits the World Wildlife Fund, another for Susan Komen breast cancer fundraising and another for major league baseball teams, all three with the same spend/reward deal. So I got the WWF one.

When it comes to saving money or making money on the side, I like to go for the lowest hanging fruit first, so for me, earning this kind of credit card reward is some of the easiest money I've ever earned. It beats running around town to save a couple of dollars here or there at different sales, and it isn't the mind-numbing tedium of many online survey sites. It also requires very little of my time.

Despite 4 years of under-employment and a big fat 0 in retirement contributions, my net worth (see profile) is at an all-time high, thanks to the stock market. I am a little nervous about what will happen to my bond funds when the Fed raises rates, as I really don't know where else to put my bond money. I also have a big chunk of money sitting in a Vanguard money market earning a pathetic .03% and while I did move $8,000 of it to a 5-year CD earning 2%, I also don't want to tie up that money for so long as I don't believe rates will remain this low for 5 years, and then I won't be able to touch that money without penalty. If anyone has any suggestions, love to hear them....

5 Responses to “The colors of November, the job, financial stuff”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Look at this article on MyMoneyBlog about Ally Banks five year CD and changing penalties. You might compare the penalty to what you have now. Seems like a fair penalty IF you need to pull the money out. The article also mentions depositaccounts.com, so I would look at that for other rates and offers that might be available locally for you.

  2. Looking Forward Says:

    Not an expert by any means, but here are my thoughts.

    Suze Orman is always recommending dividend paying stocks or MFs. Obviously you'll have to research to find a low(er) risk investment.

    If that doesn't feel right/work for you - I might closely watch when the interest rate is going to rise and move you bond money into laddered CDs. I would think you might have to pull out of the bonds and "hold" the money for a few months until CD rates climbed a bit?

  3. PatientSaver Says:


    Roughly 55% of my assets are in stock mutual funds already; i don't want to take on more risk by turning bond money into stock money. I want to keep it diversified.

    I was thinking of laddering CDs, but not sure i want to tie up so much money for 5 years, plus it's a lot of bookkeeping. And I'm only getting 2% on a 5-year CD.

    No easy answer....I may just do one more $8,000 CD. With my timing, I'll probably lock into 2% for 5 years just when interest rates start to rise.

  4. rob62521 Says:

    Lovely photos!

  5. Suzanne Says:

    Have you done the Capitol One card that pays a $100 reward when you spend $500 in 3 months? My husband had to book a flight that was $470 (ouch), so we opened the card, and nearly had the 500 just for that one thing. We've already got the $100 credit after only a few days.

    Just go to their website.


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