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Home maintenance and pushing for a raise

September 28th, 2018 at 05:17 am

It being fall, there are certain home maintenance things I do each year:

* Schedule a furnace cleaning
* Schedule a chimney cleaning
* Clean out the gutter over the family room

And this year,
* Get prices for resealing my driveway

There was one chimney sweep I called and couldn't reach until the other day. I was surprised when he told me that I really don't need to clean a furnace flue, which is all that I have. I don't have a fireplace. He said I'm basically wasting my money because furnaces burn much cleaner than, say, a wood-burning stove.

I won't say I had the chimney cleaned every year, but I wouldn't let it go more than a year or so...just for peace of mind. I also had a stainless steel insert put in years back.

In 23 years of home ownership, no other chimney sweep has ever told me it's unnecessary. Not doing this will save me about $70 to $125 each year. I may call my local fire department, just to see what they say.

Mindful meditation classes are going okay; I spend just as much time meditating as "homework" as I do in class. The time commitment has grown with each class: now I'm supposed to do a 45-minute body scan, 10 minutes of breathing meditation as well as another "mindful" activity of my choice, which is washing dishes.

I can't say I notice much difference in anything, including my sleep. I sometimes drift in and out of consciousness while doing the body scan, since I'm lying on my back. And I just don't do as well with the other "unguided" practices I mentioned. But I will soldier on.

As it turns out, I easily met the spend requirements of both of the 2 new credit cards I got, even without the spending on my biggest bill of the year, my combined home and auto insurance ($1300). I've already redeemed one $150 bonus as a statement credit and the second one will become available to me at the next statement.

Now that it's dry, I could more closely inspect the 1st coat paint job on my family room floor. It looks pretty good, although you can still clearly see some significant scratches probably caused by moving furniture.

I expect to be doing the 2nd and final coat of paint tomorrow; it's raining today.

I'm having a little trouble, for the first time, finding an electricity provider. My one year with Ambit Energy expires next month, so I went online to my state's website where you can compare all offers. I applied to two 4-mth fixed deals (the best I could find) one from Public Power and the other from SunWave, but was turned down for both because I didn't meet the "load factor criteria." I'm not sure if I use too little electricity to make it worth their while, or if my electricity usage is too variable (becus I have central air). Anyway, my latest application is pending with SunWave. With each successive rejection, the remaining available offers are becoming more and more expensive, but not much I can do.

I have been (gently) pushing my manager at work to put me on the company payroll. Right now, as a contract employee, I'm on the agency's payroll. And I'm pretty certain I would fare better as far as raises go, not to mention eligibility to contribute to a 401k, with the company itself.

He seemed receptive to doing so, but he said a few weeks ago he was having trouble getting the contact at the agency to call him back. He seems like a straight shooter, so I have no reason to doubt that's the case, but at the same time, moving on this does not seem like a high priority for him.

So, rather than languish around waiting for him, I decided to call the agency myself and ask for a raise of some sort since I've been there a year now. At the same time, I would wait around to see if my manager does anything. If he doesn't, at least I got some sort of pay increase.

I don't know how pay rate increases work when you're working for an agency, but I'm guessing it will be minimal; I would hope for at least 3% since that's what inflation is running at these days (2.7%, to be exact). By getting no raise, I'm actually falling behind, and I can see that with prices for everything rising.

I'm just a number to the agency, and since my liaison there, a personal friend of mine, left the agency 6 months ago, I haven't heard a peep from them, not even to let me know who my new contact is. Really poor communications, but maybe their attitude is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. My job began as something for a month or two and then my manager would basically reassess how he liked my work, and so I've just continued on for a year now.

So I spoke to someone at the agency who seemed receptive to a raise, but he doesn't manage my account and the person who does is out of the country til next week. She's supposed to call me next week.

I don't know if, as part of the process of reviewing a rate increase, the agency will contact my manager at the company, at which point it might be a little embarrassing for me since last thing he told me a few weeks ago was that he was having trouble contacting someone at the agency, but had agreed he'd look into whether there would be any penalties/payoff the company would have to pay to take me on as a perm employee.

Embarrassing only becus I haven't shared with my manager that I called the agency to ask for a raise, but I was beginning to feel impatient with nothing happening with my situation after talking about it, off and on, for a few months now. I know another contract worker with the same agency also desires to get on the company payroll, too.

What's also a little problematic is that getting a raise from either the company directly or the agency will make it more likely that toward year's end, I may have to tell the company I can't work for rest of year if my gross income exceeds the income cap for subsidy eligibility for the ACA health insurance I have. This would not make my manager happy as their busiest time is end of the year, although the person I share my job with could probably pick up any slack.

I told my manager this could happen, and that this was one reason why I wanted to get on the company payroll, becus by then making traditional 401k contributions as a regular employee, I could lower my reportable income enough to avoid this whole scenario. Meaning, I wouldn't be in danger of having my reportable income exceed $45k a year. (I'm working p/t.)

So far, I have NOT turned on the furnace yet; nights have been cool, but not cold. I just threw an extra blanket on the bed.

3 Responses to “Home maintenance and pushing for a raise”

  1. Dido Says:

    1. I've long heard that about the furnace chimney and have never had mine cleaned, and no problems in 14 years.

    2. Have you maxed out on your Traditional IRA contribution? This too will reduce your taxable income for MAGI purposes and the subsidy -- see https://www.healthcare.gov/reporting-deductions/

    3. I worked for an agency in the tax department of a major manufacturing corporation for 21 months at $13.50/hour the entire time. No raise or mention of one. Agencies suck in that regard. On the other hand, they did give me a full week's worth of pay bonus (or the option of a one week vacation) at the one-year mark. Also, that job gave me the hours and the experience to finish the requirements for the CPA, so no regrets!

  2. rob62521 Says:

    Wow, I hope you can get hired and away from the agency.

    Hope you can get that second coat on the floor.

    It's gotten a bit cool here the last couple of days, but no furnace is on. It's supposed to warm up this week. But I will admit a mug of hot chocolate was welcome after being out and about in the wind today.

  3. frugaltexan75 Says:

    No furnace here yet - though I have added the quilt to the bed and gotten out my robe and sweat pants. Smile

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