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Archive for May, 2013

Looking for Ways to Charge Up the Chase Sapphire Preferred

May 31st, 2013 at 05:20 pm

This morning I returned just one of the summer tops I bought at Macyís and since I was there, I purchased another $100 worth of capris and summer tops at Macyís and Coldwater Creek. Not my usual modus operandi, but I havenít clothes shopped in 3 years, and Iím determined not to look like a middle-aged woman with no fashion sense with all these 20-somethings Iíll be working with. I put it all on my new Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. I need to charge $3,000 by end of August to earn back $400 in gift cards.

After the mall, I hit Trader Joeís. It was super hot today, up to 91 degrees, so I brought a small cooler with ice paks to keep the food cold. Also put it on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Later in the day I went to pick up my new Honda Civic. Was able to pay $1,000 of it with the Chase card. (Thatís the most theyíd let me charge, in addition to the $1,000 deposit.) Iíll post a photo of her tomorrow! The salesman ran through all the controls in the car, but of course I quickly forgot most everything. I will be carefully reading the manual, to be sure. The car even has a camera mounted in the back bumper so when you put the car in reverse, you see an image of the ground behind you. I think itís meant to make sure you donít run over anyone; it will likely be a standard feature in all cars one day, I think.

I donít think my old kayak rack will work with the new car, especially since I got it with window visors to keep out the glare and rain. They disassembled it for me and I have it, but I guess I wonít be kayaking on my own anytime soon since Iíll have no way to transport the kayak unless I meet another kayaker. This kind of bums me out, becus I got so much enjoyment out of kayaking, but truth be told, Iíve been going less and less since I bought my kayak in 2007.

After picking up the car I headed to A.ís to show it off to her, and we had already planned to go out to dinner. We went to an old favorite of mine, an Italian place I havenít been to in years due to my frugalness by necessity. She wound up treating me to the dinner to celebrate the new car and the new job. I paid the tip. But I was able to charge the whole dinner on the Chase card as well.

Also tonight I charged my water bill on the Chase card. So Iíve had the card less than a week and have already managed to charge $1,260 on it. I had hoped to also charge my new car insurance, which would help hugely in reaching the target spend, but my agent told me it would be significantly more expensive if I treated it as a new policy, since I wanted to charge the full $770. Instead, itís just being treated as a modification of the existing policy, so Iíll get a bill for just $93 to pay. So anyway, I still need to charge $580 for each of the next 3 months. That seems doable when you consider groceries and gas and maybe some more clothes shopping for the job. The only other non-recurring charge I can think of is my $80 dump sticker, which comes up for renewal in June. I can also charge the phone/Internet on it too, each month, although at least one of those phone/Internet bills I want to charge on my Americard, since they have a deal, good thru June 30, where you get a $15 gift card if you charge just one phone/Internet/cable bill on it. Seems too easy to pass up.

I might consider getting two new faucets for the upstairs bathroom. The hot water handle on the one faucet locked up ages ago and canít be used, while the plug thingy in the sink on the other faucet is beginning to rust becus I made the mistake of leaving that sink filled with water for my old cat to drink from. If I ever sell the place, those things will need to be fixed, so why not pick out some faucets now at Home Depot and then have a plumber do. I could charge it. There are probably other small home improvements or items I could buy for the house if needed. Now that Iím making better money, I will allow myself to consider that.

Nothing much planned for the weekend, besides mowing. Itís very, very hot here but I have NOT opened any windows yet this year at all (!) because Waldo has had such terrible allergies each summer. He had a lot of trouble breathing and I disliked traumatizing him by taking him to the vet for a shot. His breathing is fairly good now. Iíve been checking the pollen count daily, waiting for a day I can open the windows, but the pollen count has largely been ďHighĒ or ďModerate.Ē When it becomes ďLow,Ē Iíll open the windows. I need to get through one more warm day tomorrow, up to 86 I think. Starting on Monday, temps will moderate to the 70s.

Potential Income Scenarios

May 29th, 2013 at 07:13 pm

Itís great to be earning real money again!!

For three-and-a-half long years you've heard me whine about how little money I have and how far I have to stretch it. I'm afraid you're in for a lot of posts about what I'm going to do with a lot more money soon!

So Iím playing with various scenarios for potential income at my new job. Itís based on an 8-hour day with a half hour for lunch and working either 3, 4 or 5 days a week. This week I worked just 2 days and next work Iíll be working 3 days.

3 days a week = $765 gross a week
$3315 gross a month
$2592 net monthly
$600 discretionary income

4 days a week = $1020 a week
$4420 gross a month
$3315 net monthly
$1315 discretionary income

5 days a week = $1275 a week
$5525 gross a month
$3990 net monthly
$1990 discretionary income

The discretionary income is money left over after paying my minimum monthly expenses of around $2,000. This money could be saved or spent, or some combination of the two. It does not include money earned from my freelance work which I hope to continue in some form.

By working full-time, you can see my discretionary income more than doubles, from $600 monthly to $1990 monthly. Seriously wonder if I can do that, though todayís commute was a more reasonable one hour both ways.

Oh, the possibilities.

Today was much like yesterday except that I got to edit a roughly 40-page document in the afternoon. She seemed to like my edits. Iím done for the week. Hooray! I suppose I may have to wait another week before getting paid for this week. But itís fun to note that in 2 days here I grossed more than I would have made after 5 days at that other proofreading job I had.

Day after tomorrow, I pick up my brand new car!!

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to catching up on mowing, getting a cashier's check from the bank for the car payment and doing some other housekeeping stuff here. May also swing my girlfriend's (my former job share person) to show off the car Friday.

Insurance agent gave me prices for the new car insurance based on a $500 deductible, as well as $1,000, $1500 and $2,000. I went with the $2,000 since I've never filed a claim and don't intend to start, and I want to bring that soon-to-be-recurring annual expense DOWN.

A stupid thing happened with one of my credit card payments. I sent payment in a while ago and they informed me the payment was rejected. I checked and realized I'd left off the first 3 digits of my bank checking account number. Luckily, I had made the payment very early on so there is no late payment fee, but if I want to use that account again, I now have to get the bank to indicate on their letterhead that this is the correct account number, etc. Kind of a pain, but i have to go there tomorrow anyway for the cashier's check so I can do this at the same time.

Still no sign of the return of $500 deposit from Ford dealer! I have to call Chase again tomorrow to find out what's going on with that. I'm still concerned.

Also tomorrow I HAVE to go to landfill which I missed doing last week.

First day of work: surprises

May 28th, 2013 at 06:15 pm

I survived the first day of work. It was tiring.

It took me an hour to get in there but an hour and 25 minutes to get home on account of very heavy traffic on the Interstate. To give you an idea of the congestion, it's only 33 miles. I took a different route this time which probably cut in half the amount of time I spend on the Interstate, but it probably would not be workable to take all back roads and avoid it entirely.

Just this morning, before leaving for work, I idly calculated my daily gross pay and I was surprised to see that the gross pay for a 3-day work week would be $3,536 a month, more than enough to get by and have some savings to spare. (Remember, no mortgage now.) The gross for a full 40 hour week would be $5,893.

I recalled that the hiring manager said at the interview she needed someone there 5 days a week, on site and that they really needed two new people, not just one. So I had the impression they were swamped with work.

So imagine my surprise, shortly after arriving there, when the hiring manager is showing me around and I wanted to clarify my work hours for this week and next, ie, that this first week Iíd only be working two days (so I can tie up some other loose ends) and then I would start in full-time the following week. Thatís what the plan was and what I discussed with the recruiter.

But the hiring manager said oh, no, we decided weíd have you work just 3 days a week to start and bring you on full time down the road. Didnít anyone tell you?? I said NO! No one did. Iím not sure exactly WHO was supposed to tell me but I imagine someone from their HR should have communicated that to the recruiter, who would have told me. But someone dropped the ball.

Imagine how upsetting that could be to someone who really needed full-time work. I had, after all, quit my p/t job already! In hindsight, I could have conceivably kept both jobs, although in truth it would seem to be very unworthwhile to hang onto the lower paying proofreading job I had.

And truth be told, after experiencing that awful commute one day, I am relieved that they want me to start at three days a week. It could actually be ideal for me, the happy middle between dealing with the long commute and still having some free time and sanity. I might never want to do any more than that! I wonder how long theyíd want me at 3 days a week?
I really feel so out of the loop on this when youíd think Iíd be first to know. At least give me a chance to discuss it with you.

Aside from that, it was a rather uneventful first day. I attended two brief meetings and came away understanding very little of what was discussed. The marketing group is very young. I think Iím the oldest one of the bunch. I did some simple proofing and spent most of the day reading stuff on their website, as directed by my manager. I hope I can find some people to connect with/relate to; as I said, the people there are very young.

They use Macs there and so that took some getting used to. I used one at the last f/t job I had, but that was back in 2009. They also use Google Docs which Iíve used before, but donít really understand well. So thereís a lot of new stuff to get used to.
One funny thing is that the same HR woman who worked with me when I first joined my last employer in 2008 also did the same here! In fact, about 10 people from that last f/t employer of mine migrated over to this company. I didnít know any of them well, but I did recognize some faces.

One More Day of Freedom

May 26th, 2013 at 03:32 pm

I got a lot done today:

1. Went to TJ Maxx to see if I could find some capris or other summer pants for the new job, but found nothing. I had so much better luck at Macy's last week.

2. Mowed the grass.

3. Made a lamb casserole, and since I had the big oven going, I threw in the last of my sweet potatoes and also made a double batch of granola, which tastes better toasted.

4. Got an early start this a.m. with Anita, who shared my job at the p/t proofreading job. We had breakfast and hit an outdoor flea market but that was a bust since it was pretty chilly out and there were hardly any vendors.

5. I vacuumed both floors.

6. I continued editing the Author's 3rd book, Tainted Glass.

Tomorrow is my last day of "freedom." I really need to use the trimmer on the fenced in garden, to keep it in check. But I ran out of string; hopefully, fitting the new replacement string in there is not a big deal.

I see that the zucchini, cucumber and squash seeds I planted never germinated. All this chilly weather may have dashed that from happening. So enough with the seeds, it's Memorial Day Weekend already. Tomorrow I'll pick up some seedlings and plop them in the ground.

I've told 2 of my freelance clients I'm starting the new f/t job. They both handled it well. My #1 client said well, we have a certain rhythm going, you know the business and you have the fastest turnaround, which is so important in this business. So they're fine with me doing their jobs just on weekends. The other client said he was excited for me and that he'd "take what I can get" as far as more limited editing availability.

I want to spend more time perusing my new employer's website to really absorb their "voice."

I'm all organized as far as the car goes, and was able to push back my pick-up day to Friday instead of Thursday. That gives me a little more time to get the new Chase Sapphire Preferred card in the mail. So of the 3 cards I ordered same day, the 1st I already hit the spend target (when I paid for the car deposit), I'm working on the 2nd card right now and will get that 3rd one, the biggie, sometime this coming week.

I have a half a bag of organic potatoes that sprouted and I'm going to plant a few of the spuds in the front yard and see if they take off. There's no more room in the fenced garden, but I'll just plant potatoes anywhere that's sunny and see if the deer/woodchucks overlook them.

Leveraging Bonus Reward Credit Cards with a Car Purchase

May 25th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Gee, what a difference a dealership makes...

I headed out this morning to the local Honda dealer. They werenít the lowest Internet price given to me via email among the half dozen dealerships Iíd contacted, and I WAS prepared to drive 45 minutes out of my way to one of two other dealerships that had more or less tied for lowest price.

But the spread in prices among the 6 dealers I'd contacted was really not as big as you might think for such a big purchase ($437), so I figured Iíd try the local dealer first. I was already armed with Kellyís Blue Book and Edmundís ideas of a ďfairĒ price, and so I only needed to get the dealer to agree to come down about $200.

He began by explaining that their ďInternet priceĒ was a non-negotiable, no-haggle price and the lowest they could go. After I ignored that statement and explained that I needed him to come down $200 more (to be in line with the KBB price), he agreed without any fuss. (Maybe I could have gotten more off, who knows.)

I got the window visors I wanted and $1,000 for my 14-year-old Honda so the total cost to me was $19,970 (including the window visors, sales tax, registration fees and my trade-in) for a 2013 HF sedan (auto transmission, cruise control, remote entry, radio/phone controls on the steering wheel, CD player, low tire pressure sensor) which gets 41 mpg highway (This is approaching hybrid mileage without the hybrid price tag.) The total price was exactly the price KBB indicated was a "fair" price.

Plus, I had applied for THREE new rewards credit cards last weekend, hoping Iíd have them in time to use for partial payment of the car. (Taking a tip from Monkey Mama, I think, I made sure to apply for all 3 at the same time to avoid being turned down because one credit card company interpreted the other recent card acquisitions as evidence I'm desperate for money or something.)

I got one of the new cards yesterday, an Amex Blue Cash Every Day card, and that was really the only reason I went out car shopping today instead of next week. By using it for the deposit, I was able to earn an immediate $100 cash back from Amex in that single transaction, and if I get one of the other two cards in the mail by next Thursday, I can earn at least another $100 back by charging another $1,000. (The max they would let you charge is $2,000.) The dealer said Iíd have to pay for the rest of the car with a cashierís check, but thatís ok.

The other 2 cards Iím waiting for are the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card (get $100 back after spending $500 in 3 months) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (get $400 back after spending $3,000 in 3 months). Now I never thought I could spend $3,000 in 3 months with the Chase card, but if I charged the $1,000 for the car next week, Iíd only have $2,000 more to spend in 3 months, and there was a time once before, I believe, where I was able to hit a $2,000 spending target in 3 months while being unemployed. Now that Iíll be working, starting next week, I should be able to spend more money on things like gas, definitely. Weíll make it work. I can always buy a ton of food. Hey, and I forgot! I can charge my new car insurance on the card!

The question is, will I get the card in time to use it Thursday? I applied for it online last Sunday and instead of an immediate approval like I always get with new cards, I got an email saying it would take some time and they'd let me know in 30 days by mail if I was approved. Maybe they had a problem with my self-employment income? Not sure.

But then when I was looking at my other Chase accounts online, I noticed the Chase Sapphire Preferred was listed there with a $12,000 limit! But I still don't have the card. Rep said it takes 5 to 10 business days and by Wednesday afternoon, and given the holiday, only 7 business days will have passed. I suppose I could delay the car pick-up one more day, til Friday, but if I didn't get the card in the mail Thursday afternoon, I'll just have to pay using the other credit card I was approved for, assuming I also get that one in the mail by then. If I wind up not using the Sapphire Preferred card for the partial car payment, I would probably just cancel it becus that's a pretty tough spend target without the car payment and there's a $95 fee after the first year. So might as well not hang onto it.

I could have taken the new car home today, but Iím delaying it til next week on account of those credit cards rewards, plus I want to see how much I can get the insurance quotes I got down by raising the deductible from $500. And I also have to wait to get a cashierís check too.

I start the new job Tuesday, and had already arranged to work only Tuesday and Wednesday of the first week so I could wrap up loose ends. So Iíll have Thursday and Friday off next week and can pick up the car and take care of that. They said theyíd remove the kayak rack off the old car. At first, I was going to have them install it on the new car, but he wasnít sure it would fit and then I started thinking Iíd probably not want to scratch up the new car with a kayak or even just installing the rack, so for now, Iíll take it home with me and keep it off. But then that means I canít ever go kayaking unless I go with someone else who has a truck or rack themselves.

Hmm.

Iím pretty well satisfied with the car purchase and was amazed how different this experience was from the Ford dealer. The sales rep was super laid back and very easy to deal with, not pushy/aggressive in the least.

Health insurance hoop-jumping with a pre-existing condition

May 24th, 2013 at 08:37 am

Since my Cobra ends 6/30/13, Iíd been focusing on what my options were. Iíd assumed Iíd have to go on Charter Oak, the state high risk pool plan at $589/month. But then I got this new contract job where I start work Tuesday, and like most recruiter employment agencies, they offer health coverage to their contract employees. I went to check it out and saw they offered 5 options for health plans but all but two of them required you to be a New York resident. Of the two, one was a high deductible plan which didnít suit my needs and the other, well, I spent quite some time yesterday filling out their application, reviewing the plan benefits and talking to a rep. I had a lot of questions as this plan is offered through a union which you have to join to enroll in the health plan and there was a ton of forms. But I thought the monthly premiums were pretty decent, at ďjustĒ $500 (compared to the $562 Iím paying now thru Cobra), plus you had to pay one-time union dues of $95.

Then, I learned very late in the game that they donít provide prescription drug coverage for the drug Iím on for the MS! Iíd have to pay out of pocket to the tune of $4,000 a month for this very expensive drug. (It used to cost about $1,000 a month when it first came out, but the drug-maker will lose its patent soon and is trying to recoup its R&D costs now, especially since 3 or 4 other drug-makers have released, or are about to release, an oral form of this medication, which will obviously be much more popular with patients than needles).

But of course thereís no way I could pay $4,000 a month for Copaxone, so after spending all this time preparing to apply for the union plan, I had to back out and return to Option B, which was the state Charter Oak plan.

That application will go out in todayís mail and the rep told me I should be able to be effective on it July 1.

Now yesterday when I spoke to a rep at my current Cobra plan, he suggested delaying my payment for the last and final month Iíll be on the Cobra (June) until late June. If I could avoid seeing a doctor or otherwise incurring any healthcare expenses, then he advised I simply donít make any payment for June at all. Although I usually would mail payment a week before the first of each month, they have a 30-day grace period for receipt of payment, so as long as the payment was postmarked by the last day of June, they would accept it and retroactively cover me for month of June.

If I didnít incur any healthcare expenses for June, then I could just skip payment for June entirely and be accepted onto the new state plan effective July 1. Under HIPPA rules, as long as thereís no interruption in healthcare coverage for more than 63 days, they canít deny you coverage for a pre-existing condition like MS. So my 30-day lapse in coverage wouldnít affect my coverage moving forward AND I would have avoided paying for the last month of my COBRA in June, and as it happens they increased the fees from the $562/month Iím paying now to $770/month, incredibly.

Iíve been stockpiling my expensive Copaxone meds for years just to ensure I have the meds I need in exactly this kind of in-between jobs scenario. While it looks like renewing my meds down the road wouldnít be a problem based on what I just said above, I was always nervous about this becus this drug is incredibly expensive. But by ordering my meds a little earlier than really needed, Iíve been able to accumulate a 7.5 month supply of Copaxone. (The expiration dates are long out, so no problem there.)
In fact, I was able to reorder the drug yesterday and already have it delivered. Now usually this particular mail order pharmacy would only give me a 30-day supply at a time, even though my neurologist writes me a prescription good for a year at a time. So I was surprised when I got the shipment that they included 3 months in it instead of 1. They must have changed their policies. Many other pharmacies DO ship 3 months a time. So that really helped me with my stockpile.

At least thatís one thing I donít have to worry about til probably October, which is when open enrollment begins for 2014 and the new healthcare exchanges made possible by Obamacare. At that time, unless Iíve gotten a salaried job that provides benefits like health insurance, I foresee myself shopping around once again for health insurance. It would be nice to get something cheaper than $589 a month under Charter Oak, but who really knows. I also noticed that the Charter Oak plan does not include my neurologist as an in-network provider, so while I have plenty of medication supply left to see me through 2013, if I had an unexpected MS problem/relapse, Iíd have to find a new neurologist.

Luckily, since Iíve been going to a bunch of physician lecture/dinners sponsored by the drug company that makes Copaxone, thereís a doctor I like and have become familiar with who is on the Charter Oak network. Heís maybe 30 minutes away, further than Iíd like in the middle of a MS relapse, but it would work.

I canít believe Iíve had to devote so much time to figuring out this whole health insurance mess. Mainly because Iím 1. Lacking in employer sponsored health coverage and 2. I have a pre-existing condition that requires expensive drugs.

Health insurance coverage, and how I saved $767 today

May 23rd, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Ugh. Itís incredible to me that I had to spend 6 hours of my day today on health insurance coverage. As you know, Iím in transition, job-wise. However, I was told of a way that will likely save me $767 in premium coverage.

Hereís the deal. Iíve been on Cobra, like, forever. Iím paying $562 a month but itís that time of year for re-enrollment or whatever, and monthly premiums are rising to $767!!! However, my eligibility for Cobra ends June 30 regardless, and Iíve known all along Iíd have to find something else. I THOUGHT Iíve have to go on the plan of last resort, the state plan for low-income people, which goes for $589/month, and then stay on that through the end of the year. After that, I hoped to pick up a better plan vis a vis Obamacare.

However, with the new job, I can get health insurance through the recruiter agency, but it wouldnít be effective until July 1, and the paperwork has to be in to them by June 10. The new plan will represent something of a cost savings to me at $495 a month. Itís through a union, though, so I have to join the union and then pay a one-time $95 fee for union dues.
Since Iím not effective on the new plan until July 1, I still need coverage for the month of June. When talking to the customer service rep for my current Cobra plan and after explaining my situation (that I have only 1 more month to stay on Cobra), he reminded me that thereís a 30-day grace period for the premium payments.

That is, while I normally would send in my payment for June coverage in late May (like right about now), he said if I felt I could avoid seeing a doctor or incurring other healthcare expenses in June, that I could possibly save myself the $767 for the last month of coverage that I need with Cobra.

With the 30-day grace period, I can delay payment for the month of June to as late as June 31 and still be covered, retroactively, if I needed it. As long as my premium payment is postmarked in June, Iím covered.
I went ahead and ordered another 30-day supply of my MS meds today so running out wonít be an issue. I had a doc apt I just rescheduled in late June, but I can reschedule it for July when Iím on the new plan. So I should be able to get through June with no medical issues.

I'm so glad I talked to this guy because I would have never thought of that on my own.

What's going on..

May 22nd, 2013 at 06:21 pm

So, last I checked, the $500 deposit at Colonial Ford has NOT been returned. Credit card company said it could take 3 to 5 days, which would bring me to Friday, so Iím just trying to sit tight and be patient. I donít see why they would say they would refund it and then not do so because it would just make the customer (me) more irate. It would be playing games when there was no benefit to them to do so, unless they actually thought they could keep the $500.

AnyhooÖÖIím collecting prices from a half dozen area Honda dealers. The prices are all in the same ballpark with not much more than a $400 difference between them. However, Iíve come to the conclusion that all this effort on my end is pretty much a wasted exercise since when I finally go in to test a 2013 Civic, when the dealer learns that I will NOT be financing the car, they will likely try to make up the lost profit from financing by low-balling me on the trade-in value.

I could go in to test drive the new Civic anytime this week, but I applied for THREE bonus/rewards credit cards last Sunday after someone commenting on my blog reminded me I could pay for the car that way and easily stack up some nice rewards. However, while I know I could use a card for the deposit, they may not let you pay for the whole thing with a credit card. The purchase agreement I had for the Colonial Ford car said in big letters that you had to pay with cash or a cashierís check.

So of the 3 credit cards I applied for, I was immediately approved for 2; the other indicated the approval would take longer and theyíd respond back via mail. Not sure what the problem was there; perhaps my self-employed status? I didnít like the idea of disclosing my new employerís name and phone numberÖtoo invasive, so I just said I was self-employed, which I am. I applied for all 3 cards on the same day so that credit checks done for 1 or 2 wouldnít affect the 3rd. I donít know if Iíll be able to use them for the car, but Iíll have them next week, so thatís why I was thinking of delaying the next step in the process until then.

I noticed that Executive Honda, the dealer with the lowest price, has 40 reviews listed on Yelp, and every single one of those 40 reviews gives them 5 stars. Now I'm sorry, I don't believe these were made by legitimate customers; I'm quite sure the dealership has employees make up comments like this. Many of them list the sales rep by name and use words like "magnificent" and "fantastic" to describe their experience. Yeah, like, umm, I don't think so.

This morning I had an appointment to have a test done to see if I have asthma. You have to keep breathing in this substance which basically narrows your air passages so if you did have asthma, youíd have trouble breathing. The machine has to register at least a 20 to indicate you have asthma. I only registered a 9. So I donít have asthma.

My dad decided on impulse to come up for a visit from Jersey. 3 hour drive. He took a wrong turn after going over the Bear Mountain Bridge and ended up getting lost for a while, but he got here around 2 pm. He showed up in his new Kia Soul, which is cute, and he let me drive it as we went to my sisterís to drop off some plants for her (he brought me a dozen tomato seedlings heíd grown from seed) and then we went to the diner for lunch. We hung out at my house afterwards for a bit, but then he left around 4 pm to drive all the way back there!! I keep saying stay the night, and I donít know how you do it, but he doesnít seem to think itís a biggie. Iím sure he hit rush hour traffic on the way home, too.

After he left, I drove up to my neighborís behind me to return some milk and tea bags Stephen left behind at my place when he come over the other day for a long visit. Ended up gabbing with his wife for an hour or so. They are like the best neighbors youíd ever want to have. Their house is listed and they had a realtorís open house a few days ago (the reason for Stephenís visitÖ.he had to vacate the house).

After that, I went back home and mowed the lawn (still not done). Also planted half the cherry tomatoes.

I offered some of them to my friend The Author in return for a bunch of carpet remnants she offered me. Sheís been working at a carpeting/tile store and theyíre getting rid of tons of discontinued remnants which she said make great bath mats. Any other uses you can see for these things? I want to get some but not sure what Iíd use them for.

I picked off 2 adults tickets off me as I was planting my tomato seedlings. Not sure where the heck they came from.

Today was the perfect kind of day and a great example of why I love my unstructured time so much, which is only possible when you donít work full-time. I didnít have any of the things I did today on my ďagenda,Ē but all in all, it was an enjoyable and pleasant day.
So this one Honda dealer has offered me the lowest price of all on the Civic HF. Itís actually the dealer invoice price, and all theyíre adding to the ďout the doorĒ price is sales tax, registration fees and $400 conveyance fee. The only place where I see them making any money is the conveyance fee. Consumer Report lists this as one of their ďunavoidableĒ fees but said you should question the charge if itís higher than $300.

The other fee is registration fees - varies between $118 and $188 depending on if you are transferring plates or registering new. But according to Consumer Reports, the conveyance fee is for processing documents that establish your title and registration. So why would they charge for that twice? Hmm.

Oh, yeah. So after I met my friend the recruiter at Starbucks this past Monday night to sign all the paperwork for the new job, I gave my notice to my p/t proofreading $12/hr job. I explained that my new employer wanted me to start right away (day after Memorial Day next week) and that since work was so slow, I'd like to not have to give notice since I'm car shopping.

I learned through A., who shares my job and cubicle there with me, that my immediate manager L. was taking it personally and didn't like that I hadn't come in to tell them I was leaving. I suppose I could have but in truth i had a feeling L. would react badly to it, like a personal affront

I knew everyone would be asking for all the details about where I was going. There are some people there I was pretty friendly with. It would be awkward to put those people off with vague answers about where I was going, but if i told 1 or 2 people, it would be like telling them all. And call me paranoid but I wouldn't feel comfortable letting L. know where I was going in case she wanted to badmouth me.

So while J., L.'s manager, wrote me a brief, one-line email saying good luck with the new job, I never did hear a word back from L.

My neighbor Stephen said don't worry about it. You have to worry about yourself, not them. I felt all along this employer was taking advantage of me due to the low rate of pay, and while I allowed that to happen, becus i needed the money, I guess i never felt i owed them much respect, becus in that regard, I felt they disrespected me. Employers will boot you out the same day they lay you off, but somehow they still expect 2 weeks notice if you're leaving them.

I think L. considers herself a likable boss, but in truth I really resented the way she treated me when I gently declined to make any more sales calls. If they want someone to make sales calls, then hire someone to do it; don't make me do every single grunt job wherever there's a labor shortage....no commission offered to boot.

She was positively badgering me to do it and for some ungodly reason she had to bring the whole thing up and rehash it all the following week after I thought we'd put it behind us. She seemed to find it remarkable that an employee would "just say no" to work they requested you do. While I would be careful when I said no in a full-time position that I actually cared about and paid decently, this job was so low-paying that I felt there wasn't much risk of being fired, and really not much to lose. They know that my counterpart and I are way overqualified and doing a much better job than they've experienced in the past when they filled these positions with summer interns.