Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wondering Why I'm Being Presented With This

Now, really, I am not sure I am someone who thinks that everything little thing happens for some specific reason planned out by a higher power. I do think that some or many things are just random. Like Forest Gump said about destiny and floating around accidental-like on a breeze both working together. But I just think this latest thing is weird and not accidental-like.

Back in February when I got laid off, I spent about 2-3 days applying to jobs before I found the current contract job. I think my total submittals were maybe 20 or so. Anyway, this was more than two months ago. Yesterday, I get a an email and several phone calls about one of the resumes I submitted -- apparently this company is very interested in my background. Two and a half months later. Which is a damn long time to hold onto a resume for a position months ago. The company is in a healthy industry, quite literally. It's also an industry where I have 4 years of job experience working on technologies I just used in my last job. It's a step up in title, has great benefits (um, yoga classes? in-house gym?), etc, etc, etc.

I am tentatively pursuing it - I have a phone interview this afternoon that appears to be technical. I, again, feel like a horrible traitor. But I just feel like this is not a floating on the breeze deal. We have no benefits anymore, aside from COBRA which is only really affordable for the next 9 months. No more 401k, no more employer-paid life insurance (which means no life insurance), not paying into the unemployment insurance system. Nada. The Husband's job prospects are "eh". There isn't much out there for him. It's almost like Someone or Something looked at our situation and figured it was easier/doable to fix my job situation than try to fabricate a construction job in this acerbic economy. Maybe I'm just reading into this crap too much, but the timing of it is just.... weird.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Munchies

I swear, this year is really jerking my chain. So my car has been taking longer and longer to start, generally once it's been parked for more then 4-6 hours. I figured it was the battery and was thinking I'd get to it when I changed my oil the next time. Well, the length of time to start the engine was long enough yesterday to prompt me to open the hood of my car and have a look around. We pulled the oil stick out to check if that was fine. It was. But as we replaced the oil stick I noticed that insulation around some wires was missing and one wire was completely severed.


That's right, folks. The vermin have struck again. Little bastards have done around $200 of damage. Not sure if the chewed wires have anything to do with my battery not holding a charge well anymore. If it is related, then the mice (or rats, or squirrel, etc) have done $300 of damage. That's like a third of the saltillo tile I need for my floor.

If you have any extra cayenne pepper, send it my way. I'll be using it to "season" my engine (apparently rodents hate the stuff).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tying Loose Ends

I don't have pics for you guys - I'm such a slacker! I will get to it, though. I have been trying to keep busy with the projects around the house that don't require new/large expenditures. I redeemed most of our American Express points for two Home Depot gift cards, so now we have $200 to spend there. I used $10 of that to buy some glass/tile drill bits so I could install the organizer rails I bought from IKEA several months back (finally). It was pretty easy - I was a little afraid to crack the tile but it worked out. If you ever have to drill through tile, make sure to buy the drill bits for that specific purpose. I don't believe a masonry bit would have worked as well (perhaps they would work best on natural stone tile like slate). The glass/tile bits look like little arrows you'd shoot from a miniature bow. There isn't much left to do in the kitchen that doesn't involve the floor. All the molding is done, painting is done, backsplash is done. I've even hung blinds on the windows (purchased before the Husband got laid off). The very last thing to tackle would be the final top coat of stucco outside, below the new windows. Nothing like a lack of funds to force you to tie all the inexpensive loose ends in a project.

I am also 80% done with he LAST TWO holes that remained from the slab leak plumbing overhaul. I suppose that is a triumph - we managed to patch all the holes in less than a year. These two holes are way the hell up the wall. Like, 12-14 feet up. We have cathedral/volume ceilings in the living/dining room, and the new plumbing route (by-passing the old in-the-slab plumbing route) to get to the upstairs bathroom runs up the wall by the entry way. The first time I climbed the ladder - holy shit. And I'm not afraid of heights. The Husband is, so I wasn't going to as him to do it. Plus, I've gotten kinda good at this drywall mud floating business. Should I ever need another side job, perhaps I can do drywall! Tonight I'll spray the orange peel texture and then they are done.

So the Husband has applied to 20+ jobs. Not a single response. It is truly ugly out there in the construction industry. He is looking at things outside construction but given the economy, I think it will still be tough to switch industries since it's an employers-market. They have the pick of the litter, so why go with someone with less industry experience. The good news, for now, is that given the stimulus plan (thank God for the stimulus plan) health insurance through COBRA will cost us $313 per month. Without the 65% subsidy, it would have cost nearly $900 per month. That is a prohibitive cost and quite frankly, ridiculous, for a service we hardly use. That is more than a mortgage payment for a lot of Americans. But given the fact that getting coverage outside of a group is nearly impossible (been there and been rejected twice), what other choices are there? If I'm going to pay taxes and I get some say over what it's used for, I'd like it to be used for programs that allow regular people to buy into group health insurance (without being rejected for a hangnail) at reasonable rates like the $313 we will pay until the end of year - which hopefully one of use will have health insurance via employer by then. I don't think that is asking for a lot and I don't think that is nationalized/socialized health care. That is what is fair.

I found out one of my former coworkers has a 100% laid-off household. I was shocked - this country is truly in a mess. She has been out since early February when we got laid off together, and I guess her husband lost his job in the last 2 or 3 weeks. I feel awful for them, because the stress of having both earners out of commission has got to be tough. I am thankful that at least I have a well-paying job.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So I got paid...

...though the check didn't get into my hands until 4:30pm on Friday. It looks like I may get to retire my laptop back to personal use soon, since now that they finally have money, they can afford to buy one for me. This'll be better for the Husband so he can use our laptop for his job search rather than be relegated to the Mac in the office.

The market certainly is different for his industry. No industry is going well right now, but there are certainly varying degrees of shittiness. I'd say construction is probably up there in the with financial in the shit-tastic scale. There certainly are jobs posted, but I would imagine those jobs are getting bombarded with resumes and Lord help the people who have to sort through them. Hopefully his resume will grab someone's attention - I tried to help him snazzify it as much as possible.

The thing that is irking me about this whole business (well, other than the fact that our income has been reduced by 40%+) is the floor. We have a good stash of cash and it wouldn't be the hugest risk to take 1.5K and buy the material, but my sensible, penny-pinching side is telling me not to do it. But it's depressing to think I could be living on a concrete slab for an unforseen stretch of time. I have been thinking that perhaps if I go with Saltillo, which is cheap (like $1.20 square foot - plus probably like .30-50 cents to seal - the other stuff we were going to buy is like $3.75 or something, I can't remember) that maybe I could go ahead and do it. I suppose I will wait it out for a month or so and see how we do with living on my paycheck alone (plus, unemployment) and if the Husband gets any leads. Even if things got really bad and we had to short sell the house, we'd still need to somehow finish the floor. Blah. This economy is a real stinker.

I broke the news to me worry-wart mother in Italy on Sunday. Oddly enough, my parents seemed more concerned than when I got laid off. To me, both situations were equally severe. Arguably, mine had, potentially, a more detrimental effect to our finances as I make about 25% more, yet they seemed to be more shaken by The Husband losing his job. Perhaps it was more of a shock -- being the hypersensitive person that I am, I had felt like a layoff was on the horizon since October/November of last year and prepped them for it but mentioning it several (several being 10+) imes. The Husband had no inkling of it which made it more of a sucker-punch (nevermind he had been with the company for nearly 5 years).

Anyway, on the lighter side, the last of the kitchen molding was installed last weekend and I'm finishing up installing the IKEA organizational bar thingies I bought a while back, so pictures will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Because My Blog is Where I Bitch

We are two for two, folks. Yesterday, two days after we took the plunge to buy a new car, The Husband got laid off. Yeah. This economy is about as crap-tastic as it gets. Our entire household has been laid off in a little over two months. I am kicking myself for agreeing to buy the car, but I can't change it now. It's not a manufacturer offering the "return your car if you get canned" so I'll save you the commenting effort recommending we return the car. We can't. What is even more ass-tastic is that my company is praying to the gods that we get wired our funding so we can make payroll this Friday.

Anyone who says the economy mess is just "hype" is seriously misinformed and delusional. Again, if you aren't already sick of hearing it, I have to give props to Obama. The Husband's layoff has the added bonus of leaving us dependent on COBRA coverage. Yeah. Don't have the numbers yet but generally, family coverage runs about $800-$1000 per month, and given insurance companies have rejected me twice for trivial things, it's very likely we can't go for individual coverage. Part of the Obama stimulus plan is for 9 months, the federal goverment will cover 65% of premiums. We will pay 35% - so likely somewhere around $300-$400 per month. Not ideal, but certainly doable. Provided I don't also end up unemployed again.

I gotta say, so far, 2009 has really sucked.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Because I am a Magnet for Credit Crap

Well, folks, I'm still employed, though it is still contract work. It's ok for now. I hope that they will eventually convert me to regular full-time so I can have nice things like paid vacation and unemployment/disability/etc insurance. Beyond the fact that I have to pay self-employment taxes, I don't get any of that state program help should I ever need it (like, say I finally decide to procreate, at this point, I would not get any maternity leave pay from the state, which is poopy. Very poopy). What is a blog post without some bitching about something?

What else can I bitch about? Hmmm. Well, oh yeah, that's right. About 2 and a half years ago I discovered that someone had thieved my identity and opened phone accounts amounting to $3.5K. Took me more than 6 months to get it cleared from my credit report. It was a nightmare of sorts. I now have a fraud alert on my account which makes it quite the exercise to open any sort of account requiring credit. I figured I had my share of credit bullshit after that. Well, guess I haven't. The latest ridiculousness is my old HOA. I checked my credit report just for shits and giggles about 2 weeks ago and found that I had a collections account on the report. For the HOA of the house we sold in April of 2007. Turns out that we recorded the sale on the 3rd of April, and on the 1st of April, the HOA changed property management. Somehow, in this transfer, the old company told the new company that we owed money which no more information. My guess is that it was April dues. The reality is that had we really owed anything to the HOA, escrow wouldn't have allowed the sale to complete. This is standard procedure and is included in the purchase agreement. But did the new management company bother to look into this stuff before unlaterally sending all their "past due" accounts to collections? Of course not, that would be the right thing to do.

Beyond this, I went back to my check register and found every check number we ever wrote to them as well as the escrow statements - every month of dues is accounted for. I called the existing property management about it and she was nice and said she would see what information she could find to get this off my report. Have heard nothing. Called her last week for an update - of course, she has not yet returned my call. I will call again this week. I will continue to badger this woman. The only recourse I have other than pestering is to get copies of all the checks from the bank and contest this via the credit reporting agencies. Getting copies of the checks, by the way, will cost $2 per check. 29 checks = $48. Nevermind that I have to wait for the back copies of my statements to come in because the check number and amount is not good enough information for the bank to retrieve the check images. They also need the date the check cleared. So, sometime in the next 2-3 weeks, 30 bank statements from 2004 to 2007 will arrive and I will have to call them up again and order the check copies.

I swear, why does this stuff ALWAYS happen to me? And my husband? The first name on the records for loan, deed, etc? Not on his credit report. Only on mine. Yeah. I mean, sure it's good that at least both our FICO scores aren't hosed at the moment, but how does that happen? God must believe I have more wherewithal do deal with this I guess. I don't know. I do know that I will be forking over the $12.95 for a credit monitoring service so I can find out about these things ASAP rather than several months later.

I am considering reporting both management companies to the California Department of Real Estate. My Capital One card raised my purchase rate from 9.9% to 17.99% a couple month ago and I thought it was because of the economy. More likely it was this false black mark on my credit report. Thank God I don't carry a balance. But what if I did? I mean, this kind of stuff is unacceptable, in my opinion. Being flippant with regards to people's money - it's not cool. Especially now when banks are finding any reason to raise rates and close accounts. I think I will report them. As soon as I get every ding-dang statement and check copy which may be sometime in 2010 at this rate.