Tag Archives: money

Working On Money (or A Prosperous Heart Update)

I wrote before about how the podcast I work for was going to do the 12 week journey in “The Prosperous Heart”. We just got to the end of the 12 weeks and I figured it was time to do an update.

I’ll admit that I did not follow the 12 weeks as strictly as I did with “The Artist’s Way”. The main thing I did do was the morning pages. I struggled with the morning pages when I did “The Artist’s Way” and I really didn’t enjoy them. They became something that annoyed me at the end of that journey and I really was not enjoying having my mornings start off on such a negative note. So I decided that for me, doing the morning pages wasn’t going to benefit me the way that it should so I didn’t do them.

I know that some people will argue that I didn’t really do the 12 week journey this time if I left out doing the morning pages, but that’s ok with me. I have to do what is right for me and I would rather try to do the journey the best that I can instead of not doing it at all. I did do the weekly reading and the questions at the end of the chapters, so I feel like I did a majority of the journey.

The biggest thing about this 12 week journey is to track every single penny that you spend. Since I already do that with YNAB, I figured it would be pretty easy for me to keep doing it. And fortunately it was pretty easy for me. The only annoying this was with credit card spending. I track it in YNAB and it was a bit weird to have to track it in a second location as well (for “The Prosperous Heart”, I tracked everything in a little notebook). I didn’t like having to do everything twice, but it was a minor issue.

But while I track all my credit card spending, tracking cash was a new thing for me. I was looking forward to seeing how being extra aware of my cash spending would help me out. And for the most part, I got much better about being more cautious on what I was buying. There were a few times I forgot to track my cash spending (mainly laundry money or parking meters), but I would say I tracked all but maybe 10 times I used cash. It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with being close to perfect.

I think that many people in our group weren’t as into this 12 week journey as they were with the other one. Some of us felt like the book didn’t speak to us the same way. Some people felt that the chapters were repetitive and a bit disconnected. It was not easy for us to admit that we didn’t enjoy this journey as much as the other one since we all felt so great after finishing “The Artist’s Way”. But it’s important to admit to yourself when you don’t feel like you are getting what you want out of a book/class/lecture.

We tried to encourage each other to stay on top of the weekly chapters and the lessons, but this time the group online wasn’t as active and sometimes it felt like we were each on our own journeys instead of doing it as a group. It’s not bad to do it alone, but it was different. And I don’t know if I preferred the group version or being a bit more on my own. Each journey was so different because of what was in it, so it’s not easy to compare them to each other.

Now that this is done, I’m going to keep some of the lessons and challenges going but I’m not going to keep all of them. I might continue to track cash spending, but I think just having the extra awareness I have now will be helping me so much. And for credit card spending, I already track that and I have noticed that I haven’t been charging as much stuff as I did before. So it’s nice to know that I did learn something and that I’m not spending as much as I did before. I’m not saving as much as I’d like, but it’s baby steps toward that.

Overall, I’m glad that I took this journey. Even if I didn’t do everything that was supposed to be done, I feel like I have made a change and I’ve learned new things about myself. I’m hoping that I can continue to spend less and focus less on things that cost money and look for things that are free that I like to do. I know that I need to get my credit card debt paid off and I really want to get it done soon. I just need to buckle down and work harder toward that. And hopefully the lessons I learned from “The Prosperous Heart” will help me over the next weeks and months to accomplish that.

Work Begets Work (Old Bosses Possible New Jobs)

Work has been pretty busy for me lately. Busy can be good sometimes though. For my research job, I just finished working on the big database update we do each year and doing that job means I get to make more money (it’s on a different contract than my main job). And extra money does always help out with things. My main box office job is the same as always, although we are getting back into the busy season again so things have been a bit crazier. And I’m still doing my occasional in person box office job and might be working a few shifts this fall.

I’m in a pretty stable place with my day jobs right now and that’s something that has been hard to get to. But of course, nothing ever stays stable with work but this time it seems like the change might be all positive.

With my research position, there is a chance there will be a job opening that I would be right for. It would be a full-time position so I’m assuming I’d be making more money. It would still be a remote position so I could work from home. And depending on what the pay would be like, there is the potential that it could be the only main day job I would need. I don’t plan on quitting my main box office job any time soon (I wouldn’t do that until I have paid my credit card off completely), but it would be nice to have the potential to only have one main day job.

I don’t know when this job would become available or if I would get it. But it is nice to know that my boss knows that I am always looking for better opportunities for myself and thought of me. But even if I don’t get that new position, I’m very happy in the job I have now and the flexibility I have with it. It’s a luxury that I appreciate so much.

And there are more potential changes with other work. My occasional box office job is a job I got through my old boss at my telesales job (that’s the job I was working when I started this blog). I rarely see him since I work the job when he can’t be at the venue for the shows, but we still stay in touch pretty often. And he let me know about a job possibility that is actually at the old company I used to work for.

This job would be a temporary telesales position for the next month or so. I would be able to work from home and it would pay only commission (no hourly pay). But the commission would be much higher than any job I’ve had and the potential is there to make a pretty decent amount of money in a short period of time. I do miss commission jobs a bit since it was always nice to have a paycheck that was double or triple what I had the paycheck before. It always felt like a nice present!

My old/current boss is passing my information on to the people who are running this telesales campaign and they are supposed to get in touch with me soon. But from what I understand, it’s looking very likely that they will hire me to work this gig because they remember how much I was able to raise when I worked the old telesales job.

It’s good that this job would be temporary because if I do it I’ll be getting close to working 80 hours a week. That’s a lot, but since most of my jobs can overlap it’s not really 80 hours a week. But I don’t think I could maintain that sort of schedule, pace, or balance for more than a month or two. So hopefully I can make a lot of sales in that job and then when it’s done I’ll be able to relax and know that I made a nice amount of money.

If I do get that telesales job, I would love to put all the money I make from it toward my credit card. If I could cut my credit card debt in half, that would be incredible and I would be so happy! And there is a chance that this job would actually allow me to do that! I know that I’m not just working as hard as I do right now to pay off debt, but to have that weight off my shoulders would be so nice and is a goal that I’ve been working toward for a very long time.

As of right now, both of these new work possibilities are only maybes. Hopefully in the next week or month I’ll have a better idea of what might be coming up. But I have to say that I’m feeling really optimistic about work stuff right now and it’s been a while since I’ve felt that way. It’s nice and I’m really feeling like things are turning around for me in this aspect of my life. It gives me hope that more things will change for the better for me soon.

A Goal Setting Experience (or Mindfulness Seems To Be A Theme)

I’ve been pretty good about setting goals for myself. I set goals each year that I want to be able to accomplish in a year. I also set weekly and monthly goals in my Volt Planner. While goal setting is relatively new to me, I feel like I’ve gone in head first and really have embraced it. I like to have things to try to achieve and while it is frustrating when I don’t make a goal I’m learning how to be ok with that.

So when the podcast I work for was going to do a goal setting workshop, I was so excited to be able to participate! I ended up hosting the event at my house because it is a pretty central location and my living room is a good space to hold events like this. It ended up being a pretty small group, but I think that allowed everyone to get more out of this workshop than they would have if we had more people.

The workshop was based around the idea of the 4 Tendencies that Gretchen Rubin created. There was a quiz to take to help us figure out what type of person we are. Of the 4 Tendencies, I was a pretty even mix of 3 of them (Upholder, Questioner, and Obliger). I don’t know what I was expecting, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be the other type (Rebel). But to be a mix of the other ones was interesting.

I know that some of the reasons I’m a mix is because of my OCD and panic/anxiety disorder along with me wanting to be a perfectionist. But I totally want to look more into these things so I can learn more about each type and see if there is a way I can maximize knowing this to help me do better with my habits and goals for the future. I haven’t really thought about how I could adjust my goal setting process to benefit me so this was really educational for me.

After learning about what type of person we were, the next step was to work on our goals. I’ve already got so many goals for the year and I really didn’t want to cover something that I already am working on. We were advised to try to only set goals for parts of our lives that we need to work on. If we have a goal but are making good progress, we shouldn’t be writing it down since that goal is working.

So for me, the first thing I wanted to do was to write what is working in my life so I can remove my focus from that. The main things that are working for me right now are my day jobs and my exercise. I do have goals for both of those things right now, but I’m doing really great with them so I didn’t need to brainstorm more about it. And once I had that written down I worked on focusing on what I wanted to do.

I got it narrowed down to 3 aspects of my life that I know I want to set goals in. I want to have new goals in my personal relationships, financial life, and my recovery effort. I wrote down several things within each aspect that I know I want to accomplish in the long-term. Most of them are pretty basic, but again it’s always good to write stuff down. I don’t have a lot of variety in what I want to set goals to do, but those few things that I’m focused on aren’t necessarily the easiest.

For personal relationships, that’s about dating and friendships. I want to be more active on both sides. I need to set more plans and not have my relationships just be virtual (FB with my friends and online dating with dating). I want to be ok with being bossy or forceful with trying to make plans. I’ve been ok with being wishy-washy and not trying to get something scheduled. But I don’t want to be ok with that anymore. That’s how I can go months without seeing a friend or spend weeks messaging back and forth with a guy online. I want to be more aware of the relationships that I’m focusing on and not getting as distracted.

For finances, I want to stay aware as well. I’m doing pretty great with that so far but I want to make sure that it continues for a long time. Mindless spending is easy to do (especially with online shopping) and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to use shopping as a distraction for something else. And hopefully by doing that I will reduce my spending, get my debt more in control, and be in a better place financially.

And for my recovery, it’s a very similar thing. I want to work on being more aware. I want to use what I’ve learned recently in therapy and really work hard and seriously on taking those steps. I don’t want to make excuses for myself and to take responsibility for whatever I chose to do. I don’t want to let my eating disorder rule me. I want to be making choices, even if those choices are bad ones.

After writing down these ideas and 90 day and 6 month goals for each one, I totally noticed a theme. Everything is about being mindful and aware. I don’t know why this has become such an important thing to me now, but clearly it’s something I need to focus on. I don’t feel like I’ve been on auto-pilot, but maybe I have and I just didn’t realize it. Maybe I needed to combination of my appointment with my therapist and this goal setting workshop in the same week to come to this realization.

Whatever brought this realization to me, I’m glad that it’s more obvious than ever on what I want to focus on and what I think I really need to do. Saying that I’ll be more mindful is easy to say but hard to do. But I think that having some action steps and ideas is going to help me get closer to accomplishing this mindfulness now and hopefully things will snowball from there in the right direction.

Another Monthly Challenge Down (or The Prosperous Heart)

A new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the start to a new one! I’ll admit that last month’s challenge was much more challenging than I thought it would be, but I’m glad that I got through it.

I originally wanted to do the plank challenge to help connect myself to my body again. It’s been weird feeling so disconnected and I had high hopes that this would help bring things back to normal. And this challenge didn’t do that at all. Sometimes, it almost made things worse because I was comparing myself to how I could do planks 10 years ago and the lack of core strength that I have now.

But even with this challenge not doing that, I finally do feel more connected to my body again. It had nothing to do with the challenge, but through just getting back to life I feel more like me again. I think I needed this challenge to force me to work on connecting with my body again, it just wasn’t the thing that did it. But having something push me to work on it was good. I might try another one of the fitness challenges in the app, but I’m not as concerned about doing them as I was before. But I’m glad that I tried and that I made it through.

And for this month’s challenge, I’m actually going to do something that I started earlier this week. The membership of the Inside Acting Podcast has done some fun book club type things this year. At the beginning of the year we did the 12 week process of “The Artist’s Way”. I’m glad that I did it with the support of the membership because I’ve never been able to complete the entire 12 week journey before on my own. I didn’t love the entire process, but I learned a lot and I’m seeing changes in my life because of it.

And this past Sunday, we started our next book within the podcast membership. This time, we are doing another book by Julia Cameron, “The Prosperous Heart”.

There are a lot of the same concepts in both books, including the Morning Pages. I didn’t enjoy the Morning Pages before and I’m not going to stress myself out doing them this time. But this book is much more focused on money and financial things.

I’ve been tracking my budget for a while now using YNAB. Using a budgeting app has been really great for me. Even though I’m still struggling a bit financially, I feel much more in control of things and understand how to pay down my credit card debt now without feeling overwhelmed.

Part of this book is to track every single expense you have. This will be pretty simple for me since I’m already doing it, but I’m going more detailed now and that’s what my monthly challenge will be. I’m not only going to track what I do bank transfers for or when I use my credit card. I’m going to track every single penny that is spent.

A lot of times, I’ll get cash at the beginning of the week and plan on using that for random things. But before I know it the cash is gone and I don’t know where I spent it. Or I don’t know where all the quarters I got for laundry went when it seems like I just went to the bank to get a roll. Some people don’t spend as much when they use cash, but for me using cash has become mindless since I don’t track it in YNAB. I need to stop this because I want to track my money better. And using this as my monthly challenge is a great way for me to get into this habit.

More often than not, my monthly challenges become something I do all the time. So if I take this month to work on tracking my money better, I have a feeling that I will be able to continue to do this and hopefully it will only help me in my money management skills. I know that I’ve been doing a lot of great work with money, especially in the past year or so, but I need to do more and this might be the perfect thing for me to do.

It’s Taxes Time (or Seeing My Hard Work Pay Off)

I don’t think that anyone is excited to do their taxes and owe money. Because of my jobs, I know I will owe money each year. None of my jobs take my taxes out for me, and even though I do my estimated payments like I need to they are usually not enough to cover what I owe. I know this is the situation I’m in so I am as prepared as possible for tax time. I save all my work related receipts (and there are a ton of them) and I save money out of every paycheck to use at tax time. But even with that, I’m always nervous that the news is going to be bad when I get my taxes done.

I went to Daphne at Chuck Sloan and Associates again and I’m so glad I did! First of all, everyone at Chuck Sloan understands actor and creative type taxes and the unique situations we are all in. They aren’t scared by dozens of jobs and the forms and all the weird deductions we need to do. And they understand how stressful tax time can be for us all. But I’m so happy that I have Daphne doing my taxes because she’s extra awesome! We bonded the last time she did my taxes over Disneyland and since I was going to Disneyland after doing my taxes with her I knew we’d talk about that.

Last year, Daphne showed me the worst case scenario with my taxes before she put in all my deductions so that I would feel better about how much I had saved up. I had asked her to do that for me again and once again it was less than what I had saved for my taxes. That’s always a huge relief because I know that no matter what I will have enough money to pay what I owe. But since now I’m feeling more comfortable with that, it was all about how well I tracked my work spending and tracked my deductions.

I like to think that I’m a pretty organized person and that I did a good job tracking expenses in 2016. Since I had my taxes done by Daphne once already, I knew what I should be aware of and what can be deducted. There are so many accountants that let you deduct things that aren’t totally on the up and up, so I’m glad Daphne is very careful in her work and tells me when things look weird (like how I accidentally tracked buying my new computer twice). I’m sure that there is more that I can deduct, but I’m still learning how to do the best that I can.

And even though I thought I had done all my tracking without missing things, there were a few things that I totally forgot about and I’m so glad we went over any other expenses I might have had in the year. I forgot that I got a new phone (which I do have to use for acting and my research job) and for some reason I never tracked the money that I spent to produce “Single Parent Date Night”. This is another reason I love having Daphne do my taxes. She knew to ask about these sort of things just in case I didn’t remember to track them on my paperwork (I’m sure anyone at Chuck Sloan would do the same since they know to look for these things).

In the end, I owed less than half of what I had saved for my taxes. This is so much better than I ever could have imagined! The money left over is going to be saved for another trip to New York that my sister-in-law and I are hoping to take next year. I still have more time to save more money, but I think what I have left over from my taxes savings should be able to cover pretty much the entire trip! I was only hoping that I would have about half of what I needed for that trip leftover so having this much is a big surprise to me and it making me relax a bit about how I will be able to afford that trip.

I’ve already written my checks to the IRS and sent them off so I’m now totally done with doing my 2016 taxes. It’s nice to get them done early enough so there isn’t a huge rush to do them at the last minute. And I’ve already started planning on what I can do this year to make the taxes easier next year. I will be paying more in estimated taxes, so that will help how much I owe. But I also now will be tracking my expenses even better because I learned where I was slacking last year that caused me to miss out on some potential deductions.

While it was nice in the past to be very uninvolved in my taxes, that’s not a luxury I can afford anymore. I know that with my current jobs that I will always owe money at the end of the year and I like being able to sit down with Daphne and go over everything so I understand why I owe what I do. I can see what deductions took off what and where I could have done better. I guess being more involved with all of this is just something that is required when you want to be more responsible and acting more like an adult.

Unexpected Car Shopping (or New Year New Car)

As I mentioned in my New Year’s Eve post, my car died as I was leaving the party I went to. It was a really weird situation with what happened. I was driving home and I started to hear a ticking or clicking noise coming from the front of my car. Maybe 10 or 15 seconds later my car completely shut down and died. All the warning things were flashing in the front of my car and alarms were going off and then everything shut down. White smoke started to come out of my engine and I could smell something that smelled like it was burning. I had no power, no electricity, no lights. It was so scary but fortunately the freeway hadn’t gotten too crowded yet so I was able to drift over to the side of the freeway.

I got my car as far to the side as I could (there wasn’t a full shoulder for me to pull over into) and immediately called AAA. I told them I wasn’t in a safe situation because I couldn’t get the lights on in my car and I was still a bit into the slow lane and they promised to get a tow truck out to me as soon as possible. After being in a dead car for about 20 minutes, I could finally get my emergency flashers on and my lights would occasionally turn on. I just sat in my car with my seatbelt on (I was worried someone would hit me and I wanted to try to stay safe) and tried to stay warm as it was cold out and the heater in my car was dead too.

The tow truck got to me and I was towed home. The next day, even though my mechanic is open on Sundays, the mechanic was closed for New Year’s Day. I took Ubers to and from Orangetheory and limited my errands to stuff I could walk to and stuff I could carry home. I told my parents what happened and they were feeling hopeful that maybe this would just be another repair and it would be ok. But because I was in the car when it happened, I felt pretty certain that this was a bad sign and that there was no way we could repair my car for a reasonable cost. I started looking at used cars online and seeing what types of car I would consider. When I told my parents about that, they told me to look at Subaru Crosstreks because they are a good car, not too expensive, and while they are smaller and shorter than my Escape they still have a decent amount of room.

On Monday, I took an Uber to and from the gym again and once I was home and showered I called for another tow truck so I could get my car towed to my mechanic. I had warned my mechanic I’d be coming by and he warned me that this might be the end of my car. But I still wanted him to see it just in case I was overreacting and there was some hope left.

And as I expected, the car was done. In order to get it to work again, I would need to buy a new engine for it. And even doing that doesn’t mean I won’t have more problems in the next year or so. I called my parents to run things by them and they agreed that I needed to just get a different car. I’m so lucky that they were able to help me with buying a car so I didn’t have to get something that was super cheap and might not last that long.

I had called the Subaru dealership and they were able to meet with me that day. And even though my Escape wasn’t working anymore, they could give me a little bit of money as a trade in (it was more of a courtesy so I could get the car off of my hands). While I was waiting for a tow truck to bring me and my car to the dealership, I texted a couple of friends to see if anyone could meet me at the dealership to help me with car buying. I’m not great at making huge decisions like that and I wanted a friend with me. Fortunately, my friend Dani was free and was happy to help me out.

I had looked at the dealership’s used cars online the day before, so I knew what options I really had. I wanted to look at a few different cars and try a couple of types of cars as well, but Dani was willing to make sure I asked all the right questions and didn’t get taken advantage of by the salespeople. The first car I drove was a 2014 Crosstrek that was a really cool bright blue color. It was a nice car to drive and had some really nice features. It had about 40,000 miles on it so it was a used car but not super used. There was another 2014 Crosstrek on the lot, but I didn’t drive it because I didn’t realize that the technology in the car was the lowest end and was pretty outdated by then.

There was one 2016 Crosstrek on the lot and that was the next car I drove. It was much sportier than I’m used to, but it was really fun to drive. It didn’t have all the features I was looking for, but that was ok. Dani helped me to realize that having a GPS built into the car isn’t that important when I can just use my phone. And Dani (who rode in the backseat during the test drives), told me that the 2016 was a much nicer ride for her back there. And while this car was used, it was pretty close to new. It only had 5,000 miles on it and was only owned for a few months by the previous owner (they got into a situation where they didn’t need a car anymore which is why they sold it back to the dealership).

The last car I checked out was a Forester, which is closer in size to what my Escape was like. I love being able to sit up high, but the Forester was just too much car for me. I don’t need that huge of a car right now. And if I do end up needing a huge car later down the line, then I’ll look at them then. But for now, I needed a car that worked and wanted something that was fun to drive and perfect for me getting around town.

After some conversation with my parents (since they were funding the purchase I wanted their opinion and approval) and debating back and forth with Dani who was a great voice of reason for me, I ended up going with the 2016 Crosstrek. It is the better deal considering that it is basically a new car. I got a really great deal on it because there are some scratches on the car. But I don’t mind the damage because as my dad put it, I’d probably get scratches on it eventually. It’s a city car and it’s not meant to look perfect.

After deciding on the car, Dani had to leave and I was there for another few hours doing all the paperwork involved with a car purchase. We had to do the release of liability for the Escape and there were dozens of pages for me to sign for the Crosstrek. But about 8 hours after calling for the tow truck to bring my Escape to the mechanic to find out if it’s dead, I was leaving the Subaru dealership with my new used car!

This was not at all how I thought the beginning of my year would go. Even a week later, I’m still a little overwhelmed by the entire situation and what happened. I don’t believe it at times. My Escape was a great car for me for so long and I’m still sad that it died. But I’m so happy with my Crosstrek and how nice it is! I have personalized plates that have been on every car I’ve had and I did get them off of my Escape when I left it as a trade-in. I can’t put them on my Crosstrek yet, but once I do I think the car will feel more like mine and that I will finally be able to wrap my head around the entire situation.

My 2017 Goals (or I Know This Year Will Be Amazing!)

It’s the beginning of 2017 and I’m ready to make this year so amazing! I have a lot of things happening this year and while they are not all great things I know that I can do incredible things even with the struggles I know the year will bring. As always, I don’t set resolutions because I don’t feel like those have a long-term feeling. I like to set goals for what I can get done in the year and I’m ready to share my 2017 goals with you all.

My first goal is a fitness related one. I didn’t quite make my fitness goal for 2016, but I’m still trying to do better than that goal. This year, I want to do 181 workouts at Orangetheory. This is going to be a huge challenge for me. First, I only did 177 workouts last year so this is 4 more than what I did before. But also, with my liver surgery, I may need to take several weeks off of working out. Because of that, I will have to do more 4 workout weeks before surgery and after I recover. But I’d love to make 4 workout weeks more of the norm so setting a goal of 181 workouts is a great way to push myself to do that.

My next goal is to get through my liver surgery as easily as possible. I know that this will be hard to do since I have no clue how my body will react to surgery and recovery. But I am a big believer in the power of positive thought and that’s what I’ll be doing. When I had my hip surgery, I was in the gym the next day on the recumbent bike working out because I was told that moving would be good for me. So my plan is to think that I will be able to get through surgery with few problems. I will have to spend some time at the hospital after surgery, but with positive thinking I’m hoping the time will be as limited as it can be. I know this will be a painful process, but I still want to focus on the positives and hoping that the pain will be manageable and that I will have a fast recovery.

The next goal is to continue on my journey through recovery and to reduce my binge episodes even more. I know that setting a goal to eliminate binges is setting myself up for failure, but to even reduce the average to be one fewer a week would be awesome! I want to continue to reading my recovery books to be inspired and get my brain in a place where recovery is possible. This isn’t an easy goal, but I’m excited to see what progress I can make this year.

Next are money related goals. I have a number that I want to get my debt below this year. I’m not sharing that publicly because that won’t mean much to everyone else, but it will be a reduction of about 25% of the debt I currently have. I would love it to be lower, but because I am not making a ton of money right now I know that I must have slightly realistic goals. And along with that, I would not only like to pay down my debt but I would also like to have some savings as well. I don’t want to have to use my credit card for unexpected expenses like car problems or wanting to buy things like my Disneyland pass. If I had savings, I could use that for those expenses while still being able to pay down debt.

I also have a goal of hopefully setting a PR again in my 5K race time. I have 2 races planned for this year so hopefully I can PR at one or both of them! I plan on increasing how long my running intervals are so that should hopefully help to make getting a PR easier for me. I’m not as focused on increasing my speed right now, but maybe that will be something I work on toward the end of the year for future PRs.

And my last goal (which I seem to set each year) is to have more fun. I’m even trying to make my liver surgery fun by telling my friends that they will have to come and visit me in the hospital so I can have a good time there. I plan on continuing my adventures to Disneyland and Universal Studios and hopefully having more fun random outings. There is so much stuff in LA that I haven’t done yet even though I’ve lived here for almost 16 years and I want to have more fun in the city I call home.

So that’s it for my goals for 2017. I think I’ve set some really good ones and I’m excited to do my best to accomplish them all! And I hope that at the end of December, I look back at this post and am proud of what I got done. But for now, I’m just happy to start working on all of these and checking things off throughout the year!

Adventures In Banking (or More Customer Service Stories)

Since I work in customer service, I know that sometimes someone is having a good day and sometimes someone is having a bad day. As a customer service rep,  I can’t make every customer happy (I just got in trouble yesterday by a customer who called me rude to the owner of the company I work for because I refused to do things that I either have no authority or legal right to do). I’m aware that because of my job in customer service, I can be a tough customer from time to time. I do expect a lot out of customer service reps since that’s the standard that I have for myself, and I really hate when I have a bad experience.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of customer service people from banks lately. After setting up my DBA for work, I’ve had to do a couple of things and one of those things was getting a business bank account set up. My first stop was my current bank since it would be easiest to have everything in one place. Unfortunately, I would have to pay $15 a month to have a business bank account until I had a minimum balance in the account which was higher than I’m comfortable with.

Even though I couldn’t do the account at my bank, they were so nice to me there. They looked into some possible loopholes that might be able to get the fee waived for me, they tried to find other options, and they really did everything they could to try to find a solution that would make me happy. I’m sure that they also want to keep my business, but any bank should want my business whether or not I’m already a customer.

I ended up doing some searching online for business bank accounts with no monthly fee and found a bank that happens to be one block away from my current bank. My first attempt to go there to talk to someone was not a success because I forgot it was Columbus Day and the bank was closed (totally my fault for not looking into bank holidays). But I was able to go back the next day and that’s exactly what I did.

When I arrived nobody greeted me or asked me what I was at the bank to do (they do that at my current bank), so I waited in line to talk to a teller to find out what to do. They directed me over to some chairs and said there was one person ahead of me needing to discuss business accounts. I took a seat and got my book out to read.

The person ahead of me went back and before they did, a bank employee came to look to see if I had the paperwork I needed to open a business account. They quickly glanced at everything, said it was fine, and said they’d be back soon to help me. I ended up waiting almost 2 hours to be helped. By the time they got to me, the bank was closed. But since I had been waiting since before they closed, they weren’t going to send me away.

They started to look at my paperwork and process things and then told me that I needed $100 to open an account. I’m aware that this is my fault, but nobody told me how much I needed to open an account and I didn’t have $100 in cash (or a blank check) with me. I asked if there was any way I could run over to my bank and get cash from the ATM, but they said that since they were already closed that if I left to get money they couldn’t let me back in.

I left that bank feeling pretty annoyed. In the 2 hours I was sitting and waiting, I easily could have gone to my bank and had the cash that I needed. When they came to check my paperwork to see if I had what I needed, they could have told me that I needed $100 or they couldn’t open the account. But instead I wasted 2 hours sitting on my butt in a bank with nothing accomplished.

I put a bit of a rant up on Facebook that evening because I decided that even though they seemed to be the best option for a free business account, I didn’t want to give them my business. I deserved to be treated better than how they treated me. I never should have waited as long as I did because my time is valuable. And I wasn’t going to be devalued again.

A few of my friends recommended a credit union that they believed had free business accounts. So yesterday, I headed over to the credit union to talk to them. First, I have to say that doing business in a credit union that is housed in a building owned by a major studio is pretty fun. In the entryway there were a bunch of props and other things from movies the studio has done before. And in the credit union, they’ve got a lot of movie themed stuff (sorry that I didn’t get any pictures of it!).

I wasn’t able to get my account set up while I was there because I actually need some more paperwork that I will be getting from the LA County courts in the next few weeks. But once I can do that, I can set up the account (and while it’s not always free, there’s a low enough balance requirement that I can handle it).

Even though I couldn’t do the bank account at the moment and that was discovered within minutes of sitting down, I couldn’t have asked for a better customer service experience. The woman helping me was more than willing to answer all my questions that I’ve been coming up with. I’ve never opened a business bank account so this is all new and sometimes overwhelming to me. But she was patient and took her time making sure that when I left there that I had all the answers I needed and that I knew exactly what I needed to bring with me the next time I come in.

Hopefully my paperwork from the court will come soon so I can set everything up, but there is no question that I am going to go with the credit union (as long as everything works out for me) instead of the bank. I want my money to be a place where I feel comfortable going in to talk to a banker or where I know that they won’t waste my time. It’s important to feel good about where you are giving your business, and clearly the customer service experiences that I had influenced me.

Splurging On Technology (or I Guess I Had To Get A New Phone)

I’ve written recently about how my phone had been dying. When I wrote that post, my phone was lasting between 3-6 hours in a charge and I was finding tricks to make that ok with me. I had no plans on getting a new phone, mainly because I hate the new giant phones and I didn’t want something that wouldn’t be easy for me to use.

When I went to Tahoe, my phone got even worse. The battery was lasting maybe an hour if I was lucky. I was carrying 2 external batteries with me and I was charging my phone every chance I had (thankfully my mom has a charger in her car). Again, I was really not wanting to get a new phone, but I was starting to realize that I probably had to take some of my savings to invest in a new one.

I started to do some research on iPhones and discovered that there was a lower version of them called the SE. Basically, it is the same technical stuff as the 6S, but it is the small size like my 5S. It’s not the latest and greatest phone, but that was ok with me. Usually I only want to get the newest stuff since technology becomes outdated quickly, but I was willing to change it up for the phone. Plus, the lower version phone was half the cost of the new ones and that was worth it to me.

When I got home from Tahoe, I had a few more days before I had a free afternoon to get a new phone. My phone was getting worse and worse and by the time I was off to get my new phone, my old one could almost not hold a charge unless it was plugged in.

Getting the new phone was a bit of a bigger ordeal than I thought it would be. I really thought I would go to the Verizon store, get my phone, pay, and be done with it. But there were issues with my account that had to be figured out first. Then there was a lot of confusion about what I was paying for (they kept telling me the accessory bundle was included with my new phone, but to them included meant I pay for it with the phone). And after a few hours at the store, they finally said they didn’t have the phone I wanted there and sent me to another store to buy it (not sure why they didn’t do that sooner).

I drove over to the other store in rush hour traffic, but fortunately the other store had my new phone waiting for me. I stayed in the new store to make sure my backup from my old phone made it to my new phone and after several hours, I was finally on my way back home to play with my new phone.

Even though this was an expense I wasn’t really ready for, it ended up being worth it. I do a lot of day job work on my phone, so I need to have a working phone. And having a new phone is pretty nice. Things are working better and faster. And this new phone has significantly more storage on it so I’m not always deleting stuff to find room on my phone for what I need.

I’m still going to be waiting for the new MacBook Pro to be released before I make that splurge. My computer isn’t dying like how my phone was. If I had to make it another 6 months with my computer, I think it would be tough but doable. But at least now I know when I get the new computer that I have a phone that will be able to work very nicely with it.

Looking Forward To Some Big Spending (or Needing New Technology)

I’ve written before about how I really need a new computer soon. This realization hit me hard when the new iPhone came out. I discovered that the new iPhone (at least the most expensive one) has more storage on it than I do on my computer. The fact that a phone could have more room on in than my computer is sad and a sign that I’m getting desperate.

I’m still waiting on the announcement of the new MacBook Pro. I’m not going to buy an old computer which is my only option now. So I have to wait until whenever Apple decides to release a new one and I’m sure that there will be an insanely high demand for it so I will possibly have to wait before I can get my hands on one. I’m still hoping that a new computer will be released in the next few months because there are more and more projects I want to work on that will require a better and faster computer that has more storage than what I have now.

When the new iPhone came out, I thought that maybe I’d look into it since my phone has been acting a bit off lately. Nothing was too bad but I’ve had this phone for 3 years (sadly, that’s pretty long in iPhone life) and it was something I was thinking about. I was hoping the new iPhone would be a smaller size (like my 5s), but the new ones are still pretty big and I don’t really love them. Plus, since next year will be the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone, everyone is saying that one will be a huge overhaul compared to what we have now.

A few days after the new phone was released, my phone started acting up more. Now, I have an average battery life of 3-6 hours (that’s with only using it for maybe 1 hour total). The standby time on my phone should be much longer than that and it’s pretty bad. My phone battery will show that it is at 70% and a second later it goes down to 1% and shuts down. This isn’t the end of the world, but it is an inconvenience. I have one external battery that gets me a full charge on my phone, but I just bought another external battery that should get me 2 full charges. I’m also looking into battery replacement as a possible fix.

I also have an older iPad that has not been able to upgraded to a new operating system in a while (I think I’m using an iOS that is 2 or 3 versions ago). But I’m totally fine with my iPad for what I use it for right now so I’m not too worried about it.

I’m aware that I probably sound really spoiled and should be happy with the technology I have now since it is more than what many people have. And I am so grateful for everything I have and in no way am upset that I don’t have the latest and greatest. I don’t care for the best, I just want stuff that works.

If my phone was able to hold a charge for more than 6 hours on standby, I’d have no concerns and would probably keep the phone for another year or more. If my computer wasn’t flipping out on me on an almost daily basis, I would keep it because I love my computer. It’s just that technology doesn’t last forever and it seems like all of my stuff has decided to reach the end of its life at the same time. I’ve got the money saved up for a new computer and I’m ready to spend it the second I can on the new one when it is released.

I’m not sure I’m totally ready to spend money on a new phone (nor do I have that money really available to me right now), but I’m realizing that it is time to start saving for that and for possibly a new iPad. I don’t love the idea that I’ll potentially be spending a ton of money on new things when I know that any money I save for them should really be going toward paying down my debt. But I guess this is what I get for working from my phone and computer and needing everything to work in order to be paid.