You’re fired.

So I’m assuming the majority of PDITF readers operate their lives around some type of budget. Maybe you are a budget nazi like this….

or perhaps you prefer the more casual/relaxed budgeting plan like myself…

It doesn’t really matter HOW you track your money, but simply that you ARE tracking your money. How you budget is up to you, but one thing everyone should do is at least have some type of plan. This means planning for unlikely events too.

So today I thought we could do just that and play the “What if” game. Are you in?

What would you do if you walked in to your office today and were told to go home because you were fired/laid off?

On the surface, the question may not appear that interesting, but when I started thinking about it more, I realized I’d be up a creek without a paddle. Sure my E-fund will help temper the financial strain for a few months, but eventually I’d have to start making some money.

Unfortunately, this is the major dilemma. To be perfectly honest, I highly doubt I’d be able to gain employment at a salary comparable to what I’m currently making. In fact, I don’t even know if I could find a job that paid me $10k or $20K a year less.

I suppose if I was an nurse or the like, I’d be able to rest easy knowing most hospitals are always hiring, but last time I checked “Special Agent experience” wasn’t a prerequisite on too many job descriptions.

Fortunately, my position is relatively secure so I shouldn’t have to worry about being let go, but I couldn’t help but think about how royally screwed I’d be if I was. Honestly, if I was let go, I’d probably be applying to entry level positions in the $35k-$40k/yr range; trying to work my way up the corporate ladder. And if six months down the road I was still unemployed, you better believe I’d be at the drive-thru asking you “Do you want fries with that?”

How ’bout you? Honestly think about your skillset and the job market in your area. If you were to be fired today, do you think you could find a comparable salary elsewhere reasonably fast? How long do you think it would take? If you answered yes, what field are you in? If you answered no, like me, how much of an income cut do you think you’d be looking at taking?

Hopefully we never find ourselves in this situation, but it never hurts to prepare for the worst.

I’m a reject

So I casually mentioned a few weeks back that I had a phone interview with a small Seattle based company… Microsoft. Have you heard of them? Well, I just heard back from HR and am proud to announce…. I GOT REJECTED!!!!! Booya! Here was the email I got from the super nice recruiter lady…

So, as you can see, I was clearly under-qualified for the position to which I applied. Fortunately, I knew that I didn’t have a shot in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks of getting past the first round of interviews. To be honest, I don’t even know why I was referred for an interview in the first place? Perhaps the recruiter that referred me for interview was high, on mushrooms (or Sharpie markers). That”s the only logical I can think of at least.

Was I shocked to be the newest member of the interview reject club? No. Was I bummed out to get rejected? A little. Will I apply for another gig at Microsoft again? ABSOLUTELY!

It’s important when you are not selected for a job/internship/college of choice, that you don’t take it personally. I knew going in to the interview I had an uphill battle to fight, since as noted in the email, I had absolutely no technical or IT experience. Who woulda thought Microsoft would want someone with computer experience? Weird, right?

So why did I apply for a position I wasn’t qualified for? The way I see it there were really only two outcomes.

1. I go through the interview, get completely dominated by it, am turned down, but still get to learn a lot about how Microsoft interviews work.

2. I, by some freak accident, get a job offer.

As you can see, both option 1 and 2 are pretty freakin’ cool. Either way I come out a winner.

I’ll be keeping you posted as I hopefully will go through many more job interviews in the coming months and years. Even if I don’t ever get another job offer, at least I’ll be one heck of an interviewer.

Have you ever been an interview reject? Have you ever taken it personally? You ever applied to the same company that previously rejected you? Am I the only person that actually enjoys job interviews?

p.s. If you work for Microsoft give me a job, thanks ūüôā

**UPDATE: I should mention I know a few people that are high up in MSFT. They encouraged me to apply for this specific position, as well as other similar roles, as MSFT sometimes will hire “investment candidates” for these roles. Meaning applicants that don’t necessarily have the technical knowledge expected, but demonstrate the capacity to learn quickly. It should also be noted, these positions are not highly technical¬† (software developer, coder, etc), but more along the lines of relationship manager to clients that use MSFT products.**

Paying to Work

I love what I do – but it is kind of a love-hate relationship with teaching. ¬†I just finished my first year as a contracted teacher and it was a rollercoaster. ¬†There are some things about my work that some people just don’t understand…Ninja especially.

My job costs money. ¬†Like really, lots of it. ¬†The costs are not ALWAYS necessary, but definitely worth each penny. ¬†It’s a job of many titles when you teach kindergarten. ¬†You are nanny, custodian, counselor, mommy, interior classroom designer, researcher, and of course, teacher. ¬†I found that spending money on certain things helped with my organization, shortened certain tasks, and just made things easier. ¬†Unfortunately, these things cost money.

In my eyes, the benefits outweigh the cost. ¬†Ninja, on the other hand didn’t (and still doesn’t) always understand how a job can actually cost us money. ¬†Simple things like a headphones for the computers, a book stand for my library, or even a GLADE scent plug-in made HUGE differences. Each purchase either solved a problem or made me more efficient. ¬†Dividing my list of things to buy into “have to haves” and “wishes” and knocking out small things one at a time is our perfect compromise.

Now, starting a new school year…after a 1,200 mile move mind you…I’m on the hunt for filling my new classroom and making it ready for the 20 little crazys I will get to meet soon. Craigseasy, Pinterest, eBay, and Sunday paper ads are my new addictions. ¬†Bookcases, rugs, books, folders, pencil boxes, bulletin boards, chart stands…the list goes ON and ON and ON. ¬†BUT, being married to a budget nazi, I have found a need to compromise. ¬†There are things that I want, but understand how backwards it is to pay out my pocket for my job and therefore I carefully pick out things that are worth paying for and then find them on sale.

As I’m reminded everyday, communication and compromise are the ingredients for a successful marriage.

Does your job cost you money? How much would you be willing to pay for work?  Am I crazy for doing what I do? How do you decide what to buy and what to keep wishing for?

Get back to work lazy!

If you are reading this, I’m 95% confident you are probably at work. Do you know what that means? It means you aren’t actually “working”, unless of course your boss pays you to read my blog, which would mean you have to the coolest job in the world… right?

I’ve been talking with a bunch of friends recently about how productive they are during their work day. Some of them work solid 10 hour days, every day, even though they only get paid for 8, but the LARGE majority of them confessed to only being productive 2-4 hours a day.

I had a job in college as a ‘building manager’. It essentially meant I got paid to sit behind a desk in a large campus building and answer questions that students had. My shifts usually lasted 4 to 6 hours and I maybe put in a solid 30 minutes of work each time. It got really bad when I worked the late shift (6pm to 11pm). No one would go to the building I worked in at night, so after 5pm it was a ghost town. Sometimes, I would just leave a note that said “If you need help please call…”. I’d leave my cell phone number and then go visit friends in the dorms or go back to my place and watch TV. It was either get paid to sit behind a desk in solitude, or get paid to watch TV in my apartment. The choice wasn’t a difficult one.

Was this unethical? Perhaps, but let’s be real, not even YOU work 100% of the hours you are paid for. I realize some jobs (physician, waiter, etc) don’t really allow slacking off, but for most, I’m assuming you spend a good chunk of your time surfing the web, reading the news, chatting with coworkers, taking a long lunch, and trying to look busy.

Be bold, be honest, be real, and share how many hours you think you will legitimately work today. You already have to deduct the amount of time you’ve spent reading this post ūüôā If you don’t want to “out” yourself, you can always comment anonymously to keep your identity hidden. I’m guessing the majority are gonna fall between 5-7 hours.

p.s. hopefully I’ll see ya back here Monday…assuming the world doesn’t come to an end an all…that would be inconvenient.

Quasi Job Interview….but not really.

Tick tock, goes the clock. Last month I gave myself one year to try and find a job I would love even more than my current position. Today, I’ll hopefully be one step closer to achieving that goal.

I have a friend in San Diego who works for a company you all know very well (think Amazon, Costco, Microsoft, Starbucks, etc). This friend has major connections throughout the company and passed my information along to one of his colleagues (let’s call him Joe) here in Washington. Today, I’ll be meeting Joe for lunch. I’ve never met Joe before, so a lot rides on today’s man date.

I’ve gone on several interviews over the last few years, but I’ve never done a casual lunch. It’s kinda stressing me out a bit. Here are a few I’ve been thinking about…

What do I wear?

I’m gonna play it safe and go business casual. Slacks and a dress shirt. There’s a good chance Joe will be wearing jeans, but ya never know. What if he was in a full suit? When in doubt, error on the side of professionalism.

Should I bring my resume?

This is a tricky one. We’re doing lunch, not an interview. I don’t want to bring my resume to lunch and have him be thinking “WTF, slow down man, I don’t even know your name.” I’ll probably bring a copy, but leave it in the car. If the opportunity presents itself during lunch, I can always tell him I have a copy of my resume and would be happy to provide it to him afterwards.

Who pays?

This one’s a no-brainer. He is meeting me for lunch because his colleague (my friend) asked him to. I obviously should foot the bill. But what if he insists? Or what if he says he will put it on the company card? I’ll do everything I can to communicate my desire to pay for lunch, but need be prepared for a refusal on his part. Have you ever been to lunch with someone’s parents. They start to pay for your food, you tell them you can pay for yourself, they insist, you insist, they hand the cashier some money, and then you reach in your wallet and try shoving money at them. Paying the bill, when two people are being stubborn, can get REAL awkward REAL quick. I’d like to avoid that situation at all costs, even if it means letting him pay.

How will it end?

This is really my biggest concern. As far as I know, Joe has no intentions of trying to get me a job with his company. He’s simply meeting me because my friend asked him to. That means I have between 30 and 60 minutes to prove to Joe I’d be an asset to his team. I imagine one of two things will happen at the conclusion of lunch….

1) He will say “Ninja it was nice to meet. I’ll keep you in mind if anything comes up down the road.” Although those are the words that would come out of his mouth, he’d really be saying “Look Ninja, you’re alright, but I only met with you as a favor. You’re on your own buddy.”

or

2) He will say “Ninja it was really nice to meet you. Get me a copy of your resume and we’ll start exploring some opportunities with my company.” These are the words I want to hear. Anything that is an indication he not only liked me as a person, but is willing to go out of his way to help me get my foot in the door.

I probably sound super paranoid right now. I promise I’m not that stressed about it, but I’d be lying if I said each of these things hasn’t crossed my mind. If nothing else, at least it will be a great learning experience ūüôā Wish me luck!

Have you ever gone on a non-interview, interview? Is there anything I’m over-thinking, or haven’t thought about? If Joe insists on paying for lunch, do I let him, or shove my card in the waitresses face first?

Would you settle for second best?

While Spring time for me and you might mean putting away the winter clothes, getting out the tennis rackets, and going on some Easter egg hunts, it means something completely different for Girl Ninja. Spring means hunting season… job hunting season that is.

As you all know we decided to move to Seattle. I’ve already made the move, but she wont be coming up until the end of June so she can finish teaching her first full year of Kindergarten in San Diego. We couldn’t have gotten out of SD at a better time as the San Diego School District’s budget is jacked up beyond repair. Teachers are getting laid off left and right. Fortunately, things in Washington aren’t as bad. She’s spent the last few weeks applying to various public and private school in WA.

The school district Girl Ninja would like to teach in is accepting applications for next year. She thinks this is her best chance to get in with the public school system since a few of her friends teach in the district. The pay is decent ($41K), the benefits are awesome, and the kids shouldn’t be quite as EVIL as her current students. It’s unclear how many positions are available, nor is it clear how many people will be applying for said positions. We hope she gets offered a job, but we aren’t counting on it (most school districts hire from within before they’ll look at out of state applicants).

If she isn’t able to get a contract in a public school district, she’d be happy to go private. Private schools are awesome because class size is typically small and the kids’ parents are typically more involved. The downside, however, is the pay is typically about $9,000 less than a comparable public school position and the benefits are mediocre.

If she can’t get a public school or private school contract, the last option would be to substitute teach all year. This is obviously the least desirable outcome as subbing means she never knows when or where she’ll be working. Oh and did I mention the most she could make in a school year subbing is $20,000? And that’s assuming she was able to substitute every single day, which is not likely. We’ll take what we can get, but we are really hoping she doesn’t have to go back to subbing.

We assume she will hear back from the private school she applied to long before there is any movement on her public school application. If she were to be offered the private school gig, we’re guessing she’d make about $32,000/year. That’s $12,000 more than she would make as a substitute, but $9,000 less than she would make as a public school teacher. And thus the dilemma, do you settle for second best or shoot for the stars?

Girl Ninja has made it clear she wants a teaching contract, preferably at a public school, but she’d be happy to go private over having to substitute. If selected for the private school position, she’d probably be notified in May. If she is selected for a public school position, however, it could easily be July or August before she got an offer (she didn’t get her current position until September, one week after school had started). The way I see it there are really only three choices for her to make if she is offered the private school gig.

1) Accept the offer and rescind her public school application.

2) Decline the offer and hope for a public school contract, knowing she might end up subbing instead.

3) Accept the offer, and then quit if she gets offered a public school contract.

The first two options are black and white. The third option, however, is definitely a gray area. Selfishly it’s the best option for us. She’d be guaranteed $32,000/year, but still have the potential to take a $41,000 position. It’s great for us, but bad for the private school. They could potentially be left scrambling to find a replacement. Quite the moral dilemma. And right now, we have no idea what to do. Why do I feel like we’ve been in this position before, oh wait, because we have!

Have you ever applied for and been offered one job while waiting on another? If you accept an offer are you obligated to follow through and start work? Where do you draw the line in this gray area?

of course all of this is assuming she is offered the private school position, which she might not be. it’s good to plan ahead though right?

 

I’m pretty much half German.

I’m nearing the end of my third week here in Germany so I thought I’d share with you today some of my experiences. Hopefully you find this somewhat entertaining.

What I do with my time:

I think the single biggest revelation I’ve had since leaving the states is this: I am lame. When I’m not out and about working, I spend the majority of my time in my hotel room…on the internet. Might as well have stayed in the States ’cause I definitely haven’t taken in all Germany has to offer.

I think I have at least a semi-acceptable excuse for being lame though… I’m all by myself. Cool things are less cool when you don’t have someone to share your experiences with. Thankfully, Girl Ninja is actually on an airplane right now en route to come visit! She’ll be here for one week and we are planning on hitting up France, Luxembourg, possibly Belgium, and obviously a few cities in Germany. I’ve been pretty lame these last few weeks, but hopefully I can make up for it towards the tail end of my trip.

What’s weird to me:

The stop lights in Germany are on the near side of the intersection. I have no idea why the lights are situated in such an awkward spot. If I am the first car stopped at an intersection, I have to open my sunroof (or bend down and look straight up) just to see when the stoplight changes ’cause it’s literally directly above the car.¬† Why aren’t they across the intersection (like in the states) for easy viewing?

Why aren’t Germans fat?

I also don’t understand how Germans aren’t fat. The food here is pretty heavy. Lots of fried meats and carbs. I haven’t really ventured in to the world of Schnitzel yet, but I have eaten many many Doner Kebabs (kinda like a Gyro). Every time I do, I feel like I’m going straight to hell…or at least gaining 10lbs. I’ve been trying to find plates that at least have a salad and some (non-fried) chicken. Here’s a shot of one of my dinners….

Sightseeing:

I did manage to get out one weekend and drove to Heidelberg, Germany; a fairly small town about an hour south of Frankfurt. I visited the Heidelberg Castle, which was originally built in 1214! That was really awesome. Being that I’m from America, I hadn’t seen anything older than a couple hundred years. It was really fun walking around the city, feeling like I was experiencing authentic Germany. I’m excited to see even more this weekend. Here are a few pictures from my outing…

This isn't a castle. It's a freakin' house!!!!
A shot of the castle, it's huge!!!
View of the city from the Castle Courtyard
Awkward naked man/god fountain thingy
Shot of the Castle over the city plaza
This is where all the smokers hang out
Gluttony?
Hey, wait! Where have I seen one of these before?

 

A few other things that are “different”…

  • Dogs are allowed to hang out in restaurants.
  • The waiter wont come to your table and check on you unless you waive them down.
  • Very few, virtually no, restaurants take credit or debit.
  • If you order a water, you’ll get laughed at.
  • Sales tax is 19%.
  • This letter… √ü …makes an “s” sound and not a “b” sound.
  • It’s normal to park your car on the sidewalk.
  • Daylight savings wasn’t until last weekend.
  • Gas is no joke, $8/gallon.
  • Everything is closed on Sunday. I’m talking like 99% of shops and restaurants in my area.
  • But the weirdest thing so far was when I went 110mph on the Autobahn…and got passed!!!!

Which foreign countries have you been to? What were some things that stood out to you as odd?

“How do you make money, de-clutter your jewelry box and save the earth? Sell sliver. Think about…Instead of throwing it away, taking it to some whack pond shop who will most likely try to scam you, go to a professional, who will reuse the silver and pay you appropriately. Your money, our earth. It just makes sense. This post has been sponsored by Birk’s Gold Exchange.”