Thursday, March 6, 2008

Alright – Blog Stockers – Here’s your Second Chance.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the biggest reasons I started this blog is because I enjoy the feedback from readers. In an effort to encourage more commenting I’m holding a second comment contest. The second contest will run from Friday, March 7th until Friday, March 28th.

The way it works is any comments posted between March 7th and March 28th on any blog entry will be eligible to win a financial goodie. The more comments the more chances to win. At the end of the contest I will randomly draw one winner from all of the comments posted. Check out the Winner and process from the last contest.

I’ve decided for this contest to give away a second copy of one of my favorite books, The Millionaire Next Door, if/when I do a third contest it will be a different financial goodie – feel free to chime in with suggestions.

Happy commenting and make sure to check back after March 28th to see who won, especially if the winner happens to be you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I love the Perks of Working for My Company

One of the perks I get by working for my company is that subcontractors are always "wining and dining" us trying to gain the opportunity to bid our work.

Let me preface this with the fact that I've always been a very firm believer in treating the company's money like it was your own - so if you wouldn't buy a $100 steak with your money don't do it with the company's money. The "wine and dines" I feel are slightly different, they want you to enjoy your self and the purpose of the event is to well "wine and dine you" so take advantage of the opportunity to go a little outside your norm, but don't take advantage of the situtaion. (I realize I used advantage twice, but I think you know what I mean). In fact Frugal Zeitgeist recently posted about this topic.

With that said, the reason I love these "wine and dines" is two part. The first is its usually some place or some activity that I wouldn't ordinarily go to and the second reason is I get to enjoy luxuries I don't often afford myself.

Tonight was no exception. Our sub had reserved a box at the Thrashers Hockey Game and arranged for an amazing buffet and open bar. I never would have done something like this if it weren't a work event. On my subway ride home from the game I started thinking about the cost to an individual if they wanted to have a similar experience so here it goes --- Master Card style:

Hockey Ticket: $275 tickets
"Gourmet Dinner" Hockey Style: $60
Alcoholic Beverages served in your seat: $50

An evening with your closet friends from work: Priceless

Yeah there's no way I'd normally spend almost $400 to attend a Hockey Game -- I'd much rather watch it at home a heck of a lot cheaper. But I'm very grateful to the sub that provided this opportunity as it was an amazing time (even if the home team lost).

PS - As a side note and follow up to my post yesterday "Are Salaries No Longer Taboo to Talk About?" one of the main topics of conversation at the hockey game tonight was the shock of being asked this question. No one could believe a dollar figure for salary was asked plus a ton of people are really surprised Mr. Other VP answered with an actual dollar figure. Maybe my overreaction to the question being asked was biased by the culture of the company I work for - at my company you just don't talk about those things at all.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Are Salaries No Longer Taboo to Talk About?

Last night I along with 3 co-workers had the pleasure of going to my alma-mater to present a guest lecture in a construction seminar class. The presentation was on safety in the construction industry and highlighted one of our projects. Since our company had the opportunity to be in front a large audience of mostly seniors (about 70 of them), we took the liberty of using the last five minutes of the class to give a plug for our company by sharing the three career paths within the construction industry using our company as the example. Following the career paths highlights we opened up the floor for Q&A on the entire presentation.

We had a very lively and thought provoking Q&A regarding safety until a student in the 6th row raised his hand and asked “Where’s the money?” At first I thought this was about the money to pay for safety equipment and explained that the money for safety is the responsibility of every company and it would be irresponsible not to ensure safety because of money. Then proceeded to list examples where by providing a safe working environment for construction workers productivity actually increased. The student then said “No, in the career paths, where’s the money at?”

I couldn’t believe he asked this question, especially since the people in the room who heard him ask that question are the decision makers in the company (the ones who decide who to hire and who to fire) – not exactly the kind of impression you want to make when you’re going to be looking for a job soon.

But since he asked the question, I responded in the most honest way I could with all paths are similar with regards to compensation, some have certain perks over the other but for the most part if all balances out. The money is in the path that makes you the most happy so you can be the most successful. If you hate what you do, chances are you’re going to struggle to go above and beyond which is the source for monetary rewards.

But just wait – that’s not what blew me away and made me wonder if salary information is no longer taboo. A different student then chimed in with “So what is the going rate for an entry level job at your company?” In my head I’m going HUH…you want me to name a figure?

Out loud I respond with “umm…our company pays very competitive salaries.”

Another student piped up with “How competitive, give us a dollar amount…”

It could be my conservative nature, but never have I asked others about their salary or shared (other than indirectly on this blog) my salary. When asked a to name a number I’m thinking inside my head – are you freakin’ serious?

Well one of the VP’s of our company, jumps in and says “ you were part of the college recruiting event we held this past year, what was the dollar figure used in the offer letters, it was $50,000, right?”

In my head, I’m thinking, how do you want me to answer this?

I mumble “yes around that, some a little more some a little less it all depended on previous experience and location due to cost of living”.

I’m still blown away that this conversation even occurred. I’m also blown away that this VP (not Mr. VP, a different Vice President - one that I’ve never had as a boss or boss’s boss) actually named a dollar figure. Am I being too conservative, when is it okay to talk openly about salary? Do you think I overreacted to the fact this question was asked?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday Money Funny - Spending Mis-Deposited Money

One of the regular features on my blog is "Monday's Money Funny" which are humorous (at least to me) articles/jokes/just about anything that I've discovered over the weekend when I catch up on all my on line reading that spark a need for knowledge. For example last week's was on Why People Believe Weird Things about Money and a very interesting article from the LA Times.

This week, I ran across too very similar articles, one from the Chicago Sun-Times and the other from the Boston Globe. Both are articles about men who used money accidentally deposited into the their bank accounts and are now charged with the crime of using this money.

Highlights from the Chicago Sun-Times Article:
"A man was charged with withdrawing $2 million from an account after a bank confused him with a man who has the same name. Benjamin Lovell was arraigned Tuesday on grand larceny charges. The 48-year-old salesman said he tried to tell officials at Commerce Bank in December that he did not have a $5 million account. He says he was told it was his and he could withdraw the money [...]"

Highlights from the Boston Globe Article:
"A La Vista man was charged with felony theft after he spent $80,000 his bank deposited by mistake in his account.
George J. Costa, 45, is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property. It is a crime to take money that's been "delivered under a mistake. More than $106,000 was deposited into Costa's account between August 2006 and February after a Pinnacle Bank employee mixed up account numbers, according to the Nebraska State Patrol. [...]"

Now, I realize that both of these men, most likely new that this money was not theirs to spend, but what if it had only been an extra $200 deposited, do you think they would have realized it was not their money?

I ask this because I know so many people who don't keep track of their financial papers (recipets, CC statements, etc) or balance their check book. Honestly, would you know if an extra $200 had been deposited in your accounts?

This promted me to do a little research, if you're like Albert Einstein and struggle balancing your check book I found a how to guide for you at ehow (personally I don't balance mine on paper either, I use an excel document to balance my checkbook - so much easier and less work).

Also for those of you who are struggling to figure out what to save and what to shred as far as your financial paper I found a good chart at that tells you how long to keep your documents. And when you're ready to get ride of your no longer needed financial documents, make sure to use a shredder. Kevin over at No Debt Plan has an interesting post about shredding documents.

This year I finally got tired of all the paper I keep and decided to embark on a paperless filing system. I scan every document that comes in, save it on my hard drive in a password protected winzip file, with a back up on a USB drive. So far its worked wonderfully I can shred pretty much all of my documents and since I save everything with the name of the institutes, a description, and a date I can easily access it all.

Well that's it for this Monday. Stay tuned for next week's Monday's Money Funny. Also if you run across any Money Funnies please email them to me at and if I use them I will give you credit and link to your blog.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Its Offical - Future Millionaire has a new Apartment!

As promised here the update on My Apartment Search:

On Saturday, after receiving the email from the APM at the Apartment Complex Fashionista and I want to live in, I went over to check out the two apartments she had on special.

Neither one was perfect, they both were in the building we had originally veto'ed since it was next to Subway Tracks, but I was willing to consider since we liked the area and the complex.

After arriving there, I discovered that the subway train would be on the oposite side of the building from where both apartments were located. Standing outside of Apartment #2 I heard the subway coming and stepped back into Apartment #2 to see if you could hear the train and heard nothing. Hear No Evil Train, See No Evil Train, therefore I won't speak of an Evil Train. So that negated our original concerns about the subway being so close to this building.

Continuing on with the tour of the apartments:
Apartment #1 was on the second floor and the "courtyard" view was of the side wall of the parking deck with a vine growing up it. One floor below the the living room window was a picnic table and grill. But at least this was on the second floor and not the ground like the one we'd previous looked out. I still wasn't too thrilled about the lack of light and the noise from people at the grill. So onto Apartment #2.
Apartment #2 was on the top floor with a courtyard view of the tennis courts which are located on top of the parking garage - not crazy about the noise from the Tennis Courts but I figure that's farther away, blocked by some trees, so I'm more willing to consider it. Since Apartment #2 is on the top floor it had slightly higher ceilings, which made it feel much larger (I know there will be some heating and electric bill issues but its all about choices), plus since it was on the top floor and not blocked by the parking deck a lot more sun light came in, again making it feel larger. Over all I was really starting to like this unit. The one other thing to check out was the parking and access issue that was Fashionista's big concern. There is no covered parking on this level since the tennis courts are there, but you can park one level below and take the stairs which were about 20 feet from the front door of Apartment #2, or you can take the elevator which was about 50 feet from the front door.

I was still a little leery of this deal since it seemed so out of the blue, but had a long talk with the APM and felt comfortable and could see where a bird in the hand (us taking the apartment today) would be worth it to Apartment Management Company.

After the tour and the talk, I ducked out for a minute and call Fashionista to report, she agreeded that we probably couldn't get any better and that we liked the area, we liked the complex, and the apartment sounded great, even if there were a few compromises to make. We agreed that we should take the apartment today. I filled out our paper work and left a deposit. we just have to wait on approval of our application and we're good to move in on April 16th!

PS. The picture at the top is the floor plan of the unit we're going to be leasing.

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