Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The post is in

Today was an awesome day in my mailbox. First I came home and I saw three packages. I received the stuff I ordered from ebay. I got some really cute stamps. Kind of a splurge, but very cute. My crafting definitely causes me to spend more money than I would if I were to just buy the items I make. Next I got two packages from bzzagent. I'm going to be bzzing about Ralph Hot, a new fragrance, and Nutella. Let me know if anyone wants a referral and I will be happy to share. Next I picked up the stuff from my mailbox and I got a check in the mail that I wasn't sure if I was going to get. I was out sick for 2 weeks and I filed for short term disability. I got rejected by the state, but the reason for the rejection was kind of an administrative reason, so my supplemental insurance provided by my company came through and paid me. Yippee!!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Miles and points - my way to keep track of them

As a frequent traveler, I get a lot of miles and points. I have found a cool, free program to keep track of all of my points from airlines, hotels, rental car companies, and even a few other programs like Amex Membership Rewards and MyPoints.

The USA Mile Tracker program is awesome! It's a free download. Just put in all of your account info (you can keep track of more than one person's accounts on one computer). You can access the program from your desktop and you can get updates as long as you're connected to the web. Then you can see how many points you have in Delta, United, American, Hilton, etc. all at once.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Usability Study

Today I participated in a usability study with Yahoo. For those who don't know what a usability study is (I wasn't too sure until I did it today), I was in a room with several cameras and a one way mirror. There was someone interviewing me as I interacted with a website. I signed some disclosure agreement, so I'm not sure how much I can say about the study. It was an hour long and they paid me $75 in the form of an American Express gift check. I was a bit worried since I was about 10 minutes late for the study. They called me when I was one minute late (I was almost there), but then I got lost after I spoke with them. The lady who did the study was very understanding. It did end up taking the full hour. All in all, a good experience. I don't think usability studies are like focus groups, so I hope I will get selected again. The woman said I was very helpful and I think I had some good suggestions. I found out about the study by checking out the etc section of craigslist. Very helpful if you live in a big city or in a place where craigslist is popular. I did some more 2 minute surveys for usability studies at some other software companies - hope I get chosen!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

About calgirlfinance

The best blogs are the ones that update frequently. However my occupation usually does not give me the luxury to do so. Instead I wander around the fringes of the PF blog community, commenting here and there. I did an inventory of my net worth, yet I was too shy to put it up. Let's say I'm somewhere in the mid-thirties, with the majority of it in retirement savings (like around $30K). I hope that as time goes on, I will be less shy.

I figure my eventual readers will want to know more about me, so here goes.

I live in the SF Bay Area. I am a consultant. I live with my mom. I am getting married in less than 6 months (then I will move in with the new hubby). Since I live with my mom, I am able to save a ton of money (like over 70%). I am Christian. I am behind on my tithing. I plan to get promoted in June (or switch jobs). I have been at my current job for 6 months. I like coupons. I buy 80% of my clothes at Ann Taylor. I always buy clothes on sale. I spend too much money on clothes (remember I am still saving 70% of my income). The only way I can do that is by doing direct deposits into my 401K, IRA, emergency fund, etc. I am planning on spending $25K on my wedding. I am paying half out of my own pocket. Before becoming a consultant, I used to bring my lunch to work 95% of the time. Since becoming a consultant, I have brought my lunch from home 0% (just very impractical). When I travel, I get a $64/day meal allowance, which I pocket if I don't spent it. Normally I make between $100-$200/week on my meal allowance (note this is extra money that I do not use to calculate my "savings" rate of 70%). I would make more on my meal allowance except I often go out to dinner with my co-workers. I am 26 and a woman (I hope you could tell by now). I am thinking about doing direct selling and have been for some time. I love doing arts and crafts, but it's hard for me to come up with ideas. More about me later.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It pays to complain

I have always found that it pays to complain when something doesn't go the way it should. I had a recent experience with Hertz (car rental) to share with my readers (I believe there are a total of 0).

Hertz recently charged me $60 for a 3 day rental. The typical price is about $160. About one week after I received my receipt, they finally charged my credit card $160. I was shocked. I knew the original rental price was a mistake, but I expected them to charge my credit card the price stated on my receipt. By this time, I had already filed an expense reimbursement form. While I could have done an adjustment form, it was a hassle that I did not want to deal with.

So I called the billing inquiries department who insisted that they had charged me the correct amount. I asked if the item had been re-invoiced and they said no. After some pushing on my part, they put me on hold and transferred me to the local office from which I had rented. This person was able to see that I was originally charged $60 and she had no idea why I was charged $160. We agreed that there had been some sort of error. She put me on hold to do some research. Then she came back and said that there was an error with all of the Hertz computers that day and almost everyone had been charged for a one day rental rather than the correct number of days. I told her I understood that the problem couldn't be helped, but I was very shocked that I hadn't been informed that I would be charged a higher rate and since it took so long to get the charge on my credit card, I had no choice but to pay it. I also mentioned that I was a frequent traveler and a Gold member. After much back and forth, she finally agreed to refund my money. Yippee!

In the end, I saved no money since the item was fully reimbursable by my company. However I ended up feeling much happier. If it had been my own money, I would have been ecstatic about that $100. Now I just need to make sure that the credit appears on my card.