Sunday, July 30, 2006

Watch what they charge you at the register

Twice in the past month, my mother and I have been victims of check-out clerk overcharging. The first incident happened about 3 weeks ago at Long's Drug Stores. My mom was getting some vitamins. Afterwards, she felt like something was wrong. We verified the number of items she purchased was the same number that they charged us on the receipt. We decided to go home. Once at home, my mom realized that they charged her twice for one item ($12.99) and didn't charge her for another item ($7.99). I don't think it was purposeful, just human error.

The second incident happened yesterday. We were at Albertson's, a grocery store in our area. We had purchased A LOT of items since everything was 70% off. As part of their strategy, they are closing some of their underperforming Northern California stores. My mom also had a coupon for $6 off $60 and since everything was at least 70% off, we wanted to make sure we spent at least $60. We ended up getting a lot of marinades, sauces, and soups - mostly non perishable items. The most expensive thing we got, was some frozen hot wings. We purchased two, but the clerk charged us for 3. Luckily I was reviewing the screen and caught that. It was the most expensive thing we purchased. Originally priced at 7.99, purchased at $2.40.

Overall once everything was scanned, the screen read $326. Once the discounts and our $6 off coupon was factored in, we spent $93.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I hate budgeting. I hate keeping track of what I spend. Instead, I just automatically save what I need to (direct deposit to 4 different accounts) and ONLY spend what's left. It seems to work for me. I frequently log into my bank and credit card accounts to make sure I have enough money in my bank account to cover my credit card account. However, with the additional wedding expenses, it's a bit harder to manage. I need to categorize expenses on my credit card into wedding / non wedding related items and make sure I DO NOT transfer more money that what I spent on wedding related items. If there's ever a month when I give my credit card a lot of exercise, I'm usually able to pull back a little in the next month so it all evens out.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Semi Social Consciousness

I absolutely love cities. They are so convenient. As someone who hates to drive and is somewhat socially conscious (well to be honest, I'm only socially conscious when it is convenient to me or if it promotes something else I already believe in), living near public transportation is key. As an example of my social consciousness - I could not see myself getting an SUV anytime soon (maybe after I have kids) since they are such gas guzzlers. However, I love renting SUVs. This also may be related to my frugality. I wouldn't want to pay for the gas for an SUV, but when I rent, it's all reimbused back to me.

I remember reading an article in the New Yorker two or three years ago about NYC. If you look at the amount of pollution it produces relative to its square footage, it is astronomical. However if you divide the amount of pollution by its population, you find that it produces the least amount of pollution per person. I just loved the convenience of the city and knowing that I wasn't hurting the environment too much.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Wins and Losses for the Day

A review of my day:
1. Win: did not stay at home by myself. The SF Bay Area is having a heat wave. If I had stayed at home, I would need to turn on the A/C for the whole downstairs of the house. Instead I ran some errands and did some shopping. I stopped by Starbucks since my boss wanted me to do some work. However when I told him I was at Starbucks, he decided he didn't want me to work on it since I'm in a public place.
2. Win: $4.20 spent on cold drink at Starbucks. I was thinking about driving home, but see #1. Also I am meeting some friends later so hanging out at Starbucks lets me save about 30-40 miles of driving. While I could have had the same benefit by staying at the mall, I didn't want to tempt myself further.
3. Win: Did not buy anything from the luggage/travel store. Next to Starbucks is a decently priced travel store. There are some travel items that I have been coveting from Eagle Creek such as their Pack It Cubes and Pack It Folders. I thought about it and decided that I could hold off for a little bit. I am going to move onto another project so I don't know when I'm going to be put onto a traveling project again. If I am put on another long term traveling project, I will definitely invest in the Eagle Creek traveling items.
4. Neutral: Bought some potential wedding shoes. They cost $75 and I don't love them. But they could save me from having to go shopping again.
5. Neutral: Went to a bridal store over someone's garage. I was looking for a headpiece or veil, however, the prices were a lot more than I had expected. My sister had gotten her veil at the same store 3 years ago for a lot less. This was negative since it was a waste of gas, however, I am glad I went. Also it helped me decide on what kind of stuff I want to put in my hair (now I just need to find some clips that I like)
6. Neutral/Loss: Bought some capri pants for $30. I have been looking for capri pants for some time. I would have categorized this as a win except for the fact that I left my gift card at home. I'm going to try to see if I can get the money back on my credit card and use my gift card. I was really mad at myself when I realized that I forgot my giftcard.

All in all, not a bad day so far.

I'm about to go and meet some friends for dinner now, so hopefully that won't be too expensive.

Discrepency in my 401K

Last night I was reviewing my 401K statements and pay stubs for the past year. I know I should review this on a more consistent basis. I noticed one discrepency. I contribute about $570 to my 401K every pay cycle (twice a month), however, there was one contribution for $460 in the month of June. I also had 4 deposits in the month of June. The deposit date into my 401K account is not always the exact date that I get paid - it's typically a few days later. So I tried to call Merrill Lynch. Of course, it was after hours and they were closed. At first, I thought they had deposited about $100 less than they owed me. After continuing to review the statements, I realized that I appeared to have an extra paycheck for June. However, when I actually clicked and looked at my paycheck, I saw that it was a test document. So in reality, I now believe that Merrill Lynch gave me an extra $460.

I was dreading having to call them to clear this up.

In a situation like this, would you call the company up and let them know or would you let them (potentially) figure it out and let you know?

Friday, July 21, 2006

What my time is worth

Laws of Finance recently posted that his time is worth $150/hour. That is how much the law firm he is interning at is charging for his services. Working in a professional services firm as a consultant, I can very easily see how much the client is being charged for my services. I also handle the fees, expenses, and billing of our project. I think this information may be somewhat sensitive, so I will give a ballpark figure. My time is billed to the client at a rate that is slightly lower, but in the same range as that of Laws of Finance. However, when I get promoted (and a raise), my rate should be slightly higher than the billing rate of Laws of Finance, but in a similar range. Both my current rate and my new rate will be between $100/hr and $200/hr.

Now imagine if I were an independent contractor. Then when if I billed the client $150/hr that is what I really would be making!

Of course in consulting, we actually work a lot more hours than we bill. So our rates are not as outrageous as they seem. While my rate is similar to Laws of Finance, I know when I bill 9 hours/day, I really work about 11 hours/day.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Promotion and Salary/Raise Discussion

This calgirl is happy since she has been promised a promotion. After the formal review process, I received the highest possible rating out of 5 (I rated myself the second highest possible rating). The scale is basically: bad, fair, acceptable, good, excellent (I have renamed the ratings). I have been told that 70% of employees receive an acceptable rating and it's pretty rare to get an excellent rating, so I'm happy.

I also talked to my supervisors about my salary concerns, both my immediate supervisor who doesn't know my salary and our overall supervisor who has access to salary info. I expressed my concerns in a very diplomatic way. The overall supervisor admitted that based on the information I provided, my salary was on the lower end (it appears to be lower than some people who are a level below me). We talked about what happened when I was hired and he asked if I was given what I asked for or more than what I asked for. I was given what I asked for and he was surprised. He said they typically try to go a few thousand above what someone asks for so they come into the company happy. I was happy to come into the company at what I asked for at the time, but after further reflection, it was less than I should have asked for.

He said salary discussions have not happened yet, but with the promotion, it should be more than made up for. So I have high hopes for a large raise. The unfortunate thing is at a large company, sometimes someone will say that they will try to do something and then be unable to deliver on that promise based on pressure or restrictions from above.

With my fiance, I have determined that I would be satisfied, but not happy with a $5,000 raise, Happy with a $10,000 raise, and ecstatic with more than a $10,000 raise. Based on the salary information I have on other co-workers, I expect to receive a raise around $10,000, but I'm not counting on it until I get official notice. Anything less than $5,00 would upset me and potentially cause me to look for a new job.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Banking Statements When You No Longer Bank There

I used to bank at Chase (aka JP Morgan Chase) when I lived in NY. I closed my account some time ago, probably in November or December of 2005. At that time, I transferred all of my money out. However, I earn some interest on my money that was credited after the account was closed. 2 cents to be exact. Now I STILL continue to get account statements, detailing the progress of my 2 cents. It has been at least 6 months, if not more since I closed the account. I was on the Chase website earlier since I have a Chase credit card. I decided to try and contact them to let me know that they can have my 2 cents or to ask them to transfer it to my credit card payment, but I couldn't get the link for "Contact Us" to work. Oh well.

I'm a consultant, I should parlay this knowledge into a proposal to Chase.