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Archive for January, 2006

PAYDAY!!! - 30/jan/06

January 30th, 2006 at 12:01 pm

it's payday today....I received $214.00 (yes, that's for 2 weeks, no, it's not a typo!!)...they discount the loan (I took to consolidate as much debt as possible) directly from my salary...luckily, they don't discount all at once, but rather half ($80) every two weeks....from the $214.00 I received today I have to: pay Ale's school ($70), fill my car (about $15), buy a phone card for my cell ($2), buy one-week's worth of groceries (~$40), pay for utilities (~$35/ that's my share!)...if you notice, that leaves me about $12.00 to survive until next payday!! (we get paid a monthly bonus of $120 each 15th, which, after taxes,comes to about $90/month) --and people wonder why I get stressed over money!!

I feel vindicated!!!

January 26th, 2006 at 11:51 am

this morning I got a call from accounting, they wanted to know when I was going to return some invoices they sent for approval...I was like: huh? I have nothing pending (honest, I don't!)...well, you signed for them and they aren't back, can we check??...turns out the invoices were given to me in OCTOBER, after some searching, I found an email that I sent TO THE PERSON THAT WAS CALLING ME stating that these particular invoices were NOT "ours" and that they had been sent to the pertaining area/person for approval...she proceeds to ask me for the ticket number (things that are sensitive are to be sent with a numbered ticket via comail)...er, I don't have it...I don't even remember if I used one!...(I can feel her glowering at me over the phone)- who did you send it to?...-CP (the manager for the unit, and the one who was supposed to sign)...she hangs up on me and calls the SECRETARY for the unit and, of course, she doesn't remember...I NEVER talked to her about this!!...so, now I get an email stating they all want the ticket number so they can find out what happened to this...I send an email back, stating: I don't really even know if I used a ticket, this was 3 months ago (to the day!) and, with all the stuff that we send out (which is true!) I really can't remember from the top of my head. CP, it's difficult to remember based on invoice numbers alone, but these invoices are for training X, which I coordinated with the hotel, but which was to be charged to your cost center. I even drew up the payment request and sent it to you so all you had to do was sign....
Aha! - here comes a response from his secretary: Now that Maria mentioned the payment request, I remember you gave me those documents to be sent to accounting. I made a copy of the front page and, I just looked it up and, sure enough, it's from Maria and it has the invoice numbers and amounts. The ticket number was XXX and comail dept is showing it as RECEIVED IN ACCOUNTIN by XYZ - not the person calling me!
HA!! TAKE THAT!! - if anyone has lost those invoices, it was the accounting dept, not me!...Especially when they are invoices (but, honest, I have over 100 sent items with tickets for October) ...and here she was, treating me like I was some sort of criminal or like I'm disorganized or something! (I'm not the neatest person in the world, but I keep track of these things!)
In the future, everytime I send or give them something, I'll ask that they sign and stamp it!!

It's finally over!!

January 24th, 2006 at 12:12 pm

this issue with the storage and the moving company?? The one that cost the company ~$8K (actually ~$11K once you add the storage!) ...it was finally resolved yesterday...my boss agreed to pay part of the storage (the one that might be imputable to us due delays on the documentation we had to supply) and they agreed they'll try to recover the rest from the company they subcontracted to do the packing at origin (because most of the storage fees came about becasue the stuff couldn't be taken out of customs because the packing list was not detailed enough!)...Although I didn't authorize the expense, it fell somewhat under my duties to do the follow up and, actually, the authorization SHOULD have come from me...except I was tied up with trainings at the time and so I wasn't the one reviewing/approving the documentation - for $8K, you bet I wouldn't have authorized it myself, I would have gone to my boss and HE certainly would have said no!...luckily for me, this was authorized by HR, but, I was the go-between and so it fell on my lap once my boss said not to pay it and the moving company kept calling to collect! - so, that's one less thing to worry about!I feel sooooo relieved!
(and, yes, I try not to take these things too personally, but, it's really really hard!!- darn work ethics! LOL!)

****************
This refuses to die!!! I just got a call from the woman who handled the cargo: the moving company is going to charge her and she wants me to intercede with my boss so that we pay for it...which I know is NOT going to happen!!....aaaaaaaaarrrrghhh!

Ale is banned from my room for a week!

January 23rd, 2006 at 09:20 am

On the 10th, I bought a new package of contact lenses - 3 pairs of lenses, because my last ones broke...I expected to pay this from the extra $$ from the teaching job (I had already been hired) and, so I used my store credit card to get them at Siman (although their interest rate is awfully high, they do not charge you if you pay within the same period, meaning if I paid for them before Feb 10th, I wouldn't pay interest on them)...the bill came today (Monday 23rd)...

On FRIDAY (20th), I came home to find that Ale had opened all the containers and played with the lenses, letting them all dry! - except for the pair I was wearing at the time, of course!...

I got sooo mad!...Plus, we've been having this discussion about NOT touching things that aren't ours (repeated problems with my niece's stuff!) ...

I hope I don't come off as a child beater but, I did hit her hands repeatedly (more for the shock factor than for actual pain), and, she is now banned from my room for 1 week AND I'm not buying her ANYTHING - until I manage to buy my new lenses (this month I have to pay for the ones she ruined...next month I have to buy the new ones)...

Banishment from my room means: no cuddling up in the mornings or at night (she has her own room, but likes to come to my bed early in the morning before breakfast) and none of her regular TV shows (the other TV's in the house don't get Nickelodeon, we don't know why, but, since DD is the only one that watches it, we haven't gone around fixin it!), no movies....so it IS a strong punishment for her!- just remembered: must call the nanny to let her know!

It might seem a bit harsh for contacts, but, they are expensive and, also, contact lenses are no vanity for me, I cannot drive with glasses at night because of the reflection!!

People who care

January 20th, 2006 at 01:17 pm

I posted a while ago about my boss's maid, and about how the people that had lived/lives in the house were willing to pay for her little son's school and school-related stuff...
I had to call her a couple of times, but, she finally brought me the list of school supplies requested by the school (they are not willing to give her cash, for fear she will use it towards other expenses)...so I went and bought the stuff for her...I tried to get the best deals possible, but still, with uniforms, books, supplies and shoes (1 pair dress shoes, 1 pair tennis shoes) it came out at ~$74!!! I did get clearance before buying the shoes...but, I did not really get permission for the tennis shoes...but, if they say anything about it, I'm willing to let it come out of my pocket: that poor kid was wearing shoes that were 2 sizes too small!!...I don't think they'll object, though...and now he has everything he needs to start the school year!

You know what kills me? this child is my daughter's age (5 1/2) but, size 6 clothes are waaaay to big for him, he wears size 4 clothes! his shoes are size 29 (13)...Ale wears a size 30...in our circle, she's considered tiny and, next to him, she's tall! ...and, just think about it, because he has lived at the company house the last 2 years, he's had much better nutrition than his brothers!!
I'm glad my boss (& the others) have taken an interest in him and are willing to see that he gets a chance to improve his living conditions.

************
edited to say: they were ok with the tennis shoes!! - my boss was happy that I had taken that decision and, also that I suggested we keep a file - both physical and electronic - on all expenses, so that he can show it to the other people that have contributed to the fund! Smile

More classes starting on Monday!!

January 20th, 2006 at 07:45 am

I get a new group of students starting on MOnday, 2 hours each day, from Mon-Thurs, that's 8 more hours/week!! - WOO-HOO! I can use half of that money towards debt and save the other half for Ale's school enrollment fee!

Credit where it's due: Thank You, God!!

Getting Started

January 20th, 2006 at 12:00 am

Ok. So I guess I'll start counting the English lessons as part of my challenge....so far, I've invested ~$6.00 (gas to go get my police records, fee to obtain said records, parking, 1 folder and 1 Coca Cola!) ....Will see how much I get at the end of the month!

Pension Fund

January 19th, 2006 at 06:41 am

by law, in ES, a percentage of your salary goes to an AFP (Pension Fund Administrator) to be invested. The law has recently changed and, as part of their customer service, the AFP to which I'm affiliated has come to our offices today to update account statements, affiliate new members, AND, give you information/explain about the changes in the law and the impact to employees....so, as soon as I get some documents that I need to have signed by someone downstairs, I'm dropping by the conference room to ask questions!!

*************************************
went down and they don't have much info, only that 1. foreigners can now take their money out when they leave the country and 2. the percentage of the money they get that goes to savings is now 10.3% instead of 10%...
This is not enough information, so I need to check the SSF's site for a full document...

cancelled 1 more credit card!!

January 17th, 2006 at 11:29 am

I had already paid it off, but I still hadn't gone to the cc company to have it cancelled (which I did today!)...they asked me if I would re-consider if they gave me a preferential rate (good for one year only! -thanks, but, no thanks!)...tomorrow I'll go and cancel the other one that I already paid off, then I'm undecided on which one to tackle next...

I have also decided not to renew my loan with the company's credit union to pay off credit cards (it's a good deal because they offer much lower interest rates, but I need to have these $500 available for Ale's school instead!)At least, I'm going to TRY not to do it...

I'm also going to try to save at least $80 from the English lessons towards Ale's school...If I can do this, I might have enough in my bank account by June in order to enroll her in school without incurring in any new debt!- wish me luck!

We still haven't heard the final amounts sold from the exhibits that we mounted, but, I don't think it's much and, I need to pay off the credit card expenses that I had in December (new car battery, new fish tank!- the old one broke, so those were NECESSARY expenses!, still, I had counted on the proceeds from the school supply sale to cover them!- it's a good thing I didn't go ahead and charge a lot of "wants" counting on that money!!)

The Peace Accords - 14 years later

January 16th, 2006 at 11:29 am

The newspapers today are all about the Peace Accords and about whether they have been complied with or not...
I cannot believe that there are people who say nothing has changed...because my personal experience tells me things have changed...while I myself have been the victim of high crime rates (having my car burglarized 5 times!!), I have been lucky enough to escape violence...
And, while -as you have seen- I'm not in the best financial shape, and while I know that the generality of the people are struggling just to get by, I cannot understand how someone can fail to see that:

1. No longer do we have burnt busses in the middle of the streets
2. 12 year olds do NOT know how to tell the sound (or shape!) of an M16 from an AK-47
3. Military forces no longer patrol the city
4. Orders for Military Forces or the Police no longer include: shoot first, ask questions later
5. There is no curfew
6. Meetings of more than 6 people NOT belonging to the same family are no longer considered a crime
7. When faced with someone wearing army fatigues, you no longer have to look at their feet to know whether they ARE army or guerrillas
8. Children are NOT being taught how to make "molotov cocktails"
9. You can "confess" to any party affiliation you want, and not have to fear retaliation...
10. I haven't heard any bombings in the last 14 years!!
11. I see people under 22 just run over bags or boxes on the highway...people in my generation SWERVE to avoid them, meaning one part of us is still afraid it might be a landmine!
12. My niece -at 16- and my daughter -at 5- are not aware that if you hear shots you should "hit the floor, look for cover and, whatever you do, DON'T lift your head"
13- when I leave home every day, my daughter doesn't wonder whether she'll ever see me again (while this is a fantasy, because any of us might just die at any minute, unless you've lived it, you have no idea of the level of anxiety that it creates in a child to be aware that your parents might NOT make it back from work!)
14- When taking my daughter to school, I do not have to say: "don't look out" while passing dead bodies on the street (the way my dad had to when driving me and my sister to school!!)
Oh, and we lived in the part of the city that was the LEAST affected by the conflict!!!

No, I cannot believe people that say nothing has changed...and, while I do admit that much remains to be done, I don't think closing your eyes to whatever good has been done is the way to go!!...You know what I find funny? These people don't realize that the mere fact that they can criticize freely IS a change!!

second job

January 12th, 2006 at 07:58 am

while at the school selling supplies, I ran into an old friend, who's a teacher for their English extension program...classes are from 6:15pm to 8:15pm Mon-Thursday (and the place is like 10 blocks from my office!) and they have classes on Saturday mornings (8-12) and afternoons (1-5)....I have signed up to give classes either at night on the weekdays or in the afternoon on Saturday....so far, they have only offered the Saturday afternoon (night classes are considered "prime" hours, and they pay a bit more, so they don't give you those unless you've been there for at least 6 months)...the pay is not much and, after taxes, it'll be like $5/hour, so I'd be getting ~$23 for each Saturday...not great, but, it'll work out to about $80/month, which, added to the $70/month I currently pay in tuition for Alejandra, gives me enough money to cover her tuition at the new school (bilingual schools charge anywhere between $125-$400 per month...obviously, we are NOT talking about the American or British schools here, so $150 should cover it!!)...If, in 6 months I am given night classes I'd probably drop the Saturdays...eventhough financially it would make more sense to keep both...

I'm not in love with this solution: It steals time from my daughter, which I hate, and from my rest, which is not good, but, I NEED the money and, frankly, at the moment this is the best offer I have - I DO love teaching, so that's a positive!....I wish I could find a job that I loved that would pay all the bills (meaning, that would pay $1,200-$1,500 per month!!)....((sigh)) At least, it's something!- and it brings the -$200 on my budget to -$120!!

No news either from the American Embassy or the European Union yet! Frown

update on school supply sale...

January 9th, 2006 at 11:14 am

Well, this being our first year doing this, we have had to pay the price of learning: we bought way too much stuff, and sold only about half of what we expected...the good news is: we have already recovered the investment...the bad news is: there is no profit yet, so right now it seems that those 2 weeks of getting up at 6am and going to bed at 1am were for nothing...More good news: we spoke to 3 companies about setting up a special exhibit there so their employees can buy stuff, and they have all agreed to it, and the employees are rather enthusiastic about it, so we expect to make a profit after all!- it will just take about one or two more weeks, and will probably not be as high as we had expected... So, I'll say it went well.... We'll know how much we made from this venture by the end of the month...

Oh, and, GREAT news, I just paid off my American Express card (yipee!) and programmed a payment to pay off another card on the 11th - I want to keep my checking account from going into the overdraft for as long as I can!...so, now I only have 2 more cc's (and one HUGE loan) to go....

wish me luck!