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Archive for October, 2006

Contest update: didn't make it!

November 1st, 2006 at 03:38 am

we each received a diploma and a letter with comments/critics to our business plan..
mine reads:

*Emphasize tourism companies in target market section
*Review proyections, growth is overestimated,rework financial analysis
*Salaries are not according to the reality of an emerging company (so...they think I can hire good translators at $300/month, or what?...the first year, the only salary contemplated is MY salary, and of course it is based on me making enough to cover all my living expenses....)
*Review sales forecast (ok, I agree with this!...this has always been my greatest problem: getting customers...marketing plan was supposed to take care of this!)
*Consider cultural change in target market
*Be realistic regarding profit margins (sorry, the costs of translating are NOT high!...most of the investment was my education, how much does it really cost me to translate a 20-page document? ...next to nothing!...unless I pay myself a high salary!...so, even with the "unreal" salaries, they think the profit margins are too high!)

...I think what saddens me the most is that it must have cost me about $200 to participate in the competition thing...at least I consider that money as an investment and not a waste!...I did learn a lot! (mostly about myself!) and, as I said before, I still believe I have a GREAT business idea...and, you'll see, I WILL start this company, even if it takes me a year just to get enough money to get it started!

sugar high!

October 31st, 2006 at 10:40 pm

...Ale's school went on a field trip to a park near our house today...since I had to meet with my cousin for some shopping (toys!-- to sell...) it was ideal for me to pick her up there (and, our transport lady couldn't make it, since she has Ale scheduled for 3pm and the kids were being sent home at 11:30am)...well, my car was trapped (we have parking problems, as the municipality is fixing the street that we park on!, so there was one car parked behind me and, being 11am, the owner was nowhere in sight!...had to call him, he was nice enough to come, but, I was late anyway!)...since the kids weren't there anymore when I got to the park, had to go halfway across town to Ale's school and then back again to meet my cousin at the toy store...well, it came 1:40pm and we still weren't done, so I just left Ale with my cousin and came back to work...notice I haven't had lunch?? ...I settled for a wonderful delicious sinful "oblea" (two thin wafers with luscious caramel in the middle!!)...and then a friend came by and offered some home-baked carrot cake!...so, now I'm not hungry (for the time being), but, I am about to OD on sugar!!! (water, I need water!!)...I still have about 1 hour to go (it's 4:45 here!) before I leave for the hotel where the closing ceremony is taking place....
water!!

Today's the day!!

October 31st, 2006 at 08:30 pm

This evening we'll have the event to close this phase of the business plan contest...there's a presentation and then a cocktail party and, they will be announcing the 24 finalists!!!!

I guess I'll be blogging about it (one way or another!) when I get home!

Looking for a graduation gift

October 30th, 2006 at 08:24 pm

...well, I guess this one dropped off the radar somehow!...niece is graduating HS and, we have the party on Nov 16th...of course, I want to give her a nice present, but, I don't want to go broke over it....I went scouting for parfums today...a nice boxed gift set of Amarige Mariage (100ml parfum + body lotion + shower gel) is $74!...I'm thiniking of asking one of the managers to quote how much it would be at the duty free store at the airport (they travel almost every week!)...I could even ask them to buy it if it's around $60, for example...

Still, before doing this, I might look into other (hopefuly, cheaper) options...

061030- 2006 goal update

October 30th, 2006 at 02:41 pm


1. keep better track of my spending- I have been very good at writing down EVERY expense this month! Yay me!...I have also done better at staying on budget! (right now, I’m overbudget by $6 – I can live with that!- and, today and tomorrow should be no-spend days!)

4. continue to lower my overall debt - I started Jan 05 with ~$17K (out of which ~$4K were for a loan and the rest -~$13K!-pure cc debt) and, am starting Jan 06 with $~11K (with ~$8K for a loan and ~$3K in cc debt)... expect to be able to end Dec '06 with ~$7K, which I expect to be purely for the loan... to come partly from the English classes/$20 challenge. ...current situation is: $13.4K total: ~$8K (refinanced) loan, ~$2.7K car loan, ~$799 personal loan, $1.5K other personal loan… Phone bill is $400...a work in progress...another one that won’t get taken off the list! ..some days it feels as if I’m not progressing with this, so it’s good to see how things are going…

5. Help Ale find a way to earn those $3 she's missing to open her account with HER OWN money...didn´t open the piggy bank in October, either…Ale has only been able to save about $0.25 for the whole month out of her $2/week…I guess I have to work harder to try to make her understand that it’s not a matter of spending the $2, no matter what, but of trying to save as much as possible!

Had to fight temptation today...

October 29th, 2006 at 03:16 am

I got a migraine while Ale was at her swim lesson (the heat did it!) and, was all for buying lunch today, just so I wouldn't have to think too much, but, migraine and all I made it home and just put some leftovers in the microwave for Ale and myself...yay, me!
(believe me, the way I was feeling, it IS a great victory!)

Full tank!

October 27th, 2006 at 08:12 pm

...yesterday, when I gave my keys to one of the managers so he could take my car home (I took theirs, so I could leave straight from home at 6:30 am this morning for the police inspection!), my car had a bit less than 1/4 tank...today at lunch, when I moved my car out of the manager's spot, it had a full tank!...now, my car doesn't do that (fill up magically, that is!)so, that means the manager filled the tank yesterday!...that was really nice of him! (especially since his house is about half-way from our office to my house, so it's not like his taking it would have meant higher consumption!)...

woo-hoo!...that should last about 15 days (or, 8, if you take into account our planned "Termos del Rio" excursion with Ale!)...hmmmm, should I put $20 (about what it would have taken to fill the tank) into my $20 challenge??

Trouble with nephew D - again!

October 27th, 2006 at 06:20 pm

we must come across as such a horrible family!...and we aren't, honestly!...

Nephew D - cousin's son, he of the phone calls!- is causing trouble again (not that he ever stopped, I guess it was just that he hadn't had the opportunity!)...

cousin got paid the 50% advance from two toy purchase orders, amounting to $2,100...for some strange reason (I really have no idea...I may ask later, but not right now -- you'll see why!)...well, for some strange reason she cashed the check and kept the $$$ at home! ...now, for some even stranger reason, she decided to tell D where she was leaving the money, in case anything happened to her -- maybe she hasn't been feeling well, I don't know, she's overweight and diabetic and, she doesn't exactly take care of herself! --now...I know EVERYONE here knows where this is headed, right?

RIGHT! He stole $300 and spent the whole afternoon binge-drinking with "friends"...he came back dead drunk and with $21 in his pockets...

I'm unlucky enough to have been there 1) when she discovered the theft -- which was obvious, as we HAD to take out the money so she could give me the money for the expenses that I had incurred!...I must say, when she mentioned she had told him, the first thought that crossed my mind was: WHY did you do that??...had to bite my toungue...and 2) when he arrived home!...oh, that was a scene from a bad soap opera!...really...I mean,at some point he said: search me, I don't have $300!...she got so mad she slapped him and he fell on the floor (he could barely stand anyway!) and he just went to sleep and started snoring!...it was just awful!...she had called a friend of hers to come help and, I waited there until he arrived...then I excused myself and left!...
I called her this morning, after coming from the Transport Protectin Division of the police (still trying to get the documents needed for that missing license plate for the company car! -- but that's another story!)...she told me she had called the police and they had come to get him...he was still sleeping when they got him out of the house...he is a minor and they had the mother's permission)...Apparently, he woke up sometime around 2am and tried to call his Uncle T. (cousin's best friend)...he couldn't take the call, he was out of the house, they know from a message in their machine!...

So, anyway, cousin is out $300 MORE ... which would be bad enough already if someone else had done it...but, being her son...Plus, obiously, now she has to 1) face the fact that the boy IS an alcoholic and 2) as a mother, living with putting your son in jail, whether merited or not, must be really difficult....

$300 for cc's

October 27th, 2006 at 04:31 pm

this doesn't go in the $20 challenge because this is a REIMBURSEMENT of expenses for the toy venture (this is coming out of the 50% advance payment, with this we buy the toys and reimburse expenses, the complementary 50% comprises money to finish paying our suppliers for the toys and to distribute between us -- THAT will go into the $20 challenge!)...

Productive day at work!

October 26th, 2006 at 07:56 pm

well, our VP said the other day that we should be passionate about our work and make sure we are creating value for our unit/company...I have already done that today!...I've input 4 post-trip reports ($$ and peace for 3 different managers!), and 6 pre-trips ($$ and peace for 1 manager)...and have still 7 more to input ($$ and peace for 2 managers)...I have also photocopied and sent originals of medical expenses ($$ and peace for the Director!) and a contract to have internet/phone line installed for another manager...and, right now I'm on my way out to quote repair of a scratch on one of the new cars -- don't ask! ...and it's only 2pm!

********************
I CAN'T belive this! ...the car was almost out of gas!!!...I had to go to the gas station and put in $5 (I've already submitted it for reimbursment!)...the pilot for the gas was already coming on (want to be they haven't put in any gas since las Thursday, eventhough they used it to go to the airport, which is 45 minutes away from the city?? (each way!)

Determining goals for 2007

October 25th, 2006 at 07:15 pm

I am already thinking about my goals for 2007...they will, of course, be dictated in part by what has been achieved/left pending at the end of 2006...but, I want to make them more specific and useful this year...for example: my goal of "tracking expenses" was good enough for this year, as all I really wanted to do was gain awareness of my expenditures and where my money was going and, while tracking expenses should remain part of my goals next year, the main focus should be shifted from mere tracking to controlling expenses to make sure they are consistently at or below budget...

I'm looking at this year's list first and then re-working the current goals in this way, before setting any new goals...

Here's to financial sanity in 2007!

$10 for gas

October 25th, 2006 at 02:38 pm

Well, since I'm almost out of cash for the month and, since my poor car was almost running out of gas, I went to the gas station yesterday and paid for $10 worth of gas...at $3.12 a gallon, it was the cheapest gas I've bought since I've had this car!!!...(gone are the days when we thought $3 for gas was expensive! how sad is that?)

Oil change!

October 24th, 2006 at 08:51 pm

Took my car for an oil change today...spent $22.84...they also quoted on some other stuff that needs to be done: brake check, 2 new tires and change of coolant in the radiator...for a total of $108....
...so...I'll start quoting and shopping around! ((sigh))

Nanny's daughter is graduating HS!

October 24th, 2006 at 08:32 pm

nanny's DD1 is graduating highschool next month!...she'll be the 1st one in her family!!!...AND, she has already taken her placement tests at the National University (she wants to become an engineer)...unfortunately, her test scores weren't good enough to guarantee her entry, but, fortunately, they WERE good enough to allow her to take a second test!

Good news for medium-range salaried employees in ES!

October 24th, 2006 at 02:34 pm

I was listening to the radio this morning and, they was and interview with the Chief of the credit department at the Fondo Social para la Vivienda...traditionally, they have been more geared towards low-income employees (meaning people making 1-4 minimum salaries), and they have lent up to $23,000 for the purchase of a new/used house...now, they are also targeting employees making mid-range salaries ( 4- 6 minimum salaries)...that means they are now covering people that make up to $1,075 per month! ...that is really good news!...and, they have raised the amount they can lend up to $50,000 (depending on income, of course!)...The best thing about going through them instead of the commercial banks is that the requirements to get credit are easier to meet!...(for a $50,000 house, commercial banks require a family income of $2,000/month, for example!)...so, if you made less than that, but more than 4 minimum salaries, it was very difficult to obtain financing for a house!...
not that this does me any good at the moment (I have far too many debts to take care of and no spare cash!) but, once I get my finances in order, I could save for a downpayment and take advantage of this!

Please say it's a joke!

October 23rd, 2006 at 07:34 pm

ugh!...totally unrelated topic, but...
I handed out the keys/cards to the 3 new cars on Thursday (Oct 19th)...I got a phone call on Saturday (Oct 21) asking whether I hadn't kept one by mistake??...no. I handed them out with the keys, a key and a card in each bag...in front of witnesses...

Oh! I can't find mine...

This has GOT to be a joke, right??

A sick, twisted joke...right???

$80 for the $20 challenge in october

October 22nd, 2006 at 03:21 am

I write it down here so I don't forget to add it to my spreadsheet on Monday!...$80...did not go towards debt, though..it went to groceries, fixing Ale's schoolbag and paying for swim lessons... Frown

Grocery shopping --not bad!

October 22nd, 2006 at 03:09 am

well, my budget for today was $60, but, I ended up with a $65 bill!...not too bad, though, considering Ale needed new toothbrushes and toothpaste (for home and for school!)...I found a 2X1 Oral-B package of brushes for $1.98...same for me (although I only need 1 right now, since the one I keep at work is still good...but, hey, I WILL need a new one, so I might just as well keep the other one in storage!)...we also bought a new collar for Fiona (her's was starting to be a bit tight!), and that cost $2.75!...what was bad is that I bought a 2.5 lt of soda (totally un-needed!)...that cost $1.38!...

still, I have to check with my excel spreadsheet at the office, I believe this is the closest I've ever been to being on-budget for the month!...

hmmm...but, we still have another week to go and Ale's lunch box stuff will need to be re-plenished...last time that was about $8....

We'll see...

And I thought the people at store #1 were crazy!

October 22nd, 2006 at 02:52 am

We went to the mall yesterday (needed to repair DD's schoolbag, but the store that does it was closed!)...we passed in front of store #2, they had the exact same bed that store #1 sells at $199.20....only at #2 it was priced at $219...the payment plan?? (also on the card displayed on top of the bed, we didnt go in!)...24 easy payments of $16/ 52.00% interest + VAT...(so, I could get the exact bed for $315!!!)...honestly, I had to laugh!...

Plus, at this moment I really don't know if it makes any sense to keep looking...there's a (slight) chance that we may be moving out of the country in 3-6 months...true, Ale is almost at the limit and her tiny toddler bed will soon be uncomfy, but...I'm honestly thinking of waiting until March (this is when we would know more about that potential opportunity!)...

Business plan presentation

October 20th, 2006 at 10:29 pm

Well, I'm almost done with the purely aesthetic side of it (colors, backgrounds, font types and font sizes, color scheme for graphs, etc...)And, as for the truly important part (content!), yesterday I printed out a handout with 2 slides per page and used that as a "blueprint" to see where in my Word/Excel documents I could find the information I needed...also what information is missing or needs to be re-worked to fit the requirements of the presentation...
Today I finished some very minor word slides (3)and created 1 data slide...but, when I finished I realized it was totally superfluous...so I will delete it tomorrow and create a new one...
I will try to finish at least 3 more word slides tonight at home (at the office I can use the special add-on to PowerPoint to make impressive data slides without much effort! :P -- provided you know just WHAT you want to highlight, of course!...my slide was BLAH!) ...since it's a licensed product, I don't have this at home, only at the office, and I wouldn't feel it was appropriate to install it, even for a short period of time! (not that it would do any good if I tried to install it, the computer at home doesn't comply with the requirements for installation anyway!)
soooo, another task for tonight would be to look at the Excel and at the data required by the presentation template they sent to figure out what data I need to create a chart that highlights just that!

Organizational climate survey

October 19th, 2006 at 10:36 pm

We were summoned to fill out a survey ref organizational climate...I'm fairly happy here, so that's what I wrote, that I like and respect the people I work with (I do), that I feel that my job is important and appreciated (I do) and that I feel I do contribute to the goals of my unit and the company (I do)...I also wrote I feel demotivated by the fact that there is no career path for admin assistants (I do) and that I feel I'm underpaid (I AM!)...

From what I hear, many people in my area feel more or less the same way...we may be "the best paid people in the company" (or so they say!), but, really, we ARE underpaid for what we do! (and, at the risk of sounding snobbish, few people in the company have the capabilities this group has, and, few work as long and hard as we do! -- yes, the other secretaries bring coffee, but, I've yet to hear of one that goes all the way across town to get the necessary documentation to process new license plates for a company car!!! ...or that translates shopping lists to take them to the supermarket to have orders filled-out and delivered!...how about someone that translates TRAINING MANUALS??)...Our boss knows how we feel (we even had a meeting about this yesterday!), so I know he won't be surprised by the results!-- the unit is very proactive in getting upward feedback!

Ale's new bed

October 19th, 2006 at 08:19 pm

I decided to buy a simpler bed for Ale, and settled on a Capri Jr, which has a cute headboard...I went to a store that has a special promotion: buy now pay your first installement in December (yes, they are after our Xmas bonuses!)...the bed costs $199 (I should have marched right out, I've seen this exact bed at $165 elsewhere!)...still I asked the saleslady to quote a "6-month,no interest" plan...the don't have it...so, the "normal" plan is $25 downpayment and 12 monthly payments of $19.90 ...that's almost $65 in interest they are collecting! ...they're crazy (or else, they think I am!...
I'll keep searching, thank you!

on budget so far

October 19th, 2006 at 06:24 pm

...of course, it helps that I don't have any $$$ available! LOL!...anyway, October has been a good exercise...November should be a better month, financially, since we are getting paid for the first toys...so far, we have 4 companies that want to place orders, and 2 that want us to host their parties (small fee just for coordinating the other suppliers, that way the HR people get to enjoy the party as well)...all these will bring no more than $500 net total, but, hey, it helps!

Contest update - not everyone delivered their plans

October 18th, 2006 at 07:27 pm

well, my cousin and I have been speaking with other contestants and, it seems that at least 15 people did not deliver their plans on time (meaning they arrived late, and were not allowed to submitt them!)...now we are trying to find out how many people are still in the contest....at last count (when we started with the counseling), we were 88, then 3 out of my group dropped out and, 1 guy from another group got killed, and 2 people from my cousin's group dropped out...these are the ones we KNOW about...so that would leave 82 people...minus the 15 or so that were left out....67...and then there are the ones that submitted incomplete plans (God knows how many, let's be conservative and say 4, one per group: Ethnic products, tourism, entrepreneurial women and IT&Communications)...that would leave about 63....Of course, this aren't official numbers....and then, the REALLY important thing would be to know how many people are left in OUR specific groups, since there will be 6 finalists out of every group....those 24 finalists will then be competing "one against all others" for the 9 prizes...

Rumor has it that you also get "points" based on the date/time you submitted your plan. If so, I already have some "extra" points, because I was the 2nd person to submit, the first having submitted her plan on Friday 13th....mine was submitted at 8:30am on Monday 16th!...(I imagine this only helps if there's a "tie")...anyway...I has now become a point of honor for my cousin and me to be at least among the 24 finalists! ....(we DO want to be among the 9 winners, but, at the same time, cannot help but feel a bit aprehensive of what that would entail!)...keep sending winning vibes!!!

Add $100 to the $20 challenge for October

October 17th, 2006 at 06:56 pm

I just got paid $100 for some admin services (from July!)...I'm still owed $500 more for July, plus Aug and Sept!...slowly but steadily collecting this money!...right now, it goes into the bank account (to pay the overdraft!)...

I know, I shouldn't even be using it, but, just think, a year ago I was using the overdraft AND paying up to 47% interest on cc's!...next year, by this time, I shouldn't even be using the overdraft anymore (I have 2 more debts that will be eliminated in August 2007, and the total monthly payments for those is $104...)

I don't get it...

October 17th, 2006 at 04:24 pm

our VP requested that the van assigned to our managers, as it keeps breaking down and, last year we spent well over $2,000 fixing it...and it still breaks down every 3 months!...

Now, administrative services is asking that we hand in the keys to the 2 mazda sedans to deliver them to the car dealership to get a new car...but, they have said nothing about the van...

So, our VP asked...they didn't respond, but, today I got a phone call from the administrator stating that they will be towing the van away to take it for an evaluation(?)... ((sigh))...in the meantime, I have the managers asking me about the replacement cars EVERY day!

no wonder I'm (almost) always broke!

October 16th, 2006 at 10:14 pm

I decided that next year I'm going to keep my current debt tracker (which calculates monthly interest and pending balances, along with how long it will take to clear them!), but that I will incorporate the monthly payments into my expense tracker...I also decided to add the "fixed" expenses under the category "House" (rent, utilities, nanny...although nanny should go with school and that should merge into Child care....but, since she also does housework...)...anyway, I did that and, I calculated what my monthly expenses from these 2 categories are...I added the monthly totals to the categories already being tracked and, it turns out, to cover all I would need $1,237.XX NET per month! LOL!...I'm making $1,062 GROSS...no wonder I'm always scraping for money! (and, no wonder a few weeks off the frugal wagon can have such a nasty impact!)...so, all in all, I'm not doing THAT bad (I mean, eventhough my fixed income is about $372 BELOW my expenses, I more or less manage to get along and survive! --and have the occasional treat now and then! Wink )

I have to think of a way to lower the spending some more in some of the categories... but, honestly, it would be VERY hard to carve $372!(35%)...unless we all decide to go on a 3-day fast once a month! LOL!...

2 weeks until payday....and only $66!

October 16th, 2006 at 04:07 pm

I have $66 in my bank account right now...$40 will go to nanny today....that leaves me the amazing amount of $26 until next payday, which is October 31st! ....I'm getting REALLY stressed out!...

Ok, time to start calling about money owed to me again! ((sigh))

Business Plan competition update!

October 16th, 2006 at 05:03 am

OK, this is it! my plan is printed (3X) and on CD (2X) as requested...I will drop it off by the sponsor's offices tomorrow morning before going into work...it will get judged and I will find out on Oct 31st, at the closing ceremony, whether I'm one of the finalists or not...if so, I will have about 3 days to put together a presentation (based on the business plan) and present live before the judges...

Send winning vibes my way!!!

Nephew turned up!

October 16th, 2006 at 03:02 am

He checked himself into another rehab 3 days ago -- not the latest he was at, but one we tried about 5 years ago...this one is Christian-based...maybe that is what he needs...find his faith...anyway, we found out because the Director of the home called my sis to see if she could/would help with the fees or if he has to be taken in as "without family" (they do that, if possible, they try to get the families to help out financially, but you don't get turned out for lack of funds)...she told the guy she could not lie to him and that she was happy he had taken that course, but, unfortunately she could not believe he had done that sincerely and in good faith and, as far as she was concerned he was alone...she also gave them the father's phone number and adviced them to call him, as he had once said that if R. stayed in rehab at least X amount of months, he might consider helping financially...

so, he's still out of the house and he's still disowned, but sis is a lot calmer thinking that he's in a rehab center and not at a crack house, and that he has a roof over his head and isn't sleeping under a bridge!...I know in the end, if he DOES finish with this program, she will accept him again...I just hope she has the strength to keep away for long enough...I've been talking to her...I told her if she gives in now and sees him, it would be the equivalent of buying a new gun for someone with suicidal tendencies...

I really think my nephew needs to find God ...


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