The Tortoise Life

About a month ago, I started a new job.  I went from being a receptionist for a small division (approx 600 people) of a large company (10s of thousands of people) to being a receptionist for a small association of under 100 people.  I realized two things very quickly:

  1. I was being disturbingly underpaid.
  2. The culture at my old job was toxic.

I should have been making almost double what I was being paid for the work I was doing.  When I first started there, I had very little to do and my wage reflected that.  Over the course of the next 2 years, my work load blossomed.  I was doing a variety of tasks, all requiring strong time management and attention to detail and industry knowledge.  You would not believe the things they trusted me with (but I’m grateful for the experience!).  By the end, my wage hadn’t changed at all and my work was…almost hard to quantify…5 times more than when I started? There wasn’t much my department could do, however, because of the climate of the company. Which brings me to…

I’m not saying that all “corporate” jobs have toxic cultures, just that my division at my company needed a lot of help.  It was highly competitive.  I don’t mean Our Company vs Another Company.  I mean department against department, all vying for more resources and trying to look like they were achieving every goal.   I didn’t feel as though the company valued their employees or contractors.  I was a contractor there for 2 years.  My supervisors worked very hard to bring me on, and credited me with my accomplishments loudly and to anyone who would listen.  BUT here I am at another company.  I loved my group, and I loved my management.  The people in my division (for the most part) were great and I was really sad to go.

But sometimes, you gotta do you.

So I did. Now I make 30% more doing much less stressful work.  The culture here is very INCLUSIONARY.  Birthday and anniversary celebrations. The receptionist (me) gets to go to all employee meetings.  People stop by to get to know me, and I get to know them.  After less than one month on the job, guess who is getting a semi-promotion? This girl.

At my new job, I’m reliving a lot of new job emotions that I felt 2 years ago.  Namely, whoa I have a ton of money, now what?  I’m not saying I’m rich, but after spending 6 years in retail I kind of feel rich.  A few things happened all at once to make me feel this way:

  • I got a 30% raise.
  • One of my larger bills is no more!
  • I’m on the precipice of paying off my last 2 debts.
  • I went from being paid weekly to bi-weekly.

Because of all this, I decided to sit down and reevaluate my monthly budget.  If you have a lot of money problems and don’t know where to start I would recommend checking out what Dave Ramsey has to say.  I am not a fan of his religiously charged, infomercial writing style, but the bones of his books are really helpful.  I kind of took what he had going and put my own spin on it to make it work for me.  I also really love Money Under 30 for a variety of financial info aimed at people my age.

This is my formula (assuming you make more than what your bills cost):

Income – Bills – 10% savings – allotted spending money = Money to put back into debts and savings.

Income

What I consider my income is what I make after taxes and retirement savings.  I pretend whatever is taken out is just never there. Right now I am making more than I ever have before, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not high.  I am a receptionist without a degree, but I definitely make enough to get by.

Bills

These include rent, phone, school debt, personal debt, credit cards, etc.  I recently got to stop paying for my car insurance.  I don’t even drive, but I had to pay for special insurance because of my driving record (which is a whole other post).  I finally finished the terms and now thats $80 a month I’m not paying.

Savings

I wrote 10% savings in formula because that’s the minimum I put in after every paycheck.  It’s one of the first things I do.  I actually just added it to my direct deposit, so now I don’t even have to worry about it.  This is definitely something that is personal. I hope to increase this number very soon.

Allotted Spending Money

Most articles that I’ve read say to decrease this number as much as possible.  I could go either way.  I don’t think we all need to live like nuns just to get by, but I don’t need a new Fendi bag every month.  I give myself $100 a week for incidentals.  Clothes, eating out, craft supplies, or whatever I think is fun to do that week.  This does mean I need to plan ahead when I want a mani/pedi or that I can’t go buckwild at the book store, but for the most part it works for me.

Money Left Over

I use all the money left over after bills, savings and spending budget to put back into my debts.  I will have what little school debt I have paid off by the end of 2014, as well as my credit card completely paid off. It has never been completely paid off!  This is kind of like my version of Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball. I don’t have many debts, just a few large ones.

I plan all of this ahead of time so when that paycheck hits my account, I can distribute the money right away.  I feel secure knowing that not only have I paid my bills and debts, but I get to have fun and save for the future too.

Getting my finances under control has been a long, slow road. Hence the tortoise title.  In the same sense, though, I feel like I’m winning the race. I have financial security for one of the first times in my life and it feels wonderful. There are lots of things I want right this second, but getting my sh*t together first and saving is the responsible thing to do.

 

Do you have a system to manage your money?  Any financial gurus you particularly like? How do you “Do You?”

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