Monthly Expense and Income Report – Nov 2011

I’ve decided to make myself more accountable for my spending and start sharing to a greater detail. Boy was this the wrong month :)

This month I went over in terms of birthday gifts and gifts in general. I have to include these in my budget for next year. Also, I forgot to pay last month’s family cell phone bill which added up to quite a bit as well. In addition, “someone” on the plan went over the shared minutes and so we ended up with an overage of $240. They’ve been warned and told :) All told, I lost about $1,400 this month, but did make a big payment on my student loans.

Bank Fees are going up, whether you like it or not

It’s true, people as a group were able to dissuade the large banks from imposing upfront fees for using debit cards. What many don’t realize is that banks operate for profit and at the responsibility of providing returns to their shareholders. This means that is you stop the banks one way, they will find another way to load you with fees.. and they’ve done just that.

In a recent New York Times article, select banks upped wire transfer fees and depositing online via your phone. The reasoning behind this is the loss of income from overdraft fees and the lowering of the per swipe fee they could charge merchants. I feel bad for any business that is forced to endure such loss, and I’m sure that people are feeling the pinch in these times. So the question remains, is it better for banks to up these “hidden” fees or to just be upfront about the true cost of running a business, turning a decent profit, and giving you the transparency required? The article mentioned tries to answer some of these questions, which is great for everyone to make an informed decision. But I would still like my bank to be in touch with me about this, rather than having to read it in an article.. I am currently still a customer at BofA, but that may soon change.

Mint has cash transactions via Android App!

Finally Mint.com has listened to it’s customers and have released an update to their Android application that allows one to enter cash transactions on the go!

The forum on mint.com requesting this feature was huge, and I’m so glad they finally got around to updating the application. I think this month will be my first detailed spending month thanks to this. I will provide a cool mint.com chart at the end of this month to see how I’ve done.

See, free promotion event for Mint.com :) Amazing what happens when you deliver for your customers..

Leverage in Job Promotion

I wanted to share a story of how I’ve used leverage in my job promotion. In this down market, one can take the view that they must accept things as they are or that one can choose to make things as one wants them to be. I chose the latter.

I know that my work speaks for itself, unfortunately I’ve not done a good enough job of promoting it. Great work without promotion goes unnoticed. So this time (6 months ago) I decided that I wanted to be noticed, especially after graduating with my MBA. This conscious decision, made about 6 months ago has led me to a series of interactions that have put me in a place where I can leverage my work to get a promotion. Not only have I spoken with senior management about it, but to outside companies that I’ve interviewed with.

The leverage comes from two places:

  1. My work and how I’ve promoted it
  2. The business need for my work to influence

You can’t have one without the other as your work must fill some role. If not, then most likely you should try and gain new skills or a job that does fit your current skill set.

I saw the need that needed filling and I voiced my reasoning behind why I was the best person for that job in an organized and clear manner. This included salary surveys from graduating members of my MBA class, competing offer letters that I chose to decline showing what salary I wanted at the least, and skill sets that I’ve developed and where they applied in the new role.

I still haven’t been put in this position, as there are some organizational issues that need to be resolved. But I put myself in the best possible position, I believe, to achieve that goal. If you don’t use a finite window of opportunity for the leverage that you may have at work, you will lose it. That’s not to say you won’t gain leverage again at some point, but why waste it :)

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted.

Home Repair Costs and Insurance

Recently a part of my parents’ roof was damaged in a heavy rainstorm. The insurance company is willing to pay for only $772 of the damaged little portion of the roof. However, further investigation by a few contractors revealed that much more of the roof needed fixing including replacing a main beam because of rot and damage. Estimate from contractor = $6,000 . Now that’s a $5,000 difference that the insurance company should pay, and hopefully they will, but this still needs to be completed regardless. With a proper emergency fund, which my parents don’t have funded currently, would have taken care of this issue without headaches. They now need to figure out how to deal with this at the last moment if the insurance company does not compensate..

Contractors
The insurance company sent them some contractors that they could work with and she also received some estimates from Home Depot. They seemed nice enough, but after much deliberation and checking of reviews online on contractors and the large box store, they decided to go with a local neighborhood licensed contractor that had completed several other neighbors’ roofs already. The only difference is that he came with an estimate slightly higher than the others, but with the peace of mind that he will get the work done fast and on time, with no headaches as experienced by the hundreds of people that left reviews on contractors online. Besides, they can go pester him if he’s not on the job site :)

Fingers-crossed, this will be the desired outcome.

Insurance Payment
With such a big gap in estimates between the insurance company and the contractors, a detailed list will be submitted by the contractor as to what exactly needs to be completed. This should makeup for the gap. However, if they don’t, that will mean they will need to finance it somehow out through a home equity loan (if they can get one) or borrowing from me and others. I don’t really want it to go this route as I’ve warned them that they need to start funding that emergency account, but I guess I will do what is necessary to have a roof. I’m helping as much as I can to properly request the additional funding from the insurance company until this is completed. My negotiation skills will get some additional use :) Wish me good luck!