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Early Morning Week

September 24th, 2022 at 12:44 pm

This week my co-worker & I changed our shifts because we needed to come in to accommodate the night shift nurses. Tuesday & Wednesday were fine. We worked 5a-130p. Then Thursday & Friday we worked 430a-1p. Somehow that half-hour earlier wrecked my schedule. I got off track with my walking, was taking naps in the afternoon, & was just tired in general. The small change was necessary as we were running into the nurses getting busy when we came in later, but I'm surprised what a difference it made in my body. I'm glad that I don't have to do that often.

Wednesday I leave for vacation! I feel a little guilty as there's never a good time to go on vacation. We are always so busy, but I am again in use or lose territory with my leave and the year is quickly winding down. Next weekend it will be October already!

Wednesday I fly into Manchester, NH where I will stay for 2 nights. Then I travel to Rockland, ME for our 4 nights on the schooner. Then I stay in Portland, ME for 2 nights before flying home. I'm so excited. Maybe a little less excited about the boat as it's a little "roughing it" for me. The scenery & food will be wonderful though. As is time spent with friends.

Raise!

September 17th, 2022 at 07:12 am

I walked into my office Friday morning & the first thing my co-worker said was that we got our salary increase. It turned out to be a little over 16% which is better than I expected. I had hoped for at least 10% to make our current (temporary) retention pay of 10% a permanent increase. Once we start being able to fill vacancies due to the increased pay, we'll lose the retention pay. The increase to salary is more important as it impacts your retirement pay, matching for retirement contributions, and more. I am very excited & so thankful. 

I had made some stretch savings goals when I started looking at my budget for next year. I am going to be able to meet that & more. People that were looking to retire are also reconsidering as their retirement pay is based on their high 3 years of salary. We'll be able to retain employees when we've been losing them. Everyone seemed to be in a jolly mood all day.

We federal employees should get a 4.6% increase in January. It will be slightly less for us as we are on this special salary scale, but that is another added bonus. I'm glad that retirement contribution limits are increasing so I can take advantage of this increased income to save for my future.

 

Coolinary Restaurant Month

August 21st, 2022 at 01:10 pm

During the month of August they are having Coolinary in New Orleans, which is much like Restaurant Week where they have prixe fixe menus at restaurants throughout town. My sister and her friends were in town for a few days so I met them for dinner at Commander's Palace. I tried a couple of new things this time, but stuck with the bread pudding souffle for dessert. For appetizer I had the creole gumbo (wouldn't order this again) and for entree I had the boudin-stuffed quail which was very filling - almost too filling since I still had dessert so I got my entree to go. 

My friends & I never split a check, just pay our own meals, but the waitress asked if we wanted to split it so we did. I'm not complaining, but I see why people like myself who never order alcohol or extras, object to splitting bills equally. When we went to NYC last fall my friends always had a drink at dinner while I never did. Since our reservations were so late - after 8pm - dinner lasts a good 2 hours at this restaurant, I was plenty tired already for the quick drive home. I didn't think it would be a good idea to add alcohol on top of that. Especially since alcohol does nothing for me except make me sleepy. I'll occasionally have a drink at home late at night, but it's pretty rare.

I'm having a bit of a career dilema. I've been asked if I would be interest in taking on a supervisory position. Since it doesn't add anything to my salary it seems like a crazy idea to even contemplate. I'm already at the same grade as a supervisor based on the specialized work I do. I honestly don't relish becoming a supervisor again. I honestly don't want to get stuck with a bad employee again. It always seems that the good employees are free to move on as they have plenty of opportunities, while the bad employees stick around because they are in a job where they are protected. It's something to think about...I hope that I am at least in a position to be able to ask for an increase in steps. I always think it's a good idea to make yourself as valuable to your organization as possible so when you have an ask they have good reason to want to say yes. At least that's my theory.

Enjoying my Journey

July 7th, 2022 at 02:19 am

I was just sitting here this evening, thinking how content I am. In the last 13 months, I took a new position, moved to a new city, and sold my condo. My life is so much better for it. Yes, I miss & worry about my parents, but all things considered, I'm in a much better place financially & professionally. My new position is constantly changing, we're always busy, I'm never "done", but I absolutely love it. It's so nice to work with hard-working people that just do their best to care for our veterans. No matter how crazy it gets, I don't get stressed. I really am so grateful that this door opened for me at just the right time.

Father’s Day and Juneteenth

June 25th, 2022 at 03:03 pm

I went home last weekend for the combined Father's Day/Juneteenth holiday. As a federal employee I was off on Monday.

I didn't plan Father's Day well. I thought we would go to the movies on Sunday since I figured the restaurants would be busy, then to a restaurant for lunch on Monday. We ended up doing the opposite. When we showed up to the theatre on Sunday I realized that I should have bought tickets in advance because the seats for Top Gun were sparse and not in a good location.

We ended up purchasing tickets for the next day, then getting take-out from Texas Roadhouse. My parents love Texas Roadhouse and order from them often. I avoid restaurants on busy days because of course, they forgot the butter and sour cream for my loaded baked potato. Also, my steak was a little undercooked. And my dad's baked potato was black through half of it. A little disappointing.

We loved Top Gun. I thought by waiting 3 weeks we would avoid crowds, but I realized that many were seeing it for a second time. I could definitely see it again myself. I think my parents thought it was a bit too long. My mom has pain when she sits for too long so she kept going back and forth between reclining and sitting upright. She still enjoyed it & was excited to tell the kids about the movies afterwards. I don't think their parents will let them see it until an edited version comes out. They are very conservative. Understandably so. 

And to make this blog financially related, I got a nice surprise on my paycheck yesterday. The 10% retention incentive did increase with my step increase. They told me that it wouldn't increase with any future increases, but would stay the 10% of my salary at the time. This is promising if we get a special salary increase this year. 

Delayed Bonus…finally paid!

June 4th, 2022 at 04:14 pm

So much good news, that I forgot to share this! Last fall when we were having a lot of staffing shortages (still do) we were offered shift incentives for picking up extra shifts. Well leadership stepped in & made it difficult for our managers to get the incentives processed so we never got paid...until now!

I got another update to my employee file last week, but I thought it was a duplicate update of my retention incentive so I forgot about it...until another employee contacted me that people were getting notices of cash awards & she didn't receive hers. So I checked my file & sure enough I'll be getting a $600 bonus on my next check! This has been a very fruitful time for me. I'm very thankful.

Step Increase & TSP

June 4th, 2022 at 02:31 pm

The TSP website went down on May 26th to switch to a new management company & upgrade the site. Normally if this has happened on the 6th, rather than the 26th I wouldn't be bothered. But I like to chart my investments at the end of every month as you well know. Some people have been able to get into the new website, but many others including myself, are still having issues. I am trying to be patient & wait for the busyness to subside. Few are able to get through the helpline.

I am looking forward to seeing the new website. They have taken away one feature that I loved which was the historical look back. You used to be able to search to see your balance on a particular date & I hear that is gone. So I guess I won't be able to get my balance as of May 31st. Bummer. Hopefully the Daily TSP app has that feature when I can link my updated account again.

June 6th is my anniversary date for my new position so I'll be getting a step increase with the pay period starting tomorrow. $1.33 per hour or $106.40 biweekly will buy me a couple of tanks of gas so I'm thankful. ⛽️ 

Retention Incentive…finally!

May 28th, 2022 at 02:12 pm

We finally got paid our retention incentive & as a bonus they even made it retroactive! So in addition to receiving an extra 10% for this paycheck, we also got back pay for the 5 previous pay periods. It was a very nice check, even though they took out a lot in taxes. I am grateful for this added income over the next year. I want to make the best use of it.

 

 

 

Retention Incentive Update…or not

May 22nd, 2022 at 02:36 pm

I have mentioned that we signed a retention incentive agreement back in the beginning of March. It still has not been paid. This week we all got our personnel files updated with the retention incentive document & it looks like it will be paid retroactively. However, they forgot to put a percentage so now it's in question whether we will actually get it.

I can laugh about it, because I'm not struggling to pay my bills, but it's such a calamity of errors that occurs sometimes. For all the benefits of working for the federal government, the amount of bureaucracy is astounding. I understand we need to be accountable, but sometimes the costs seem to outweigh the good.

I've had two weekends of theatre going. Last weekend we saw two ballets: Swan Lake & Don Quixote. This weekend we saw the musical Mean Girls. The Covid-19 numbers are picking up, but I'm vaccinated and boosted and I'm trusting that if I catch it my body will be able to fight it. Of course, I'm also hoping that I don't have to find out how well my body can fight it. 

I bought an air fryer! I'm not a big cooker & it's been sitting in the box for a few weeks now as I contemplate whether to keep it. What do you make in your air fryer? 

Made Some Market Moves

May 13th, 2022 at 06:50 pm

So for the first time in a very long time I did some portfolio re-balancing. I've been using my contributions to slowly change my target allocations the past few years, but that is a slow process with the size of my portfolio versus the amount I'm contributing. With the market down I decided to make some changes. Long story short I went from 71% domestic allocation in my mutual funds to 78%, and from 29% to 22% international allocation in my mutual funds. This will still keep me on target for the 20-40% international stocks that most recommend. I had changed to a 60% domestic/40% international allocation back in 2017. Slowly I drifted from that allocation just due to US stocks outperforming international stocks. I was at about 34-35% international when I just stopped contributing to them entirely, then it had drifted down to 28% by the end of 2022 first quarter. I know that I wanted to get it closer to 20% so I just bit the bullet & did a re-balancing this week. Right now I'm just contributing to the S fund in my TSP and VTSAX in my IRA, though I still hold C,S, and I, as well as VTSAX and VTIAX. I also hold VHYAX in my taxable brokerage account. That is the money from the sale of my condo for a future home purchase. It is holding nicely despite the downturn. I'm actually still up from when I invested back in September.

In income news I still haven't received the 10% retention incentive that we signed for back in March, and the salary survey for our special pay scale has been completed, but mum has been the word on that. We shall see. Despite not doing any OT, I am still making extra at my PRN job. It would be nice if I can start contributing to the brokerage account regularly. I could scale back my monthly savings contributions and maybe split them between cash savings and the brokerage fund. I'll probably finish out this year of fully contributing to cash savings, though. Then maybe get back to investing in the brokerage account in 2023. I'm trying to get close to being able to pay cash for my next car and with these car prices, that could be a pretty penny!

According to Mint I am down $138,880 over the past month, but still holding well over $1.111 million in investments.

Bad Habit

April 29th, 2022 at 07:58 am

I've gotten in the bad habit of waking up in the middle of the night, in which case I end up on my phone, like now.

Still no retention bonus on our checks. I believe that once is goes through the process that we will get retroactive payments, which will be nice. We were under the impression that it could happen a lot quicker than it actually has so that leaves people feeling frustrated. 

I'm still not quite sure how I would like to allocate this money. I am saving $1,000 cash monthly already. I'm not sure that I want a lot of cash on hand, but at the same time I feel like my cash reserves are minuscule compared to my investments. Perhaps I should keep building it for a future car purchase? It's either that, or fund the brokerage for a home purchase.

In hindsight I do have a little regret about front-loading my IRA in January, right before the market started tanking. Maybe next year I'll go back to monthly contributions. If only we had a magic ball to predict these things!🔮

Heavy Spending Month so far…

April 21st, 2022 at 07:41 pm

This month has had some big spending due to work expenses, most of which as being reimbursed for our laboratory's recognition week. I also paid the first installment of next season's theatre tickets.

I'm excited about the season which includes: Six, Moulin Rouge, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lion King, Tina, Pretty Woman, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Fiddler on the Roof. I passed on the season option of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I've seen it before (as I've seen many of these shows) and the holidays are busy enough as is. If the Christmas show was White Christmas I probably wouldn't pass it up. I love that movie. ☃️ 

Our Easter was nice & quiet filled with good food and beautiful spring weather. I love this time of year before it gets crazy hot. I am trying to think of a getaway before the temps start rising. I would say Maine, but we already have our trip to Maine booked for this fall. I am looking forward to it, rustic as the trip may be. I have been wanting to visit Maine for a while. Maybe I will venture further north, like Quebec. 🇨🇦 

We have not yet received our retention incentive, but I continue to work overtime and my PRN job. This month is also a 3 paycheck month, so yay! I'm not making any big money moves right now, but I may get back to adding to my brokerage account for a future home purchase. Right now it stands at $75k.

 

Another Payday

March 18th, 2022 at 03:31 pm

Another payday and I had forgotten how nice it is to have the ability to bring in extra income when needed. This Saturday I'm going in to do more training at my PRN job, then Sunday I'm working OT at my FT job. My weekend partner - I'll be working the weekends opposite her - is on the schedule to work weekends through the end of April. That's great because it means plenty of training time for me, as well as I don't have the obligation to work Easter Sunday. 🐣🐰

Our incentive pay wasn't on this paycheck, hopefully it will get coded in time for the next paycheck.

I am home today awaiting a furniture delivery. I ordered this furniture in August & it was supposed to arrive back in October/November. They still have to replace the damaged furniture delivered in October, but I just got another notification for a delivery next week. I wish they could have gotten it all coordinated for one delivery, but I'm just glad to finally have everything taken care of. My sister had to just sleep on a mattress when she came to stay with me at Christmas. 

The market has been up, but who knows for how long in these times of uncertainty. I had been avoiding news, but when at my parents' this week I watched the news with them. It's horrifying what's happening in Ukraine. I pray that this conflict & others come to a swift end and that justice is done to those that perpetrate violence. 

 

Increased Income

March 5th, 2022 at 06:05 am

We are experiencing a staffing crisis at the hospital so we got offered a 10% retention incentive to commit to a stay a year. That's a much bigger raise than we see at any other time. Add that onto my step increase due in 3 months & it's a nice increase in income. Almost $1k a month. We are also awaiting the results of a salary survey which we hope will bring an additional adjustment. 

I'm not on the schedule yet at my new job. I'm still in training mode. Actually more like orientation mode as I'm just trying to get through the online trainings. Tomorrow I think I will actually get to start training on the bench. I'm told that the job isn't stressful at all, which is nice to know. Everyone has been very nice.

I unexpectedly already got paid this Friday. For some reason I thought my paycheck would be on the opposite Friday for this new job. It's always a pleasant surprise to get an unexpected deposit in your bank account.

The market remains down. I'm not worried about it, but as I mentioned earlier it would have been nice to hit that $1 million mark in my TSP before everything started dropping. It was sooo close. My one fund that hasn't dropped significantly is my high dividend yield fund which I bought at the end of September.

Net Worth $1.257 million 

Starting a New Job

February 25th, 2022 at 05:46 pm

On January 31st I interviewed for a PRN job. On February 1st I got a call from the recruiter that they were offering me the position. On February 1st, President's Day, I went in for a few hours to speak to my new supervisor & read over SOPs. I'll be going in tomorrow morning to start my training. I've heard that it's not too stressful of a job & the pay is better than my last hospital PRN job at 28% more per hour. The weekend shift differential is just slightly less.At my last hospital PRN job I also worked alone in my department while at this job there will be 3 working in my section. That is nice to have. I'll be working every other weekend with some flexibility if I have plans. While I did enjoy working just one job, I'm looking forward to having a little extra income to play with.

My investments are down over $100k from the high in November. I'm not worried, but I was sooo close to hitting the $1 million milestone in my TSP. A little disappointing, but I'll know that I'll get there eventually.

I am praying for the people of Ukraine and for peace. It's a very scary time for many people.

Leased an Apartment

July 4th, 2021 at 06:27 am

I signed a lease for an apartment on Friday. I will not move in until August 5th. The commute from where I live now is about 1.5 hours to the hospital. Luckily with school out traffic has not been horrible. But it is surprisingly, somewhat tiring. I'm usually not motivated to do much when I get home, though I will now need to pick up the pace on packing my things.

I'm excited about my apartment. I've actually never rented an apartment, even in college. I've lived in dorms or homes that were owned (house, condo). The rent is expensive, but I wanted to be in a quiet, safe part of town. I will have 2 bedrooms, 2 baths. I looked at a 3rd floor model with vaulted ceilings. I ultimately took the 2nd floor apartment with better views. I was a little worried about electricity costs & my mom walking that many stairs when she visits. 

The grounds are beautiful & there are creeks and jogging paths that run through the property. It feels so peaceful. I will think about maybe getting a second job when I've had some time to settle into this job, but that may be at least a year in the future. For now, I will buckle down & budget to accommodate my increased expenses. The move was worth any increased expenses for me. Some things go beyond money, such as our happiness & peace of mind.

I am planning on taking some furniture and giving away or selling the rest. I would like to replace my guest bedroom, living & dining room furniture. I have picked out some not expensive replacements at Rooms To Go. Some things are available now, others have availability at the end of the year, though they could come in sooner. I'd rather wait to get what I want. 

I am praying that my condo sells quickly. I am having work done on Monday, then a few more things to do dealing with water leaks. It's just one thing after another. I'm ready to be free of all these issues.

First Week

June 26th, 2021 at 12:08 pm

My first week went well. It's a lot of new information, but I love point of care testing already. It's always interesting. 

My promotion took effect 2 weeks before I actually started the position. So I had increased pay this week, including holiday pay for working the new Juneteenth holiday. I also had increased contributions to my FSA take effect. My matching TSP contributions increased due to my new base pay.

Investments were up over $32k this week & my condo also increased in value a little.

 

 

First Day

June 22nd, 2021 at 02:13 am

Today was my first day in my new role at work. The commute to New Orleans is as really easy this morning. Unfortunately when I left - 20 minutes late - it was raining heavily & there were flash flood warnings. Even though, I made not bad time. I came straight to my evening job. This is my last week doing my evening job.

My first day was overwhelming. I was bombarded with information, but I think I will enjoy it. There's so much new to learn. One thing they are honest about is that they need more organization. And that is something I love to do!

Promotion

June 11th, 2021 at 02:13 am

I got the job! I actually posted that here on May 7th when they made me the tentative offer, but when I went to post it the blog disappeared. So I took that as a sign & decided to wait until I got my final offer. I got my final offer Monday & it was actually effective the day prior. I have one week remaining in my current role as lab supervisor.

A series of things has happened that has made me determined to sell my condo. I will then rent an apartment where my new position is located. Until then I will commute. I took today & tomorrow off to get ahead of moving out of my condo. I will take my time over the next couple of months.

I am really looking forward to my new role. It's a very exciting time for me. So many new things ahead!