Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 2015 Update: Income

It's been a while, as usual. I've been doing so many things that I placed this really really on the back burner. But it felt like it was time, way past time for an update. I will spread out updating you on my financial and personal life in a few posts.

So, income. Well my main job is still the same. I have job stability here and the legal benefits but medical insurance. Same as usual. For some time now I've been coming in to work at 9:30am and "clock-out" at 6pm. However I usually stay later until 8 or 9pm to do some work of my second job.

So interesting thing happened on December 2014 on my main job. I was schedule to go to some training in Guatemala for a new system we are rolling out. As I was making arrangements for the trip I got a call from a mobile phone service operator here in Honduras.

They were looking to hire me for some job,. The name of the job was really long, something like Customer Side Application Quality and Delivery Assurance Officer. They stated they wanted to send me an application for me to fill and asked for my salary intentions. I quickly came up with an amount that was double my current salary. I've always thought that if I was to leave a stable job with good benefits it has to be for something really big. I didn't care that the job title was so long that I was probably going to be working in the janitor's closet!

My salary intentions kinda startled the person on the other side of the line but she said she would send the application and schedule a phone interview with the Human Resources Manager at a later date.

Well with this I had to tell my boss. It was difficult and I was sweaty and having difficulty breathing. I had never told him before of any previous job offers or interviews I had gone to. However this time I had the chance to accept a job right when I was about to be trained. So I told him. I told him exactly the situation. I had received a call for an interview, and I was considering it. I was not yet give a formal offer but I wanted him to know so that we could figure out what to do with the training trip to Guatemala.

He kept a cold face and said that it was normal. We would cancel the training and would see later what to do with it. He said for me to go on with the interview process and keep him updated so he could find a replacement for me.

Meanwhile I had received the application form, I filled and sent it back and had a day and time for the phone interview. However it didn't happen on the day it was supposed to happen. I emailed the person that had sent me the application and she said they would re-schedule my interview for another day. I never heard from them again. I kept quiet about this turn of events. I actually said nothing of this to my family. They still don't know.

For days he (my boss) said nothing. Eventually he said if I had some news about it. I told him that I was still waiting for the interview process to complete. He later told me he had trouble sleeping several days thinking of how to replace me. I later also found out that he ha tried to talk some of the high level technicians from our support provider into considering taking my job if I left. Surprisingly or not (they know how much I do here) they didn't even accepted to put out a offer for my job.

So he finally called me into his office and told me to make him an offer to stay, this with no commitment whatsoever to not look for a job elsewhere. I told him I would think about it and went back to my office. I know his negotiation strategy. So I asked for a 20,000lps raise. Which was about half of the increase I would get from the new job, which was now non-existing. I knew he would negotiate down to half of that and I was OK with 10,000lps raise. I figured asking 30,000lps would probably be too much for him and he would say for me to go on and I would lose on getting a raise.

So he had his monthly meeting with the Board of Directors. He came back from it and said that my request was too much, and bla bla bla about other people in my same posts in other companies and that the job market was difficult, that a new person on another company is easy to fire. etc. He said they could offer me 10,000lps for me to stay and to continue with the projects we had planned.

By this time the training in Guatemala had be given to one of my operators to go and take. He had initially refused to work on that project because he wanted to stay in networking and data center stuff. However due my job offering my boss had flatly ordered him to go. He spent two weeks, thousands of dollars in training and came back without having passed the certification required to start this new project. Just the training course is $5,000 not to mention hotel, meal and transportation fees. It was really hard on him and I was sorry about the whole situation. I had expected that the training would be paused until my situation was figured out and I would be sent for training on a later date. I think my boss tried to show me that he didn't need me for the project and tried to keep it on schedule by sending someone ill prepared and with no experience for that training.

So I took his offer. It still isn't enough for me to stop working a second job, but it's been the largest raise I've received in 15 years in this company. All for a random call at the right time and for me being straight forward about it to my boss. Not bad huh?

As for my second job. It's been good. The company in Arizona got a new IT person on site. They said they really needed one on site for a whole revamping project they were looking to do. I thought I would be cut out. Fortunately this new IT person has kept me in the loop since he came on board in October of last year. He's even told me that he expected to keep me at the same level of work that I was doing. Not everything has been perfect but he has been great in the way we interact. I've had my errors and he calmly points them out. Sometimes not so calmly but he later comes back to apologize because he was under some tense situation. I totally understand it and sometimes it doesn't even feel like was being bossy or mean, yet he still apologizes. I just hope I can keep this work relationship for a long time. This income equals about 75% of the income I get from my main job so it's really a significant amount.

Other income comes from some local IT work that I do to companies here, and updates to a cellphone repair management software that I developed. Those are small amounts. The first helps me fill the tank of my car every week, the other one helps me pay down debt when they get around to pay me as I invoice them only twice a year. Right now I sent them my invoices a week ago and I'm expecting them to pay me so I can put it down against some of the credit card debt I have in the card I use to pay for school and college.

My debt has continued. I'm not sure if it has diminished but I feel I have a chance of getting under control now that my oldest daughter is in college with a 50% scholarship. I will do another post on my expenses and debt.

A good thing is that I've managed to set up automatic processes to do some savings and have even set up some Cd's (Certificates of Deposit) on Banco Azteca at 12% annual interest. Not much in the grand scheme of things but at least it means I'm able to put money aside for the future. I really like that and it brings me some relief. 

Thank you for reading this and sorry for no updates until now. I hope to fix this.

My journey to debt free life continues..I still owe so much, but at least I keep the head above water. 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Down and Up

All of 2013 I was working for the US company at half the number of hours I used to work. This meant I was slowly sliding back into debt, but still managing to pay for most of it even as I was accumulating more and more once again. At one poing in November 2013 I asked for a loan from CitiBank in this country. They approved and I was able to roll in most of my credit card debt into it. In January 2014 I was told by the US company that I was no longer needed on a permanent basis. They would only give me a small retainer to watch over things when the main IT guy would go on vacation or leave. Things quickly went bad since then. I stopped paying my debt, specially my new debt. Calls started comming in and thru bonuses, and small gigs I was able to keep things from moving to legal actions but still being called almost every day. I was working hard at my main job on a new project since June 2013 with the expectation of a raise, although the amount was never disclosed. So far things have not materialized on that end. I tried here and there to get gigs and additional income but none of it was in the range of the levels I needed to come back to normality. I basically need about $2500 monthly to cover the needs not covered by my main job's income. I have a long term gig that could provide almost half of that monthtly but only in about a year or so after completing programming of a brand new cellphone repair shop app. Out of the blue on May 2 the IT guy at the US company calls me and tells me he is going to give his two week notice and that I should start preparing to take over while the company gets a new IT guy. This is great news for me but not as much as it seems it's a temporary thing. In a conference call with the President/owner and the Project Manager and the IT guy I'm told I will take most of the things the IT guy did, while they looked for a replacement. I would report to the project manager meanwhile. I took over from the IT guy on may 10. A few days later I was told by the project manager that they would not look for a replacement for the IT guy. I would take over permanently over his tasks and more so when they would move their equipment offsite, as local IT guy would have the same access as I do from here. So for now I'm cautiously optimistic that I will be able to get back on track with my debts. I slid back in some debt so I'm almost starting over again. I have no choice but to push on. One more positive note is that my daughter is finishing high school and requesting scholarship at a local college. This would free up around $400 a month from her school tuition. Even if she doesn't get the scholarship there are far more financing options for her in college than in school. I hope at least for a 50% scholarship. This would allow me to pay for the school tuition for my other daughter with my June and Christmas bonus rather than just putting my credit card for it and paying some part later as I do now. That is all for now. I'm tired but sleeping much better now than since January.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Being pulled down again

It was too good to be true.
 
I was making good headway into paying down my debt. I had the work with a company on Phoenix, US which was helping me bring in about $1200 each 15 days. In recent months I had started doing IT work for a small wine company for $250/month and some extra work for a friend for about $100/week.
 
All this plus my regular day job was helping pay my regular expenses and start paying the debt plus the big expense of my daughter's school tuition fees on a monthly basis.
 
Then came "the call". I was asked to call the IT manager on the Phoenix company. He was a new person as I had been on the IT manager position since January 2012. He had come in on June 2012 and started learning the ropes of how things worked. He wanted to make big changes which I agree with. Unfortunately those changes require a lot of money to do. in January 2013 he started talking to me about having to do some cuts and that he wanted me to cut down my hours of work for them. He did say he wanted me to stay on the job as I was his backup when he got sick on had to take time off from work or to do other tasks.
 
So that call had two sides. The positive is that I would still be able to work for them. The negative is that my income from them would be cut back. I still didn't know how much since he wanted to finish some stuff before discussing with me how much to cut my hours.
 
Then in mid february he gave me cold facts. I had to cut down my hours by half. Sure he asked if I was ok with it, but what could I say? I could say no and he could easily let me go or just say that it was for the best interest to take his offer. So I agreed anyway, knowing it would meant $1000 LESS each month.
 
$1000 less each month is devastating to me. Specially because as I explained this to my wife and kids, they sort of understood, but keep making the same demands for stuff. They keep wanting to do this or that, buy this or that, go here and there. I keep reminding them about my new situation and they just say that it's something urgent or needed, or that i'm exagerating the situation or that I'm a greedy man that keep pressuring them all the time.
 
My hopes now are placed on my day job. I'm starting a new project that i'm managing almost totally by myself. My boss had budgeted to get another person to do most of this work once I had it all set up. However in February he told me that things were tight and he wasn't going to actually get another person. He also mentioned that if I could do the job on a daily basis he would "improve my salary". Those are very vague words. He mentioned that the other person would earn L15,000/month but he wouldn't say how big of a raise he would give me once the project is running normally. So i'm hoping on a vague thing.
 
I'm not giving up. I'm starting a supermarket delivery service, once again on my own since my wife doesn't want to help me because she "hates going to the supermarket", even though she has all the time in the world to do this. This is very frustating.
 
She wants a regular office job where she can ask someone what to do and probably push papers from one pile to another without much brainwork. I keep looking for opportunities for her but they rarely call her even though she has a Master's degree in Human Resource Management. I suppose it's due to her being in her 40's with only a couple of years of job experience on HR.
 
At this point I have no clue how things will shape up in a couple of months. I don't know how I will pay my daughter's tuition this year and next. By mid 2014 my oldest will go to college which will be a relief since she will be  applying for a scholarship due to her excellent grades. Otherwise I will have to ask her to go to the public university or to a private one but with less classes each semester. However that's in around 16 months or so.
 
I try not to think too much about all this not because i'm in denial, but because I already know I need to bring in more money and cut down on expenses. If I starting to think too much about my current situation I could get too anxious, too desperate, too depressed and would get sick and would not be able to work.
 
I also started looking for work on craigslist by looking for telecommuter jobs, hoping that some other company like the one in Phoenix allows me to work from here for them. IF you know someone that would like to have their systems managed remotely please let me know.
 
I hope you had a good holy week.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Some sort of update

At this point i'm left with credit card debt with BAC, Banpais and HSBC.
 
Banpais is my main helper with a low rate (relatively low) in the 20's. I don't use the card I just pay the debt I transferred to it.
 
BAC is my main card for paying my girl's school, and I had converted another one for some gas benefits. After two months I stopped using it because the benefits had a really low cap so it wasn't all that. I'm going to cancel it probably this month.
 
HSBC is the one on my sights now. Today I got a call from BAC offering me up to 285k lps at 19.56% which is relatively low compared to 60% regular rate on cards and 35% regular rate on extrafinancing on cards. I requested the money right away to pay for HSBC and consolidate my debt even more.
 
On the income side, I'm still working for the US company, although more in the background now as the have an on-site person. I'm somewhat worried that comming January they might let me go. I still do important work and I have a good relationship with the on-site person but I've always seem things change on January and I rather worry and have it not happen than the other way around.
 
I'm also generating some additional income via a local company here that I provide support via phone and remote access tools, that's around $300/month, not much but it helps. Also my ex-boss on the US company contacted me again to help him manage some other servers in two different companies. I'm using automated tools to keep things under watch. The benefit with him is that he insists on paying me weekly, so I have quick income every monday for expenses, leaving most of the other income to pay for my debt. I'm still trying to figure things out.
 
My oldest daughter told me that she notices i'm not so strict with spending anymore. It's a warning sign for me, but on the other hand I like that they feel that i'm reasonable. They've learned to explain to me the reason for their expenses and they have purchased some things thru savings or selling stuff, doing work, etc. The wife is still fighting me at times when she doesn't get what she wants. Right now i'm just hunkering down and waiting for a better financial position to be able to make some sort of decision on our relationship.
 
Christmas is comming and I hate the season, but I will try to make it easy on everyone else by asking for no gifts or have them donate the money they would've spent on me.
 
 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August Update (WITH Formatting)

After using blogger for so long I thought I understood it. Turns out it removed all paragraph spacing that I had included. Here it is again as I wanted it. I presume this time it will display properly.:
 
 
I could go into the details but it's pretty much boring. I'm still holding to my day job, and at the same time I have the other job with the company in the US. That pretty much has helped me continue to make payments towards ending my debt. Right now I only hold active credit cards with HSBC and BAC.
 
The card with HSBC is the next in line to be canceled once I finish paying the extrafinancing they provided me. Their interest rate is lower than the one from BAC but they way they calculate monthly payments always confuses me.
 
With BAC I have two cards, one that I feel I should keep because it gives me 7% discount on my daugther's school payments which is a significant amount on top of the 15% discount I get from being alumni and having 2 kids at the school.
 
Even with that, paying for their education is my biggest continuous struggle as I haven't yet managed to balance my monthly income to enable me to pay school from those funds. I pay school from my 13th and 14th month payments and my vacation bonus. On the positive side my daughters are constantly on the honor roll so I feel that all this effort is worth something for them.
 
My oldest one was in a regional math competition recently and after that she was approach by a local university with a 75% scholarship, however they wanted most of the 25% up front and now. They did not have the field my daugther wanted to study so we turned them down for now although we have that door open for later in the future before she finishes high school. I'm researching scholarships for the university that does have her field of interest, and i'm an alumni of it too so it's nice to go to familiar territory.
 
I've managed to pick up a small extra job watching over some 10 computers at a local wine distributor company. It's not much pay but it's $250/month that I didn't have and requires only a few hours each week. I plan to put most of that towards savings or debt. I've also managed to include a long distance relative that is very good with computer hardware and I feel that connecting more with him and with the wine company general manager might open more door for me for other types of business opportunities.
 
Wife still doesn't have a job and is still looking for one, today she told me she will enroll in a 15-week course to train as a university teacher. That should allow her to bid for teaching positions in high-schools and universities. However I don't think it will work for her as she is not the kind of person that could do presentations easily. I just hope she proves me wrong. Either way it doesn't affect my thoughts on how our relationship will end as there are bigger issues around it.
 
I'm also trying to teach my daughters the value of money by having them save for big things they want, like cellphones. They've both reached their goals and have been happy with their purchases. They take good care of their phones and value them as something they bought with their own effort. I also make them participate in the decision process of school supplies and they seem to understand it and provide opinions and compare as we shop around. I was glad to see them telling me of the many things they could reuse from last year and of the things they did needed new but not the fancy stuff.
 
As I struggle each month to reach the next paycheck, I know i'm in a better situation each month because of automatic deposits on savings accounts I have that I can't access easily. However it's very difficult to keep focused on the long term and notice the small improvements.
 
My next big action will come when I can request a loan from the company coop at 12% (of which we get back 5% in dividends in January). That money would go towards paying up either HSBC or the Gas card I have with BAC that is practically useless.
 
There's another area i've dedicated some time. It's been researching and actively supporting a twitter group that provides important information for people in my city. In relation with that i've also research text messaging services and how to educate people thru text messages.
 
It's amazing that almost 90% of Hondurans have a cellphone and how it could be a great platform to deliver content and evaluate learning thru it by a smart use of text messages. All of this research probably won't net me any income and I might even have to throw in a couple of dollars a month to run some things. However it fills a spiritual need of helping others just for the pleasure of helping. Sure it's cool that the twitter account has 8,000 followers and it's a very active account but my main motivation is to help the most people I can with simple things that make their day a little better. I hope you can relate to this and understand this need I have.
 
That's it for now, I hope to report again soon. I appreciate your comments and keep them in mind for longer than you might thinkg.

August Update

I could go into the details but it's pretty much boring. I'm still holding to my day job, and at the same time I have the other job with the company in the US. That pretty much has helped me continue to make payments towards ending my debt. Right now I only hold active credit cards with HSBC and BAC. The card with HSBC is the next in line to be canceled once I finish paying the extrafinancing they provided me. Their interest rate is lower than the one from BAC but they way they calculate monthly payments always confuses me. With BAC I have two cards, one that I feel I should keep because it gives me 7% discount on my daugther's school payments which is a significant amount on top of the 15% discount I get from being alumni and having 2 kids at the school. Even with that, paying for their education is my biggest continuous struggle as I haven't yet managed to balance my monthly income to enable me to pay school from those funds. I pay school from my 13th and 14th month payments and my vacation bonus. On the positive side my daughters are constantly on the honor roll so I feel that all this effort is worth something for them. My oldest one was in a regional math competition recently and after that she was approach by a local university with a 75% scholarship, however they wanted most of the 25% up front and now. They did not have the field my daugther wanted to study so we turned them down for now although we have that door open for later in the future before she finishes high school. I'm researching scholarships for the university that does have her field of interest, and i'm an alumni of it too so it's nice to go to familiar territory. I've managed to pick up a small extra job watching over some 10 computers at a local wine distributor company. It's not much pay but it's $250/month that I didn't have and requires only a few hours each week. I plan to put most of that towards savings or debt. I've also managed to include a long distance relative that is very good with computer hardware and I feel that connecting more with him and with the wine company general manager might open more door for me for other types of business opportunities. Wife still doesn't have a job and is still looking for one, today she told me she will enroll in a 15-week course to train as a university teacher. That should allow her to bid for teaching positions in high-schools and universities. However I don't think it will work for her as she is not the kind of person that could do presentations easily. I just hope she proves me wrong. Either way it doesn't affect my thoughts on how our relationship will end as there are bigger issues around it. I'm also trying to teach my daughters the value of money by having them save for big things they want, like cellphones. They've both reached their goals and have been happy with their purchases. They take good care of their phones and value them as something they bought with their own effort. I also make them participate in the decision process of school supplies and they seem to understand it and provide opinions and compare as we shop around. I was glad to see them telling me of the many things they could reuse from last year and of the things they did needed new but not the fancy stuff. As I struggle each month to reach the next paycheck, I know i'm in a better situation each month because of automatic deposits on savings accounts I have that I can't access easily. However it's very difficult to keep focused on the long term and notice the small improvements. My next big action will come when I can request a loan from the company coop at 12% (of which we get back 5% in dividends in January). That money would go towards paying up either HSBC or the Gas card I have with BAC that is practically useless. There's another area i've dedicated some time. It's been researching and actively supporting a twitter group that provides important information for people in my city. In relation with that i've also research text messaging services and how to educate people thru text messages. It's amazing that almost 90% of Hondurans have a cellphone and how it could be a great platform to deliver content and evaluate learning thru it by a smart use of text messages. All of this research probably won't net me any income and I might even have to throw in a couple of dollars a month to run some things. However it fills a spiritual need of helping others just for the pleasure of helping. Sure it's cool that the twitter account has 8,000 followers and it's a very active account but my main motivation is to help the most people I can with simple things that make their day a little better. I hope you can relate to this and understand this need I have. That's it for now, I hope to report again soon. I appreciate your comments and keep them in mind for longer than you might thinkg.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bye Bye Ficohsa

I haven't written in a while. I guess mainly because there wasn't much to write about. Each month was just work work work, get paid, and go on to pay my debts.
 
This month I have somewhat good news. Good news is that today I received my credit card statement from Ficohsa with 0 balance. Also today I called in to confirm I had no pending transactions. There where none. I previously had a $2000 floating transaction due to a car rental thing. It was a small headache to get it cleared away but it was gone now. Also today I entered a request to cancel my credit card.
 
I was asked why I wanted to cancel it. I wished I had told them all of the little things that I hate about them. From the way they do their billing collection (collecting two payments when only one is past due), to their crappy internet banking for credit cards. I would make payments and they would reflect one or two days later. Also this car rental floating thing. I saw the car rental lady saw my card to reverse the deposit and the slip came out with the -$2000 value on it. Yet they don't reflect it on their system.
 
I had already decided months ago to kill that card. To do that I had taken some extrafinancing on my HSBC card that was offered at a rate about half of what I had to pay on the Ficohsa card. I also took a similar amount on my BAC card (also at about half rate of Ficohsa) to pay for that card and to pay for other important things, like my daughters' school. I wish I could say I spent it all wisely but it seems like appliances, wife and kids, know when one has money and they either break, need clothes or have a birthday comming up. Just in one day I had to spend $325 on my wife's car to fix the catalitic converter and replace two tires that were damaged beyond repair during the rains.
 
In any case I managed to send it all in at the last payment day. So it's done. Well almost done. I expect a call from Ficohsa tomorrow or Friday trying to lure me back. Even if I wasn't trying to get rid of my cards, their service sucks so much that I would cancel it anyway. Even the customer rep that I talked to told me he had the same problem with the floating charges on his card and he also cancelled it. He said it wasn't right that he should say that but he has to put the face to customers and he definitely wasn't putting up with that crappy card anymore.
 
So if you want to get a really crappy card pick a Ficohsa card. Sure at first it will all be nice and dandy, but one you will have a problem and that's when their true colors will show.
 
As a recap, i'm now down to my HSBC Card and my two BAC Cards. One of them is a Gas card, which wasn't what I expected it to be. And the other is the EconoMIA card which has worked as expected. My attempts now will focus on cancelling my HSBC card. All I have on it is the extrafinancing I took to get rid of the Ficohsa card. I don't like how they calculate the payment amount, they have a weird formula each month and their statements are hard to understand.
 
I plan to take a company coop loan at 12% and do some substantial damage to that card with it. I still don't have a set date when I will do that, but I hope it's sometime before October. I have some family things that might hamper that but right now that's the plan. The thought of divorcing my wife keeps floating on my head as i've found more and more that she's not the right person for me.
 
In any case, I know now that I have to figure a way to balance my income to be able to pay for my daughters school without taking any more loans. The older one has 2 years left of high school. After that the colleges here cost less or about the same as school, but she can take less classes and the monthly payment would be lower. On a related note she was offered a full 5 year college tuition on one college here for about $4000 which is about a quarter of what the total costs would be normally. Unfortunately she doesn't like that college nor do they offer the major she wants. She is starting to look into scholarships at the college she wants and so far her grades seems to give her a good option to get at least half a scholarship to start and then maybe move to a full scholarship later. I'm really crossing my fingers for that and i'm also trying to make everything possible to help her keep those grades in these last 2 years she still has to go.
 
Well you wanted an update. You got one. So i'm still hanging in there.