Sunday, September 13, 2015

Savings when in Debt

Some people have asked me why I'm saving in Cd's when I have debt. I have a few reasons why. Here they are:

1) Opening a CD in Banco Azteca requires very little money, 4000 lempiras lets you open a CD at 11 to 12% annual interest.
2) Several "experts" recommend setting aside some money for savings even if you are in debt so that if an emergency ocurrs one can take that and use it instead of going into debt again
3) I'm going to renew my US travel visa in September-October after they first issued it 10 years ago when I was in better financial shape. I need to prove some financial stability. So I think that the Cd's along with my two plots of land and the documentation that my girls are in college and bilingual school should suffice in other for the consular office to understand where my money is going.

I just came from a two-week training seminar in another country and I was very exhausting dealing with training from 9 to 5 plus answering work emails, plus still working for the US company AND studying nightly. On Wednesday and Thursday of the second week I was very tired. I did the certification tests on Friday and I hope I passed. Otherwise my boss won't be happy to throw another $5,000 down the drain. We had a coworker take this training in December last year and he didn't pass so the project for that software couldn't go on.

If I do pass, I already feeling sorry that due to the many things I do at work we won't be able to exploit more than 30% to 40% of what this software can do to prevent fraud. The solution would be to hire someone to work on it full time but I doubt my boss would do that if he has to spend another $5,000 plus travel expenses to train that person to manage it. On the plus side it's an important certification for my resume in case I need it later.

Traveling has it's own money issues even if the company pays for the travel. Something for a future post.

Have a good day.

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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. 

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