November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Thank God for all of the blessings that we have and the great country that we live in.

November 25, 2008

Severance Package

After returning to work from my business trip, I found out that my company ended up laying off 7 employees (1 more than my manager told me). I was surprised by a couple of the employees chosen for the reduction in force, especially a woman who had been with the company for nearly 20 years and appeared to be a hard worker.

It's never a good time to be let go, but right before Thanksgiving has to be one of the harder times of the year to lose your job. Many companies operate on a skeleton crew during the holiday season because everyone is on vacation. I have to think this is not an ideal interviewing time, especially with the unemployment rates increasing because of the economic downturn. I hope they are able to find new jobs quickly.

I learned that the employees were given 1 week of severance for each year of employment. Should the worst ever happen to me, it's comforting to know that I may get the same package. That would be ~7-1/2 weeks of severance for me. I’m going to work my tail off to ensure that it never comes to that though. God willing.

November 23, 2008

Over 100,000 Frequent Flyer Miles

I just returned from a business trip to Europe. Professionally and personally, the trip was amazing and such a blessing. I met a number of new European contacts and it appears that there may be a great deal of opportunity in countries where our products currently have little or no exposure. In my free time, I visited the Van Gogh Museum (my 2nd time) and Anne Frank House. These are must sees when in The Netherlands.

I'm also excited about the 25,168 frequent flyer miles I earned during the trip. If my wife and I are both able to keep our jobs through this rough economy, we plan to go to Hawaii for vacation in 2009. After my trip to Europe, we now have a total of 117,139 frequent flyer miles, enough for 2 free round trip tickets to Hawaii.

November 21, 2008

Saved On Verizon

My wife is so great at saving us money. She saved us ~19%/month on our Verizon wireless bill by utilizing her company's corporate discount. While updating the account, she also determined that I was eligible for a free new phone this month (which I badly needed). She should start a blog called 1womansmoney. . . I'd subscribe.

November 16, 2008

Well Rewarded

We just reached our $300 cash back reward maximum for the year on Citi credit card. We did a good job of charging as many expenses as possible to this card to earn the 1-3% cash reward.

For the rest of the calendar year, we'll be switching to our American Express reward credit card, which we typically only use for Costco. Switching to this card for a couple of months will be a bit inconvenient, but I hate the thought of giving up free money.

November 14, 2008

1st Layoffs At My Company

I will be on a business trip in Europe next week, so my boss took me to lunch today to let me know that our company will be laying off 6 employees next Friday. We’re a small company, so this represents 15% of our employees. They are basically cutting one employee from each department. I did not find out who will be let go, but was assured it won't be me or my sales representative.

To survive during this tough economic time, my company is going to continue to dramatically reduce expenses. The Owner of the company has recently quit taking a paycheck, and my boss and our controller took a 20% reduction in pay. If things keep getting worse, my company may move to a 4 day work week and ask all employees to take a 20% cut in pay. Quite frankly, I'd much prefer that to loosing my job.
I feel bad knowing that some of my co-workers/friends are going to be out of a job next week. I thank God that I made it thru this first cut and hope my company is able to get through these tough times.

On a related note, my wife’s company will be having a big shake-up in December. Her boss, who has been with the company 23 years, has already been informed that his position will no longer exist. He was able to find a rep position to move to in the company in December, but new employees, like my wife, won’t know where they stand until December.

These are scary times. In addition to praying for our companies and jobs, we’ve cut expenses and tried to bolster our savings. It looks like we should plan to tighten our belts a bit further.

November 12, 2008

Bought More Toyota Stock

After selling our 15 shares of Toyota Motor Corporation stock (ticker TM) for a 26% gain in 19 days, we’ve been eagerly waiting to buy back in.

Well, on Tuesday we got our chance to pick up another 15 shares when the stock dropped to $65/share. Since we bought, it’s come down to ~$62/share, but I’m confident it will work its way back up.

Our goal will be to sell when it hits ~$85/share.

November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day to my Dad and all of the vets out there!

My Dad joined the Army as a young man and was the first recruit in Los Angeles to earn a perfect score on his entrance exam. I remember as a kid looking thru my Dad’s boot camp photo album at the photos of them firing rifles, throwing grenades, and crawling through obstacle courses. That was back when they really fired live ammo over your head as you crawled in mud under barbed wire. Because of my Dad’s high test scores, he served on an intelligence team in Japan & Korea during the Korean War. He lived the kind of stuff you see in spy movies, except if a mission was compromised, he or one of his team members could have been killed.

Serving in the military is very tough work that most of us regular citizens could never handle. Often times, we don’t have a clue of the sacrifices they make to protect our freedom. We should thank your vets and troops every chance we get. This Toby Keith song American Soldier is dedicated to you: American Soldier video

Thanks Dad for what you did for our country!

November 6, 2008

Sold Our 15 Shares of Toyota Motor Corporation

We sold our 15 shares of Toyota Motor Corporation yesterday morning for $82.81/share. Not too bad considering we bought it for $63.71/share just 19 days prior. We ended up made $260.67 after subtracting $12.99 for purchasing the stock and $12.99 for selling the stock.

Toyota's stock started dropping shortly after we sold and today hit a low of $64.80/share. So, we put in a buy request for 15 shares at $61/share. Unfortunately, it never got that low, but there's always tomorrow.

November 5, 2008

Good Drivers Really Do Pay Less

After we sold my truck, I took over my wife's car since she now has a company vechicle. When I called for an insurance quote a couple of months ago, AAA told it would be $1,157 for 12 months of coverage on the car.

I received my bill from AAA, but it was for much less than I expected. I spoke to one of the AAA agents and it turns out that I had an accident on my record, but it recently came off. So, they reduced my 12 months of auto insurance coverage by $434, to $723. What a blessing.

November 1, 2008

October 2008 Income Statement

While our net worth in October dropped considerably, our expenses for the month were pretty low (click on spreadsheet below). We spent a total of $ 6,165.89, which is good, especially considering we splurged on a $301.69 vacuum robot and a $196.18 hotel room for my wife while she was in Vegas.

Our incomes this month were pretty standard. In addition to our paychecks, my wife received a $90.00 reimbursement from her company and we earned a $25 cash reward from our HSBC credit card. The interest income of our E*TRADE savings account was $29.30.

Next month, our incomes will be standard but we have some large expesnses: a $1,157 annual auto insurance bill, $439 condo insurance bill, and a $1,169.14 property tax bill. We plan to cash in 5 of my vacation days to cover most of the two annual insurance bills and pull money out of savings to pay the property tax bill. Some of our other expenses should be lighter next month because I will be out of town ½ of the month.