Saturday, May 19, 2018

Killing Yourself For Your Job

I saw a quote on twitter the other day:

"You're killing yourself for a job that would replace you within a week if you dropped dead.  Take care of yourself."

Wow, did that quote strike a note with me!  It's ingrained in me to work hard.  My mother is a hard worker, always has been and always will be.  Her biggest struggle with aging is having to slow down.  My Dad was a hard worker, but he knew how to relax and was not afraid to speak up when he needed a break.  My mom would just go and go and get upset and angry when she was worn out.

As an insurance defense lawyer, my job is based on billable hours.  The more hours I bill the more successful I am in my position.  Working and billing clients makes money for the firm and is the main evaluation tool used by the firm. (but not really because the firm doesn't do performance evaluations.  Generally, the partners will look at the billable hours spreadsheet at the end of the year and complain about the lack of hours- mostly from the partners themselves. Anyways.) Most insurance defense firms encourage long hours and weekend work.

Over the last few years I have been trying to back off at work and do less. I've been so busy this year that backing off hasn't gone well.  Nevertheless, I've still found a few ways to stop taking on so much at work:

1. I told my boss I'm busy and I can't take on any new projects.  That worked for a limited time, until he decided to drop some work on me that he didn't want to do!
2. I refuse to answer phones and greet guests at the front door when all of the support staff leaves early, calls in sick or is working from home.
3. I'm trying to not come in as early.
4. I've stopped putting the burden on myself to save the firm money.  If it's better for my health to stay overnight at a hotel, then I do that.  Even if the hotel charges will not be reimbursed by the client. No more 18/19 hour days for me.

It's taken a long time, but I've recognized that my job is simply a job.  I replaced someone else who worked there and, at some point, someone else will replace me.  I've worked at other places, in other jobs and when I quit I was replaced.  I'm not so invaluable that I cannot be replaced by another lawyer.  Balance is a must in the workforce.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

2018 Roth Maxed!!!

Yesterday was payday and I maxed out my 2018 Roth!!! This is the 4th year in a row and I am so excited.

My goal this year was to contribute $10,500 to my retirement savings. I planned to contribute $5,500 to my Roth and $5,000 to my taxable brokerage account.

In case you were wondering (and I would because I am a nerd ), I have been tracking my retirement contributions for the year.  These are the contributions for my Roth, they are as follows:

1/15/18    $1,390
2/15/18    $610
3/15/18    $1,270
4/16/18    $765
4/27/18    $55
5/11/18    $55
5/15/18    $1,355

Now I only have $5,000 more left to contribute for the year and I hope to be done by September.

How are your retirement savings going?  Are you on target to make your goal? 

Sunday, May 6, 2018


Guys, it's May.  I don't know what happened. It was late April and now it's May. May 6th.  Time is still flying and I feel perpetually behind.  On everything, work, life,home, etc.  I'm feeling especially burned out at work.  It's been rough lately and I have been working every weekend.  Except this one.  This weekend I decided that I just couldn't go into the office.  I truly could not bear the thought of sitting in the office for hours.

On Saturday, I got up early, went to Lowes and bought some stuff for the yard.  Then I met up with my friend and we went for a walk.  I came home and cut the grass, trimmed 2 trees, cleaned out a very overgrown and messy flower bed, trimmed the grass over hanging the sidewalk, picked up the limbs from the tree, pulled weeds out of another bed out front, pulled some vines that had grown into the bushes, and sweated like a pig.  I took a long nap afterwards.

Earlier today (Sunday), I went for a walk with my friend.  I came home, planted some flowers, trimmed up 3 trees on the side of the house, trimmed some flowers on the side of the house, re-mulched the bed on the side of the house, finished bagging some grass I pulled out of the bed out front, trimmed all of the hedges on the front of the house, picked up and bagged all of the limbs, blew all the grass off the sidewalk and bagged it,  washed part of the side of the house with some house cleaner and then power washed part of the side of the house (still have to finish- it's so much work- so much algae, etc). It's hot here, the temperature reached about 90 both days (I am a beautiful golden brown right now!). I took another nap and a hot shower.  Right now, I'm kinda of considering a walk.  I think the sunshine and fresh air did me good, another shot of it won't hurt. I also need to take the trash out- such a chore- ugh!

 Don't forget Mother's Day, it's next Sunday.  I gotta order my Mom's present because she will be here on Thursday. I also need to buy her some flowers.  Remember to call your Mommy.

I'm definitely not looking forward to work tomorrow.  I'm already kind of stressed about it, but it's okay.  Work is simply a trade off for money.  The money will help me meet my financial goals.  I have to manage it right, save it and make it work for me. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Age Old Question: Paying Off The Mortgage or Investing

Credit: Plume Ploume

I've read a lot of interesting articles about this topic.  Some people advocate paying off their mortgage with extra money and others advocate investing the money.  Where do you stand on this topic?  I am totally on board with paying off the mortgage.  This is for a few reasons: (1) I hate having debt, (2) I hate having a mortgage, (3) If something bad happens (like job loss) I would prefer not to have a mortgage payment to make, (4) I don't plan to make this house my forever home and I would like to have as much equity as possible when I sell so I have more money to put down on my forever home, (5) I want to make sure that even if the house market drops again that I will not be underwater on my house in the event that I am forced to sell and (6)I have PMI on my mortgage and I am trying to pay down the balance of the mortgage so that PMI is no longer required (maybe by early next year!).  If any of these scenarios occur, I think paying extra on the mortgage now is the best option for me.

Just for informational purposes my mortgage balance is $206,466 and the interest rate is 3.375%. I have a 30 year mortgage. The payments (without extra principal) are $1,481 (that's principal, interest, insurance and property taxes). 

Now, to be clear, I set annual goals for investing  (See previous post here).  I don't completely ignore my retirement or investing needs, I do plan to add $10,500 to my retirement accounts for the year.  I just budget $400 extra for my mortgage payment. Other people would use that money for investing. After all of my yearly financial goals are accomplished I hope be able to add a large lump sum to my mortgage payment at the end of the year. 

 So what do you do?  Pay off the mortgage early or invest?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Retirement Savings Update

 Credit: Maklay62

This week has gone by so fast!! I haven't had a chance to post.  Work is crazy busy and I just can't keep up right now. My boss, however, strolls in about noon a few days each week.  He's always sure to tell me how he's going to start helping out because he knows I am so busy.  Yet somehow when the partner in the South Florida office asked him to help out with 2 appeals, a pre-suit mediation and a trial...he dropped them all on me.  So much for help.

Anyways, on to the point of this post...

My goal this year to contribute $10,500 to my retirement savings. I plan to contribute $5,500 to my Roth and $5,000 to my taxable brokerage account. 

For April I only contributed $765 to my retirement account (due to my very expensive car repair). That brings my total contributions for 2018 to $4,035 Only $1,465 more to go to fully fund my Roth for the year.  I hope to be max it out no later than May of this year (but probably June).  Once those contributions are complete I will contribute $5,000 to my taxable brokerage account.

In case you were wondering (and I would because I am a nerd ), I have been tracking my retirement contributions for the year.  They are as follows:

1/15/18    $1,390
2/15/18    $610
3/15/18    $1,270
4/16/18    $765

 How are you doing with your retirement contributions for the year?  Frankly, I feel pretty blessed to be able to put any money towards retirement.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Privilege and How My Mom Called Me Out on Mine.

Privilege has been a hot topic in the media. The terms "white privilege" and "male privilege" have been tossed around a lot. I didn't really buy into the whole privilege argument.   I thought it was silly to state that someone was privileged because of their race or sex, especially when so many people struggle regardless of race, sex  or socioeconomic status.  The more traction that the theory gained, the more types of privilege were bandied about in the media and in the personal finance community on twitter ("American privilege", etc) 

And then, just a few weeks ago, my Mom called me out on my privilege. Mom told me that  I was privileged. I was shocked.  How could I be privileged?  We were not a wealthy family when I was child.  I'm not wealthy now.  All of the money that I have saved and the assets that I have accumulated are based on my own hard work.  I went into debt for law school and paid back all of my student loans.  I had debt because my parents could not afford to pay for law school for me.  I studied and fretted and cried about passing the bar exam and becoming a lawyer.  But I did it.  I did it because I worked hard enough to succeed.  Nothing in life was made easy for me.

The reason for her statement was simple.  My Mom said I was privileged was because I told her a story about how my boss was rudely criticizing a youngish/new-ish attorney male attorney for coming to a deposition in a wrinkled, worn dress shirt, no tie and no jacket.  Her comment to me was maybe that was the only shirt he had.  I said, "well he choose to be an attorney so he does need to dress appropriately.   I had to spend a lot of money on suits after I graduated law school and I didn't have any money."  My mom laughed and said "You had us to support and help you.  You are so privileged and don't even know it.  When I turned 19 my Father made me leave the house and I couldn't go back.  He gave me money for bus fare and bought me a suitcase.  That was it. I took a bus to New York to live with my older sister, her husband and kids. No job, no money, nothing. I had to make things work because I couldn't live with them rent free forever. My Father did not have a spare dollar to give me and neither did my sister.  I didn't have a credit card and didn't know how to get one.  If I needed a shirt I was out of luck."  I was quiet for a moment.

Her comment made me think.  To her I was privileged.  To me I was not.  Privilege is relative.  The fact that I was easily  able to get into law school as a African American female was shocking to my mother born in the 1940s.  Her ability to help me if I needed it was a privilege that she did not enjoy any stage in her life.  Someone whose parents could afford to pay for law school for them would be  privileged in my eyes.  It was hard graduating from law school with over $60,000 in debt, making only $46,000 a year.  To not have that burden would have been so freeing. 

I realize now that privilege is relative and it does not mean that your life was easy or that you didn't work hard.  It does mean that maybe you had it slightly easier than someone else.  There's nothing wrong with being privileged.  I am grateful for my parents' help. 

*By the way I don't think the lack of a tie or jacket for a deposition is improper or inappropriate in most cases.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Secrets and Lies

I don't know about everyone else, but throughout my life I often seem to be in opportune (or inopportune) places to hear sensitive, scandalous or private information.  No, I'm not eavesdropping, sometimes people will voluntarily reveal information to me- maybe because I'm the only other person around.  Sometimes it is said in such a place that I am unable to avoid overhearing the information.  

Due to the nature of the information I have been made privy to I cannot disclose it to those close to me as it would ruin friendships, working relationships or simply be construed as gossip.  I'm not the type to want to cause drama in the lives of my friends, family or work relationships. So, your beautiful ears (or eyes rather) will get to hear the random secrets and lies that I hear. I figure my blog can act as my stress relief/venting place for all of the craziness I hear. 

First up--a girl that I work with who I have previously referred to as "Michelle".  "Michelle" is my boss's assistant. She used to live up north, I believe in Illinois.  When I first started working with "Michelle" she shared with me her reasons for moving to Florida.  Apparently, she was working 2 jobs to make ends meet because she had gotten kicked out of the College she was attending due to her poor grades.  Well, shortly thereafter, she got fired from both jobs.  One for stealing money (she was a cashier) and the other for stealing a company laptop and surreptitiously accessing confidential email (regarding plans for the company, payroll and pay raises, etc.).   After getting fired from both jobs she moved down to Florida for a "fresh start". 

Once she got to Florida she began applying for jobs, however, she was not having much luck so she lied on her application about having a college degree (remember she got kicked out of College).  After she made that change she was able to get a job and worked there for about 3 or 4 years.  Well her boss, suddenly, retired and she was out of work again.  She started looking for another job and, again, decided to lie on her resume and put that she had graduated from College.  One of the companies that she applied to actually checked to see if she had graduated from College and found that she did not.  The company wrote her a letter advising her to never apply for a job with them again due to her dishonesty.  I just wasn't sure how to react when she told me this information.  I kinda stared at her with my mouth open.  I have never revealed this information to anyone else because I was worried that it could get her fired from this job. I can't be responsible for affecting the financial well-being of another. 

I could go on and on about her secrets and lies, but that is enough for now.  Maybe, I will another series on this topic later.  Have  you ever had someone tell you private or scandalous information?  How did you react?  What did you do?