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Archive for October, 2008

The benefits of being a road warrior

October 24th, 2008 at 06:39 am

I am writing this entry from my temporary office in Atlanta. This is my third visit here in three weeks. And like many who must travel for work, I try to be as efficient as I can so I can quickly head back home.

I'm not complaining since I knew what this job entailed when I signed on with my current employer: 50-75% travel and in return, they sign my paycheck. The greatest opportunity cost are those that you cannot assign a $ figure to: maintaining a semblance of a relationship that while on the road, is condensed into nightly 10 minute check-in calls, missing mini-milestones in my little niece's life, and just the daily hum of the familiar.

Of course, traveling for work does have its upsides -- frequent flier miles do accumulate (fingers crossed that the airline won't file for Chapter 11 anytime soon), hotel points offer the possibility of free nights in Hawaii or Bali (whenever that may be) and all expense paid meetings in interesting places make up for the endless mind numbing presentations to sit through.

But in today's economy, what I am most grateful for are the free meals and perks (starbucks anyone?) that I would not normally indulge in at home. This month, I have yet spend my own dime on food staples or gas. In addition, I've been busy traveling that I haven't had time to get bored -- saving me trips to the mall or other potentially costly activities. In the end, being a road warrior is a money-saving proposition...in my view.

So thank you dear employer...I hope that you don't file for Chapter 11 and lay me off anytime soon.

What am I thankful for despite these tough times

October 20th, 2008 at 01:40 pm

For me, worry and guilt come very easily. Seems like these days, they are my only constant companions. And like many of you, they are weighing me down, keeping me up at night and sitting at the pit of my stomach like a conference of restless butterflies.

Being grateful requires more effort. I need to consciously remind myself to stop obsessing and pause long enough to be thankful for what I do have, rather than fret over what I don't.

So right now, here's what I'm thankful for:

- Monday is almost over
- The Dow looks like it's headed in the positive direction today

But more importantly,
- My family
- My friends
- Good health
- Having food on the table, clothes on my back and roof over my head
- Still having my sense of humor to get me through these tough weeks
- The supportive network of fellow bloggers in saving advice...who reminds me that I am not alone

Thank you all! And have a good evening.

HELP...my dry cleaner is taking me to the cleaners!

October 19th, 2008 at 06:46 am

I have recently taken a hard look at my living expenses -- those seemingly petty expenses that add up -- and identified areas where I can trim and save. Gone are Starbucks lattes and shopping out of boredom are a thing of the past. I cut coupons, compare gas prices in the area and re-use whatever I can. I am making significant traction and feel really good about it.

One area that I am stuck is drycleaning. In my area, the average cost to dryclean one item is $5. After a week's worh of suits and blouses, my tab is usually $50. I've already started switching to machine washable garments and hand washing blouses, but wool suits still need to be dry cleaned.

Any ideas for alternative cleaning as well as for my fellow CT residents, any insight on the best/least expensive cleaners in the Fairfield County area?

The morning after layoffs

October 17th, 2008 at 08:08 am

Yesterday, I was known as the hatchetwoman. I was that dreaded HR person who had to let go a handful of employees, some of them long-tenured, as a result of the economic downturn. No fault of their own...just the bad luck of not having enough business coming in. Needless to say, even I didn't like myself too much. How do you look someone in the eye and say that it was not personal -- it was a "difficult business decision", just as the script instructed us to say.

We can justify and rationalize all we want, but at the end of the day, it's people's lives, livelihoods and families that are impacted. Part of me is relieved (that it wasn't me and I still have a job) and another part of me is feeling a tremendous amount of guilt.

If there is one bright spot (if that) is that my departing colleagues are getting financial planning/budget management support from a certified financial counselor as part of their outplacement benefit. At a minimum, it is a resource to help them get counseling and tools on how they can stretch out their severance pay and unemployment benefits for as long a time as it takes to find a new job...I hope they use it.

I'm a cheap date...

October 14th, 2008 at 06:03 pm

and very proud of it. And my boyfriend of 6 years would heartily agree.

It's become a fun challenge to find weekend activities that do not require an arm and a leg. There's a satisfaction that comes from having a good time and still have money left in your pocket. Just like finding that perfect outfit on sale in Loehmanns during tax free week, and you have additional % off coupons to boot!

Last weekend, we took a drive up to New Haven. It was a perfect, sunny, crisp fall weekend. The leaves are brilliant colors of red, orange and brown. We parked the car at the municipal lot ($5 for the day), used approximately a quarter tank of gas for the drive up ($12.50) and spent the afternoon walking around Yale, sitting on the grassy quad, admiring the old buildings, stopping to browse in the shops and after an hour or so, indulging in lattes in an outdoor cafe ($8). I realize this activity still cost us $25 but it was well worth being outdoors, enjoying each other's company and the beautiful scenery.

The weekend prior, we drove to McLaughlin Vineyards (part of the CT Wine Trail) and enjoyed wine tasting in a cozy room overlooking the vineyard. The gas was probably under $10, and since I signed up for the vineyard's online mailing list, our wine tasting (normally $5 per person to taste 5 or 6 different types of wines) were free.

Fun and cheap -- the perfect combination.

CT on the cheap is back!...and nervous as hell!

October 12th, 2008 at 05:33 pm

I'm afraid to open my quarterly statements. And who can blame me..after last week's wall street rollercoaster ride? STOP. I'd like to get off please!

I am trying to be calm amid this storm, but my boyfriend is not exactly helping. He shoots text messages with "check your stocks!!!" and "watch Goldman today" when he knows perfectly well that there isn't much I can do from 30,000 feet.

This weekend, we are trying to be as frugal as possible. Lunch at Swanky Franks in Norwalk...three dogs, a side of rings, two sodas and the tab was still $17 with tip. Nice try. But we need to do better.

So, I am back in full force -- unwavering quest for all things cheap in connecticut.