Showing posts with label Employment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Employment. Show all posts

After getting laid off from my previous job I initially thought I would remove the money from my 401k to cover any expenses that would come. But then I reminded myself that I'm not going to do this anymore unless it's an emergency.

Considering that the last few years of filling out tax returns has resulted in me paying out instead of getting a refund, I figured that would constitute an emergency and was prepared to get the money out of my 401k for that reason and that reason alone. However, a new day brings new situations.

Last week I was hired onto a job only because someone else declined the position, thus freeing up a space for me in the training class. Thank you anonymous person! Now I am able to keep the money for retirement and move it over to the new 401k at my current job.

But in the process of trying to figure out the steps in moving the money,  I had two choices given to me. 1) I move the money to the new 401k or 2) I move the money to an IRA. Not knowing which is better for my situation I did some research and came to a conclusion. (h/t to Gen X finance for help)

Flickr/CC - MJTR (´・ω・)
Non-Matched Money But More Variety - That was repeated over and over. IRA isn't matched money but it is a bigger variety of funds to choose from. However, if I move the money over to the new 401k, that isn't matched either, only the new money I put in is. And as for variety, giving me 29 varieties of ketchup isn't worth more to me than 6 as I know what I like and it's very simple. The same goes for fund variety, I look at the basics, fees, etc and go with what is available. The nice part of the new company 401k, they do have a better variety than the old company.

Lower Fees in an IRA - When I invest in my own 401k I look for the lowest fees as my top 3 things to do. In most all cases I don't have any trouble finding fees that are around .55% or lower. To me that savings of .55% (at most) with the little bit of money I have now doesn't seem impressive enough to me to deal with two retirement accounts. Plus there isn't a fee to rollover from one 401k to another.

This is the first time I have rolled over money from one account to another and that alone makes me happy. Before I have been too short-sighted to see beyond the immediate gratification that cash provides, but with experience comes some learning.

Since this post was short, I thought I would point you to a few articles I have saved.

** This is a pdf document that gives 10 steps to haggling. It is from a UK site, but isn't the idea of haggling universal anyway? My favorite one I need to remember is #2 It isn't about price: don’t look purely at the financial saving – instead think added value

** Did you watch that show on TLC called "Extreme Couponing" in between the shows about people eating laundry soap and hoarding? I'm glad I saw it after I read Denver Bargain's write-up on it, Extreme Couponing Meets Extreme Production in Reality TV, otherwise, I would have been talking to my tv set.

** If you are in need of a few new books to put on hold at the library, you will want to check out  38 personal finance bloggers favorite books that Planting Dollars gathered. It even has a little graph to boot. My response was the book, Living More with Less (not the cookbook) because it helps me appreciate the luxuries that I have and that there is so much more I can do without if I truly need or want to. We are a very blessed country and having a comparison to other countries certainly brings that out.

** One final link of self promotion - Sam McManis from The Sacramento Bee interviewed me about my thoughts on frugal and cheap. Spelled my name wrong, oh well, article is interesting about the new California Governor taking away state workers cell phones.

 Flickr/CC - numberstumper

There's no mystery to taxes really for the average wage earner, it is just a matter of figuring out if you want a big refund and smaller paycheck or if you want a smaller refund and a bigger paycheck.

If you are like me and you always seem to owe, then sitting down to the IRS tax calculator this time of year would be a good decision. Or if you wanted a smaller tax refund this year then last year, this would be the perfect time of the year to get that straightened out.

This calculator allows you to determine if you need to adjust your w-4 with your employer. These adjustments can be made at anytime of the year.

Who Can Benefit From The Withholding Calculator?
  • Employees who would like to change their withholding to reduce their tax refund or their balance due.
  • Employees who may need to increase their withholding due to the Making Work Pay provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, that caused changes to the federal income tax withholding tables and may result in too little tax being withheld.
  • Employees whose situations are only approximated by the worksheets on the paper W-4 (e.g., anyone with concurrent jobs, or couples in which both are employed; those entitled to file as Head of Household; and those with several children eligible for the Child Tax Credit);
  • Employees with non-wage income in excess of their adjustments and deductions, who would prefer to have tax on that income withheld from their paychecks rather than make periodic separate payments through the estimated tax procedures.
CAUTION:    If you will be subject to alternative minimum tax, self-employment tax, or other taxes or, if any of your current jobs will end before the end of the year, you will probably achieve more accurate withholding by following the instructions in Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Tax Withholding?

You will need: 
  • Your most recent pay stubs handy.
  • Your most recent income tax return handy.
Of course, the optimum result is that you owe nothing and you get no refund. Even-Steven.

I last wrote about the upcoming layoff about 6 weeks ago and I had hope that things would look up. My office was having a career building company called Right Management come in and help us with resume building and tweaking our interview style. Then there was the unemployment office that would be in for the two hour meeting on how to fill out the forms online and what steps we needs to take. It was seeing the ship sinking and knowing there was no way that it was going to right itself.

Until last week.

We had heard rumors but they were all over the place and most thought is was just wishful thinking that took on a life of it's own. But then the HR department walked around to people's desks and dropped envelopes down that read CONFIDENTIAL stamped on it. For those who got an envelope, we were given the opportunity to stick around on the "sinking ship" for another 5 months, instead of a layoff date of 4/30, it was now pushed back to 9/30 and the severance had tripled in size.

A huge sigh of relief swept through the office that day with those of us who weren't already planning to jump ship and go with another company. We had paper work to sign to agree to the terms and we would be set for the next 22 weeks more. A definite plus for those of us who still had surgeries and doctor appointments that weren't going to get done before April 30th.

It was at that time I realized that I had a few more months to get organized, pay off a few more bills, and extra time to build up an even better savings. It also came at a better time as my lease would be coming due and we could take the necessary time to look for a cheaper apartment.

Today I go to work, as I do every day, knowing that the inevitable is still on the horizon, but stress of a job change has lessoned a bit. I can gather myself together a bit better, and be even more prepared before I have to get into that lifeboat.

Jim @ Bargaineering recently brought up some things with his article: Your Take: Does Unemployment Insurance Reward Laziness? and I thought I would respond to snippets of his article that would be too long at his site.

"However, unemployment benefits do act as a disincentive. You get unemployment benefits when you are unemployed, you don’t get them when you are employed."

I see unemployment benefits as an emergency savings of sorts because the the employer and I have paid into it and when I can't find a comparable job to replace the one I lost, I like to know that I have some money coming in to pay bills. True I SHOULD have 3-6 months living expenses stashed away, but I don't and this will help.

In my state of Colorado the pay can be as small as $25 a week to a max of $487 a week, depending on any other money coming in. Since I have 4 weeks of severance coming that will delay any unemployment check by 4 weeks, definitely not incentive to stop looking for a job and live off the unemployment checks.

"If I lost my job and was on unemployment, my initial sense of urgency at finding another job would be much lower than if I didn’t have unemployment benefits (once I got over the sting of being fired). If I just need to meet the job hunting requirements to receive unemployment benefits, I’ll do that while I search for the “right” job and not the “right now” job."

My sense of urgency is still there to find a job, I don't want to not have money for rent, food and utilities. However being laid off does bring me to a crossroads that with assistance I may be able to go back to school and get a degree or certification to get a better paying job or open up an opportunity to work for myself.

The job hunt requirements for my state are 5 contacts a week, however that can be waived or cut back if I am taking classes. However, if I decide to go back to school, and even if I get paid the full $487 a week I would still have to cut back considering schooling takes longer than 6 months.

That really is the only incentive to me to stay on unemployment, is to go to school and get a degree that makes me more marketable. Otherwise, I want to get up in the morning and know that I have done something challenging, bettering myself and paid for my room and board by myself and not relied on government assistance. To me anything less would mean a breakdown in my personal integrity.

You can respond to my thoughts by clicking on the comments link or read Jim's article and respond over at his site.

I said I would keep you updated on how things are going along the layoff process at work. This also helps me organize my thoughts and the information I receive, so I appreciate your time.

Notification was sent around that those who made it to April 30th would receive a severance of 4 weeks (which would be taxed at the "gift rate" which is around 35-40%) as a lump sum check. Also, we found out this week that our annual reviews were finished and raises were given, most all of the people I spoke to got the most they had ever received from the company. These raises will get us through for the last 4 paychecks and final severance and of course will help if unemployment benefits is in the future.

The company has been doing a good job of trying not to leave us dangling but to be prepared. Last week they brought in HR people who spoke with who ever was interested in moving to other cities within the company. Some places have bonuses if you go to them, some do not and the bonuses appear to be available in those places where the turnover rate is highest and pay lowest.

Next week the company will be have a state representative come in and give a 2 hour meeting on the state's unemployment benefits and how the process works. Since I have never used unemployment, I signed up for that meeting right away.

This week they brought in a subsidiary company of Manpower, called Right Management and have paid them for two months of help for each employee that signs up with them. Right Management had a 90 minute meeting with us to go over what they do - They aren't a job placement company but instead help people tweak their resumes and interview skills so that they stand out among the crowd.

I know I need help with my interview skills and I'm not a young chicken any longer, I have years of clucking experience so I want to make sure I am appealling to whomever I peck at. :)

Really quickly here are some comments that stood out from the meeting:
- 4 out of 10 interviewees respond with a thank you card or email after the interview is over
- 80% percent of resumes don't include the person's accomplishments 
- Most interviewees have no focused answer to the statement, "tell me about yourself" 
- If you are fired from a job, always tell the truth and practice what you want to say
- If you are laid off from a job, give the business reasons, don't get personal

The biggest part of the meeting was just getting comfortable with talking about our accomplishments. We had to go around the room and give our name and title and then talk about something we are proud of and where we want to go into the future. We are trained (especially woman) to not talk about ourselves, to be humble and just do our job. When we were asked to look over our professional life or personal life it is hard to think of something we are proud of. I noticed most of the men in the room thought of something professional, and most of the women thought of something personal. Just interesting, that's all.

One of the items the speaker mentioned about finding out what our accomplishments was to think about all the times we have been challenged and those are our accomplishments. Those times we have saved the day or simply made someone happy.
Challenge + Action +Results = Accomplishments

And in answer to that statement, "Tell me about yourself", we want to answer with a 30-60 second 'commercial' about ourselves.
Most recently (background)....
I am best known (accomplishments)...
My next step is (future goals with company)...

This isn't going to be something that is done for us, from here on out we have to go over our yearly reviews and keep our eyes open to challenges that will help jog our memory so we can get a list of accomplishments on the ready. The speaker suggested we keep a notepad handy to jot these situations down or save a word file. Recently I saw that Lifehacker put out a post on Setting Up a Praise Folder to Track Successes for Performance Reviews, Resume Boosts, so I made sure to tag that post for reference.

I think the best part about the meeting with Right Management was that it gave me hope, there are improvements that I can make which will market my product (me) better. Of course whether that is working for someone else or someday working for myself, what I learn through this will certainly help in the future.

Billboard courtesy of Adam UXB Smith

The hardest work in the world is being out of work.
~Whitney Young, Jr.

Earlier this week, the business that I work for was notified in a big floorwide meeting that both us and another building were being shut down and our customers were going to go to other regions. They gave us a 90 days warning and everyone from VP to customer service rep. was going to bee gone.

I have been through a lay off of this magnitude before and it pretty much went this exact way. The responses however were more severe as the people I work with are older and more established with families than the previous lay off. It broke my heart knowing that the guy in the bathroom who was throwing up had just bought a house a few months ago or a that the woman who sat next to me still had one more back surgery to go through. We all quietly moved around the office in our own world's trying to make sense of the news and yet do our work like nothing had changed.

My way to digest the information was to think of ways to cut back on expenses and figure out what I am holding onto that aren't needs. My partners way to work through it was to immediately get online and get a list of job available, find out places to transfer to within the company.

We talked about it nonstop on what to reduce, what jobs to look for, where to live for a good 3 days and then it hit me and I just couldn't talk about it any longer. The time was going to go quickly and I know that I need to get organized, update my resume, get contact information and be prepared for both getting a new job or riding out the search.

The actions that we took went to cutting back first, a tangible action that helped us mentally see that we could save money and still hold on to our needs and a few of our wants. Whether it be utilities or conveniences we have gone through this before and cutting back on some things is more about tweaking a little here and there since some it won't save any large amount a month or year.

After listing our cutbacks and acting on a few of those, the next step was to get together with the company provided career counselors so that I can brush up on interview skills, resumes and so on. I want to go in to whatever interview as fully capable as I can.

Finally, as the day draws closer to the lay off date and if I haven't received a job offer yet I will want to get organized again for the unemployed future by filing my unemployment notices extending COBRA and so on.

Over these next few months I will take you along on the journey with me, making decisions or even helping me make decisions. I appreciate your thoughts, ideas and criticisms as I move along this new road laid out in front of me.

Actions Taken in 1st week of lay off notice:

* Drop cell phone bill to emergency plan (saved 20-25$ month)
* Called Cable - Removed some channels, better prices on others (savings $55 month)
* Contacted career center for appointments
* Gathered a list of places that are currently hiring or will be hiring in the next 3 months, including transfer options
* I ate a big bag of M&M's and chocolate cake... I feel better now and will be back in the gym on Monday!