Author Topic: Overheard at Work  (Read 8278402 times)

MissNancyPryor

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20000 on: April 09, 2018, 05:28:22 PM »
A nice older fellow in the office is contemplating retirement.  He is a stress puppy and 10 years ago had a sort of nervous breakdown and took several months of disability; he took 3 weeks over the winter because he just "couldn't stand it anymore."  I do hope he can retire soon, the job seems to be killing him.  He seems to be making plans to go though and I just hope he makes it. 

He came by at lunch today and asked me, if it were up to me, would I take a lump sum from a pension plan or take the payments?  Easy, I would take the lump.  In fact, that is what I did from my last job--  take the lump and roll it into Vanguard.  I noted to him that I am 49 though and solidly among the Gen Xers that have a really strong cynicism streak.  My generation lived through the break up of Ma Bell and have watched many a pension plan get "altered under the terms of the bankruptcy" like United Airlines, Enron/PG&E, Kaiser Aluminum, etc.  A bird in the hand I say.  I of course cautioned him that I was only giving my opinion and he needed to get some professional advice. 

Turns out he had asked everyone in the office, essentially he was taking a poll to try to decide what to do.  He has to get some serious advice or do some research.  He has been with the company more than 25 years in its various forms and is doing the classic "wait till I am eligible to draw a pension and wait till maximum retirement age for SS" and it might just kill him. 

This was a good living color lesson and a reminder to go early.  All this waiting for someone else (the gov't, a company) just ain't going to work for me.   

LennStar

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20001 on: April 10, 2018, 02:45:01 AM »
I have a co-worker like the one you are describing.  I can't understand it.  Constantly tells me about all of the financial trouble she's in, her credit card is maxed out, but then she spends at least $4 on Starbucks every morning at $10 on take out lunch every work day.  Whenever I mention my interest in frugality and the ways I'm saving money, she interrupts me and changes the subject. I recently had to put some of her work related purchases on my credit card because she couldn't pay for them.  That's fine -- I'll get reimbursed and collect the points.  But holy moly how do people live like that and not die from the stress?

They do - in the same way that people die from being poor. Not especially in the visible case, but on average several years.
For example even in Germany with universal healthcare, the poorest 10% die I think 8 years earlier then the richest 10%.

Just Joe

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20002 on: April 10, 2018, 09:20:56 AM »


yeah, i don't either. she's been really openly unhappy for...two years now? and she's the one asking for the divorce, too. i'm happy for her, because i do think that her dynamic with her husband is an unhealthy one. but at the same time, if i were doubting the viability of my marriage, i wouldn't make a several-thousand-dollar purchase, on credit, for items that symbolize a long-term committment to my partner.

This just made me laugh out loud.  It also makes me realize I should stop trying to understand other people's decision making process.
[/quote]

...But does she still wear the fancy rings post divorce?

avalanchecity

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20003 on: April 10, 2018, 09:44:58 AM »


yeah, i don't either. she's been really openly unhappy for...two years now? and she's the one asking for the divorce, too. i'm happy for her, because i do think that her dynamic with her husband is an unhealthy one. but at the same time, if i were doubting the viability of my marriage, i wouldn't make a several-thousand-dollar purchase, on credit, for items that symbolize a long-term committment to my partner.

This just made me laugh out loud.  It also makes me realize I should stop trying to understand other people's decision making process.

...But does she still wear the fancy rings post divorce?
[/quote]

she doesn't! no word on if she's planning on selling the rings or just keeping them in a drawer somewhere. also, she was worried about how she was going to transition to being a single parent, and i promised i'd write up a worst-case-scenario budget for her so she'd know she was going to be ok. she came into work today and said she wrote up one last night and didn't understand how she was going to make it on one paycheck instead of two.

"i did the math," she said, "and when i budget for everything that has to be paid every month, i'm only going to have $400 a week to spend on groceries, eating out, diapers, and fun stuff."

she told this to me and the other really frugal guy in our office, and we both made shocked eye contact before telling her that we thought she was going to be just fine.

"i'm pretty sure you can actually afford to up your retirement contribution comfortably," i said, since she told me she's only contributing 5%.

"woah woah woah," she said. "baby steps."

grandep

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20004 on: April 10, 2018, 04:31:27 PM »
My lovely fiancee is not Mustachian by nature, so I was very proud of her when she agreed to a synthetic diamond (moissanite) for her engagement ring and wedding band. All told, both rings will cost about $1800 total -- still pretty expensive by my standards, but boat loads cheaper than buying a "real" diamond. Not to mention the moissanite rings are indistinguishable from a natural diamond (to the untrained naked eye, at least). She gets compliments on it all the time.

For my wedding band, I asked for a set of those silicon rings and a gold plated tungsten carbide (for ~fancy~ occasions). I think total my rings come out to less than $40 (don't remember the exact number off the top of my head).

CoffeeAndDonuts

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20005 on: April 11, 2018, 09:01:56 PM »
So I am part owner of a small company. Last year, we flew our entire staff to one of the more common tourist cities in the US for our holiday party. We provided an extra day off, airfare for the employee, a very nice dinner in a notable restaurant, and hotel room of course. We also had some informal events where my partner and i, naturally, picked up the tab but no one was expected to attend.

Some staff are single, others aren't. We opted to just cover the immediate staff members airfare but the partner is welcome at dinner and able to use the hotel room, of course.

We've done this a couple times now. Same rules.

Anyway, one employee opts to bring their partner this past year. I clearly lay out the additional cost for airfare ($300ish?) and the extra TWO nights in the hotel he wanted ($100ish total).

Right before the trip, I remember to send him a final tally. Around $400 out of his pocket I think.

He can't pay it.

Not only that, he wants proof of what we paid for his room, for other employees flights and their rooms, etc.

Says he didn't know. And yet it's all in an email where he even directed what style of bed to choose and his preferred flights (with upgrades to better seats no less).

As calmly as I can, I exchange 10 emails documenting how we communicated this to him, how he obviously read and directed the additional expenses, and how it was equitable when compared to others.

Two months later, he finally paid.

In the meantime, I got to hear all about the thousands of dollars in upgraded he was doing to his nearly brand new motorcycle.

And, under our comp plan, just about 7 more hours of billable from him in 1 month (or 3.5h in 2 mos) would have paid for it. And we start extra comp pay at just 50% billable.

Ridiculous.

Step37

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20006 on: April 11, 2018, 11:03:19 PM »
@CoffeeAndDonuts . . . That is just staggering. I, too, am part owner of a company and would love to be able to do something similar for our staff at some point. This employee’s behaviour, besides being a ridiculous financial train wreck, would feel like a slap in the face.

Hirondelle

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20007 on: April 11, 2018, 11:35:55 PM »
One of my co-workers finished her PhD contract but is still rounding up, so now she's getting unemployment benefits (70% of salary for max 6 months or so). She seems in no rush to find another job and just went on a 4 week trip to Japan to celebrate the end of the PhD (this was booked before she realized she wouldn't finish in time). Seems like she can cover her bills using the 70% and has savings for the trips. Good for her.

However, I chatted about it with another co-worker who really couldn't understand how she was taking vacations and not really planning on getting a job before the summer. He's a bit further in his career already and has been through the short term unemployment thing himself.
He: "Taking a 4 week trip to Japan doesn't really look like she's on unemployment money and needs to find a new job asap"
Me: "Well, she told me once she wasn't really planning to work again before September as she wanted some decompression time and had a couple more short trips planned. It's just frustrating for her the thesis isn't finished yet."
He: "But 70% really isn't much to live off and add all the trips to that. Japan's expensive!"
Me: "I figured she must have savings and budgetted for it that she could manage. It's not that hard to save up a few 1000s over the 4 years of your PhD, even if she only saved a little monthly. She doesn't have a family to support so all the income just goes to her"
He: "That seems unlikely to me. She rents a house from a friend so maybe her rent is really low, or her parents must be helping her!" (she's 28..)

I'm not sure how well she manages her money and who of us was on the right end, but I was kinda surprised that I couldn't get him to believe that it would be an option that she was able to live off the 70% (or even less?) and used savings for the trips.
He also looks shocked at me every time I tell him I'm not planning to run straight into a PostDoc or industry job once I finish.

Imma

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20008 on: April 12, 2018, 02:19:57 AM »
Wow, Hirondelle, I know people working on their PhD sometimes complain they don't make a lot of money compared to what they could earn in the industry, but it's hardly poverty. You certainly don't need parental support to make ends meet... I think I earn about the same as somone in the last year of writing their PhD, I don't even work fulltime, and I could easily live off 70% of that (actually I would still be able to save). Of course I'm more frugal than most people, but even with more 'normal' spending habits you should be able to save a bit.

former player

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20009 on: April 12, 2018, 02:54:43 AM »
A nice older fellow in the office is contemplating retirement.  He is a stress puppy and 10 years ago had a sort of nervous breakdown and took several months of disability; he took 3 weeks over the winter because he just "couldn't stand it anymore."  I do hope he can retire soon, the job seems to be killing him.  He seems to be making plans to go though and I just hope he makes it. 

He came by at lunch today and asked me, if it were up to me, would I take a lump sum from a pension plan or take the payments?  Easy, I would take the lump.  In fact, that is what I did from my last job--  take the lump and roll it into Vanguard.  I noted to him that I am 49 though and solidly among the Gen Xers that have a really strong cynicism streak.  My generation lived through the break up of Ma Bell and have watched many a pension plan get "altered under the terms of the bankruptcy" like United Airlines, Enron/PG&E, Kaiser Aluminum, etc.  A bird in the hand I say.  I of course cautioned him that I was only giving my opinion and he needed to get some professional advice. 

Turns out he had asked everyone in the office, essentially he was taking a poll to try to decide what to do.  He has to get some serious advice or do some research.  He has been with the company more than 25 years in its various forms and is doing the classic "wait till I am eligible to draw a pension and wait till maximum retirement age for SS" and it might just kill him. 

This was a good living color lesson and a reminder to go early.  All this waiting for someone else (the gov't, a company) just ain't going to work for me.   
Oh my. Can you point him towards a suitable MMM or Bogleheads post for basic investment advice?  Mention the 4% rule to him?  You might just make the rest of his life a lot better.

Hirondelle

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20010 on: April 12, 2018, 03:05:43 AM »
Wow, Hirondelle, I know people working on their PhD sometimes complain they don't make a lot of money compared to what they could earn in the industry, but it's hardly poverty. You certainly don't need parental support to make ends meet... I think I earn about the same as somone in the last year of writing their PhD, I don't even work fulltime, and I could easily live off 70% of that (actually I would still be able to save). Of course I'm more frugal than most people, but even with more 'normal' spending habits you should be able to save a bit.

Honestly I don't think it's that bad at all. The gross income at Dutch universities is ranges from 2300-2900 gross (1st vs 4th year of PhD). And as you're an actual employee you do get perks like vacation money, 13th month and pension. Compared to my friends who went into industry (though not in the same field) I notice their current salaries are about the same as mine, but I think theirs will increase faster than mine.

Epor

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20011 on: April 12, 2018, 09:20:14 AM »
So I am part owner of a small company. Last year, we flew our entire staff to one of the more common tourist cities in the US for our holiday party. We provided an extra day off, airfare for the employee, a very nice dinner in a notable restaurant, and hotel room of course. We also had some informal events where my partner and i, naturally, picked up the tab but no one was expected to attend.

Some staff are single, others aren't. We opted to just cover the immediate staff members airfare but the partner is welcome at dinner and able to use the hotel room, of course.

We've done this a couple times now. Same rules.

Anyway, one employee opts to bring their partner this past year. I clearly lay out the additional cost for airfare ($300ish?) and the extra TWO nights in the hotel he wanted ($100ish total).

Right before the trip, I remember to send him a final tally. Around $400 out of his pocket I think.

He can't pay it.

Not only that, he wants proof of what we paid for his room, for other employees flights and their rooms, etc.

Says he didn't know. And yet it's all in an email where he even directed what style of bed to choose and his preferred flights (with upgrades to better seats no less).

As calmly as I can, I exchange 10 emails documenting how we communicated this to him, how he obviously read and directed the additional expenses, and how it was equitable when compared to others.

Two months later, he finally paid.

In the meantime, I got to hear all about the thousands of dollars in upgraded he was doing to his nearly brand new motorcycle.

And, under our comp plan, just about 7 more hours of billable from him in 1 month (or 3.5h in 2 mos) would have paid for it. And we start extra comp pay at just 50% billable.

Ridiculous.

That's why we cannot have nice things! I would die for perks like the ones you are offering, and I imagine most employees are grateful... but all it takes is one jerk to ruin it for everyone.

kanga1622

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20012 on: April 12, 2018, 11:54:27 AM »
I have a co-worker like the one you are describing.  I can't understand it.  Constantly tells me about all of the financial trouble she's in, her credit card is maxed out, but then she spends at least $4 on Starbucks every morning at $10 on take out lunch every work day.  Whenever I mention my interest in frugality and the ways I'm saving money, she interrupts me and changes the subject. I recently had to put some of her work related purchases on my credit card because she couldn't pay for them.  That's fine -- I'll get reimbursed and collect the points.  But holy moly how do people live like that and not die from the stress?

Huh? This sounds like it was made for this thread... can you share some more?

I'm sorry I can't.  Putting aside her financial habits, I really like her as a person, and I can't in good conscience give any more detailed information about her on an open forum.

I have a similar situation that has happened at work. A co-worker will get all concerned when we need to make a supply run to Walmart for an emergency need. I have many times offered to go pick up $20 worth of items because she doesn't have that much room on her available credit. I am happy to take the reward points but really wonder how that family affords groceries and a mortgage if they are that close to the edge when an emergency (car repair, etc.) happens.

Threshkin

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20013 on: April 12, 2018, 01:39:47 PM »
CoffeeandDoughnuts story above reminded me of a time when I was managing a small company.  We had a very simple travel expanse policy where we paid for the hotel room plus a fixed per diem for personal meals.  No receipts or other justification was required to receive the per diem.  Just add it to the expense report.  If you wanted to eat cheaply an pocket the extra, fine (I did this) or if you wanted to eat fancy and spend more than the per diem, fine, just pay it out of your own pocket.  Simple, right?

One employee submitted expense reports that not only included the per diem but also included room service meal expenses as part of the hotel charge. I docked his reimbursement request accordingly. 

He simple could not understand why I would not approve his expense report as written.  I explained that this was double charging for meals and was not an allowable expense.  I even showed him where this was specifically addressed in the travel policy.

He just didn't get it.  Blank stares and repeating that the rooms service was a hotel expense.  I kept explaining and pointing out the policy until he gave up.

A few months later he talked the business owner into giving him a personal loan using business money so he could pay off debt..........and of course quit a few weeks later. 

I let the owner worry about collections on that one.


CoffeeAndDonuts

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20014 on: April 12, 2018, 02:15:39 PM »
@CoffeeAndDonuts . . . That is just staggering. I, too, am part owner of a company and would love to be able to do something similar for our staff at some point. This employee’s behaviour, besides being a ridiculous financial train wreck, would feel like a slap in the face.

It did. I had a very hard time keeping my responses civil. We went in circles and circles. Each one felt more ridiculous than the last... When they wanted to see proof of expenditures and comparison to spending on other employees (they were coming from different cities and costs varied slightly as we booked over about a week), I just about lost it. It felt like a child cross referencing not just the number of gifts received but the dollar value to ensure they got their fair share relative to their sibling. Screw dollars - everyone got the same # of nights at the same hotel and same dinner and a plane ticket on a non-stop flight at reasonable (and higher cost) times.

As an aside, I went out of my way to keep costs down and encourage people to extend the 3 day weekend to longer if they desired. In this case, I happened to have a Citi Prestige card where the 4th night of a hotel stay is free. The culmination of that benefit and the fact that rates were slightly cheaper booking a longer stay resulted in a mere $100 upcharge to move from 2 nights to 4. The room's base rate was ~$150/night ($300) and doing so involved extra hassle for me because they needed to stay under my name.

I finally shut it down saying that I was done talking about this over email and that if they wanted to discuss this further, it'd be in person.

They didn't take me up on that offer.

Side note... I honestly don't think employees know how much insight I have into their financial lives just by listening and having to sign off on the retirement contribution, expense reports, and hsa forms. I struggle not to cross the line into giving unsolicited advice.

mm1970

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20015 on: April 12, 2018, 03:45:29 PM »
CoffeeandDoughnuts story above reminded me of a time when I was managing a small company.  We had a very simple travel expanse policy where we paid for the hotel room plus a fixed per diem for personal meals.  No receipts or other justification was required to receive the per diem.  Just add it to the expense report.  If you wanted to eat cheaply an pocket the extra, fine (I did this) or if you wanted to eat fancy and spend more than the per diem, fine, just pay it out of your own pocket.  Simple, right?

One employee submitted expense reports that not only included the per diem but also included room service meal expenses as part of the hotel charge. I docked his reimbursement request accordingly. 

He simple could not understand why I would not approve his expense report as written.  I explained that this was double charging for meals and was not an allowable expense.  I even showed him where this was specifically addressed in the travel policy.

He just didn't get it.  Blank stares and repeating that the rooms service was a hotel expense.  I kept explaining and pointing out the policy until he gave up.

A few months later he talked the business owner into giving him a personal loan using business money so he could pay off debt..........and of course quit a few weeks later. 

I let the owner worry about collections on that one.

Oh boy.  My company travel policy is reimbursement.  I don't travel.  Which is good, because I hear the system is a pain.

My husband gets per diem.  He can travel quite a bit.  A lot of times, he's traveling to the middle of nowhere.  Free hotel breakfast, and no lunch and dinner choice except grabbing a footlong from Subway.  Ah, as long as he travels alone we make extra!

Roadrunner53

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20016 on: April 12, 2018, 03:46:21 PM »
I worked for a Huge company that did some great things like golf outings in other states. Hotel, airfare, meals, golf and entertainment for those who didn't golf, awards dinner. It was wonderful and amazing! I got to see stuff in another state I would have never experienced had I not had that opportunity! It was awesome I although it was probably in the year 1999, I will never forget it! Please don't stop doing such a nice thing for your employees. There is always an idiot who will ruin it for everyone. Maybe if you make some kind of a document they need to sign with all the details listed and once they sign, they have to abide by what is presented. It is a wonderful perk! I am sure your NORMAL employees have appreciated it!

JHoward

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20017 on: April 12, 2018, 08:06:12 PM »
This is truly overheard so I don't know the full story but it seemed like one of the people in the team next to mine was getting ready to go to the bank so he could withdraw cash and deposit it in a different bank account. His teammates stopped him and showed him how to set up an electronic transfer and he was extremely skeptical. He is a software engineer who was surprised that banks could perform transactions that did not involve physical currency.

grandep

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20018 on: April 12, 2018, 08:42:50 PM »
I worked for a Huge company that did some great things like golf outings in other states. Hotel, airfare, meals, golf and entertainment for those who didn't golf, awards dinner. It was wonderful and amazing! I got to see stuff in another state I would have never experienced had I not had that opportunity! It was awesome I although it was probably in the year 1999, I will never forget it! Please don't stop doing such a nice thing for your employees. There is always an idiot who will ruin it for everyone. Maybe if you make some kind of a document they need to sign with all the details listed and once they sign, they have to abide by what is presented. It is a wonderful perk! I am sure your NORMAL employees have appreciated it!

Same here, my now fiancee and I actually first met and got to know each other on our company trip. Two and a half years later we're getting married!

BDWW

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20019 on: April 12, 2018, 11:07:14 PM »
I worked for a Huge company that did some great things like golf outings in other states. Hotel, airfare, meals, golf and entertainment for those who didn't golf, awards dinner. It was wonderful and amazing! I got to see stuff in another state I would have never experienced had I not had that opportunity! It was awesome I although it was probably in the year 1999, I will never forget it! Please don't stop doing such a nice thing for your employees. There is always an idiot who will ruin it for everyone. Maybe if you make some kind of a document they need to sign with all the details listed and once they sign, they have to abide by what is presented. It is a wonderful perk! I am sure your NORMAL employees have appreciated it!

Same here, my now fiancee and I actually first met and got to know each other on our company trip. Two and a half years later we're getting married!

Hmm, fraternizing on the company dime. Sounds like a reason to cancel these trips to me !  :)

Prairie Stash

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20020 on: April 13, 2018, 10:06:27 AM »
@CoffeeAndDonuts . . . That is just staggering. I, too, am part owner of a company and would love to be able to do something similar for our staff at some point. This employee’s behaviour, besides being a ridiculous financial train wreck, would feel like a slap in the face.

It did. I had a very hard time keeping my responses civil. We went in circles and circles. Each one felt more ridiculous than the last... When they wanted to see proof of expenditures and comparison to spending on other employees (they were coming from different cities and costs varied slightly as we booked over about a week), I just about lost it. It felt like a child cross referencing not just the number of gifts received but the dollar value to ensure they got their fair share relative to their sibling. Screw dollars - everyone got the same # of nights at the same hotel and same dinner and a plane ticket on a non-stop flight at reasonable (and higher cost) times.

As an aside, I went out of my way to keep costs down and encourage people to extend the 3 day weekend to longer if they desired. In this case, I happened to have a Citi Prestige card where the 4th night of a hotel stay is free. The culmination of that benefit and the fact that rates were slightly cheaper booking a longer stay resulted in a mere $100 upcharge to move from 2 nights to 4. The room's base rate was ~$150/night ($300) and doing so involved extra hassle for me because they needed to stay under my name.

I finally shut it down saying that I was done talking about this over email and that if they wanted to discuss this further, it'd be in person.

They didn't take me up on that offer.

Side note... I honestly don't think employees know how much insight I have into their financial lives just by listening and having to sign off on the retirement contribution, expense reports, and hsa forms. I struggle not to cross the line into giving unsolicited advice.
Are you hiring? let me dust off my resume :)

JetBlast

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20021 on: April 13, 2018, 07:48:00 PM »
Interview prep is very common in my industry. Between knowledge exams, personality exams, and HR interviews, most pilots feel the need to prep as best they can and knock of the rust. Moving from a regional airline to a major can be worth $3 million or more over an average career so the $400 bucks for test prep and a few mock interview sessions is a small price to pay.  It’s certainly possible to get hired without the prep, but most want to put everything they have into getting hired.

Recently had a newhire in the flight deck observer seat. We are all chatting in cruise about the hiring process and he says he didn’t do anymore because money was tight. Fair enough. Ten minutes later he asks if either of us own an airplane. He’s looking at buying one to fly his family up to the property he wants to buy in Montana.

eliza

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20022 on: April 13, 2018, 09:06:43 PM »
@CoffeeAndDonuts  - That's awful.  I do hope you don't let one bad (ignorant) apple spoil the perk for everyone.

I've been on the other side of absurd travel expense policies - my favorite was the time I was told that I couldn't stay at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas because it was "a resort" and that I could only stay at the official conference hotel at the official conference rate.  I tried to argue and got shot down.  So I stayed at the Aria --- which cost the company over $800 more for four nights. 

There was was also the time that I needed to get to NYC ASAP for a project that was going off the rails.   The direct flight was sold out in coach, but there was a first class ticket available for ~$500.  Instead I had to take a ~$900 coach flight with a stop in Chicago.   I get that there need to be rules, but let's stop and apply a common sense test - should we (a) book the more convenient and cheaper flight?  or (b) spend way more money for a far less convenient flight?   

Dollar Slice

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20023 on: April 13, 2018, 09:13:49 PM »
There was was also the time that I needed to get to NYC ASAP for a project that was going off the rails.   The direct flight was sold out in coach, but there was a first class ticket available for ~$500.  Instead I had to take a ~$900 coach flight with a stop in Chicago.   I get that there need to be rules, but let's stop and apply a common sense test - should we (a) book the more convenient and cheaper flight?  or (b) spend way more money for a far less convenient flight?

Maybe you could offer to pay them the difference out of your own pocket! ;-)  And if they agree, give them an invoice for $400.

DutchGirl

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20024 on: April 14, 2018, 06:06:38 AM »
I found out my (old-fashioned but reliable) pension plan at work showed the wrong numbers for 2017. The income they reported for me for 2017 was wrong. So first I phoned them, but they blamed my workplace's salary administration for giving them the wrong numbers. Called the salary administration and yes, they made a mistake and were now communicating with the pension plan to set things straight, and this was a companywide problem, not just me.

This is important for my colleagues as well, specifically when you're planning your retirement or when  you want to know, how much more you can/should put aside.

So, at a meeting:

Me: "I noticed that the numbers that were reported to the pension plan for 2017 are wrong. But the salary administration people are fixing it. I wanted to let you guys know. Check your numbers in a month or so, they should be corrected by then."
My colleague: "Ugh, I never look at the pension plan information. I know I haven't saved enough, so I know that I can never retire anyway."

She's 55 years old or so, so now would still be a good time to try to make things better. Burying your head in the sand isn't going to help for sure...

So after the meeting I have offered to take a look at her paperwork with her - acknowledging that we're colleagues too, so that she may not want to do this with me. But if she wants to, I can explain things to her. I'm not as pessimistic about this as she is, given that she has worked all of her life (although sometimes part time) and that in our line of work you generally are forced to put money away in a pension plan automatically. (Obligated standard deduction from your paycheck). Maybe she's in a better position than she thinks she is.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 06:11:41 AM by DutchGirl »

MissNancyPryor

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20025 on: April 14, 2018, 07:51:36 AM »
A nice older fellow in the office is contemplating retirement.  He is a stress puppy and 10 years ago had a sort of nervous breakdown and took several months of disability; he took 3 weeks over the winter because he just "couldn't stand it anymore."  I do hope he can retire soon, the job seems to be killing him.  He seems to be making plans to go though and I just hope he makes it. 

He came by at lunch today and asked me, if it were up to me, would I take a lump sum from a pension plan or take the payments?  Easy, I would take the lump.  In fact, that is what I did from my last job--  take the lump and roll it into Vanguard.  I noted to him that I am 49 though and solidly among the Gen Xers that have a really strong cynicism streak.  My generation lived through the break up of Ma Bell and have watched many a pension plan get "altered under the terms of the bankruptcy" like United Airlines, Enron/PG&E, Kaiser Aluminum, etc.  A bird in the hand I say.  I of course cautioned him that I was only giving my opinion and he needed to get some professional advice. 

Turns out he had asked everyone in the office, essentially he was taking a poll to try to decide what to do.  He has to get some serious advice or do some research.  He has been with the company more than 25 years in its various forms and is doing the classic "wait till I am eligible to draw a pension and wait till maximum retirement age for SS" and it might just kill him. 

This was a good living color lesson and a reminder to go early.  All this waiting for someone else (the gov't, a company) just ain't going to work for me.   
Oh my. Can you point him towards a suitable MMM or Bogleheads post for basic investment advice?  Mention the 4% rule to him?  You might just make the rest of his life a lot better.

I have done so before, yes.  In the past I forwarded him the great GoCurryCracker entry on the advantages of a big HSA, talked quite a bit about index investing, etc.  I framed these things as a "this is what I do" rather than some direction of what he should be doing.  He seemed to take an interest, but he is really well set on a path of pension/SS and a whole lot of stress-puppy fear.  He is in his 60's now so there is a lot of baked-in Boomer history and it is hard to change to an X-er more cynical mindset all in a snap. 

I did see the light of recognition in his eyes when I described the pain of United Airlines and PG&E retirees getting jacked around.  I think generally there is still some sense that it couldn't happen to us even though our company is an enormous conglomerate of several acquired companies itself.  This guy has lived through 3 mergers alone and the rules for his pension have not changed (it was always the absorbed company that got pension plan rule changes and disappointments).  Next time it could be us who are the kibble being swallowed by a bigger company and all bets are off.

I just hope he gets out soon before he has a stroke at his desk.       

eazyebeneezer

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20026 on: April 16, 2018, 07:27:16 AM »
As I've gone down the path of MMM with a vengeance, I've been setting up all the tax-deferred retirement accounts I have access to. When I tried to open a 457b to add to my 403b, my payroll department was dragging their feet starting the contributions. I contacted them to ask when contributions I had authorized would begin. They said someone at the town (I'm a teacher) had blocked it because they didn't think you could have both a 403b and 457b. Of course I know this to be patently false, and I was furious, but I just asked them to double-check, which they did and promptly set it up. Think of the misinformation this person has been giving for who knows how long!? DO YOUR JOB!!

rg422

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20027 on: April 16, 2018, 12:10:43 PM »
It was open enrollment (annual mandatory insurance enrollment, 403B, etc)  at work last week. A coworker, pleasant to work with and definitely hardworking, was sharing how tough her family's finances have been. She's a clerk, so I'd guess she makes $15-18 an hour, just based on what other clerks make at the company. Apparently, she cannot afford health insurance for her family, which costs $229 biweekly. With her permission, I offered to give some advice. It turns out, her husband doesn't work full time; he just picks up odd jobs here and there. So aside from their mortgage payment, utility bills, etc, they just purchased a new car (their current SUV is fairly new) and paying $432 a month, and just purchased everyone in their family a new IPhone 8 which costs them $328 a month! On top of that, she purchases lunch at the cafeteria every weekday. She had excuses for every advice I gave her, but I ended the conversation by telling her she needs to prioritize things they need vs things they want.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20028 on: April 16, 2018, 01:14:37 PM »
rg422 Wow, just wow on that story! My mom worked in a factory and was a supervisor. No one there made a lot of money. There were a lot of the factory workers who would buy their food from the machines all day long. Coffee, hard rolls for breakfast, sandwiches and soda, chips for lunch, more junk food for afternoon break. Instead of bringing food from home to cut the cost they never considered it! They were constantly getting their electricity turned off and drove clunkers that always broke down. Why can't people SEE what they are spending stupidly?

CCCA

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20029 on: April 16, 2018, 01:28:47 PM »
....... pretty any time she gestures, she's carrying the equivalent of $7K in debt on her hand every day.

Whenever I hear stories like this I end up concluding that some people must have brains wired differently from me.

I can't really judge her behavior because I can literally barely comprehend it. 

Going into debt to have a shiny piece of compressed carbon, so that you can show other people you own compressed carbon?

I really would need someone who has insight into this worldview to translate this decision for me in terms I can understand.

And Diamond is thermodynamically unstable at normal temperature and pressure ( bottom left corner)

I've always wanted to picket a mall jewlery store with the phase diagram, a you are here spot on it, and the phrase " Diamond is thermodynamically unstable!!!".

Something for FIRE, when I don't need a clean background check.


Yes I remember learning about this in chemistry class.  There is, however, a large barrier to moving from this stable but not lowest-energy state, to the most favored state so it's unlikely to happen even over long (i.e. geologic) time periods. 

Cali

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20030 on: April 16, 2018, 01:38:34 PM »
I once overheard two coworkers discussing food. Both were broke and need groceries. Coworker #1 tells #2 to get a Target debit card. Apparently it takes two days for a debit charge to hit your bank so she can buy groceries on wed and it won’t hit until payday friday.

Both coworkers were single with no kids they just really liked happy hour at Ruth’s Chris.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20031 on: April 16, 2018, 02:13:23 PM »
....... pretty any time she gestures, she's carrying the equivalent of $7K in debt on her hand every day.

Whenever I hear stories like this I end up concluding that some people must have brains wired differently from me.

I can't really judge her behavior because I can literally barely comprehend it. 

Going into debt to have a shiny piece of compressed carbon, so that you can show other people you own compressed carbon?

I really would need someone who has insight into this worldview to translate this decision for me in terms I can understand.

And Diamond is thermodynamically unstable at normal temperature and pressure ( bottom left corner)

I've always wanted to picket a mall jewlery store with the phase diagram, a you are here spot on it, and the phrase " Diamond is thermodynamically unstable!!!".

Something for FIRE, when I don't need a clean background check.


Yes I remember learning about this in chemistry class.  There is, however, a large barrier to moving from this stable but not lowest-energy state, to the most favored state so it's unlikely to happen even over long (i.e. geologic) time periods.

You might remember it from chemistry, but how many other people do?   Usually thermodynamically unstable!!! should be sufficient to get some excitement going until those who do vaguely remember the difference between thermodynamically unstable and kinetically unstable.

JLee

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20032 on: April 16, 2018, 03:17:17 PM »
I just don’t get the truck thing. If you are going to screw your self over financially to buy a silly toy, why not at least buy a toy that is fun to drive, easy to park, handles well, doesn’t make you look like an idiot trying to compensate for a lack in personal endowments?

Mine is fun enough to drive, easy to park (camera ftw), handles great (thanks, technology!), and any judgement you make on my personal character or physical qualities make you look like an idiot, not me.

Plus, you can't take a Prius here. ;)

Then again, it cost about 7% of my current annual salary, sooo meh.

I once overheard two coworkers discussing food. Both were broke and need groceries. Coworker #1 tells #2 to get a Target debit card. Apparently it takes two days for a debit charge to hit your bank so she can buy groceries on wed and it won’t hit until payday friday.

Both coworkers were single with no kids they just really liked happy hour at Ruth’s Chris.

holy crap x.x
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 03:19:46 PM by JLee »

scottish

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20033 on: April 16, 2018, 03:40:21 PM »
Do you have a land cruiser?    Sweet.   How do you like the kds?   (You can tell where my anti-mustachian tendencies lie)

Linda_Norway

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20034 on: April 17, 2018, 04:59:51 AM »
We have some people from Spain visiting at work. They are quite young, in their 20-ies. They told me their cafeteria at work had a lot more choice than our cafeteria. But ours was way cheaper.
I think they get paid a lot less than 1 do, as they are young and living in a LCOL country and I am 44 and living in a HCOL country. But I am eating sandwiches from home. And they eat in the cafeteria.

Cali

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20035 on: April 17, 2018, 07:11:36 AM »
My team at work is growing expoentially. Two years ago there were 10 of us, we were all friends. Now there are 50 and we are not. At some point someone decided they would decorate someone’s desk for their bday and it became a *thing*. I can’t believe how much money these people burn out of pocket for balloons and streamers. Yesterday I did the math on how much they’d spent on decorations and between the dozen large fancy balloons and and everything else not purchased at a Dollar Store it had to be close to $100. Plus a nice name brand bakery cake. Because homemade or grocery store purchased items are “cheap.” I find it all very strange.

JLee

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20036 on: April 17, 2018, 10:26:35 AM »
Do you have a land cruiser?    Sweet.   How do you like the kds?   (You can tell where my anti-mustachian tendencies lie)

I have an '05 Lexus GX470 (US-spec Landcruiser Prado). I had an 07 before that but decided to sell and buy an older/cheaper one.  KDSS is incredible...I have more suspension travel than with standard sway bars (this was my first one with stock suspension) and it handles far better than anything this size has a right to.

VaCPA

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20037 on: April 17, 2018, 10:50:24 AM »
I'm at work, so I guess this qualifies for this thread. My wife just texted me and sent a picture of matching shoes she likes for herself and our 2 year old daughter(wife's BFF). $50 for her pair, $34 for the kid pair. It would be super adorable but $84, give me a break....

savedough

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20038 on: April 17, 2018, 11:11:14 AM »
so true! i keep looking at my solo (and depressingly affordable) wedding ring and feeling morose at the sight of its obvious loneliness.

now would probably be a good time to also mention that this cw just announced that she's getting divorced! because of course. she told me that she and her soon-to-be ex-husband are going to sell their house, which they hope to make $30-40K on, and then that money will almost cover all of their credit card debt.

I love stories about marriage-related debt lasting longer than the marriage. Probably because I'm a terrible person.

The one person I've ever met with three bands on their wedding ring finger had an engagement ring and wedding band set, and then right around some milestone anniversary found a vintage ring that looks like it was made to fit with the set and got it for the milestone. But they didn't go into debt for any of it.

Guilty - I wear three rings on my ring finger.
1- Engagement ring - we spent more than I should admit on a MMM forum.  Paid in full with cash.   Cost more than honeymoon and wedding, but I really do love it and I intend to have it (and the guy it goes with) until the day I die.
2 - Matching wedding band.  $250
3- Plain band bc I work in food manufacturing and cannot wear any rings with stones and was tired of being asked if I was dating anyone.  (Young female manager in manufacturing.)  <$100  Had it for ten years now.

It actually worked out well because I have three kiddos and I think there is some cheesy symbolism.   3 rings (3 kids).  Don't pop my bubble.   

I should also point out that I inherited two engagement rings from my grandma last year when she died (widowed and remarried).   They are gorgeous but I don't know what to do with them...   Save them for the first two of my kids to get marrried?   They are a pretty classic design so they might still be in style.

avalanchecity

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20039 on: April 17, 2018, 12:13:07 PM »
so true! i keep looking at my solo (and depressingly affordable) wedding ring and feeling morose at the sight of its obvious loneliness.

now would probably be a good time to also mention that this cw just announced that she's getting divorced! because of course. she told me that she and her soon-to-be ex-husband are going to sell their house, which they hope to make $30-40K on, and then that money will almost cover all of their credit card debt.

I love stories about marriage-related debt lasting longer than the marriage. Probably because I'm a terrible person.

The one person I've ever met with three bands on their wedding ring finger had an engagement ring and wedding band set, and then right around some milestone anniversary found a vintage ring that looks like it was made to fit with the set and got it for the milestone. But they didn't go into debt for any of it.

Guilty - I wear three rings on my ring finger.
1- Engagement ring - we spent more than I should admit on a MMM forum.  Paid in full with cash.   Cost more than honeymoon and wedding, but I really do love it and I intend to have it (and the guy it goes with) until the day I die.
2 - Matching wedding band.  $250
3- Plain band bc I work in food manufacturing and cannot wear any rings with stones and was tired of being asked if I was dating anyone.  (Young female manager in manufacturing.)  <$100  Had it for ten years now.

It actually worked out well because I have three kiddos and I think there is some cheesy symbolism.   3 rings (3 kids).  Don't pop my bubble.   

I should also point out that I inherited two engagement rings from my grandma last year when she died (widowed and remarried).   They are gorgeous but I don't know what to do with them...   Save them for the first two of my kids to get marrried?   They are a pretty classic design so they might still be in style.

i think that's fine! you have a good reason for having the third one, and you never went into debt for any of them, which is important. personally, a big appeal of the MMM lifestyle to me is that you save so you can comfortably make the few splurges that are really important to you (comfortably obviously being the key word here). your engagement ring seems to fall under that.

also, i would absolutely save the rings for them. i would have loved to have a family ring to use.

Apples

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20040 on: April 17, 2018, 12:24:55 PM »

3- Plain band bc I work in food manufacturing and cannot wear any rings with stones and was tired of being asked if I was dating anyone.  (Young female manager in manufacturing.)  <$100  Had it for ten years now.


Oh, I sooooo understand this.  I got a no-stones wedding band because I 1. wanted to be able to wear it at work (farm, but food safety rules apply 1/3 of the year) for romantic feelings reasons and 2. I wanted to ward off exactly that. Gah.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20041 on: April 17, 2018, 01:15:11 PM »
I actually have 4 bands on my left ring finger.
I have my engagement ring (thin band 3/4 carat solitaire), my wedding ring, which wraps on either side of the engagement ring, and then a birth stone ring for my stillborn son.  During the summer when it is super humid, I don't wear the wedding band and just do my engagement ring and my birth stone ring.

I don't wear any other jewelry at all.

Goldilocks

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20042 on: April 17, 2018, 02:41:37 PM »
A company I am an independent contractor for had a problem with payments this month. Payments are to be issued at the latest by the 15th, but usually show up earlier. Yesterday (the 16th) many people still hadn’t been paid... and the entire community melted down. Hundreds of people complaining of overdraft fees, not being able to pay their mortgage, not being able to buy food/gas, demanding we go on strike or form a union. Because a payment was late by one day. One.

I have literallly been in awe watching how many people’s lives have been completely turned upside down by this. Any suggestions like having an emergency fund/credit card/not having automatic payments withdrawn the same day you think the money will be there have been shot down. They can’t afford to save money/plan ahead like this.

I mean... I’ve always known people often live paycheck to paycheck. But I have never had a front row seat to tens or even hundreds of people enter an extreme emergency situation within 24 hours.

avalanchecity

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20043 on: April 17, 2018, 02:59:12 PM »
A company I am an independent contractor for had a problem with payments this month. Payments are to be issued at the latest by the 15th, but usually show up earlier. Yesterday (the 16th) many people still hadn’t been paid... and the entire community melted down. Hundreds of people complaining of overdraft fees, not being able to pay their mortgage, not being able to buy food/gas, demanding we go on strike or form a union. Because a payment was late by one day. One.

I have literallly been in awe watching how many people’s lives have been completely turned upside down by this. Any suggestions like having an emergency fund/credit card/not having automatic payments withdrawn the same day you think the money will be there have been shot down. They can’t afford to save money/plan ahead like this.

I mean... I’ve always known people often live paycheck to paycheck. But I have never had a front row seat to tens or even hundreds of people enter an extreme emergency situation within 24 hours.

i work for the u.s. federal government, and i see the beginnings of that meltdown every time there's a threat of a government shutdown. most of us wouldn't recieve a paycheck until the shutdown ended, at which point we've historically recieved all of our backpay. however, every single time there's even a threat of a shutdown, half my office paces the floor, panicking about how they're going to feed their families or afford their rent/mortgage if they don't get paid on time. i don't get it. i mean, i'd be upset if we weren't going to be backpaid, but we are -- and since we're furloughed, most of us are actually at home for all this time we're eventually paid for. it's literally free paid vacation. how do you not have anything set aside at all? how is this threat enough to destroy your finances?

dragoncar

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20044 on: April 17, 2018, 05:05:16 PM »
A company I am an independent contractor for had a problem with payments this month. Payments are to be issued at the latest by the 15th, but usually show up earlier. Yesterday (the 16th) many people still hadn’t been paid... and the entire community melted down. Hundreds of people complaining of overdraft fees, not being able to pay their mortgage, not being able to buy food/gas, demanding we go on strike or form a union. Because a payment was late by one day. One.

I have literallly been in awe watching how many people’s lives have been completely turned upside down by this. Any suggestions like having an emergency fund/credit card/not having automatic payments withdrawn the same day you think the money will be there have been shot down. They can’t afford to save money/plan ahead like this.

I mean... I’ve always known people often live paycheck to paycheck. But I have never had a front row seat to tens or even hundreds of people enter an extreme emergency situation within 24 hours.

i work for the u.s. federal government, and i see the beginnings of that meltdown every time there's a threat of a government shutdown. most of us wouldn't recieve a paycheck until the shutdown ended, at which point we've historically recieved all of our backpay. however, every single time there's even a threat of a shutdown, half my office paces the floor, panicking about how they're going to feed their families or afford their rent/mortgage if they don't get paid on time. i don't get it. i mean, i'd be upset if we weren't going to be backpaid, but we are -- and since we're furloughed, most of us are actually at home for all this time we're eventually paid for. it's literally free paid vacation. how do you not have anything set aside at all? how is this threat enough to destroy your finances?

Seems like there’s a market for “shutdown insurance” that fronts you the money but also claims any backpay you receive

bluebelle

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20045 on: April 17, 2018, 05:14:34 PM »
I'm at work, so I guess this qualifies for this thread. My wife just texted me and sent a picture of matching shoes she likes for herself and our 2 year old daughter(wife's BFF). $50 for her pair, $34 for the kid pair. It would be super adorable but $84, give me a break....
have toddler's shoes changed?  I can't imagine a shoe that's appropriate for your daughter that your wife would want to wear, unless they're matching runners....but WTF, won't your daughter outgrow the shoes in 3 minutes?

Although, I do remember as a kid, my Mom made the occaisional matching dress for her and I for family weddings and such....but 'made them' is the key phrase.

eazyebeneezer

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20046 on: April 17, 2018, 06:50:05 PM »
I just noticed that this is page 403, and a 403b is my ticket to freedom!!!!! That is all :-)

VaCPA

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20047 on: April 17, 2018, 07:02:52 PM »
I'm at work, so I guess this qualifies for this thread. My wife just texted me and sent a picture of matching shoes she likes for herself and our 2 year old daughter(wife's BFF). $50 for her pair, $34 for the kid pair. It would be super adorable but $84, give me a break....
have toddler's shoes changed?  I can't imagine a shoe that's appropriate for your daughter that your wife would want to wear, unless they're matching runners....but WTF, won't your daughter outgrow the shoes in 3 minutes?

Although, I do remember as a kid, my Mom made the occaisional matching dress for her and I for family weddings and such....but 'made them' is the key phrase.

No, they're cute shoes. Like slip on Keds type but nicer looking. But not $84 cute

Dragonswan

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20048 on: April 18, 2018, 01:51:47 PM »
A company I am an independent contractor for had a problem with payments this month. Payments are to be issued at the latest by the 15th, but usually show up earlier. Yesterday (the 16th) many people still hadn’t been paid... and the entire community melted down. Hundreds of people complaining of overdraft fees, not being able to pay their mortgage, not being able to buy food/gas, demanding we go on strike or form a union. Because a payment was late by one day. One.

I have literallly been in awe watching how many people’s lives have been completely turned upside down by this. Any suggestions like having an emergency fund/credit card/not having automatic payments withdrawn the same day you think the money will be there have been shot down. They can’t afford to save money/plan ahead like this.

I mean... I’ve always known people often live paycheck to paycheck. But I have never had a front row seat to tens or even hundreds of people enter an extreme emergency situation within 24 hours.

i work for the u.s. federal government, and i see the beginnings of that meltdown every time there's a threat of a government shutdown. most of us wouldn't recieve a paycheck until the shutdown ended, at which point we've historically recieved all of our backpay. however, every single time there's even a threat of a shutdown, half my office paces the floor, panicking about how they're going to feed their families or afford their rent/mortgage if they don't get paid on time. i don't get it. i mean, i'd be upset if we weren't going to be backpaid, but we are -- and since we're furloughed, most of us are actually at home for all this time we're eventually paid for. it's literally free paid vacation. how do you not have anything set aside at all? how is this threat enough to destroy your finances?
From your lips to God's ears.  Unless you just started working here, you know there is a possibility of a shutdown at the beginning of every fiscal year. And if they do continuing resolutions, every expiration date is a potential shut down.  PLAN FOR IT PEOPLE!  One year I thought there was a greater than usual chance of a shut down so I took vacation and went on a cruise.  That way I wasn't around for them to cancel leave and have to come in for half a day to do shutdown procedures.  Turns out they didn't shut down, much to my chagrin, but I was going to burn vacation days at some point, so that was as good a time as any.

Rowellen

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #20049 on: April 18, 2018, 04:13:46 PM »
A company I am an independent contractor for had a problem with payments this month. Payments are to be issued at the latest by the 15th, but usually show up earlier. Yesterday (the 16th) many people still hadn’t been paid... and the entire community melted down. Hundreds of people complaining of overdraft fees, not being able to pay their mortgage, not being able to buy food/gas, demanding we go on strike or form a union. Because a payment was late by one day. One.

I have literallly been in awe watching how many people’s lives have been completely turned upside down by this. Any suggestions like having an emergency fund/credit card/not having automatic payments withdrawn the same day you think the money will be there have been shot down. They can’t afford to save money/plan ahead like this.

I mean... I’ve always known people often live paycheck to paycheck. But I have never had a front row seat to tens or even hundreds of people enter an extreme emergency situation within 24 hours.

i work for the u.s. federal government, and i see the beginnings of that meltdown every time there's a threat of a government shutdown. most of us wouldn't recieve a paycheck until the shutdown ended, at which point we've historically recieved all of our backpay. however, every single time there's even a threat of a shutdown, half my office paces the floor, panicking about how they're going to feed their families or afford their rent/mortgage if they don't get paid on time. i don't get it. i mean, i'd be upset if we weren't going to be backpaid, but we are -- and since we're furloughed, most of us are actually at home for all this time we're eventually paid for. it's literally free paid vacation. how do you not have anything set aside at all? how is this threat enough to destroy your finances?

Seems like there’s a market for “shutdown insurance” that fronts you the money but also claims any backpay you receive

I believe this already exists in the form of payday lenders.