Building Credit is Like Building a House. It Takes Time.

I know you’re all dying to know how things went with The Talk and whatsmore, but I need to write that post with a little more time – the good news is, though, that all is well that ends well.

 

Something completely different, however, is how I went to the bank today, because I had to cancel a payment I made, blah-blah. As I was already getting up and ready to leave, the clerk stated “oh, I see you are pre-approved for opening a credit line with us!”

And then all life froze for that split-second-long momentum and I fell back in my seat, frown on my face, head tilted a little, asking “excuse me?”

via friends.wikia.com

via friends.wikia.com

 

It has been months since I wrote on here about how I wanted to start building credit in the States. I had then applied for a credit card at my bank, but assumed that – as previously – it would get denied. But no-no, people. I’m officially credit worthy! Hurray!

The card I got granted is not one of those limitless deathtraps that people can get sucked into. It’s just a way for me to – with no costs! – start build a positive credit score. That means that I will use the card on a monthly bases, for things that I would normally pay with from my debit card, knowing very well that I’ll be able to pay the complete bill once that comes.

I have no annual fee on this card, and a limited credit line of 700$ – so I won’t be escaping to Turks and Caicos any time soon. Best of all, if I do actually pay back the bill in full, I’ll be avoiding fees and interest rates.

It’s a small thing. I know. I got granted this card solely because I have a proven record at my bank of money coming in, and paying all bills on time. They don’t care shit where I come from or how my financial future looks.

But to me, this is a little victory. A positive sign that I’ve established the solid foundation to build a rock solid structure on. That I can proceed in the direction I’m heading.

 

Hell. Yeah.

Money Talks

My boyfriend and I have been talking about moving in together. It seems like a huge step, but given the fact that he’s been spending 99% of his time at my place anyway, that hardly seems like a step at all

A couple of times now, he’s been asking me what amount of money I’d be wanting a month, and I’ve been unable to answer that so far. Partly because I don’t like to turn a relationship into a business transaction, but on the other hand, because I think there’s more money talk needed than just me dropping a number and pocket the dough.

 

via tumblr.com

via tumblr.com

So before I sit us both down and dive into the grown up thing to do, I wanted to take some time and list a couple of questions, concerns, thoughts and other things I’ve been mulling over in my head. You are most welcome (and that’s a plead) to comment with your wisdom below!

 

  • he’s getting a divorce. In like ‘he’s separated now, but we have that entire bullshit coming’. So what can he pay? Should I consider the child support he’ll have to pay? Is that any of my concern? And is that any of my business, for that matter? Should I be empathic about the costs he’s facing in regards to this divorce? Does that account to this at all? It seems unfair if it does – she’s not my ex-wife and they are not my children. Right?

 

  • What do you split? Rent, I guess. ConEd and Time Warner? How about the grocery bill? The cleaning supplies and toilet paper? Laundry? And if I’m making a list, should we take his car into account as well? Should I contribute to a vehicle that I don’t use and only very, very, VERY rarely never benefit off? I don’t need a car, haven’t needed one in forever. Should I contribute in parking, though? After all, he is using the car to get to me. Which would be ‘home’.

 

  • I’m not sure – and I guess I should be once we have this talk – but I think I make more money than him. Should that matter? It feels to me that his financial contribution is going to benefit me: it’s extra money, isn’t it? On the other hand, in the weeks gone by, I feel like I’ve been putting in more financial effort already (groceries, rent), and I don’t like that one bit. I might make more money than a year ago, but I’m not in the figures that can support two people. Nor am I willing to support a man, for that matter.

 

  • I’ve kept this blog from him, but I did tell him it existed, and why. I did tell him about my debt – not the full amount, but he knows I’m paying off a debt. He knows where the debt is coming from, and that I’m in the process of coming clean with it. He has debt, too, he says. I don’t know how much, but I’ve been urging him to add up some numbers so he can tell me how much he CAN contribute. I mean, I know hardship, I don’t’ want to put a knife to his throat… but I don’t want to support him either (see above). Not at this stage in the game. Things would be different if we had been together for years, but we’re not.

 

  • I’ve been avoiding this money talk, I must admit. I’m not even 100% sure I want to commit as I’m about to, to be honest. Not because I’m not certain I could spend my days with this guy, no-no. Because of the uncertainty of his situation. Is he able to share my life if he’s still so occupied ending a past? And also… where on earth are 4 children going to sleep in my 1 bedroom apartment? Does this mean we’d be moving once this lease ends? Aaaarrrgghh!!! The horror!

 

  • And if we’re moving, holy cow… we’re staying in Manhattan, right? I can’t move to New Jersey. I’ll die.

 

Yeah, there’s some clarification needed. Pronto.

A Year of More.

Last year, I wrote a post on Fit is The New Poor, where I listed 12 Ridiculous Resolutions, determined to stick with them throughout the full twelve months. But as it appeared, even ridiculous resolutions are hard to hold on to, and while they served their purpose for a good while, it got harder to dedicate my time to them as my life took a turn.

It was resolution #10 that stirred some commotion, in the early hours of 2014. I had toasted loudly to the switch of years, proclaiming that the time had come to for me to Fall in Love. A statement that had some people believe I was jinxing the very possibility of that happening. For a while, it didn’t look good. Being broke and financially instable, I felt anything but diving into the dating scene, let alone dipping as much as a toe in the pool of fishes. But then a new job came, accompanied by a new salary, career opportunities and newfound hope… and weeks after that all fell into my lap, I was able to check off one resolution of my list as completed. For the first time in forever, I won’t be scanning a room, looking for the next best victim to kiss when the clock strikes midnight and the ball makes a stop above Times Square. This time, I’m just gonna kiss my boyfriend, full on the lips.

Although I’ve definitely proven that resolutions – in any shape or form – are bound to be broken, forgotten or dished along the way, I now also know for certain that you do get what you set out to acquire.

I had to give that some thought for the year to come. Was I going to make a list again, a second attempt to stick with stuff that seemed worthwhile in the final days of a year passing? Or was there any other way to approach the New Year with a clear statement of my expectations?

So I decided not to be modest, and just take a bigger bite out of life – that’s how hungry 2014 has made me, as it was a year filled with miracles, however small.

So for the coming year, I’m setting my mind on…

… more love. More adventure. More work. More happiness. More friendship. More champagne. More laughter. More Money. More humor. More writing, maybe. More prosperity. More success. More small acts of kindness. More giving. More yoga. More parties. More healthy food. More sports. More summer. More affection. More Kundalini. More kisses. More New York. More travel. More hugs. More small things. More big things. Meer fun. More joy. More knowledge. More books. More days of “la belle far niente”. More busy days, adrenaline rushing. More opportunities. More dreams. More listening. More miracles, for sure. Meer Being. More me, but also more of him…

… you know, just a little bit more of all the good and pretty things. That’d be more than enough.

And for you, I wish for the same.

Cheers.

via  stylabl.com

via stylabl.com

Oh, Hell No!

A couple of weeks ago, my health insurance started sending me emails, reminding me that it wasn’t too late to get my (free!) annual check-up AND receive a 40$ Amazon gift certificate. The latter is what had me cave in. Plus, it seemed legit to have my health checked – better to be safe than sorry.

So, I got online and browsed their list of doctors, and chose an office close to my job, so I could head in prior to work.

Needless to say, when I called, I double-checked whether this female doctor whom I hoped would become my local generalist, accepted my insurance. I checked again when I finally got to the appointment, and when they wanted about every bodily fluid to exam at the lab, I triple-checked whether all these costs would be covered. I’m not peeing in a cup if it’s going to cost me 400 bucks, thank-you-very-much.

But all was good, the results came back without anything to worry about. Healthy as a horse, this one!

Until I checked the page at the insurance’s website today and I nearly died of a heart attack: it stated the lab work claim had been approved (for an amount of 483 dollars!), but my visit to the doctor itself got denied, and I owed 398 dollars.

Say what!? Hell, no!

via degrassi.wikia.com

via degrassi.wikia.com

In the past, I probably would have cried a little, and then eventually shrug and spend about 400 dollars on a doctor’s visit I hadn’t really needed to begin with. But I refused to let this go. And so I send them a nice an email.

I emailed this to customer service also, but I’m so aggravated that I wanted to address this:  

a couple of weeks ago, I got some emails calling for an annual check-up. No harm, no foul, I thought, and since 2 doctor’s visits are included in my plan, I used your search tool for a doctor.    

Now, I see that the claim for this visit was denied and I should pay almost 400$??? for someone to put a stethoscope on my chest and have me pee in a pot??? Because she’s “out of my network”? How is that even possible if I found her through the your recommended doctors?? 

No. 

We pay over 400$ a month get my ass covered here in the States, and I cannot agree with this way of working – which, since I found this doctor through your search engine – is misleading. 

 

I had an email back within the hour, stating there had been a mistake, and I didn’t owe a single penny.

And that, people, is why you need to question everything.

May the Odds be Ever in My Favor.

I haven’t been sharing much about my new relationship. Don’t think that I’ve just been holding off writing about it… I haven’t been talking about it all that much, either, apart from a very select group of friends who I’ve confided in.

Against my better judgment, I hadn’t informed anyone about that first date. I always let at least 1 person know where I’m going – just in case I vanish from the earth and a search party needs to be organized, you know. Can you imagine the delay if the police first has to rumble through my online life? Yeah… But this time around, I didn’t tell a single soul about the date I had set up with a Tinder prospect, one Friday night in August.

Against every word of advice ever given by my parents and every sane person around me, I did get in the car with the stranger he then still was. He had gotten kinda lost in the city, and (again) against my rule to not chase a guy down, that is exactly what I did: walk in his direction while coordinating him on the phone how to drive, like a remote co-pilot. And when our paths eventually crossed, I got in his car and kissed him on the cheek as if we were old acquaintances running into each other in the French countryside or something. He’s still shocked about that.

via fmgmoscatolife.com

via fmgmoscatolife.com

Then, two weeks in, and sitting on the stoop of my new apartment, he dropped a bombshell on me, informing me of his marital status (separated) and of the amount of kids he has (FOUR!). Yes, that read 4, I so kid you not. Part of me was expecting Ashton Kutcher jumping from behind the corner yelling “PUNK’d!!”, but the voices in my head screaming “RUUUNNN!” were absolutely loudest. I was thinking ‘who the fuck has FOUR kids in America!? Hello-oh, college tuitions!? ‘ But against my very expectation, when I opened my mouth (after about 10 minutes of utter shock), the words coming out were “well… you are not your circumstances, and I kinda like you, so yeah… let’s see where this goes.” He’s still shocked about that one, too. So am I.

I don’t know how we got matched, because he lives far beyond the boundary I had set for my heart to seek for someone else’s. But against my rule to not cross the Hudson River, he comes driving from New Jersey over the George Washington Bridge to see me… often. Very often. Actually, that often I’m starting to question whether we’re living together or not.

When I finally did start telling people about my next adventure in dating, there were frowns all over. Hell, there were so many frowns I can pave 5th Avenue with them. They were also exactly those frowns I had been trying to avoid, but I braved them with sentences like “I can handle this!”

As the weeks and months are passing, their frowns and worries are disappearing, turning into “you make such a cute couple!”. I met his parents. They loved me. He/we/me (no idea, really) still need to struggle through a divorce and all the financial and emotional shit that’ll bring. I still have got to make him understand that I have absolutely no desire to move to New Jersey. Ever. I still have to accept that I will always loose from his children, and he still has to learn that he can never beat Manhattan.

Theoretically and on paper the odds are anything but in my favor… but I’m pretending that they are.

1044374_10151733604013875_95019154_n

Update: Getting a Raise.

Yesterday, I got to witness the difference between working for a horrible company and working for an amazing company.

Without even having to ask and regardless of my thoroughly written previous post, I got offered a raise. My bosses’ way of telling me they’re happy with me, my efforts and appreciative of how I’ve been handling my job.

I had a huge migraine last night, keeping me from jumping up and down and doing a little crazy dance on the Subway home, but man, ‘happy’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.

happy-dance-o

Next up: revising my budget…

And stepping it up at the job even more.

 

Preparing for a Raise.

For my new job, I’m currently the only employee in the States. That means I have no daily supervision during my workdays at all – my bosses are abroad, and although we Skype often, there’s no one around to check if my lunch break was 24 minutes or 46.

That liberty and independence is great – although, I must admit, not for everyone. Self-discipline is key here: at the end of the day, the job has to be done, and eventually, results will need to be shown.

That also means that I have quite some responsibility. 17 people rely on me growing the business over here. So along with all the effort I’m putting in, I know I’m blessed with immense growth potential, pride in building something from the ground up.

I can’t complain about my current salary – it’s a good start. However, effort needs to be rewarded, n’est-ce pas. And when it comes to money in New York City, less is definitely never enough, so we all strive for more.

Now, if there’s one thing I hate doing, it’s to ask for a raise. It’s like wanting to sell a house: you know you’ll never get what you want, and the buyer will always feel like they’ve paid too much. And although I have not yet excruciating numbers to bring to the table, I have been preparing to justify a raise, and this is how:

 

  1. Keep track.

I learned this one the hard way and during my previous job, where my ‘efforts’ were questioned. From day 1 at my new job, I’ve been keeping a log: one where I note my day to day activities, and one where I keep track of all my calls (I do a lot of prospection). The former is brief and gives an overview of my day: from 9 to 11 I answered incoming emails and made relevant calls, did paperwork and organized incoming mail. From 11am to 1pm I focused on Business Development and set new visits and presentations. It goes on like that, until the day is over.

For the latter, I keep track of all the offices I contact: when did I first call them? Who did I speak to, how did I follow up that call? By the time I finally get my foot in the door and set a presentation, I may have called on them four times over a span of two months, but at least it shows how much effort it took me.

 

  1. Investigate.

Ah, the internet, that bottomless well of information! In order to know if you get paid well for the job you’re doing, dedicate a little time to investigation. When we set my initial salary for a job that no one really knew what it would imply, I was happy… but now that I know what I’m really doing, and how that translates in a title, it’s time to step it up. My current income is about 10,000 dollars lower than the average pay of someone in my position (in New York). And that’s a no-no, peeps. That means someone out there might be willing to pay me a lot more for my knowledge. Leverage!

via knight.knationu.com

via knight.knationu.com

  1. Make yourself Irreplaceable.

Ok, this is a tough one, everyone is replaceable, right? But there are ways to make it a little tougher. In my case, it’s my list of contacts. In the beginning, I really planned on putting that list on our companies server, but after careful consideration, I thought… nah, this info is too valuable. In the event that I walk away, someone else would have to start all over again, causing a huge delay. Try to do, have or mean something for the company that is of value – not so much to you, maybe… but definitely to them (or other companies).

 

  1. Give it Your all.

I can not tell you how good I feel at my job. I’m trusted, respected and appropriately praised for my efforts. However much I want a raise and for – what I believe to be – the right reasons, there’s one thing both you and I need to understand. If you’re working for a company, here’s the rule of thumb: a company’s main goal is to make money. That means it’s not there to pay your rent, your grocery bills, your Netflix subscription. You (and me), the employee, we get paid an amount of money that might allow us to pay for all that, but initially, you get paid an income because you put in a service, labor, an effort. A raise, then, is a reward for walking an extra mile, show results, benefit the company.

I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind these past months: my financial wealth will go up, if the company’s financial wealth goes up. And that should be the goal: make the company better.

 

via leslieknopelifecoach.tumblr.com

via leslieknopelifecoach.tumblr.com

That all being said: I’m visiting the Belgian headquarters in December (following spending Christmas with my family!), and that is when I anticipate having a talk. Fingers crossed!!

 

PS: on an unrelated note: I’m meeting my boyfriend’s family on Thanksgiving. I guess you could say I got a raise in this relationship as well…