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…

The Cost of a New Relationship.

I once was in a relationship that lasted 6 years. I say ‘once’ like it happened in another era and in a land far, far away. Which are both true, actually.

After that breakup, I stayed single – on and off – for nearly eight years. I was a fairly happy human being during that time. And although things were a bit tough financially, I learned all about budgeting, side income and all that jazz. I was sky-rocketing towards immense riches…

And then I met a boy (I should really call him a man – or as my mother texted me, a MAN!! According to her, he also looks like all the MAN I ever need. Insert fitting Whitney Houston song right here)

I’m still not used to no longer referring to myself as a happy single. And is three months enough time to refer to the man I now occasionally share my bed and life with, as my boyfriend? No idea, but I just go with the flow.

But one thing is for certain: I had never thought a relationship would cut into my budget like a stampede of wild animals causing a massacre of some sorts. Holy Fuck, people! You’d think that a relationship would split the cost of life in half, but it feels like it’s doubling instead – and let me tell you: I’m not a fan.

  • we always hang out at my place. That means that I now go grocery shopping with that in mind. Which also means I throw a shitload of food away, because occasionally, we do go out to dinner. Most of the times when I didn’t really anticipated.
  • When he does stay over, we use my internet, TV, heat, water, drinks, toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, towels.
  • When we do go out, he pays the bill… most of the times. Sometimes I start feeling guilty about someone paying for me, and I try to make a contribution. This month alone, I paid for parking (38 freaking dollars, people!). I paid for drinks (70$). I paid for lunch (40$)… those were costs I hadn’t calculated in my new budget.
  • I had anticipated to rent out my couch at least 5 days a month. But with someone to consider spending the weekend (and of course being all lovey-dovey) about it, I only rented out 3 nights in October – so far, no luck in November. That’s some good money left for grabs right there.

 

via imgarcade.com

via imgarcade.com

Obviously, since I’m writing about it, I’m a little frustrated. Which is not exactly the mood you want to be in after 3 months into anything.

So there’s only one place I can turn to. And it’s you. Am I…

  1. … Being Ridiculous! Stop thinking about money, dwerp!
  2. … Being an Idiot! Just get laid already, geek!
  3. … Being greedy! Ya can’t have it all, Princess!
  4. … Being a Stingy! As long as the bills get paid, you’ll be find, frugalicious!
  5. … anything else?

Help?

Relationship Status.

While I’m cautiously treading the waters of my new relationship status, one of my friends took hers to the next level. Last week, at her birthday party, her then-boyfriend-now-fiancee, proposed. Cute/emotional speech, down-on-one-knee and gi-normeous rock included.

Aww, people! This was the first time in my life I witnessed a close friend being proposed to, and a tear did make its way down my face, surrounded by so much love and happiness.

The next morning, I texted her: How do you feel!? Psyched about her happiness and curious if she had been able to walk to work, carrying the weight of her stone.

Then she replied with what pretty much was her planning for the following months, including an engagement party, a bridal shower, a bachelorette party in Vegas, a rehearsal dinner and all that jazz.

Then I realized what really had happened: a bat-shit-crazy American Wedding party has crossed my path, accompanied by an attack on my wallet.

My hopes for a long engagement were idle. Although a date hasn’t been set at this point, the bride-to-be wants to move quickly and tie the knot in a couple of months but definitely before the next summer is over.

Two years ago, I started joking to my friends that I was planning to get married in 2015, and while that’s not in the cards, I definitely got a wedding. Be careful what you wish for.

Make no mistake, I’m tremendously happy for my friends and the future they are planning. But the past couple of days, I started wishing it hadn’t transform my budget in a nerve-wrecking puzzle. Although there’s a little more breathing room ever since the new job / new living situation, it’s not yet the “I don’t care about anything, here’s 1000$ I’ll gladly spend on your joy.” (roughly calculated).

So I figured there’s only one thing to do: ask for a raise.

PS: soon on this blog: how to ask for a raise… and get it.

PPS: with ‘soon’, I’m indicating an undefined timeframe in the eventual future. Even more time consuming than thinking about a friend’s wedding or writing a blog post every night, is a relationship. Holy cow, people! Who’d have guessed?

The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything.

If you haven’t heard of Banksy, you’ve been living under a rock and I feel for you in that tight spot it must be over there.

If you did, you know that he manages to keep his face a mistery from the world, succeeding better at that than the guys from Daft Punk. He’s basically responsible for making graffiti Uber Cool, heaving it to a form of art and using it as a platform to get us questioning issues such as our Social Media Use or our Consumerism.

Ever since I’ve started actually consciously dealing with my dollars, I’ve been wondering about our consumerism and the influence of adds on our shopping behavior. See, I’m one to switch the channel when a commercial comes up, I cringe when You Tube has one of those 28 second promo videos that you can’t click “Skip” for and unless it has a super-catchy-pitch-that-I-can-use-as-an-instagram-quote, I don’t notice the billboards.

But since people still spend huge amounts of money on adds and commercials, I figure they work and we all get subconsciously spoon-fed our next purchase: a ticket to the Lion King. Ten pounds of M&M’s. A couple of square inches in a storage facility. An Alexander Wang for H&M dress. Health insurance. A chemical peel. An education.

Did I tell you Times Square is around the corner from me and I get there on a train plastered with silly adds? Yeah.

Once you start to notice how many things you – quite literally – get slapped in the face with, almost constantly, you’ll be amazed. And you’ll start seeing how we’re being manipulated in spending money even more, after seeing this picture I found on Banksy’s twitter account (not sure if it’s his work)…

 

From Banksy's twitter feed @therealbanksy

From Banksy’s twitter feed @therealbanksy

The joy, indeed.