Free time and anxieties

The schedule is one of the great thing about my new job. There’s no worrying about having a project sprung on me and having to cancel evening plans. It’s really important for me to be able to schedule my time as much as possible so I don’t get exhausted and end up sick. (I basically have to schedule downtime to prevent running out of steam.)

Since I finished my MBA coursework, I have been adjusting to having free time, especially on the weekends. My commute eats up basically all my free time during the week, so the difference is not so extreme yet. I’ve been working on paying off some debt I incurred during the six months I was unemployed. While I was getting my budgeting software back up and running, I reviewed my student loan situation. Thankfully, my MBA debt is not that bad, due to some employer reimbursement and some scholarships. Still, I’m getting the itch to try to start paying them off faster than just making the minimum payments. I’ve also been coming to the realization that even a small apartment might be out of my price range for a while.

The free time coupled with the desire to pay of debt and build up savings has had me thinking about ways to pick up a part time job. Even bringing in $200 a month would be a huge help toward my student loans.

MEANWHILE… The job market seems to be getting worse and worse. Friends on both coasts are dealing with layoffs and furloughs and all kinds of crap. My own dad recently got word that he’s spared from this round of layoffs, but he’s being cut back to four days a week instead of five. That’s a 20% reduction in pay and no guarantee of being safe from layoffs down the road.

So I’m feeling very lucky to have landed my job before hiring froze. I’m grateful that I’m in an organization where people don’t really get laid off, with a career path including planned promotions for the next 3 years. But I am so, so stressed about my parents’ situation. I am the doof who has moved back in with them 3 times since college. I’m the one who has asked them to pay for things like medication when I couldn’t afford the co-pays. I’m living under their roof right now, rent free, chipping in with groceries and chores.

They haven’t asked me for anything. But I am stressing and I’ve been doing some big time reflection on my move out timeline. Right now, I think the best thing (not perfect thing) for all of us would be for me to plan to stay at least another few months. This would allow me to pay rent, which would help my parents until my dad can get a part time job (or win the lottery). I would also be able to save money and pay down debt.

Oy.

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New Job Report

I started my new job one month weeks ago. A lot of things have totally changed.

I wake up at 4 am to ride a commuter bus to DC. I’m now required to take a lunch break. I’m no longer a graphic designer, although a lot of those skills are coming in handy fairly often. I go through a metal detector (and my bags go through an x-ray) every time I enter the building. I get to bank time worked over 8 hours and my boss actively encourages me to do this so I can take time off without actually using my official leave time.

My co-workers are mainly introverted and keep to themselves. There are approximately 15 people in my office, but our bureau takes up most of a 5 story building.

The building has a cafeteria and a modest-sized gym that is super cheap. You can order office supplies on the Intranet and go downstairs during certain hours to pick up your stuff. I have a cubicle after 10 years of open office working. There is a ton of training I can take online and in my building – mostly free.

In many ways, I’ve adjusted better than I expected. The biggest issue right now is learning my job, and getting used to the way the long commute messes up my weekday schedule. I’m hoping to start working out a few times a week, which should help with energy and overall healthiness. And I’m thrilled to report that I turned in my final MBA assignment last weekend, so I don’t have homework and class to juggle on top of work!


What I Got for Christmas

The Tuesday before Christmas I had three interviews. Three interviews, in DC, all on the same day. I ended up running all over town and was even late to my second interview because the first one ran long. I was slightly sweaty and exhausted by the time I got to my third interview. I didn’t get a chance to eat lunch until they were all finished, in the late afternoon. I managed to gobble a granola bar as I ran a mile to one of the interview locations.

All the interviews went well, but each job was interviewing several people. They all told me not to expect to hear anything for a few weeks, after the new year for sure. So I was not expecting to get a call that Friday (the day before the Christmas holiday). The HR lady from the third interview was offering me the position. I accepted the position the next business day. I will start in February.

The timing is pretty great. I fell into the gap where unemployment had not been extended, so I only qualified for 6 months of benefits. I’ve been out of work since August, so my benefits will end very soon. With the new year, my COBRA payments have increased from $744 a month to about $900. I’m very glad to be able to switch over to employer-subsidized health insurance soon!

I am very lucky to have awesome friends who live less than a mile from my new office. They are graciously allowing me to stay with them for my first week. I won’t have to worry about commuting in to DC, which is pretty horrendous and can take anywhere from an hour to three! After my first week I will be taking a commuter bus to work. It will be really nice to not have to drive myself, and I will receive a transit subsidy as part of my job benefits package. The catch? The bus leaves this area at 5 am! I am already trying to start waking up early because that is going to be a difficult adjustment.