Saturday, December 30, 2006

Well, that's an improvement

Previously I wrote about how I spent a bzillion dollars on clothes. Actually, it was $175 for clothes and $125 for a pair of clogs. Well, I checked the Dankso outlet page today (, for the curious) and they had the exact shoes I wanted for $40 less! So I bought those and am going to send the other ones back. Hooray for abusing Zappos' free returns policy ;) I like Zappos but most everything I want there seems to be full price. So I'm pretty satisfied with my mad shopping skillz - although I would have been more satisfied had I checked the outlet page BEFORE I bought the other ones!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Festival of Under 30 Finances up at Beachgirl's Budget Blog

Check it out here! This is our last festival of the year but there are many more great things to come next year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sweet Fancy Moses I'd Better Never Need Any More Clothes

I just spent $175 on clothes!

This is a lot of money for me. I do not, as a routine, spend very much on clothes. Most of my shirts were $10 or less, pants $15 or less, and bought in bunches when Old Navy has a sale. But I am beginning to realize that as a grown-up I should own more grown-up clothes for work, and thus I purchased: two tops that could be worn out in the evening or to work, two pairs of nice pants, a nice skirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and four bras. (BTW, if any other ladies are shopping, Lane Bryant has a buy-2-get-2-free bra sale, and with the coupon code 050001521 you can get $25 off $75, $50 off $150 or $75 off $225.) This is in addition to four pairs of nice pants that I recently bought. So I feel pretty well stocked - nearly every shirt I own is solid colored, so I think I am OK in the shirts department. My coworkers were making fun of my pants though since they are a mite too short and I look like I grew out of them a little.

I am also going to buy a pair of Dansko clogs, since it has been pointed out to me that frugality has apparently made me mismatch (all of my pants are dark colored and the shoes I wear at work now are grey, and this seems to be bad.) So I am going to bite the bullet and buy FULL PRICE shoes. I do so love my Dansko shoes though, so I am not going to cheap out and buy something else as they will indeed last for a bzillion years.

On a random note, if you have switched to the new Blogger, what has your experience been? I just see notes about blogs going down when they switch, and that also seems bad.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Maybe they think I deserve another

I just got a call from KeyBank asking if Miss Booykin was there.. We won't get into the last name mangling. It was another guy asking politely if I'd received my Nano from the promotion some months ago. This is odd because they have already called me twice, once just to say "hi" and once to ask if I'd gotten the Nano. I wonder what they would do if I said I hadn't gotten it - send me another? Do they have extras?

Finally, Pinecone pays by Paypal

Last night I got my very first $5 payment from Pinecone by Paypal. I'd been hoping that this would happen for a while - partially because when I get those little checks in the mail, they tend to be subsumed into general spending. But most of the money I get for various activities (PayPerPost, surveys, etc) by Paypal goes into my savings account - I don't think I'll miss the odd $5 here and there, but my savings account notices them!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Got a National City account? Get a $50 Visa GC for opening a Sharebuilder account

This was in my "messages" on my CashDuck bank account online - they have a promotion with Sharebuilder for a $50 Visa gift card after placing one trade. I always forget about the Sharebuilder bonuses and always mean to do another, so I went ahead and did it now with $10 of money from the CashDuck account.

Just visit

and enter the code: ncgift06 if it isn't already entered.

Verdict: Paying $15,000 to parents is OK, $170 per month to boyfriend is bad!

Having recently posted about how I'm planning on paying back my parents for $15k in student loans, and about how I'll be paying about $170 more of the rent for my boyfriend once I start my more lucrative new job, it seems that parents win hands down. However, if you read the tenor of the comments on both posts, it's a little unsettling.

Giving $15k to my parents in a short period of time is evidently commendable, such that someone will be along to give me a prize any moment now, but giving my boyfriend $170 a month is dangerous to my health and may actually kill me.

Just an observation.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I Tried A Bunch of Advertising Methods, and Surprise Surprise Some Of Them Don't Work

I've been advertising for CashDuck for about six weeks now, and I thought I'd post my thoughts about what methods worked and didn't work, both in terms of how many people signed up and how much it cost. The only way I know where people come from is what they put in the "How did you hear about CashDuck?" spot, so efficacy is more or less estimated.

1. PayPerPost

Yes, I actually put up some post offers on PayPerPost. I did it in two batches for a total of eight bought posts. I offered $4 per post - the total, including fees, was $20 for 3 posts and $30 for 5 posts.

Was it worth it? Um, not really. The first round was very disappointing - one of the posts got it all wrong on what the site is about, and another post literally just copied the explanatory text and added some stuff. (Including the part where I suggested that they put up a referral banner and earn 10% of anyone who signed up under them - I intended that they would do that in the post, since the first time I didn't require a picture.) Only one actually was any good and I think I got a few users out of that. The reason I'm so annoyed about those is that I emailed PayPerPost to say that those posts were unacceptable, and they told me that they would reject them, but not to worry since their regular quality control should take them out anyway. They're still there.

The second round was somewhat better, and I got some users, but it was underwhelming writing to say the least. The big downside of PayPerPost is that a lot of these blogs really do seem like they were started just to do PayPerPost - or they have so little traffic it's hardly worth it. The posts went up two weeks ago and two of the posts in the second round have only 15 views! So considering how much it cost ($50) I don't think I'll be doing PayPerPost again.

2. Google AdWords

This was relatively easy to setup, and with a monthly budget of only $15, I think it's been reasonably worthwhile. I have a cost-per-click of about 40 cents for the words I chose, and although I can't precisely track whether they actually used the AdWords link if they state that they found it through searching, I have noticed a lot more people saying that they found it on Google. Given the low cost I think it's worth it to keep on, but it's not the best bang for my buck.

3. Sponsored Listings

I actually was called by a rep from pushing this product - it's basically Google Adwords, with a slightly longer area of text for the ad. You set a daily budget and when you run low, they auto-charge your credit card. Big downside - there doesn't seem to be a way to just cancel the campaign and use up the remaining funds. I was going to take it down, but then I got auto-charged another $25, so I guess I'll wait to cancel the campaign until it gets close to empty again. I have a budget of $2 a day, which is usually about 5 clicks. I don't think this has worked particularly well, but I could also have chosen better keywords.

4. Project Wonderful

This is really a cool site. Basically what you are doing is purchasing ads (tiny ads, regular span ads, and skyscrapers) on various sites, many of which are comics or something similar. I imagine as they expand their advertising base, different kinds of sites will come in, but right now it's pretty much advertising for the 18-to-30 market. You bid on ads on a cost-per-day basis, and whenever your bid is the high bidder, that's when your ad runs and you get charged. So if you bid twenty cents a day, but someone else has bid a maximum of 30 cents, you won't be the high bidder right then - but you will when the 30 cent bid runs out. You can set a time for the bid to expire, or a maximum cost. I like to put up bids for ten or twenty cents, with a maximum of $1 or $2 - since there aren't a lot of paying advertisers on the site right now, you could probably get an ad on more than half the sites for ten or twenty cents a day. I got the biggest boost in traffic from one site - I noticed a lot of people were coming from this site, which was one I'd actually bid 50 cents on. I went to the site and lo and behold, the comic owner was so happy that I'd paid for his hosting for the next two months that he'd gone to CashDuck and written a little review about it, and encouraged his users to try it out! So that was definitely worth it, and I was happy that he was happy for my patronage. I found a post on a forum where people were bitching about my ads (apparently they look "old-internet") which kind of took the wind out of my sails, but I am back in the game now. You can also post ads for free, if you're the first to bid. I've spent about $75 at Project Wonderful so far and been quite pleased with the results.

5. 50,000 banner impressions at Keenspot

Keenspot is a consortium of comics - when you buy impressions, your ad shows up on all of them. This was at a rate of $1 per thousand so I spent $50. I think this has been pretty effective, I've seen several people mention it in their signup, but what I think will really pay off is the fact that I'm reaching groups of people who weren't already out looking for ways to make money. (The issue sometimes with using things like AdWords is that I get lumped in with sites that are actual scams - and then it rubs off on me.) So since it's not presented that way, I think they are more apt to get into it and tell their friends, which will have ramifications beyond just those initial signups. This was also very easy to setup - they have an insertion order form right there on the website so you just give them the banner, the link, and the money, and it starts running.

6. 50,000 banner impressions at Blank Label Comics

Blank Label Comics is another comics consortion - can you tell what kind of demographic I'm going for? ;) This is also $1 per thousand so I spent $50. This has been somewhat more successful at initial signups than Keenspot, since the sites are somewhat higher traffic, but I'm probably burning through those impressions a lot faster.

But the ultimate winner of the ad-off is...

7. Regular banner ad on a single site for one day

I purchased the right to the top spot on, a popular comic which I read regularly, and so do about a bzillion other people. (They get about a million hits a day.) I commissioned a banner ad from the artist and he did a great job, see here:

I thought that was just the funniest shit ever, and apparently so did a lot of people, because I got more than a HUNDRED signups off this ONE ad. This was run on Dec. 12th - I immediately signed up for a day in January and one in February. I'm still getting a few scattered signups that state that's where they saw it. Cost for this ad: $40 for the artist to draw the banner, and $35 for the actual ad space. The extra two days is another $70, but I think it'll definitely be worth it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Well, I am pleasantly surprised

Last year I got a $200 Target gift card from the surgeons as a holiday gift and so did everyone else. I thought that was very nice of them as apparently they didn't do this before a couple years ago - the department used to give everyone something but stopped, so our division is picking up the tab instead. I was kind of curious though as to whether they'd give me one this year, since I'm leaving in two weeks - it's basically, is this a thank you for past performance, or for future performance?

As my coworker put it though, "I think it's just about Christmas."

So I'm glad that they did give me a gift, since there was some issues with getting a free hat (on a day when everyone who works here was supposed to get a hat) for a different coworker who was actually in the process of being let go at the time. You would think that they'd give her a damn hat at least if they won't retain her job, but there were issues. So I am glad that stinginess didn't win out this time, and they didn't think, oh, we don't have to give her a gift because what do we care if she is happy since she is leaving.

Now of course, what do I buy with it? I feel a little silly buying household necessities with a gift, but I already bought all my Christmas presents and recently bought new clothes, and we were just at Target and spent $50, and we already bought the wedding present for the wedding that we're going to soon. I guess I'll just tuck it away.. although I feel pretty certain I could spend it easily if it were, y'know, absolutely necessary that I do so. ;)

Festival of Under 30 Finances up today!

Check out today's Festival of Under 30 Finances hosted today at Money and Values. She's also starting up her own carnival on ethical considerations related to personal finance, so stop by and see!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Splitting my raise

So as I have previously written before, I'll be getting a new job in January which comes with a $1000-per-month pay raise. A common piece of advice is that you should save half of any raise for retirement, so that you won't feel the pinch because you'll be setting aside an increase instead of taking more money out of the budget. Well, that's what I'm going to do too - put $500 per month into my supplemental 403(b) plan. The other $500 is going to be used for two things - funding my Roth on a monthly basis, and replacing the lost income because I am going to ask my boyfriend to contribute less to the household expenses. Boyfriend is a graduate student, and my raise is almost as much as he takes in in a month - hey pays his half of rent, his half of the cell phone bill, pays me back for the parking pass which comes out of my paycheck (long story) and pays the cable bill, and all that adds up to a little less than half his take home pay (and he only gets paid nine months of the year.) So I felt it was only fair to pass along some of my good fortune to him and instead of asking him for $422 per month, he is going to give me $250 and continue to pay the cable bill. So I will be using some of my raise to replace that money in my budget - overall, the actual amount of money I have to spend will not really change, it'll just be going in a different direction, and Boyfriend will actually be able to save some money. (Now on to convincing him to open a Roth...)

The long story about the parking passes is that since I am a staff member and he is a lowly student, he is not eligible for as good of a grade of parking pass as I am. The campus proper and the medical center are all on the same parking pass system, but an A pass on the medical center campus means you park in a garage, whereas an A pass on the campus itself means you park in the nice faculty garages instead of an open lot. So he actually parks in nicer spaces than do some of the visiting lecturers and the older grad students. For the low low price of $48 a month of course. So the pass is in my name, but has his car on it, so that he can park in the good spaces and not have to walk far to class. :)

Oh, and shameless plug - make $15 in 5 minutes on CashDuck! Sign up, fill out the Medical Hair Restoration offer on the front of the View Offers page (anyone with a valid address is fine) and then do the zip submits (they're their own section on the pull down menu) - there are about 14 of them and they pay 50 cents each, you just put in your zip code. Then put in a withdraw request for your money and it'll be paid on the next cycle. =)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Suze Orman doesn't think anyone can afford anything

If you watch the Suze Orman show, you've probably seen the new segment Can I Afford It, where somebody basically asks, given my financial situation, do you think I can afford this item? I've seen it several times now and I'm starting to see a pattern..

Basically, Suze doesn't think anybody can afford expensive TVs, watches, jewelry, cars, anything that you might classify as a luxury item. She doesn't approve much though - on the last show, she told a single mom she couldn't afford daycare for her twins. Well, what is this lady supposed to do then? Quit her job and not be able to afford anything? I saw two instances of her telling someone not to get a fancy TV - one was a college student for whom this would have essentially been two months of income, and that was reasonable, but the other was a 50 year old lady with over $550k in the bank whose TV was on its last legs. Seriously, if someone with half a million dollars can't afford a $2,000 TV, what hope is there for the rest of us? She did eventually OK the purchase of a TV for this lady, but asked her to spend as little as possible on it.

Overall it seems not to actually matter how much money you have, when it comes to a luxury item - Suze doesn't think you can ever afford it. Another caller I remember wanted to buy a thousand-dollar watch, for of course the wrong reasons (she thought it would help her look good compared to her wealthy bosses) but she could easily afford it. Suze said she wasn't allowed to buy it though - she is really blurring the line between what can these people afford, and whether it's a good idea to spend the money. She also told a woman with over a million that she couldn't afford a $4,000 purse.

Of course, then there are just some people with no clue. One woman called in asking if she could afford a 30 foot sailboat - she had the $30k for the boat in savings, but would have to pay $420 a month for the marina fees. But this lady only brought home $1600 a month! I think she definitely would regret paying a quarter of her money for this boat. And there was another woman who wanted to buy a Quizno's franchise - but didn't have enough in savings to do it, or any idea where the money to pay the employees or keep the lights on would come from. She also said she'd never worked in the food business, so she probably has no idea what kind of costs go into running one. Clearly this woman cannot afford it from a financial perspective, as she doesn't have the money to pay even the startup fees, but she also can't afford to try to run this business even if she got a loan because she'd run through all the money immediately and have no plan. Who knows where she got the idea to buy a Quizno's franchise - wouldn't be surprised if she did some research on the costs and decided on it because the upfront cost was lower or something - but clearly she thought that it would start raking in the bucks immediately and she wouldn't have to front anything.

Last day to submit for the Festival of Under 30 Finances! Do it now!

Click here to submit a post to the Festival of Under 30 Finances. Bloggers of any age can contribute!

This week's host is Money and Values, and she asks:

In selecting a career path (or particular jobs), how have you balanced wanting work that's interesting and fulfilling, and wanting a job that pays well? Is one or the other more important to you, and why? Have you found ways to try to incorporate both?

Head on over!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cool law resource

Check out the transcripts of's weekly podcasts on various legal topics - whether dads get a worse shake in divorces, consenting to Breathalyzer tests, etc. I just bought a legal guide for small businesses, and used their LLC Maker, as I get all legal-y to protect CashDuck (since the business literally owns more than I do.)

Ha Ha

So the epilogue of the story with BoA is that I decided not to transfer to Chase, but to get another 0% deal, and I opened up a Discover card for a 13-month transfer at 0% with no fees. Can't beat that deal.

I was explaining how the balance transfer arbitrage game works to a friend of mine and I said that I really wanted to pay down my current card so I could start playing it. Then it occurred to me that I am dumb. All I have to do, to play this game right now, is to pay the minimums every month on this 0% deal I have going, and put the rest into savings where it will earn interest. Then at the end, I can pay it off with the money I have saved up, and I'll have earned some money in the meantime. So I will probably do that. But once it's paid off, I can get a 0% on something else, and do it for real. Hooray!

I'm also considering getting a mailbox at the local UPS store - I'm just paranoid now because a multi-thousand-dollar check from one of my CashDuck ad networks didn't materialize, and it was mailed on Nov. 30th. See, I don't have a particularly large mailbox, and sometimes the mailman (if we get the lazy one) just puts the mail into the holding hooks underneath. And occasionally mail gets picked up by the wind and scattered down the street. I contacted my guy at the ad network and told him that, and he is going to put a stop payment on the check and add the amount to the next check, which should be cut in a few days. Hopefully nothing happens to THAT check because it is twice as large as the first! I am beginning to really appreciate the networks that pay by Paypal or direct deposit - not only faster, but less worrisome.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The luxury of being able to retire when you want

In my division at work there are a couple of people that are pretty much pariahs. No one wants to include them in anything (in fact, I've specifically been told to exclude them from certain projects) and they don't associate with the top brass (who barely tolerates their existence.) The whole situation just makes me sad - I mean, I think that these people should have been fired ten years ago because they simply aren't any good at their job, but since they are still here through the goodwill of one person or another they live on the fringes of our little society and some people are just mean to them. I like them as people well enough, but they are both rather incompetent and I dread having to work with them on anything. Who wants to live like that though? Who wants to go to work every day knowing that at least half the people you work with wish you were gone, and that no one includes you in anything, and your superiors don't acknowledge your existence? If it were me, I would have moved on long ago. But the people I am thinking of are effectively stuck in our division for two reasons:

1. They don't have enough (or any) skills, so they are unable to be hired elsewhere.

2. They are only a couple of years away from retirement and getting the full pension.

These ladies are lucky to be backed by a nice pension, but that pension's value is severely cut if you don't stay on for at least 30 years. They each have a couple of years to go, so since they have neither the skills to get a new job nor the savings to quit on their reduced pension, they have to stay in a group which really makes it difficult for them to have a happy work life.

This is one reason I'm really glad that I opted for the "give me the money" pension plan here, because I know that I would also be similarly motivated to stay on past whatever milestones in order to get that benefit. That's part of the point of the pension system - to motivate employees to stay - but now it's trapping these ladies because they can't afford to go.

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's My Birthday And I Will Eat Whoppers and Pistachios For Breakfast If I Want To

There are some downsides to being an adult, but this is not one of them.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Cannot Believe This Shit

OK, well I called them and told them about how I made a payment, but because of faulty imports into the system, it was paid to Chase at a defunct account number. The lady kept putting me on hold and then coming back with some gem like "we're not showing any payments made in November, but I do have one in October" OVER AND OVER. After about 20 minutes of round and round, she did waive the late fee, but guess what? Despite the fact that it was THEIR faulty system, my balance transfer deal is now expired. I asked to speak to a supervisor and she told me that basically the credit cards division can't see anything that the banking division does, so I need written records from the banking division that they did something wrong and that the banking division has to attest that it was sent to Chase, because even though I can pull up the screen on my own, the supervisor in the credit cards division can't.

This is bullshit. I am pulling some money out of savings, paying off the Christmas gifts on my Chase card, and transferring the whole thing back to Chase. I can get 1.9% fixed for 6 months which I think is long enough to pay it off. I am getting the hell out of Bank of America. I really liked MBNA but they got up in some bad business.

OK, I figured out why I sent the payment to Chase..

Because the payee is nicknamed "Stockback", but goes to Chase (where I used to have this card, before the program went to MBNA) and has an account number that is no longer valid. God only knows how Chase processed it in the first place. Now I definitely have ammo to call them on.

Some things are not worth cheaping out on

On my way to work this morning it was snowing a little, and had been for a while, and I got an unprecedented opportunity to observe the drive shaft configurations of the cars passing me. (IE, which set of their wheels was spinning while the other stayed put.) Looks like the tire places are going to have a banner weekend, assuming that these people don't get into car crashes on the highways while getting there. Tires are one thing I hope you all don't hold out on - I bet a lot of the people I passed this morning greatly wished they'd had un-bald tires.

On another subject, my supervisor stopped by and remarked to me, "You're 22, right? Would you donate a kidney to your 72-year-old grandpa?" When it comes down to cold calculations, it probably doesn't make sense for most people to do that when the ages are what they are. But for me, my grandfather is currently 93 years old - so if I had been 22 when he was 72, he would still be alive when I was 43. Having your grandfather around to see your own kids grow up seems like a worthwhile trade for one kidney. Hey, you have two anyway. Would I do that? Probably not now at my grandparents' current ages, but if they were in their early 70's I'd definitely do it. Would you do it?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wonder what's on The Donald's mind?

I ran across this while reading a business blog - Donald Trump's blog. It's contributed to by others as well, but it's interesting reading. He goes off on lawsuits over kids playing tag, men's body image, and more non-business topics. I guess I never thought about Trump having opinions on things other than business, but there's a lot of things to opine on in this world.

Do you check vending machines for change?

This is a habit I've had since I was a kid - I pick up loose change wherever I find it. Usually whenever I buy something from the vending machines downstairs, I check all the machines as I'm walking out to see if there's any change there. Usually it goes into my purse, and then into my piggy bank at home.

I think I started this when I was a kid mostly because I loved coins, especially silver coins. Pennies just didn't seem worth the while. I used to sell stuff I found on the street to the other kids on the street and buy Bubble Tape with it. When you are a kid with no allowance, it takes a lot of crap on the street to buy you a 75 cent roll of Bubble Tape. However, I recall eating a lot of Bubble Tape as a kid so I must have done OK.

Some of my frugal habits have started rubbing off on my coworkers. One of the student workers has started bringing in a can of Chunky soup every day - she got the idea one day when she was hungry and didn't have any money on her, so I pulled open my desk drawer and offered her a can from my selection. (She still usually comes in and asks for a bowl and spoon though - I am the queen of disposables.) I also only buy a bottle of Powerade maybe once a week or less. The rest of the time, I use the same bottle over and over with Crystal Light in it instead of Powerade. Better for me (a bottle of regular Powerade is about 160 calories, whereas a bottle of Crystal Light is 10) and better for my wallet (Powerade is $1 a bottle; Crystal Light is about $4 for 14 packets, and the water is free.)

All that frugality pays off though - yesterday was Boyfriend's and my two year anniversary and we went to The Melting Pot, a swanky fondue restaurant. Total bill was about $120 but I paid for it straight out of checking. (And then on the ride home we had a conversation about how we could make it cheaper if we ordered separate entrees instead of the two person one, didn't get lobster tail or filet mignon, and didn't get salads.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

I Missed A Credit Card Payment

I seriously feel sick. Apparently last month, when I transferred the $82 from my bill paying account into Bank of America to pay the MBNA card, I sent it to Chase instead. I have no idea why. So when I logged in today and saw that my balance on the MBNA card had gone up, I thought that maybe they had not transferred the 0% balance correctly - but no, I have a $39 late fee because I did not make any payments in November.

I am really out of sorts over this. I have never missed a payment in my life! And this is mostly because Bank of America is stupid and won't let me make payments on the MBNA card from another bank - I have to transfer it into my BoA account and then pay from that. Otherwise it would have just gone automatically like all the other bills.

I doubt they would waive my late fee and I don't want to call them and ask because it is in fact my fault, but I am really upset because I thought I had everything covered last month.

EDIT: By clicking on the wrong link, I found a way to use MBNA's old system, so I can use another bank. I put in a payment today, and already put in a request to transfer a payment into the BoA account. I am only five days late so I hope it doesn't go on my credit report but it is still very nerve-wracking.

OK, OK, I bought some damn pants

I finally went and bought some pants online while home for Thanksgiving. (What, you think I actually shop in real stores?) I bought 5 pairs which were on sale for $20 each, and then used a $25 off $100 coupon so the total including shipping was only $80. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, while four of the pairs are great and fit fine, one of the pairs is completely the wrong item - wrong size, wrong style, wrong color - probably someone else has my pants and I have theirs. So I am peeved about this, because I can justify spending the five bucks to mail something back when I just didn't like it, but when it was their fault? They'd better refund me the shipping. I will mail those back tomorrow. Hopefully they still even have the original pants I ordered - they were very spiffy pinstripes. I also bought some new shirts over Thanksgiving and I am planning on getting new shoes, so I may actually look like a real adult for my new job. (To give you a visual, I am kind of short, have pink cheeks and freckles, and don't wear any jewelry other than rings. I REALLY look my age.)

My coworker finally bought some more crickets for the gecko - this is again three weeks that he was without food, and she bought him the tiny crickets. Which would be fine if she fed him twice a week but the little guy needs some MEAT in his belly. I really fear that he will starve to death without me coming in and looking at him every day - not that my looking at him helps care for him, but it reminds my coworker that he exists because she doesn't look at him.

Christmas shopping is done - I think I spent about $350 total which is not too bad considering I had about nine people to shop for, and Boyfriend got about $150 of presents since his birthday was also recently. I am terrible at keeping surprises - I usually give him his presents as soon as they arrive in the mail.

My other big purchase was a small non-powered treadmill - between CashDuck and Boyfriend's finals, we haven't been to the gym in a LONG time, so I broke down and bought a $150 treadmill just to walk on while watching some TV or something. I probably won't give up my gym membership though, since I don't have a pool or weight machines at home, and $34 a month is not that bad in the world of health club memberships.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Festival of Under 30 Finances is up at Student of Finance!

Check out the Festival - this edition is hosted by Student of Finance, who asked a great question about prenups. You'll be surprised by the answers she got!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Repaying my debts to the people I owe the most

If you look at my NetWorthIQ statement, you will see that currently, I owe the most money to Sallie Mae. She's helped me fund a high caliber education and got me that shiny degree.

But even more than Sallie, my parents paid for my four years at college, and since my fancy degree has gotten me well-paid, it's important to me to use that money to pay for my fancy degree.

So I've talked with my parents, and I'm going to repay their outstanding $15,000 PLUS loan that they took out to pay for my senior year of college.

I realize that:

a) This is a lot of money.
b) My parents have more money than I do, (There's two of them and only one of me.)
c) I already have a bunch of debt.
d) Yes, I am fully aware I still have a negative net worth.

But this is something that is important to me, and I don't want my parents dragging around a 15 year debt, especially going into retirement, which they incurred for me and which I am more than able to assume.

Probably how this is actually going to work is that I am going to save my pennies for a while and just write them checks, since it would be an altogether mess to actually transfer the loan to my name. So that is where most of my CashDuck earnings will be going.

Would you do it for your parents if you were in my situation?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Is it nearly December? Then it's time for a Festival of Under 30 Finances!

Today is the last day to contribute to the Festival of Under 30 Finances, hosted this week by Student of Finance. She asks a very pertinent question, given how many people get engaged over the holidays:

What is your opinion of a prenuptial agreement? Are they financially necessary? What effect do they have on a relationship?

Submit your article and opinion today, and have it posted for the world to see on December 1st. Click here to submit!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Playing with my retirement money

Since I plan to deposit about $2500 into my Roth to fill it out soon, I messed with the contributions a little - changing from 50/50 international equity/midcap blend to 30/30/30/10 international equity/midcap value/smallcap index/smallcap equity. Since the options in my regular plan aren't particularly risky, I pretty much put all the risk in the Roth where I have a nice selection of funds of various types. I also transferred $1000 from my equity index fund in the 403(b) and put it into international equity, since I had $7k in equity index and about $700 in international equity and that didn't seem particularly diversified.

Next year I will be able to afford to bump up the Roth considerably - a large sum in January and then a smaller, regular sum that has not yet been determined. Probably $1000 in a lump and then $250 a month, or something. Not sure yet. I will be putting at least $200 a month extra into the 403(b), as well.

Monday, November 27, 2006

In under the wire for my FSA

So the closing date for re-enrolling in the flexible savings account at my workplace was November 17th. For some reason, I had it in my head that I would wait and see whether I got this job and then decide what to do about the FSA - which in retrospect was dumb because I'd still be working there anyway. So of course I completely spaced and didn't actually do it once I got confirmation that I got the job on the 16th, and then was bummed.

Then, a miracle occurred! I got an email on the 20th saying that they had extended the enrollment period through that day because of a computer glitch that caused people to not be able to complete it on Friday! Oh, happy day! I signed back up for a $400 deduction (more than last year, but I want new glasses, and I can afford them!) and now everything is good.

I'm still getting used to the idea of how much they're going to pay me. Since I don't really know how much it will be after taxes, I'm going to wait until I get the first larger paycheck to mess with the percentages. (My pay is direct deposited into the various accounts by percentages, not by amounts, which can be annoying.) Right now my setup is something like 5% to ING, 5% to Bank of America, 52% to my spending account, and the rest to the Key account which is for bills and debt payment. So I think I will not bother to mess with the percentages right now, and see how it plays out. I am going to be seriously raising my pretax contributions to the 403(b), and putting in $400 in January and then $300 every other month to the Roth, so after all the retirement money and money to savings I will probably not see too much of an actual raise.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Telling people I'm leaving, part 2

So I go into my supervisor's office and say, I have some news, and close her door.

Supervisor: Are you getting married?
Me: No.
Supervisor: Are you pregnant?
Me: No, thank God.
Supervisor: Are you leaving?
Me: Yep.

I said that I was leaving because it was stagnant and there was no way to move up, and she agreed and said she figured it was only a matter of time. She's happy for me but at the same time it does suck for them since it's not guaranteed that I will be replaced.

Then I told one of the students and another coworker, and I'm waiting to tell another two coworkers and the other student before I send out an email to the doctors.

It will be sad when I leave, I love the people but the job is what I'm here for.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No rollover for me

I got up the nerve and broke the news about the job to the HR supervisor in my division.. her first response was "Oh no!" We had a quick chat and she said that I didn't really need to do anything, other than a formal memo saying when I was leaving, since it was an internal transfer. Things should be pretty seamless. So seamless that she said it wouldn't be possible to terminate me as an employee and then rehire me - the university would not allow it - so that I would be able to roll over the 403(b). Oh well. She did seem somewhat sad that I was leaving, but congratulated me and said she couldn't blame me for moving on (I guess it occurred to her also that I wouldn't be able to move up in the ranks where I am, and I did tell her that it was a big promotion.) I did not say why I was leaving, just that I was.. although it would have felt good to tell her all about exactly why I didn't want to stay, it wouldn't have accomplished anything and would just have made her upset with me. I'm glad that I did get it over with today - I'm going to tell everybody else on Monday. No one else is really here anyway.. it's the day before the OSU-Michigan football game, in case you live under a rock, and it's pretty much parties all day. We had a pizza party here, and I felt kind of slimy eating the department's pizza and then informing the woman who ordered it that I was leaving, but I didn't want her to receive paperwork about my transfer without me telling her about it in person.

Sad fishy news

My coworker's fish passed away during the night last night. I really thought he was going to make it.. But at least it looked like he was not distressed in his final hours, he looks just as he did when we left him. I took him out of his tank and put him in a cup and put the cup in my office so my coworker wouldn't find him. Even though he's dead, and I know he's dead, I still couldn't put him in a cup without any water in it. That's more unnatural than being dead.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Addendum: They're going to pay me a bucket of money!

I got the official confirmation that they are offering me the job, since the HR lady wanted to wait until they could tell me what the salary is.. and they are indeed going to pay me $42,000!!!

Holy crap!!!


It is not yet official since they now have to do an internal transfer request, but they are offering me the job, on campus, in liquid cancers/bone marrow transplant. They are not sure how much they can pay me, since as an internal transfer they have to justify why I was worth $30k last week and $42k this week, but the absolute minimum is $37.5k and she thinks they will be able to get approval for more than that. I asked to start Jan. 1st and she said she'd find out what the team I'm going to wants, but maybe a little sooner. I'm going to find out whether if I leave this job and take some time off between them whether that counts as leaving my job and I can roll over the 403(b).

I am so freaking excited!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I love Vistaprint

I have bought a LOT of custom printed crap for CashDuck. I have a foot tall stack of magnets in the corner of my desk. I just love stuff with CashDuck on it, what can I say. Well, after this round of check-writing, I used up an entire notepad and thought I would buy some more since I only have one more. I went through one of the emails they sent me and picked up one notepad for free and the second for $7.99 (regular price). Why would I pay full price for a Vistaprint item, when they have freebies all over the place? Whenever you check out, especially if you just have one item, they'll usually offer you some more of whatever it is at a really good price. This is because the real cost of labor in printing is the setting up for a print run - once it's already set up (ie if they are already printing one) it's only a bit more money for materials (and come on, this is PAPER we're talking about) to run a whole lot more. So I had 2 notepads for $7.99, plus $4.21 shipping - they say it takes 21 days, but I've never had it take that long. The trick is that they will only show you the deal AFTER you click "order" on the first part of the order - so that they know you have gone through with it. Then they have "bonus buys" for you, which usually include some more of whatever it is you just bought. For me, it was three more notepads - so my total cost for five notepads is $22, plus $4.21 shipping. Not too bad, considering that the deal they were offering for five before I checked out was 5 for $26.95, which probably also would have upped the shipping cost. =) I did the same thing when I last ordered more business cards - it was $30 for 1000 cards, but only $3 for 500 more. Pretty damn good I do say.


I got an email from the administrator at the place I interviewed a couple weeks ago asking to meet with me briefly Thursday or Friday. I can't imagine that they would bother to bring in a rejected applicant to tell them they've been rejected, so I'm hoping it's a meeting about picking which of the available positions I would like, or something like that. =)

I want to jump up and down!!! However, I am at work, so that would kind of give it away.

McGraw-Hill also called me and immediately asked to put me on hold (before I knew it was them) and when they took me off hold asked to set up a phone interview. I told the lady I wasn't interested and she replied in a confused voice, "Not interested??" She did not press the issue though.

I am really fidgety, it's a good thing I don't have anything significant to accomplish today, or it would not be accomplished. In fact, very little of any significance is being accomplished today.

Man, I am going to be SO INCREDIBLY BUMMED if they don't actually offer me a job.

In other news, yesterday my coworker's betta got stuck in a hole of the wiffle ball which covers the intake of his filter (to prevent delicate betta fins from getting stuck to it) and I had to cut him out. He is pretty roughed up on his back and pectoral fins from struggling so much, but he got through the night and I think he will be ok (with lots of medication, of course.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And the final update to yesterday's Prosper silliness...

I told Boyfriend yesterday about the partial winning and outbidding (which happened again after I bid again) and I said that I'd decided to keep my fifty bucks in there sort of as play money, since it was already there. He looks at me and says, fifty bucks is play money?

I withdrew my outbid $50 today.

I am too dumb for Quickbooks

I got my eagerly-awaited copy of Quickbooks yesterday which I wanted to use for CashDuck, and I wanted to be all set up and ready to do payments when the money comes in. So I spent the majority of last night putting in all my transactions - it is a VERY good thing I've only been open two months, otherwise that could have taken DAYS. I had to set Paypal and the Amex to be bank accounts, because it doesn't have any special category for Paypal, and doesn't understand that you can transfer money FROM the credit card TO Paypal. So the credit card got set as a bank account too, and since I was using the check register to enter everything, to avoid having to enter everything as bills and invoices, now it thinks everything is a check, too. I actually did enter a bunch of stuff as bills, but then it showed us as payments to my bank account - I guess I entered it as bills they had to pay me? I have no idea. Anyway, using the half-assed method, I now have accurate balances and records of all my accounts and how much I've paid each person and entity.

On an unrelated note, I think I will indeed file a service mark application. It is just appealing somehow. (Six hundred dollars appealing!)

Monday, November 13, 2006

What the heck, Prosper

OK, so I put up my first bid on a loan recommended by Tired But Happy, but unfortunately it didn't get enough interest and wasn't funded. So I thought I'd do something else with the $50 since it was already in there, and bid on this loan. Well, now I got an email saying I have been "partially outbid" - apparently all but $2.65 of my bid was put back in my account. I tried to rebid, but I only have $47.35 left in my account which isn't enough for a whole bid. I hope that my $2.65 gets outbid too, or I will be receiving 9.7 cents a month from this guy.

EDIT: OK, the whole thing is outbid now, so I rebid. Let's hope that doesn't happen again.

Festival of Under 30 Finances this Friday at Tired But Happy

Don't forget to submit your post for this Friday's Festival of Under 30 Finances hosted by Tired But Happy. Her question is:

When you talk about your financial goals with people who are over 30 (your parents, coworkers, other bloggers, etc), how do they react?

You can click here to submit your article. The deadline is Wednesday by midnight, so don't be late!

Expensive weekend

We have not eaten at home all weekend, except for cereal in the morning. Which adds up pretty quickly. Friday Boyfriend and I both had off for Veterans' Day so we went and helped a friend move for eight hours. Boyfriend had to pay for the pizza for all of us since the friend couldn't go pick it up, but she will pay him back - we bought an additional $20 worth of pop, plates, napkins, etc that he neglected to tell her how much it cost. ;) Saturday we went to get Boyfriend's tires aligned and balanced since his car was vibrating heavily - I generally offer to pay for half of his car repair expenses since he drives me around everywhere, and sometimes he takes me up on it. He also needed two new tires, since he had only replaced two before and the other two tires are original (on an eight year old car!) All told that was about $380. While we were waiting for the car, we got some lunch at Quaker Steak & Lube, which evidently does not have a lunch menu. I have noticed this trend a lot - that few places have a real lunch menu anymore, they just give you the regular menu and there might be a special or two on the back. But it seems the days of lower prices and smaller portions for lunch are gone. So that was about $40 - but I got a full rack of ribs and took half home, and all the fries, for lunch. Which I just realized I left at home. Oops. We also went to Target while we were waiting and bought a new pan, a springform pan, and some new shirts for me (clearance racks R great) for about $50 total. Sunday was the Browns game and we went to Champps to watch the last quarter since they were actually winning. We split a full rack of ribs (ribs R also great) and a plate of cheesy chips.

This week we are going to have to eat in more.. I haven't even unloaded the dishwasher which I ran nearly a week ago, we simply haven't needed any dishes.

I also spent about $230 on a new project for CashDuck which I hope will be awesome but might only be awesome in my mind. ;) More details later.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Now everybody's moving

Apparently my office move was just part of a larger plan, although not one that really has anything to do with me. Two of my other coworkers are moving, one into an empty office and the other into the first woman's office. The second woman's office is being taken over by files.

I think I'm pretty well situated here, I am no longer cranky about having to move because at least it gave me something to do today. I have nine posters up in my office now - looks like MOMA exploded.

Yet another side business - advice on consulting?

So it occurred to me that most of the GPT sites are so new, they haven't filed taxes yet, and may not really know how to do it. I've been thinking about starting some kind of tax consultant service to help them fill out their Schedule C's, but I'm not sure how to go about this. Charge a flat rate, or per hour? How much? Offer to fill out the schedule for them or just give advice? Probably the easiest thing to do would be to ask for an Excel sheet of all expenses and income, and then I sort it out and fill out the schedule for them, but I don't know how organized the other site owners are and whether they would have that. I know a number of them use Quickbooks, so that might encourage them to record more things. So, any suggestions on how to set up consulting?

In other news, last night I went to Target to get an antibiotic since I can't shake this cold, and it was only $4 (yay generic Bactrim!) The woman at the pharmacy gave me a coupon good for $10 off $50 worth of "house" department purchases when I picked up the prescription. Before picking it up, Boyfriend and I had wandered around and I picked up a bookcase and some fabric drawers, plus some sticky tabs to re-hang my posters in my office, a silicone spatula for the one I snapped while trying to stir pizza dough, and some Chip Clips. That was definitely over $50, and we were going to buy it anyway, so it turned out that my prescription actually cost negative six dollars.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


My supervisor happily told me a few minutes ago (after closing the door so no one else could hear, of course) that I was going to be moving into the "big time" and getting my departed coworker's office. Apparently this is because she feels I need more "space" to do regulatory - she commented that she just couldn't do regulatory in a space this small. (Note: my office is about 12x12 but is pretty well set up, I don't feel I have any space issues and have not mentioned wanting a new office.) I guess I wasn't enthusiastic enough because she said, "hey, this is a good thing!" in that trying-to-convince-you way.

So now I will pretty much have to spend the rest of the day moving. I don't really want to move, but my supervisor is so excited that she got approval for me to do this that I don't want to tell her I don't want to do it. It's like she went out of her way to set up a surprise for me so I don't want her to think I don't appreciate her effort.

The problem now of course is that I have posters all over my walls, and I don't have any more poster tabs. So I will need to go buy some this afternoon at Target.

And of course I feel bad too because what if I get this new job and now they have to move all my crap back? Sheesh.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Various updates

Yesterday I got an email from the administrator at the department where I interviewed, asking if I had any more questions and if it was OK to contact my references. I looked back at my application (the university has it all online so I use the same information each time) and it seems that 2 of the 3 are out of commission. (Couldn't get in contact with one by email so she may have left the job, and the other one is at the flashcards job and I wasn't able to get a response from him six months ago, so I doubt she could get a hold of him now.) The third reference was still willing to talk so that was good - that was from my research job I had in college.

Since obviously I am still at my present job, I can't exactly ask my current supervisor for a recommendation or she'd know I'm looking! I did what I thought was the next best thing, and gave the administrator a copy of my annual review. It has a few things in it that I'd rather not show to people, but a) since they know what the review packet looks like, I can't take pages out and b) I don't really have any other way to prove that I know what I'm doing in research, since I didn't do clinical research in college. So I hope they don't think I'm a horrible person. The review could have been much nicer, but it was written by the admin lady at my department who thinks I don't sufficiently kowtow to the surgeons and that I am a bad person because I once nodded off in a presentation. Hey, my coworkers might nod off once in a while IF THEY ACTUALLY WENT TO PRESENTATIONS. The doctors routinely fall asleep too. I am usually the only one who goes, but somehow the kudos for that wasn't enough to counteract her putting mean spirited comments in my review. When I emailed the new admin lady back, I said something to the effect of "the review isn't as clear as it might be since it was co written by a superior with whom I have little contact, so please contact me if you need clarification." It would definitely sound too bitter to say "This person dislikes me and only hears bad things about me, so don't believe a word she wrote."

I also got the chance to express my preference for staying on the main hospital campus. She confirmed that there are several positions, and some of them are at satellite locations - one satellite far away (read: highway driving) and one pretty close, about 5 minutes driving. The second wouldn't be too bad but I would prefer to not buy a car at all.

In other news, Coworker with the gecko noticed yesterday that I had cleaned up the cage and put new things in, and came and asked me how much she owed me for the supplies. I told her I got it from a friend because she seems to be one of those people who feels really really guilty about things.. although evidently not guilty enough to feed him. I said that she didn't have to reimburse me for the supplies but that he could use some crickets. She said she'd go get some today since apparently the local Petco only has them on Tuesdays and Thursdays - I said that the Pet Supplies Plus about 5 minutes away has them all the time since they raise them in the store. You can probably guess that Sunny is still hungry today, though.

I think I am going to go get some crickets tonight. At this point I don't care how bad my coworkers feel that I am taking care of their animals, they need to be adults and do it themselves. I just hope that they pick up the slack if I take a new job. Probably won't happen but the thought will comfort me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Some tax humor...

A great snippet from The Onion, the premier fake newspaper:

Sad but true, especially the "saving for future video games" part..

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gecko update

The Petco shipment arrived last night, and fortuitously my coworker who owns the gecko took a vacation day today, so I spent some time today cleaning out all the wood chips from his tank (substrate is NOT necessary people!) and cleaning his water dish. He is loving the under-tank heater - his hidey hole is made of rock-like material, so it also gets nice and warm. I bought a couple extra hidey holes made of coconuts and one is on the "cool" side of the tank, although he is enjoying the warmth so much he hasn't even bothered to go in one. My coworker hates mealworms so I can't leave them in his tank; I did put in in a box with a few mealworms to see how he liked it. He wouldn't eat any last week, but maybe that was because I dusted them. Today he attempted to eat one that was rather too big for him, so I dug out two small ones - I think he's sleepy now though so there may be no more attempts. Mealworms stay good in the fridge for a long time so we can wait until Monday to try again.

I had to move his tank to a new (more visible) location because the under-tank heating pad doesn't have a very long cord; I wonder if she will cover it up, or suggest he be moved elsewhere. (Like an empty office.)

I just got headhunted!

I got an email from a recruiting company working for McGraw-Hill (an education/textbook company) looking for assistant editors in science. It didn't give much information about what positions they were looking for, but there seem to be a lot available on their website for this area. The only assistant editor position in science that I see is for K-5. Doesn't say much about what kind of work it is, what salary, or what kind of materials it would be producing, but it could be interesting...

It came with a little questionnaire and asked for my resume, so I did send it back just out of curiosity. Maybe this is a potential new career?

The Ninth Festival of Under 30 Finances!

Check it out at A Penny Saved!

If you'd like to submit to the next edition, hosted by Tired but Happy, click here to submit away.

When is it enough money?

This was something I was thinking about a good deal last night. I was still waffling over whether I wanted to work for H&R Block (we need to apply soon) and Boyfriend made a simple comment: "You don't need the money."

I thought about this for the rest of the evening - I do make plenty of money, we can do pretty much whatever we want between the two of us, and I'm already saving some money. I don't need this money FOR anything. If anything, I might put it in savings, or we would just go out to eat a couple more times in the month and blow most of it. (I wouldn't get paid terribly much, anyway.)

But there's still this nagging drive in my head to keep accumulating as much and looking for as many income opportunities as possible - but how much is it going to take a toll on my having a life I actually enjoy? I mean, it's pretty much accepted that I wouldn't like working at H&R Block. I only lasted three shifts at the last part time job I picked up (desk watcher at Kaplan), mostly because when I am done with my regular job I just want to go HOME. And nearly every day when I was going to the test grading job last spring, I thought about skipping that day. I never did, but I thought about it every day. Especially when it was nice out and I just wanted to go home and take my guinea pigs outside.

It's even more pronounced now that I have CashDuck up and running. (over 800 members.. that's more people than I actually know, I think) Any time that I'm at H&R Block is time that I'm not at home answering questions, mailing gift cards, and putting up new offers. Even besides the fact that I like to work at home, I don't think it's financially worth the not-huge amounts I'd make at H&R Block to miss out on time I could be spending making CashDuck better and more profitable.

But the ultimate reason that I decided not to work at H&R Block comes down to Boyfriend's statement - that I have enough, and I need to work on accepting what I have and not spending every hour working to make more, when the money doesn't make me as happy as coming straight home every day does.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bank of America, this is no longer amusing

I am sick and cranky and don't want to call any bank one more damn time. Last time, it was because Bank of America, although it said I could log in with my MBNA username, wouldn't let me. Because I already have a Bank of America account. So I spent half an hour on hold and then told my story to a sympathetic CSR, who at the end of the conversation said in surprise, hey, there's this other account under your name! Yes, that would be what I was trying to tell you about the whole time. So now I can see my MBNA credit card online, but I can't pay it, because evidently my account is not eligible for Bill Pay. And, it seems like I can't pay the credit card with my other checking accounts, I will probably have to transfer money into BoA and then use the BoA account to pay for it. Which is not what the BoA account is for. I would stop using the card, except it's the one with the balance transfer on it so I have to use it insofar as I have to pay it. This is less than amusing.

Oh, for those keeping up with my life, the job interview on Monday went really great and I didn't cough at all despite being sick! They have several positions open which increases the likelihood of me getting one since I won't have to compete as hard, and they have an opening in the bone marrow transplant section which fits right in with my transplant experience here. They also seemed very impressed with my mad computer skillz. The best part was when the head guy said that they were really expanding and things were going to be changing a lot, and they had several committees of employees who made policies on how things should be done instead of everything coming top down, and that there were lots of opportunities for advancement. So that was really heartening to hear! They said they would let me know "very soon" which in bureaucracy-speak is probably about two or three weeks. But I'm very pleased with them and they seem pleased with me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Would you get married by PayPerPost?

This seems pretty ridiculous to me but you know that there is somebody out there who will do it. They want to have a PayPerPost wedding in Las Vegas - I'm not entirely sure what "PayPerPost style" means but I don't think I'd enjoy it. November 18th has a different meaning up here in Columbus though - it is the day before the Michigan-OSU game so pretty much no one does anything. I'm not sure I could fly out even if I wanted to. I do love how they say they'll include the ceremony and license, and then give you $1000, which you can then spend on flowers or your wedding attire? They won't even spring for a dress!

Watch the video here:

I'm not sure about the value of all these stunts - if they want to reach a wider audience, PayPerPost might try real advertising.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A little math cures me of the desire for a label printer

I wrote previously about how I wanted to get a Dymo printer to print stamps for CashDuck. I've started sending out a LOT more mail, so it began to look like a better and better idea. It occurred to me that I should check how much the stamps actually cost me, and did a little math.. The ones that come on the sheet? About 3 cents each. The ones that come on the roll? About 6 cents each. Eek! That's a pretty high ongoing cost, plus the $100 for the Dymo itself. I think I will simply print a bunch ahead of time so I don't have to send the sheet through over and over.. I ended up buying about 600 stamps on sheets for $20, which I think is not too high a price to pay for convenience.

What am I going to do with this money, PayPerPost version

PayPerPost is asking for our "PayPerPost story". Well, I don't know that it's much of a story since I haven't been using it very long, and don't see that many links I feel inspired about. Most of the things I have done have just been PayPerPost stories. I've been paid $22 already and expect to get about $200 in the next few weeks; most everything I get from my various online activities goes straight into the e-fund. My goal is $2000 on that, at least. Then it will be into the car fund, so if I need to buy a car I have at least some cash on hand for it. I don't think it will pay for the car though, but every little bit helps.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Things I am debating whether it is worth it to spend the money on...

First up - getting a service mark for CashDuck. This would be kind of cool, but I doubt that it would ever actually be useful. Then again who knows? In this age, having the domain name is a prerequisite to naming something, so maybe no one else will name something CashDuck and challenge me for the name. I do know that there is some kind of software package called Cashduck.. I don't think it was written by a US person though. A service mark would cost me about $300.

A Dymo label printer - This I might actually buy if I can find a good price on one. I've decided to keep my membership because I am mailing quite a lot of stuff and it's very useful to have the stamps' amounts automatically calculated. Plus it prints very nice labels for packages and what not. sells rolls of stamps which you can put in a Dymo label printer and have it print one stamp at a time. How cool is that? Plus the stamps can actually be for rather high amounts so I could conceivably use only the roll stamps for all printing. I was a little worried about sending the same sheet of stamps through the printer multiple times, but this seems to be a nice solution. Unfortunately, one of these things will run me at least $80. I am trying to find a used one and see if I can get it down to $50. This would be very useful.

New office chair - I always say I'm going to do this but then I never do. I have one of those extremely standard chairs that cost 50 bucks and only height-adjusts. I'm starting to have some problems with my wrists and elbows, mostly from how I sit at work, but I wonder if it would be poor taste to bring in my own chair there. (My coworker who left was supposed to get a new chair.. how long does it take to order a frigging chair? She never got it and it has never been mentioned again.) I think back to the nice cushy chairs that we had at the test-grading job I did last spring, with adjustable armrests, tall enough back to put your head on, etc.. Probably expensive though. Maybe I should just push for a better chair at work.

Class on financial planning - My university offers several "courses" each quarter on various topics, such as learning to shoot a gun, drywalling, sushi making, etc. I took a knitting course last quarter which was pretty fun and only $30. There's a "financial planning" course this quarter, only one class, which is $25. It might be interesting, or it might be a bunch of bull where the guy (who is himself a financial planner type person) tries simply to convince us that it's all too hard, so we should just save up all our money and let him manage it. He is also running another class, one night for $25, on portfolio management and allocation, which considering how little money I have to invest is pretty useless. I don't think I need to pay $25 for somebody to tell me to diversify and buy a percentage of bonds according to my age.

It's debatable whether this is actually a BAD thing, but...

I seem to be unable to think about getting extra money in terms of actually spending it. When I get money from surveys or whatever in my Paypal, I think "Oh boy! I can put this in my emergency fund!" When I got all the money from DealBarbie and friends, I thought "Oh boy! I can pay off my credit card!"

And now when I am thinking about this potential new job (which I was up doing last night not sleeping even though I was exhausted) I think "Oh boy! How much can I put in my 403(b)!"

I think that the crucial point I have come to is that I accept the amount of money I live on now as perfectly fine. Previously, when I had my old second job, Boyfriend and I would do things like go to Olive Garden three times in one week. (Yes, we did.) And when that job went under, and the free flowing extra income was suddenly gone, it was pretty painful to adjust to the new amounts. At first I was hardly saving anything. Then I put $100 a month in my savings account. Then I put $100 a month in my Roth. Then I put $150 a month in my savings. Then I put $50 a month in my gifts account. Then I put more towards credit cards. Then I put $125 a month in the Roth.

Now, out of a take home of about $1850 a month, I spend about $550 on bills and rent, and budget about $600 for everything else.

Where does that extra $700 go? Well, at least $200 goes towards savings, and the rest goes towards the student loan, the credit cards, the Roth, or more towards savings. I think that this represents a pretty major shift in my basic financial thinking - that saving money and paying down debt really is the major item in my budget, instead of an afterthought. I think that this has started to pay off nicely in my net worth - while I haven't done as well as I could, my net worth has gone up a little over $3,000 since I started blogging in June. This is partially because I am working in both directions - paying off debt and accumulating more assets. Starting CashDuck was a bit of a drain on the ol' net worth but I should be putting it back quite soon.

So I think it's a pretty good thing that the first thing I thought of when contemplating a new, higher salary was, "Oh boy! How much money can I save?" instead of "Oh boy! We can go back to eating at Olive Garden every week!" More money is an opportunity to save, not an opportunity to spend.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

PayPerPost video confessional.. Why did they put this person up to this??

OK, I feel really bad for this girl. She's obviously very overworked, and seems right at the edge between striving and not caring. And the comments about how "they're outside the door" sounds like she really does believe they are listening in on her.. when she's not shouting about what she wants out of the company. The more I listen, the worse I feel for her. I really have no idea why they would put this person up to this because it really doesn't put a good face on the company, that they stress out their workers this much. I know it is supposed to be a peek inside the way the company really runs, but it sounds like everyone is on the verge of collapse. And we get paid to blog about her imminent nervous breakdown.

Although on a personal finance side she sounds really stressed about money, but at least she did pay off her car!

Check it out here:


I have a job interview on Monday! For a job at the same university where I work! Exclamation point exclamation point!!

Spam that saves you money!

A great way to save money on restaurant costs is to sign up for newsletters from restaurants you want to go to. Often they will send you a coupon when you sign up, and then specials every now and then. Quizno's sends me $2 coupons every few weeks, and when I signed up for Red Lobster's email list I got a coupon for a free appetizer. Mongolian Barbecue has a $5 off coupon too. This pretty much only works for chain restaurants, but if you know you'll be heading out to one that evening, sign up in the morning and you could get a coupon in your email by evening! We don't ever go to Quizno's without a coupon anymore because I get so many.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A tip of my hat to the kindness of strangers

Many of you read about the plight of my coworker's gecko in my previous posts. I have already bought him mealworms and cricket dust to help fatten him up, and will be purchasing an under-tank heater, possibly a heat lamp, and new hiding spaces, as well as cleaning his tank out. I was not looking forward to these expenses since if I could afford a gecko I might have one myself, but felt that this little guy's health is more important than my budget. I was very surprised when Ricemutt offered to pitch in and sent me a donation to cover the costs of Sunny's new digs!!

He will be a very happy gecko now, I think. =)


So I got my first pay raise yesterday. You would think I would be more excited. Well, it's amazing the difference in mood 0.3% can make. See, I had heard that the standard pay raise was 3.5% a year. This really isn't a raise anyway, it's a cost of living increase, but at least it's something. And considering that I got above average on my annual review a couple months ago, I fully expected to get my 3.5% - given all the bull about this being a "performance increase", hadn't I performed?

Evidently not. I got my letter yesterday and it says that I am getting 3.2%, raising me less than $1000 a year. I realize that the difference between 3.2% and 3.5% is maybe a hundred dollars per year, but it really is a big deal considering that I've done better than could be expected, and the entire medical center itself is turning a profit.

I just feel very devalued. It's pretty obvious from the way that my coworkers and I are treated that we are just peons compared to the surgeons, but now I pretty much have no morale. To top it off, the letter was sent by a department head that I've never heard of, not my own HR person, and is dated October 11th.

The last paragraph: A key priority for the University and Medical Center is attracting and retaining a talented work force. To become a high performance organization and workplace of choice, we must continue to focus on achiving the compensation goals outlined in the University's Academic Plan.

I was talking with a coworker about this the other day - that while our division seems to want to get the best people, they want to still be able to treat them like they have nowhere else to go and should be glad for their job. In my job there is really no advancement, no way to take on more responsibility or heaven forbid get your name on anything, and certainly they are not going to raise your pay.

Sorry for not writing something happier. I pretty much just want to go home and sleep and wake up having a new job.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Upcoming expenses I would rather not incur..

It has come to my attention that my lovely swooshy pants are a) a little too thin to be worn during winter, since I walk to and from work, and b) a little too short, such that they look funny when I wear shoes with socks. Now, not being a particularly fashion-conscious gal, the first distresses me more than the second. I'm still contemplating new pants though. I have decided to pay no more than $100 and see how far I can get on that - I think I can get four pairs with some creative uses of coupon codes.

Next is the expense for pet supplies. I regularly buy my guinea pigs' cage litter in giant orders from PETCO so as to save on shipping, but I am going to have to buy some supplies for another little critter.. my coworker's leopard gecko. This was her son's pet which was forced outside due to the addition of a dog to the household, and since it is now very cold out, she has brought it into the office. This poor little guy is in very sorry shape though, and his cage setup is really not conducive to health - lined with bark (which is poky and he can eat it - stick with paper towels people!), his hidey hole is a rock (COLD!), and he has no heat source, which if you know about reptiles is a Very Bad Thing (general ill health). He also really needs some mealworms to fatten him up but Coworker refuses to buy them since she is afraid of them. Really I just want to take this animal away from her if she refuses to care for it (she has admitted to leaving it without food for weeks at a time, and it is VERY undersized for its age) but I will have to settle for buying it some new cage accessories to keep it healthy (and keeping the mealworms in my office for snacks.) This will probably run me about $30, in addition to the $50 or so I usually spend on guinea pig litter.

New shoes - OK, this is an expense I do want to incur, but I won't (at least not for a while.) Check out these babies - Dansko's are very comfortable, but also very expensive, and I already have a pair bought on deep discount (even if these are way cuter.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"How many cards are you going to get?"

My boyfriend remarked this when I pulled yet another card out of yet another unmarked white envelope. This one is the American Express that I got for CashDuck expenses. I have indeed been getting a lot of cards lately. In my wallet I have:

Chase PerfectCard credit card
Credit union debit card

And in my old wallet in my desk I have:

Bank of America debit card
Chase Universal credit card
StockBack credit card
KeyBank debit card
Amex for CashDuck
National City debit card for CashDuck

Does that seem like a lot?

Yet Another PayPerPost Puzzle Piece

Another part of the PayPerPost blog marketing Blue Monster puzzle. Whoever finds all the pieces and puts them together in the correct order gets a $500 prize. The picture is supposed to tell you something about the Blue Monster program.. I have no idea what it is.

Hmm this piece is not very illustrative.. at least the last one had an eye.

Dear Abby is Awesome

Here's some wisdom from Dear Abby:

DEAR ABBY: I am married to a wonderful woman, but something has been bothering me since we have been together. I am not as honest as I should be in our relationship.

We have had money problems pretty much since our marriage began. I have a spending problem, and I lie to her about where the money goes. I have been doing better, but I still want to spend money we do not have.

I do not spend money on drugs, prostitutes or clothes, but rather on plastic models and other hobby-related items. How do I stop spending and lying to my wife about it? -- SICK OF THE LYING IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR SICK: You start acting like a man instead of a child with his hand in the cookie jar. You recognize that marriage is a partnership and you have been, in a sense, stealing from your partner. Then you and she agree on a budget you can responsibly allocate to your hobby, and live within your means.

I think that's a really great perspective - that when you spend money that your family doesn't have, you are stealing from your partner, because eventually that debt is going to overwhelm you and you will need your partner's help to pay it off.

I think it's also especially telling for this guy that he has been spending all his money on toys - he really is stuck in childhood! Although you have to wonder if his wife hasn't already become suspicious.. it's pretty hard to stay in the dark that much, if your husband has piles and piles of hobby toys, but claims he's only spending "a few dollars" on it. I wonder if he'll actually be a man and fess up to his wife..

Friday, October 20, 2006

PayPerPost Blue Monster puzzle piece

If you're playing the Blue Monster puzzle game, here's another piece for you. Different bloggers will be posting pieces of this image on their blog, connected by the search term payperpostbluemonster, and whoever finds all of them and puts them together in the right order first will win $500. This is run by PayPerPost, the blog marketing company. Here is the picture:

I dunno, looks like an eye? Is the Blue Monster scary?

Eight (Festivals) Is Great!

Check out the eighth Festival of Under 30 Finances over at City Girl's Financial Blog. I thought she might like the standardized patient article.. ;)

The next edition is up at A Penny Saved.. so hop on over and submit! Anyone of any age can submit as long as the topic is appropriate for the under 30!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Suze just seems to pop up everywhere...

So back in January, I had just lost a really great job where I wrote medical textbook flashcards at home. (The project basically ran out of money.) So I wanted to find something else to do at home after work, and started applying to all kinds of telecommute jobs on Craigslist in various cities. Unfortunately, there weren't any bites after literally 100 or more applications, so I got discouraged and stopped applying.

A few days ago, someone responded to an email I sent back in February asking if I was still available! I had no idea what the job was so I wrote back and asked - basically it's a once in a while thing where I copy contact information from one file into another so that it can be formatted for a mailing. Well, guess who ends up on my list. =)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I Want That And I Don't Know Why!

I did this a lot as a little kid. I loved to read catalogs and sometimes I would get fixated on some particular object - one that I remember was a ceramic bears figurine set. It was kind of like a dollhouse set, in that you could also buy furniture sets to arrange the little bears on. I have no idea why I wanted this item but it really sticks in my memory. I became really obsessed with this set of ceramic bears, but because it cost $40 it pretty much took me forever to save up for it. And of course by the time I had ten bucks I didn't want it anymore. Same thing happened with the backyard zip slider toy. And probably a heap of other toys that I never actually bought.

I'm kind of trying to train myself out of doing this now - I am particularly bad at the grocery store, because I like to have a variety of stuff to eat in my house, so I'll get something "new" because it looks like a good idea. Like last weekend, despite the fact that I am really trying not to spend too much more money this month since we blew 75% of it in the first week, I bought a $3 quart of Silk Chai Tea. It's good stuff and I will eventually drink it, but I didn't particularly need it. The difference between now and my childhood is that I always have the money to buy whatever it is that I've suddenly decided that I want.. but that doesn't mean that I actually need it any more than I needed those damn bears. It's kind of a good thing that I don't really shop too much outside of Target and the grocery store, because I would probably feel guilty about buying clothes I didn't need and would go back and return them. I don't think the grocery store takes returns of perishables though.

So that is my goal for the rest of the month - don't buy anything I don't actually need! Which is good because I only have $85 left and I really don't want to take anything out of savings just cause I spent too much in the beginning of the month.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Great trash picking today!

My coworkers and I sometimes go "trash picking" - when someone in the university doesn't want something, it gets "recycled" by putting it near the trash dumpsters of various buildings. Our new building however has the trash in the basement corridor. Since it's a medical facility, much of the stuff down there was outdated equipment (aortic balloon pump or graphing respirometer, anyone?) but there is a fair amount of furniture, chairs, etc. My supervisor's find was a 50's era manual typewriter (which we hauled back on a rolling chair) and I snagged a piece of computer equipment whose purpose was unknown. It looked something like a laptop screen without the rest of the laptop. There were plugs for "computer in" and "visual out" on the side, and it rattled like a beast.

Well, I looked it up online and it turns out that the actual function of the object is so that you can put it on an overhead projector, connect it to a computer, and it will show on the overhead whatever's on the computer screen. So, basically a low-budget projector from before projectors became less expensive - and it seems like less of a hassle too. The rattling was because ALL of the screws that hold the front to the back had been removed and placed INSIDE the case for some unknown reason. So I don't hold much hope that it actually works, but if it does, it sells on eBay for about $70 or so. I'm going to go to Radio Shack over the weekend and try to get a power cord for it, so we'll find out! Pretty good find out of the trash I must say, especially since I didn't actually have to dive into a dumpster to get it.

PayPerPost: Another Blue Monster puzzle piece

Here's another puzzle piece for those participating in PayPerPost's Blue Monster puzzle hunt:

This is part of their new blog marketing campaign - still not sure what Blue Monster itself is, but whoever actually puts together the entire puzzle first will win $500. And then I guess we find out what Blue Monster is. (code: payperpostbluemonster)

A question of competition

I've noticed an interesting phenomenon with CashDuck - I have a screen name (thecashduck) by which people can contact me with questions about the site, and so far I've gotten several people who just want to talk to me about starting up their own CashDuck-like site. (At least two of the larger sites have ShiftCode's site and lists of affiliate networks, so it's not like there's no place to start.)

I asked a couple of the site admins for advice before I started, and they told me to find new niches, sign up with NET15-paying sites, and run as many offers as possible. Well, I don't know how well I've done on the third, since I'm pretty picky, but it did give me some ideas. I don't think that new sites will directly compete with me, since most people are on several sites, and each new site will bring at least a few new people into the fold, but I hate to see yet another boring and stupid site come online and sputter along. There's been a real explosion of GPT sites, and I am certainly part of that boom, but too many of the sites have no actual direction they want to go, other than in the direction of piles of cash. Every business needs a philosophy.

So I do talk to these prospective business owners, and outline what I think helps to be successful (such as scattered time throughout the day, instead of working solidly two hours late at night) but I wonder what it is that they want to get out of the business. For my part, I desperately needed SOMETHING TO DO - as I've written before, my job is horribly dull, so I'd probably keep doing this even if I made only enough to cover my costs. It's certainly not going to induce me to leave my real job (since I'm neurotic enough to implode without a steady paycheck) but I just like organizing stuff, you know?

Monday, October 16, 2006

What does this have to do with PayPerPost exactly?

The latest stunt by PayPerPost is what they call the Postie Patrol - apparently, they pick a user at random and show up at their house (this one seems to have been prescreened by the girlfriend so they knew he would be there) and have them do silly stunts. Also, they went and bought a pumpkin, which I'm not really sure how that fits into the overall narrative. I also wasn't entirely sure what was going on in the video... Or what it had to do with PayPerPost. But watch out because they may be showing up at your apartment soon - I guess you need a girlfriend in order to set it up?

Submit your article to this Friday's Festival of Under 30 Finances!

City Girl's Financial Blog will be the host this week - click here to submit your post. Her question for this edition is:

Do you think your current job will help you establish your career? If so, how? If not, why not?

If you submit an article, please answer this question in the Remarks section. Remember, anyone of any age can submit an article to the Festival as long as it is on a topic appropriate for the under-30 (ie, articles on retirement homes are probably out.)

Look for the Festival on Friday!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Another PayPerPost puzzle contest

PayPerPost is running another puzzle contest where whoever puts all the pieces together (which are posted in different blogs) into the correct picture, they win a prize. Here's the latest piece:


Apparently it is a promotion for their new project which is codenamed Blue Monster. Not sure what it's all about but we'll find out soon.

Friday, October 13, 2006


This is what I said as I ran up the stairs with my NEW IPOD!!

I did the KeyBank promotion some time ago where you got a free iPod Nano for signing up for a bank account and doing direct deposit. However, the paperwork took a long time and since I only get paid once a month, it wasn't done in time to get a direct deposit sent at the end of August. So, it did get sent at the end of September, but I expected that's when the 6-8 week waiting period would start.

But today I got an email at about 4:30 saying that my nano was on its way, and I was quite excited! The FedEx tracking said that it was on the truck, and would be delivered soon.. and by soon I mean half an hour later.


This is the sort of toy that I would never buy for myself (currently I use Boyfriend's old 256mb mp3 player at the gym and what not) but I'm really happy to have one. For one thing, I buy stuff off iTunes now and then, and if I want to have it on the mp3 player I have to convert it, which involves burning it to CD as audio and then using a different program to rip it. So, not very convenient.

It's quite tiny but feels very sturdy. The advertisements all show black, but mine is silver, which I like better as it doesn't show fingerprints as easily. Now I have to install a new version of iTunes which can work with it, and get started!

Getting a spending high from saving money?

I admit that I love to buy stuff. Especially food - if I had a larger apartment, it would be chock full. As it is we can regularly not fit things easily in our freezer. It is like I am preparing for the worst (evidently except for a power failure in which case all that stuff would spoil.)

Lately though I have noticed that I get excited when I have extra money - like the seventy dollars I recently recovered - because I know I can send it to my savings account. My ING account is linked to Paypal, so I frequently send whatever small amounts I get for doing online surveys to savings. All my PayPerPost earnings are going to go straight into savings since they are coming to my PayPal account. I think I actually get more excited about being able to put this money into my account than I would be if someone handed me $70 in real money, because I'd just deposit it and then transfer it. If you gave me a gift certificate, unless it was to some place that I would spend money anyway (like Target or the grocery store) I would probably try to come up with a way to convert it into money.

And just not spending is not the same as getting extra money which can be saved - in some way, if I'm going to save $20 on my groceries, I'd almost rather that the clerk charged the extra $20 to my checking account and gave me the $20 so I could put it in savings. Even though it would be the same mathematically.

I'm usually very conservative about having enough on hand - see the freezer example. In middle school, I frequently failed to win a computer game we played in which you had to run a hot dog stand because I spent too much of my hot dog stand's money on supplies, just in case I ran out. So it doesn't make much logical sense that up until now I haven't been very diligent about having an emergency fund. I guess I just had faith that I would be able to go out and make some more money if I needed to - I'm a hard worker and am always looking for opportunities. I think I've gotten the savings bug now, and hopefully my savings account will soon start to look like my freezer!

Wanna sign up for PayPerPost?

Sign up for PayPerPost and make money posting articles on your blog. You can find posting topics in all sorts of categories, and in my experience post approval has been relatively easy and didn't take too long. Apparently there are people who have made thousands of dollars using PayPerPost - but that's some dedicated blogging there. You need to leave each post up for at least 30 days.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Off topic again - All about organ donation and transplantation

I work in clinical research with transplant patients (kidney, liver, and pancreas) so people are always asking me questions about transplants. So here's some of the answers I've given.

Almost everything in your body can be donated. Organs, of course, but skin, muscles, tendons, bone, even cartilage and collagen can be reused. These are washed and treated in such a way that they usually cannot be rejected from the body. People who aren't eligible for organ donation can often donate the rest of the body. Skin is usually used for burn victims - the cadaveric tissue is laid on top of the burned skin and helps it fight infections, as well as maintain moisture. Tendons and ligaments are used for reconstructive surgery - if you tear a tendon and have it surgically repaired, often it is simply replaced with a cadaveric tendon, since yours won't grow back together very well. Hearts not suitable for donation as a whole can have the valves removed and used for valve replacement surgery. Bone is ground up or cut into specific shapes - if you have a large tooth removed, your dentist may fill the hole in your jaw with bone dust, which will provide a framework for your own bone cells to grow over it.

Not everyone is a candidate for organ donation. Most people who donate organs are younger (under 65), healthy, and usually developed brain death after some sudden trauma such as a car accident. Except for a few isolated cases, everyone who is an organ donor is completely brain dead and is not expected to live more than a week, maybe just a few days. The family is asked to fill out an extensive medical and social history in order to find out if any other factors such as drug use or a history of cancer are present, which may also preclude donating. The restrictions on who can donate tissue are much stricter concerning disease and possible disease exposure, but the age range and cause of death allowable is greater. However, most people who are dying are not completely brain dead, and during the course of their illness may have contracted infections that may render their organs unusable (for instance, pneumonia would mean that the lungs could not be donated.) You may be able to donate tissue, however.

We don't force anyone to donate - but we may press the issue. A lot of people don't really think about what they want to happen to them in the case of brain death - so most areas have specialized, outside healthcare workers (who work for organ procurement organizations, or OPOs) who will meet with the families. Organ donation can be a really touchy subject within families - I've heard of cases where the husband was brain dead, and the wife and his children knew he wanted to donate his organs, but his mother and father didn't want to do it - so the donation was done secretly so as not to upset anyone. If you don't put it down on your driver's license, and your family is thoroughly against organ donation, they won't be pressed about it. But if you put on your license that you agree to be an organ donor, your family will be asked about it, and asked to reconsider if they are against it, since you have basically signed a contract with the state. If your family is really against it or says you changed your wishes, the OPO will respect your family's wishes.

Your organs are probably going to stay in your state or one of the neighboring states. You've probably seen some person on TV flying across the country with a cooler full of organs. However, what usually happens is that the organs are placed within the territory belonging to the organ procurement agency that covers the hospital in which you died. There are about 50 OPOs, but they don't correspond to state lines. There are so many people waiting for organs - especially kidneys - that the need will probably be local. Hearts and lungs are rarer (both because the need is lower and because they are often unusable), and may be sent out of the state.

Your organs may not be in good enough condition to be used anymore. If you've been in a car accident and were wearing your seatbelt, you may have sustained serious organ damage, so even if you're brain dead your organs may not be in good enough condition to be transplanted into someone else. The same goes if you have had some previous disease or which damaged your organs. Especially for your liver or kidneys, a healthy person may have damage without even knowing it, since you don't need full function of your liver or kidneys to be healthy. Those organs, which work perfectly fine in you, might not be in good enough condition to work in someone else, though.

There is a waiting list - and no, it's not ranked by your race, your income, or where you live. Those factors CAN affect how quickly you get an organ, however - certain minorities are genetically very different from Caucasians or African-Americans (who are the largest pools in America) and so may not be able to match with an organ from a person of a different ethnicity. Your income and where you live may affect with what center you are listed - some centers in some cities simply have more deaths, or their OPO covers a larger territory, or people in that area are more likely to donate. This means more organs come to certain centers than others. Until there is a national network, this is simply the way the system works. Sometimes you can be listed with two different centers, or you may receive special priority if you require a rare transplant (such as a combination heart-lung) or if you are a child.

There is no actual numbered list. You aren't ranked on a real numbered list, because each organ has special criteria that must be analyzed to determine which person would match best with it (such as the donor and recipient blood type, antibody reactions, size of the organ, type of disease in the recipient), etc etc etc. No two organs are alike, and no two organs are best for the same person. However, in general, the sicker you are, the more likely you are to receive a particular organ. If you have a rare blood type, you may wait longer - it all depends on whether someone with your blood type becomes an organ donor tomorrow or in two years. I have seen people go on the waiting list and get an organ in two days - and I have seen people who have waited for three years. Most organs have a standardized form which produces a score that ranks how sick you are, and that is what is used by the doctors to determine the priority.

Transplanted organs don't last forever. While many people may keep their transplanted organs for 15 or 20 years, for most people you are pretty lucky to go five years without a rejection episode. Rejection occurs when your body's immune system decides to fight the transplanted organ as if it were an invader - which means that the organ stops working while it is being attacked. Transplant patients stay on immunosuppressive medications for the life of their organ (and sometimes after) - but your immune system can't be completely suppressed or you would get infections every day. So a delicate balance must be struck between preventing rejection, and preventing infections. For some people, they may go the rest of their lives with the same kidney - but many have multiple transplants.

You can donate a kidney or a lobe of your liver to someone. Many studies have shown that you can live quite nicely on one kidney alone - after all, that's what people with transplanted kidneys do! It's an extremely safe procedure to donate a kidney to someone - you have to be of the same blood type, and you have to be healthy, but other than that, most people can donate without problems. For livers, it depends on the amount of disease damage whether the person will need a whole liver or can accept a single lobe. Your liver has three lobes, and if you donate one lobe, it will grow back in about five to ten years, with no ill effects to you in the meantime. (Although you should probably not drink or do drugs.) This is also a very safe procedure.

They don't take out the kidney through the back (or leave you in a tub of ice.) A transplanted kidney is placed in the front near the belly button - a healthy kidney is smaller than a deck of cards, so it doesn't take up much room. Depending on the situation, the surgeons may leave both of the diseased kidneys in place. Livers and other organs have to be placed in the correct position, however. Kidney transplants leave about an 8-inch scar; other organs may be slightly larger, but except for heart and lung transplants you don't get slit up the front and opened like for open-heart surgery. Much of the surgery is done by touch.

Medicare covers most organ transplants. Organ transplants are generally considered life-saving procedures and they are covered. Kidney transplants are considered life-enhancing (because you can still live on dialysis) but they are covered because no matter the cost of immunosuppressant medications ($800-$1000 for the rest of your life) it's still less than the cost of dialysis ($1000 per visit, 3 times a week for the rest of your life.) My center is one of about twenty in the country pursuing islet transplants (islets of Langerhans are the portions of your pancreas which produce insulin, which diabetics lack) and Medicare is supportive of this as well.

There are a lot more people on the waiting list than there are organs for them. This is a really sad fact of working in transplant - many of the people who are waiting for a cadaveric organ will never get any. It's a cruel catch-22 that the longer you are on the list, the better your chances are of getting an organ, but if you get too sick you may no longer be cleared to undergo surgery and you can't get an organ anymore. So a lot of people kind of "fall off" the list because they get SO sick that it isn't safe to put them under general anesthesia and perform surgery anymore. A lot of people die while waiting for a transplant.

The one message I really try to bring to people who are curious about transplant is this: If you donate an organ, you WILL save a life. Probably MULTIPLE lives. You have one heart, two lungs, two kidneys, one liver, and one pancreas, not counting all the tissue in your body. You have seven donatable organs. Most likely not all of them will be in condition to donate, but most healthy people who have brain damage and are brain dead can donate at least four. This means when you donate the organs of a loved one, at least four people's lives will be changed forever - they will be able to go back to work, to get out of bed, to live their lives again, and extend their lifespan by years and years. Transplant patients are truly the nicest people I have ever worked with, and they are forever grateful for the sacrifice made for them - because they know that someone had to go through something terrible in order for them to live their lives again.