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Holy Crap – ANOTHER Raise!?!?!

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Guys. I can’t even. Pinch me, because I don’t even believe it.

I got another raise!!!!

Well…..kinda.

You know how I work 2 jobs (a full-time one + a part-time one)? Well, I just got my contract in from my part-time job and something that has literally NEVER happened before occurred. Without even being notified/informed/asked, one of my classes was large enough that apparently they opened a second section. To be fair, this has happened once before, but I was asked about it ahead of time. I think this time it just slipped past because my boss is on maternity leave so either she approved it knowing I would say yes or someone else may have dropped the ball in asking (at this institution I teach the same 2 classes every semester and they are considered to be “mine” in ownership of intellectual property, materials, etc. So if a class is full, they ask me if they can add students. If there’s enough demand, they ask if I’d be willing to teach another section, etc.). Here’s the thing – I totally wasn’t even expecting it! I was caught completely off guard!

I immediately logged into my instructor dashboard to check the enrollment status and verify whether this could possibly be true. Yep. Section #1 is maxed out (30 students) and Section #2 currently has 20 students (max is 30, but 20 is still in the “safe” range. I only worry about sections being cancelled due to low enrollment if we’re down in the 10 or less number of students).

So here’s the good and the bad.

The good is that even though this is just a second section of one of my existing courses (meaning no additional prep and the courses are merged in the LMS so it’s really, truly like teaching one big class), I get paid like it’s an entirely new course!!! Yep! I was only getting paid for 2 classes previously and now I’m getting paid for 3!! AHHHH!!!

The bad news is that the class is writing intensive. So although there’s no additional prep-work and it’s easy in terms of the day-to-day stuff (e.g., emails, announcements, etc.), it’s going to be SIGNIFICANTLY more time invested in grading. Gah! What am I going to do?! I’m strapped as it is!

Thankfully, at my full-time job I’m only teaching 1 new class this semester (I teach 3 classes total, but 2 of the 3 are repeat courses, which are always easier than teaching a class for the first time). Hopefully given the 2 repeats, it won’t be too much work to keep up with.

So now I’m teaching 3 classes at my full-time + 3 classes at my part-time. 6 classes total in one semester. I know adjuncts who have had to teach more as a way to make ends meet, but for those not familiar with academia, that’s a boat load of classes in a single semester! Thankfully, 5 of the 6 are online classes. Another big sigh of relief, because there wouldn’t physically be enough hours in the day if I were needing to teach in-person, hold in-person office hours, etc.

But this is good news! I now have my contracts for BOTH of my jobs for the 2016-2017 academic year (at least kinda….my part-time job is semester-by-semester but I have a lengthy employment history with them at this point). PLUS, both of my contracts reflect a pay raise!!!

Time to get on with the house hunt! AHHHHH SO EXCITED!!!!!!!


Happy Friday!!!

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Happy Friday, friends!

Just peeking in quickly today with some fun news…I got a raise!!! Wahoo!!!

My university is implementing institution-wide raises for ALL benefits-eligible employees as a way to try to address the compression that our university experienced during all the rough recession years and increase salaries to be competitive with other large research-1 universities. The mandatory raise was announced a few months ago, but the minimum raise figure was only $500/year. My department head has been working with our business manager to try to figure out the raises internally for my department. $500 is the mandated minimum, but my boss wanted to provide raises for everyone of much more than that (anything over and above the $500 minimum was performance-based).

It took some time for them to work through the details, but I just received notification that I’ll actually be receiving a 3% raise – significantly higher than the minimum $500 that was required.

SO YAY!!!

The raise doesn’t go into effect until September and, spread across the entire year, a 3% raise doesn’t come out to too much more per paycheck (and, turns out, is a pretty average sized annual raise according to here and here). But even so, I’m excited. It’s great to have only been there for one year and already be recognized for my contributions, receiving a salary boost commensurate with my performance.

That’s it for now. Just had to give you guys the fun Friday morning news! I hope you have a great day!

Do you receive annual raises? What (%) does your typical raise look like?


My First Estate Sale – HELP ME!!!

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Hi guys!

I gotta pop in for a super quick post today because stuff is crazy right now!

My family (hubs, me, and the 4-year-old twins) drove up to Utah on Wednesday. We usually split the 12-hour drive into 2 days but pushed through and did the whole thing in one day.

The purpose of our trip was to finish clearing out my Dad’s house. I came here in November when my Dad officially moved, but he’d used a POD and a lot of stuff got left behind. My brother came back with my Dad again a couple months ago and, from all reports, the house was nearly ready to go. There were still a few boxes of paperwork and miscellaneous odds and ends. The big things were that there are still 2 vehicles here. Those were my marching orders.

SOOOOoooooo imagine my surprise when I get here and it seems like the house is still fully furnished. I mean…kitchen still has everything in it, there’s a full bedroom set,  lots of household and holiday decorations, multiple televisions, accent tables, garage is still fully stuffed, and on and on and on.

Guess how many days we’d planned to be here! Two. Yep. The plan was to get here Wednesday night (as we did), get a dumpster, and throw the remaining stuff out, then head back to Tucson early on Saturday (another 1-day trip).

But the overwhelming amount of items coupled with the fact that there are still so many items of VALUE meant that I couldn’t just throw stuff in the dumpster (which I’d called and had placed at the residence before getting to town). The only solution I could see was to have an estate sale.

Here’s the deal. I’ve never done an estate sale before. And I’ve now been warned by 2 separate people that these things can be brutal – people fighting each other for items, shoulder-to-shoulder people bustling throughout the house, etc. Just chaos. And remember….we’ve only got 2 adults to manage the situation (plus 2 toddlers to still watch and take care of!!!) Gulp!

To try to help things a bit, I decided to split the sale into 2 days. We’re prepping things today by separating items (we’ll take some things with us to Tucson so there’s a “not for sale” pile), shredding old documents with identifying information, and generally trying to organize things and sort through to see what’s here. I’ll also be taking care of some business things today (meeting with property management company, etc.). Then the first “preview sale” will be tonight from 5-8:30pm. The remaining items will be sold on Friday from 7am-gone. I posted to a local Facebook garage sale site, stating that all items are first come, first served and there are NO HOLDS!

I’m hoping that (1) the fact that the estate sale is being held on weekdays and (2) the fact that we’re splitting it into two days will help in reducing the craziness since we’ll likely have fewer people than we would on a Saturday. By Friday afternoon, everything will turn to FREE (with associated posting on the local Facebook site) and we’ll start trashing any remaining items in the dumpster.

Other tips or ideas? Are we absolutely insane for attempting to do this ourselves while we still have kids here? I’m really nervous about things getting wild! If they do, the plan is for me to stand at the front door (with kids playing in front yard), and hubs to be inside doing the negotiating about item prices. I’ll be paid on the way out (standing at the door ensures no one just walks away with items without paying).

I’ve literally NEVER done this before and this shiz is getting down TONIGHT so I could really use any helpful ideas or tips that you might have! Help meeeee!!!!

Thank you!


April Budget Update

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Yikes! With how overdue this budget update is, I did consider just skipping it entirely. I forgot to post December’s budget and it was my first time to ever miss a month! I don’t want it to start becoming a pattern. So, instead of pushing it off any longer, here’s the extremely overdue budget:

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Down Payment Savings 2000
Electricity 88
Water 55
Natural gas 60
Cell Phones (2 lines) 89
Cable/Internet 100
Trash 35
Preschool 1075
Restaurants 249
Entertainment 1
Kids Activities 82
Groceries 582
Gasoline 99
Household Goods 9
Clothing 75
Toddler Stuff 5
Work Expenses 50
Rainy Day Savings 2142 (minus deductions, see below)
Savings Goals 424 (minus deductions, see below)
Debt Payments 1521
Total Budgeted $9,941

 

Comments:

Down Payment Savings ($2000): This is right on track.” The goal is to get to $10,000 by mid-summer. That being said, I already know we won’t have the full $2,000 for this month (May). Initially, we were hoping to start house-hunting this month but we thought better and have pushed it back a bit. We are really hoping to have a closing in August/September, so we didn’t want to see something and fall in love too early when we really aren’t ready to be making offers and negotiating yet. Womp, womp! It’ll be here soon, though, and I’m still doing Zillow searches just-for-fun. 

Electricity ($88): Our electric bill has never been lower! But we’ve already been flirting with triple-digit temperatures and our A/C is back in the ON position! I already received the bill for May and, although it hasn’t jumped way high yet, it’s certainly higher than April’s bill.

Restaurants ($249) + Groceries ($582): I feel like you can’t consider one without knowledge of the other. Our grocery bill was pretty low this month (remember in months’ past where I was nearing the $700-mark for groceries!?), but the grocery bill is low because (1) we were on the cruise for one week of the months, and (2) our eating out budget was HUGE! Remember my post about blowing the restaurant/eating out budget early in the month? We aim to have this expense around $200 or less for our family of four. We blew this budget category early in the month and, honestly, the only reason it didn’t surpass $300+ is because we were gone the last full week of the month (longer, really, since hubs and the girls drove they added an extra week to their trip). All expenses while traveling were filed away in the “cruise” category, so they weren’t accounted for here.

Entertainment ($1): 99 cent song on iTunes.

Kids’ Activities ($82): This was our last month paying for the girls’ swim lessons. It was prorated since we only went for half the month. That being said, the girls did INCREDIBLE on our cruise! We spent a TON of time in the water (both in the pools on the ship and in the ocean at our docking places). I was so impressed with how their skills have improved and they seemed like little fishes splashing around in the water. It really made me want to re-start their swimming lessons so they can keep learning and improving. I’m waiting until the semester is over at school because the end-of-year time is crazy and our Saturday-midday swim class was far from ideal. When we start back again I’ll be looking for a weekday afternoon class time.

Household Goods ($9): I don’t remember if I mentioned it already, but I’ve deemed this year the year of buying holiday decorations on clearance to save for next year. In December/January I bought a bunch of Christmas decorations and in April I bought some Easter decorations. I go literally the day after the holiday, first thing in the morning, so I can try to find the best stock for cheapest. I know there can be great finds at garage sales, too, but those are so hit-and-miss that I’ve mostly relied on buying store stuff on clearance after the holiday has passed. The plan is to do this all year for all of the holidays. I’m pretty excited to finally start accumulating some holiday stuff here and there. We’ve always been very minimalistic when it comes to holiday decorations since we have typically moved every year (our current rental house is the longest we’ve ever stayed in a single place!!) I look forward to decorating for holidays with the girls as they grow!

Rainy Day Savings ($2142): I’d deposited $2142 into my various rainy day funds (though some money was also withdrawn from these accounts.) See below:

  • 3-6 Month EF: $1,000. The goal is to get to $5,000 and we currently have $3063.
  • Birthdays: $400. The girls’ birthday is on the horizon in June. To date, we’ve never had an actual birthday party for them, but we want to this year for the first time. It will still be simple (at our house, not another venue), but we’re going to start throwing a couple hundred a month toward this savings so we don’t get caught by surprise in June. This month I’ve over-saved because I’m anticipating that May will be a lower month.
  • Car Repairs: $50. I also withdrew $182 to finally fix the car part that broke 2 weeks after I paid it off. This leaves $73 still in the car repair account. I’ll need to pad it pretty heavily in the next couple of months, as we know we’ve got some routine maintenance stuff coming up on our vehicles and it feels like every time we go to the shop its at least a thousand dollars! Cringe! At least we have time to anticipate and save for it instead of being caught by surprise.
  • Health/Dental/Vision: $542. This gets auto-deducted from my paychecks so we can pay for healthcare out of pre-tax money. It’s sitting in a flexible spending account earmarked for health-care related expenses.
  • Annual Fees: $100. Need to slowly start building this back up. The total current balance is $250 but we have a few annual (or semi-annual) fees coming up within the next couple months (e.g., Costco membership and county pet registration are two that come immediately to mind).
  • Girls’ College Savings: $50. We save $25/each (x 2 girls) for college that’s automatically transferred monthly to designated 529 accounts.

Savings Goals ($424): $424 was deposited but there were also withdrawals. See below:

  • Savings for 2015 Roth IRA: $424. I also cleared out this savings in its entirety prior to filing taxes so I could make a contribution crediting tax year 2015.
  • No other savings this month, but I wanted to report that I also withdrew all of the cruise money from its account (and have subsequently closed the Capital One 360 savings account). At the end of the trip, we were left with an extra $800 over and above what we’d spent. I ended up re-categorizing this money as income for May. That way it’s put in with our normal income rather than being viewed as a separate pot of money. This will be particularly helpful because I don’t get paid from my part-time job this month.

Debt:  I gave a full debt update here.

 

Final Thoughts:

We put a little less toward debt this month than I’d hoped (I’d originally planned to put $2,000 toward debt). Instead, we put a bit more toward savings, particularly in some categories where we know upcoming spending is imminent (e.g., birthdays, annual fees). In May, I’ll kind of trade-off. Our savings will probably be a little lower and our debt payments will be a little higher. One big thing to note:  I don’t get paid in the months of May or August from my part-time job. Instead, my summer pay is split into two lump sums arriving in June and July. I’m trying to anticipate the lower income months and to spread the pay out when we have the higher income months. Also, I haven’t commented on our tax return yet. We had a return of $540 that hit my bank account just in the last week or so. Like our unspent cruise savings, I’ve simply categorized this as “Income for May” in our YNAB budget. Again – May will be a bit lower income month (given that I don’t get my part-time pay), so I’m hoping this will help pad our income a bit so we can keep up with the hefty debt payments that are planned this month.

Have a great month, all!


No Money to Start a Business? Crowdfund

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crowdfund

It’s hard to transform your groundbreaking idea into reality if you’re in debt and don’t have the necessary capital in order to get it started or operate it. This is a big problem for most individuals who want to create a business, but don’t have the money to do so and may have poor credit so they can’t get a loan. There is a new way to find the much-needed money in order to operate the business. One way of gathering funds for a business idea or a project is through crowdfunding.

What is Crowdfunding?

Basically, crowdfunding is the process of getting money in small amounts from a large base of contributors. This type of fund generation is typically found online, since there are a larger number of potential contributors, and the funding method is easier since it would be done through the web. Crowdfunding is not only applicable to business propositions or start-up ideas as it can also be used to help accomplish a project or a humanitarian cause.

There are various benefits of using crowdfunding as a means to generate the necessary capital that you need for your business or idea. First is the number of potential “investors” that might agree with your idea and thus, donate for your cause. The number of users on the internet is vast, and it spans across the whole world. Ideally, if your idea or project is innovative, a lot of people would opt in for you and give you some funds. They might also advertise your idea to their peers. This causes your idea to spread like wildfire to everyone, and in turn, get the necessary funding for the people who like your project. The second benefit is the amount of money involved as in crowdfunding, you have no set limits. Because of this fact, someone can give as much as they want, even if it’s only a dollar. If you get a thousand people to donate just a dollar for your project, then you already 1000 dollars for it. If you have a larger goal than a much bigger projected amount can be achieved as well.

Crowdfunding Platforms

There are online platforms wherein you can put up your idea or project for others to see and potential donate funds. These crowdfunding websites help other people raise awareness for their causes, their ideas, their projects, and their businesses. The variety is quite extensive. Many of the sites have categories for certain types of funding (for example Plumfund.com even has an area specific for nonprofit organizations to raise money) while others categories cater to almost anyone with an idea or project they hope to fund.

Conclusion

Crowdfunding proves to be beneficial for individuals or groups who need the necessary funds for their ideas or projects. It makes use of the connectivity that we experience through the internet to gather more funding for our ideas. It also takes advantage of the amount of money that can be given by a contributor, as giving someone’s spare change to fuel one’s project will not affect the contributor so much.


And I Quote…

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Received via text Monday, March 7th at 10:45am
From the recruiter for the local job

Good morning Hope,
Sorry it’s taken so long to get back with you.  I have been waiting for final word from <company name> as they made an offer to another candidate but it wasn’t accepted right away.  I will get an answer today.  They enjoyed meeting you and was impressed with your technical background so much they said they would consider you for a more technical role depending on how this turns out.  Again, wish I had better news but we’ll find out for sure later today. Thanks.

So thus it is confirmed with no decision needed on my part the best option right now is to open shop again on my own business.

No other messages received despite last line.


Changing My Mind

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I mentioned last week that I was in the final interview round with not one but two companies, it was a great feeling, and for a fleeting few days, I had these grand plans dancing around in my head.  But reality started setting in as I started running numbers.

First, I should tell you, I did not get the Cincinnati job, which was frankly an answer to prayer as the thought of moving to a new city where I know no one was very overwhelming, not to me personally but as a single mom.  But during the few days I waited before the interview and finding out, I started thinking.  The salary was a good salary, very good.  But several things would have eaten it up immediately upon arrival leaving us living on less than we have in the past….

  1. I would need a whole new wardrobe. I know negligible in the long run, but would need it pretty quickly.
  2. Currently, I have bartered for Gymnast’s training.  Not only would I not have that at the new gym, but the costs at the new gym are AT LEAST 3x that of our current gym…3X…so we are looking at a minimum of $500 a month, minimum.
  3. I would have to hire some help because I would be spending 40+ hours a week in the office, I would need to hire someone to come in and help with the kids, not full time but definitely a few hours several days a week, at minimum that would be $600 per month (used $15 per hour at 10 hours a week and I’m not even sure how realistic that is.)

So in the end, I was grateful that I did not get that offer.  It would have been tough to turn it down knowing our current situation, I am relieved I did not have to make that tough decision.

Now for the local job which I had a final interview for last Wednesday.  I left that interview super excited, really like the team I would get to work with, the job is expansive so I would get to put my current skills to work as well as get the opportunity to add some new ones.  The money was, at first, reasonable in my mind.  It was more than $15,000 less than the Cincinnati job, but I figured with no move expenses, barters already in place, etc.  It would be okay and allow us to stay here.

Then I got home and started running numbers.  I used -30% as the baseline of what I would be bringing home after benefits, taxes, etc.  I will be bringing home almost $1,000 less than I was previously, working at least 10-15 more hours per week, need a new wardrobe and still need to hire someone to help with the kids some.  And on top of that, if you have been reading my posts for a while, we live in an expensive housing area.  That has ALWAYS been a problem for us, and exactly why I decided last fall to move away from here if we hadn’t found something by April of this year.  Ugh!

Now we come to the point of this post…based on the points above, I have decided to resurrect my consulting business and focus on building it again.  I have not made this decision lightly at all.  I REALLY, REALLY wanted the stability a ‘real’ job would offer, the benefits, the vacation time, the work without the need to constantly sale and market myself.

But, on the flip side, I REALLY, REALLY can not stomach the idea of being away from my kids so much, especially with no other adult in the picture.  And I know this sounds petty, but I HATE dressing up, I have always said that if I can’t wear my jeans there, I should probably not be there.

So here is a rough account of where I stand right now:

  • I’ve currently contracted out 30 hours a week beginning next week (first week of March.)  I’m not making the hourly rate I need on all hours, but I am on some, and I have the possibility to grow both of these clients with good, consistent work.
  • I’ve secured an additional 4 short term contracts doing website work.
  • I’ve paid for a 1 month subscription to one of the freelancing sites I’ve gotten a great deal of work from in the past.  (Subscribing lessens the percentage of my fee that they keep for work procured.)
  • I’m planning to re-up my LLC and business license this next month.
  • I’m planning to re-brand and re-launch my corporate site: epoh.com in the next month.

Now the only caveat to this is that I have been working primarily with two recruiters looking for corporate work.  I plan to keep my resume out there, but with the caveat that I am looking solely for work that allows at least 50% remote work and that I am willing to relocate through August of this year at which point, I will withdraw the offer to relocate until after the next school year.

I do not know if we will stay here next year, housing continues to be a BIG headache and financial drain for me.  But while we have free housing over the next several months (move at the end of April to the RV,) I am going to explore all options.

One more thing to note…I have going to add more teaching to my schedule if we stay here next school year.  Currently, I am teaching two classes, 1 hour a week each.  I plan to teach at least 4 classes next fall if we stay here.  That will not only cover the cost of the kids homeschool co-op classes, but also bring in some income.

This has been a really, really hard decision.  I know many will not understand 1) my commitment to being available to my kids, 2) not being willing to send my kids to public schools and 3) my other reasons for not wanting to take on a full time plus, in the office corporate job right now.  Rest assured, I am still very committed to get out of debt, perhaps even moreso than before after this experience.  But I know, really know, that my kids are my number one priority, and I’m willing to live on less, to be present in their lives for every moment possible while they are still young.

Oh, one last thing…in conjunction with starting my business back up, I am committed to spending the summer when we are not on such a heavy school schedule, renewing and gaining some new certifications in my field to 1) make me marketable and 2) increase my skills and maintain them so I am ready when the right opportunity presents itself to return to a ‘normal’ job.

Sorry for the book…

Update: As of Tuesday night…still no word from the local full time job, but the recruiter did text today and say they expected to hear in the next couple of days…