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Posts tagged with: income

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?


Making That $$$

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Did everyone see Hope’s awesome post yesterday? Fingers crossed for her to get her choice between the two different jobs!

To piggy-back on the good news train, I’ve got some good news of my own!

Remember how I asked for a title change and a raise way-back-when? I first brought it up with my boss in early December, then had a meeting in January, and things kind of went stagnant (see last update here).

Well, we met yesterday and my best-case-scenario* happened!!!! (**kinda…see below).

For the time being I stopped pressing about a title change because I was more concerned with my actual salary right now (but the title change is still in the forefront of my mind. I’ll be working on that behind-the-scenes).

Remember that, last time, I mentioned one of my negotiation tactics was to frame my “raise” like it wasn’t a raise at all. Instead, I was simply asking for more time to work. Instead of a 9 month contract (which I’m currently on), I wanted the same exact rate of pay (no raise), but for the additional 3 months of the year. This is equivalent to a 33% raise in terms of annual salary, but it’s the same bi-weekly pay rate that I currently receive so it’s not a raise in the sense of an increased pay rate. Make sense?

The decision wasn’t solely up to my department head because funds had to come from another source on campus. In the end, what was decided is that I’ll get a short-term contract this summer. That means I’m still officially on a 9-month contract overall (so, next summer I’ll be “off” work with no obligation to work). But for this summer I’ll continue working and will receive my same exact rate of pay.

I’m thrilled with the results!

I was always a little bit torn because 12 month contract = significantly more money (literally 33% more on an annual basis!). But I also really love the academic 9-month schedule. I’d been looking forward to having summer off with my kiddos, etc. So I actually think this is a great compromise of sorts because it allows me to make extra money this year, without the requirement or expectation of working every summer going forward.

So 2016 is officially dubbed the year of “Making That $$$$$.” I’m a little shocked and blown away by exactly how much I’ll be making this year. Between my full-time job (and now the summer pay) + my part time job, I will be making over six figures on my own (not counting hubs’ income). This is absolutely insane to me given that, literally a year ago, I was making peanuts (false:  at the time I just had a part-time job, but I’m lucky in that my part-time job does pay very well. But you know what I mean. It’s nothing compared to my current salary).

This comes at such an opportune time, as we are not used to this level of income so we can continue living on significantly less and throw all this extra money toward debt and savings for a house.

I’m still having a bit of a “pinch me” moment. I mean, I figured they would pay me for the summer (as I said in my previous post…they really need me for some pressing and time sensitive work). But I honestly did NOT expect to get my full rate of pay. My current pay rate bumps me WAY above several of the tenured faculty members and it just blows my mind. I mean, I’ve literally only been in this position for a semester and a half. Mind-blown.

But I also don’t want to act like it’s all dumb luck. To some extent there was a “right place, right time” aspect. But this is also due to my hard work, experience, and trying to make myself invaluable. I’ve taken active measures to network across campus, meet the various powers-that-be (not just in my department, but elsewhere) and set myself up for success. Sometimes this has meant doing additional work outside of my job description just to build some good will and favor from others and (hopefully) position myself to eventually grab that title I want, too. All in good time.

For right now I’m very busy, but very happy. I’m lucky that I genuinely love what I do. It makes a world of difference, too, having my Dad safely settled in Texas. I don’t think I even realized at the time just what an impact the Dad-stuff had on my day-to-day stress level and functioning. We still have ongoing issues with that (e.g., we’ll be putting his house on the market within about a month or so, and that will be a BIG ordeal), but now that he’s closer to my siblings and able to be watched over and cared for, the stress has reduced dramatically.

So there you go. Hopefully good news all around in blog-land (I can’t wait to hear an update on Hope’s job situation, too!!!) I hope you readers are having great success in your careers, too! Tell me about it!

Any advice on job advancement or career opportunities? Any good book recommendations in this regard? How are things going in your career?

Edited to add:  I forgot to address vacation because someone had asked about that on my last post. Since I’m technically not on a 12- month contract (still just a 9-month contract + a short-term summer contract), there’s nothing like a 2-week vacation, etc. However, I do get vacation pay normally (as part of my 9-month contract) so that will still continue. Plus the beauty of my summer work is that it is 100% online. I still plan to be on campus here and there for meetings, to hold workshops, etc. But I should be able to do the majority of my work from home. We also aren’t planning to travel this summer. Since we have Cruise 2016 in April, we’ll be staying in town over summer. In lieu of any big summer travel plans, I’ve invited my family to come out and visit in June for the girls’ 4th birthday (can you believe it!? When I started blogging they were 18 months old!). We’ve never had a party for them before but are thinking of renting a pavilion at a park or something and having a proper party for them this year. Nothing crazy over-the-top, but at least acknowledging and celebrating them a bit with family and friends. Nothing set in stone yet, but that’s our thought/plan. And, of course….we’ll probably be looking for new homes around that time as well! Eeeek! Crazy year!!


A little good news

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I feel like lately I’m all “fight, grind, repeat.” (quote credit: Bobby Bones).

Sure I’ve had some times out last month, but to be 100% honest and open, they aren’t events I would have chosen to group together into a single month for spending purposes. In choosing how to spend that money I would have preferred, for instance, a date night out with the hubs.

And in spite of these times out, I have maintained a pretty steadfast focus on chipping away at my debt. Slow and steady, slow and steady, slow and steady. It’s like a mantra that keeps playing in my head.

It was so much easier last year when our income started to sky rocket during the summer. We had two months where we actually made over $10,000 in a single month! That’s more money than we’ve ever made in our lives and it felt so great to be able to throw it at debt and completely eradicate our $10,000 worth of credit card debt in just a few short months! Living the dream, friends! (side note: I just re-read the post where I wrote about making that final credit card payment. Put a smile on my face just re-living my little dorky celebration dance! 😉)

So this year’s tax bill has certainly made me feel a little “blah” about the summer. That, coupled with the fact that our income has most certainly not gone up so far this summer…at least not to the extent that it had last year at this time.

But then today I got a piece of good news that puts me in a more positive head-space.

I got an email from my boss at the teaching university. The department has decided to do something a little unusual. One of my classes is completely full and they’ve received a lot of requests from students wanting to add it. There’s not enough interest for a full second class (classes are capped at 30 students), but they’ve decided to do a half-section (capped at 15). My boss asked if I’d like to take it on. Since it’s half the students (and, therefore, half the grading), it will be half the pay of the 30-person class. But, again, it’s a class I’m already teaching (just a second mini-section of it), so it’s incredibly easy for me, as it’s already completely prepped and ready to go. OF COURSE I jumped at the chance for some extra cash this summer! I feel so grateful that this extra money is coming at a time that we need it more than ever (with the IRS breathing down our necks). So, I’m not sure this will really translate into a big boost in income with the figures I report on the blog (since I’m taking out tax debt off the top instead of including the debt in my monthly debt update), but it will certainly provide a nice buffer to pay off that debt and still be left with a nice, solid income over the summer months. Thank goodness!

Nothing like a little good news on a Monday! ; )

Have you had any good news today (or lately)? Share!


Income Nail-Biter

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Well, it’s happening. Remember how my first few months blogging I kept saying how unusually high our income was? Those first few months we were making in the $8,000-$10,000 range (crazy high! Highest months of income in our lives!), when our average had previously been closer to only about $5500.

Although I knew we wouldn’t be making that much forever (husband is in flooring and the flooring business is cyclical – busier during summer months and slower during winter months), I was not expecting the slow down to start until November.

Through a surprise turn of events, our income was quite a bit lower in August. This is the “fun” part of owning a small business. Four things happened that negatively influenced our income:

  1. Some of husband’s jobs were canceled or pushed back.
  2. Husband had a few large business expenses for flooring equipment that needed to be replaced.
  3. Husband had to do a warranty repair that cost him in materials and labor (for his time and to pay his employees for their time), but didn’t result in any income since warranty work is free for customers**this was the most painful in terms of monetary value.
  4. I didn’t get paid from my teaching job (due to regular schedule of payment). **this is where the majority of my income is from, so this was a big hit, too.

September would be so much better, we both believed. Husband has a HUGE job this month that pays out quite nicely. In addition to that, he has been busy with all types of regular-sized jobs, too. He’s back to working non-stop, though we’ve come to an agreement that he will always take Sundays off (thus, working 6 days a week maximum). So surely this month would be a jackpot in terms of our income, right? RIGHT???

Well, I’m a little nervous. Thankfully, I got paid from both of my jobs this month. However, husband is certainly the primary earner so huge income fluctuations are generally due to his income (or lack thereof). And, as it turns out, husband has run into some problems this month, too:

  1. For his super-huge job, he’s had to purchase a higher amount of insurance (this doesn’t affect our monthly budget since it comes out of his business account, but it does factor into the amount of money he’s able to give me for “income” during the month).
  2. He’s had to purchase separate auto insurance. His car used to be on our family policy and was categorized as a business vehicle. But this big job requires that he have a separate commercial auto policy due to the expensive materials he will be transporting (required coverage of a million dollars in property damages!!!) This will actually positively impact my monthly auto insurance budget because his car has been removed from our family policy. But, again, it’s an expense he pays for, which means less money coming to me in the form of income. ***Note, I actually think I prefer for his auto to be separate. I think it will make taxes easier to have it as a separate policy, though it makes us lose our multi-car discount. Anyone deal with similar issues? Think its better to keep these separate? After this big job is complete, he has the option to move his car back to our family policy if he wants. Any thoughts or suggestions of which idea is better from a business/tax perspective (keeping separate or re-combining)?
  3. Husband does not get paid until jobs are 100% complete. This month he has been KILLED on jobs that are unable to be completed. This happens from time-to-time. A customer may not order enough materials or, more commonly, there aren’t enough transitions or the transitions are the wrong color. Husband can work for two weeks straight and be 99% of the way through, but if he’s short even a single transition or t molding, then he can’t collect payment. And often, these pieces take weeks or even months to be delivered from the big distributors (and this often causes a headache because the dye packs are different even though it’s the same basic color, so then even more need to be ordered and it’s a whole cluster). ***THIS is what is hurting us this month. Husband has 3 separate jobs that are 99% complete, but he is unable to collect final payment because he’s waiting on little pieces to come in so he can install them, complete the jobs, get work orders signed, and collect payment.

It’s a bit of a nail-biter this month. Even though hubs has been working diligently almost daily, he’s made very little money this month…..even less than last month (gulp!!) We do have my pay that helps to off-set things a bit. And there’s still a few more days in the month (and supposedly transitions should be here soon). We’re holding our breath and crossing our fingers, hoping these pieces come in so he can complete these jobs and receive payment. Husband was looking at his various jobs last night and calculated that he has close to $10,000 sitting in nearly-completed projects. Of course, the full $10,000 isn’t income because some of it goes to recoup his business expenses, pay labor, etc. But a significant chunk of the money would be coming straight to me as income. And, instead, it’s hanging out in space making us nervous as crap.

Cross your fingers for us! Oh, the joys of being a small business owner.

Side note: it’s times like these that I am so glad we have a decent sized emergency fund and live on last month’s income so that if these payments don’t come through until October, at least we won’t be completely broke. We still have money and will NOT be in danger of having to pay for groceries and gasoline on credit (as we have done in pre-blogging days). Thankful for that!


Ashley’s April Debt Update

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I’ve seen lots of comments (on all the bloggers) asking for more openness and transparency. Hopefully this post provides you with that (but, as a result, its a long one so maybe get a quick snack ready!):

April Debt Amounts and Payments

 Place APR March End Balance April End Balance Monthly Payment
Capital One CC 17.9% $0 $0 $0
Wells Fargo CC 13.65% $7429 $5705 $800
Bank of America CC 7.24% $2198 $2175 $35
Carmax Car Loan 7.75% $23736 $23385 $470
License Fees 2.7% $5720 $5672 $55
Mattress Firm 0% until Sept 1st $1281 $181 $100
Medical Bills 0% $8328 $8228 $75
Total $48692 $45346 $1535

 (See the starting balances from when I first started blogging here) A couple notes: Remember that I’m also paying low monthly payments toward my student loans (not in table, but can be seen here. Amounts to $87/month), so our monthly debt payment actually amounts to $1622 (not $1535). Additionally, we made 2 big snowflake payments at the beginning of the month (with extra money from last month since we had a higher income than normal – discussed here). We paid $2,000 in snowflake payments ($1,000 each toward Mattress Firm and Wells Fargo), for a total of just over $3500 toward debt in the month of April!!! (that’s the $1622 “regular” payments + $2,000 in snowflake payments).

April turned out to be another good month financially. Our take-home pay after taxes was $8290. I just want to say that these really good months are NOT “normal” for us. Our annual average is right at about $5,000/month so this was one of our best months….ever! We’re going to talk about what to do with the surplus and will update with our May Debt Update (since the snowflake payments won’t occur until during the month of May). Right now, I’m thinking 2/3 or 3/4 will probably go straight toward debt (paying off Mattress Firm and the rest to Wells Fargo), and the other 1/3 (or 1/4) will go toward making a debt-sinking fund. This is something Adam and Emily did and a commenter suggested it, too. The reason is that summer is Chris’ “busy” time at work and I worry about what happens when winter rolls around and we start having more “lean” months again. The idea is that we keep some money in a savings account but once it reaches a certain dollar amount, I make a big snowflake payment. In hypotheticals, I could save a portion of our income until we get to $5,000 then take half ($2500) and put toward debt, then save back up again and repeat. That way we always have some extra cash on hand in case Chris’ business has a slow month, but if things continue going well we can siphon some off and put toward debt, instead. I will update (in the May Debt Update) with exactly how this surplus was handled. I hope this isn’t confusing. Basically, anything “left over” after paying our basic bills has been used as 1-time “snowflake” payments toward debt, but it doesn’t get applied until the following month (since our income is variable, we wait until the month is completely over to assess how much “left over” we have, so our snowflake payments are always a month behind the pay, if that makes sense). Now, onto the budget:

How We Fared in April

We ended up coming in at- or under-budget in all categories except one.

Category Budgeted Actual Spending
Rent 1055 1055
Electricity 100 62
Water Bill 75 53
Gas bill 75 25
Sprint (2 phones) 150 150*
Cable/Internet 85 85
Car Insurance 90 90
Health Insurance 350 350
Waste Management (trash) 35 35
Debt Payments 1500 1622**
Groceries 400 398
Baby Purchases 600 566
Gasoline 100 57
Miscellaneous 250 355
Savings for Irregular Bills 190 190
Total 5055 5093

*Remember, I got a deal on our phones, but I won’t see the savings until our next bill.

**This was our “normal” debt payments (minimums for everything except Wells Fargo bill), but does not include large 1-time snowflake payments (because those were paid using leftover funds from March)

Quick re-cap:  In April we made $8290 – $5093 = a surplus for the month of $3197

As you can see, we barely slid in under budget with groceries, and I want to try to reduce this category so I’ll have to pay close attention to figure out why we’re barely making budget ($400/month). I’ve switched to making so much homemade (bread, bagels, tortillas) and DIY (cleaning spray, baby wipes) that I feel like we should be spending less on groceries, but for some reason we’re not. I’m going to examine this closely during May and figure out WHY. Soooo, the one category where we went over-budget: “miscellaneous.” I budgeted $250/month (down from $350 last month) for this category and broke it down into 4 sub-categories:

Category Budgeted Actual Spending
Entertainment $20 $19
Eating Out $75 $110
Personal Maintenance $30 $7
Other $125 $219
Total $250 $355

Clearly we went way over budget (by more than $100!), with the culprits being “eating out” and “other.” I think some of this was growing pains. I just slashed the budget in this category by almost a third, and you can see that our spending was definitely in-line with our “old” budget(<<link to old budget).

I’ll admit it – I hate the envelope system. I don’t know why (bulky? annoying? inconvenient?). But I have to admit, I think it may help with this situation. If I look in my envelope for “eating out” and there’s only $5, I can’t say “screw it, order a pizza” when I’m exhausted and don’t want to cook (confession: that happened once last month). Instead, I’ll suck it up and make dinner. If for whatever reason I really can’t handle it then we’ll eat PB&Js and live another day. It’s a mindset-change from what I’m used to but it needs to be done.

So….May = Month of the Money Envelopes I’ll let you know how it goes.

Envelopes:

  • Groceries = $380 (trying to cut it by $20, down from $400)
  • Entertainment = $20
  • Eating Out = $75
  • Personal Maintenance = $20 (trying to cut it by $10, down from $30)
  • Other = $125

Have you tried the envelope system? If so, did it work for you? What other system(s) do you have in-place to curb over-spending? Given our current debts and APRs, (and also knowing our variable income and wish to do a debt-sinking fund) how would you appropriate the surplus $3200 from April?


Sold Gold

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My grocery store has this cheesy kiosk place that buys gold and silver.  My clean up of jewelry had yielded some completely random (dare I say hideous?!) gold jewelry items that I didn’t think would sell on ebay.  It was a trip down memory lane to even see this stuff as they were gifts from high school boyfriends.  I was definitely not wearing them anymore.  So before flying out on business this afternoon and right before an orthodontist appointment for DD, I ran into the store to see what I could get for this gold.  I had done a little research online but I wasn’t going to kill myself wondering if I could get something better out there with these particular item for a whole host of reasons.  I ended up selling 6 pieces (2 chains, 2 rings, a pair of earrings and a pendant) for $480!  I was hoping for $250 so that was a pleasant surprise!  This money has gone straight to the IRS fund. 

The final for 3 items on Ebay was $534–after fees and postage.  Adding this to my gold sale brings the IRS fund to $1014.  I threw in $1.00 (lol!) and the IRS fund is at $2,165.  I am so proud!!!  I still need to figure out options on selling my wedding rings but this progress feels good.

I also thought of another (hopeful) source of income that I will NOT count before hatching, but my company gives us bonuses at the end of February.  We will find out in mid February what the amount is and then it is paid on February 23.  While I had hoped I could put any bonus dollars toward my regular debt, that was not in the cards I suppose.  I’ll still push forward on “finding” money but at least the bonus is another way to avoid new debt and stay on track.


Debt Specifics

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For the new readers, I’d like to give a quick recap on my debt specifics. As you can see from the info on the side bar, I started this journey with a lot of debt.  I still have a lot of debt but I was able to pay off the little ones and then obtain a consolidation through a credit union signature loan.  Then my husband moved out on Labor Day weekend and my debt was further reduced by a car loan going with him and the selling of my newer vehicle got rid of my car loan. We divorced on Dec 14, 2012 and I was left with what you see in the debt column.  That was my pre-marital debt.

 

The three debts break down like this:

$13,210 USAA @ 11.9%

$18,110 Bank of America @ 12.9%

$9,844 credit union @ 11%

 

I have an excellent income that I’m working hard to use more responsibly than I have in the past.

So if you’re new here…welcome!  I have a long way to go but the new year has motivated me to get even more focused on being debt free!

 

 


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