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Paycheck Blunder

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I was oh-so-excited for my very first 2-week paycheck that was direct deposited into my account on Friday. I was giddy as a child on Christmas morning opening up my bank account information online only to discover…

I got paid nearly the same for my TWO weeks of work as I did on my last check for ONE week of work (in full honesty, this check was about $80 more than last time’s check…but for a full extra WEEK of work!!!)

My jaw dropped when I saw the deposit.

IMMEDIATELY I logged into my school account to view my paycheck and find out what happened.

And, as it turns out, it’s a combination of things.

First, I hadn’t elected my benefits yet in time to have them withdrawn from my last check. The only withholding it contained was the mandatory 401(a) contribution and my taxes. In contrast, this check had OVER A THOUSAND DOLLARS of deductions (not even including taxes)!!! Ouch! I elected for a LOT of things to be withheld, including: my mandatory 7% 401(a) contribution plus an additional contribution to bring me up to 10% withheld; all our medical, dental, and vision insurances, taxes, and the BIG one is the FSA for dependent child care to the tune of $500/paycheck. That one will serve me in the long-run because it allows me to pay for childcare with pre-tax money. But it still hurts to have that all added up to be over half my paycheck!!! (also, side note: the max I can contribute to the FSA is $5,000/year. So this level of withholding allows me to use $5,000 pre-tax toward childcare in 2015, then I’ll start over again in 2016. Once I hit the $5,000 max limit these withholdings will disappear and I’ll have to pay remaining childcare costs with after-tax money)

Only…those deductions shouldn’t equate to half my paycheck!

After a more careful inspection of my paycheck I realized I’m getting paid the wrong amount!!!

I’d been hired at ($X) over a 9-month contract. That way I can either take summers off or, if there’s additional work, I can get paid extra to work over the summer (essentially securing a 25% “raise” by working over the summer). When I was hired the business manager said that most faculty members prefer to have their pay spread over a full 12 months so they don’t go without pay over the summer. She could show me how to do that. I said thanks, but never pursued it. In my own mind, I’d rather get my money up front within the 9 months. Hubs still gets paid over summer, we could set up some type of “savings” to set aside some money for summer, or I could just hustle and try to teach over the summer for additional income. But, no, I was not a huge fan of just letting them keep my money and divvy it up over 12 months. I want as much as I can get now, thank you very much.

So when I calculated what was going on it was easy to see. Apparently I’d somehow been opted into the 12-month pay cycle instead of getting paid over 9 months as I’d intended. That essentially makes my income drop 25% (since it’s being spread over an additional 3 months).

Soooo, what would you do?

My knee-jerk reaction is to go to the business office and ask them to correct it. I want to get paid over 9 months, not 12. But are there any great reasons to keep my pay over 12 months? Anything I’m overlooking?

One additional piece of information is that if I opt for 9 months of pay, then I get double-dinged for insurance payments in the Spring semester (in order to cover the unpaid summer months). If I stick with the 12-month cycle then the payments stay the same year-round.

Thoughts?


Side Hustles June 2014 Edition

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So far this month there really isn’t much to say on the Side Hustle front. But I did want to go into detail over a few details.  

$257.26 First Check from Contract.  This was for eight hours of work and Mileage.  There were a few hiccups with this project, the first being that I agreed to a bigger area of coverage.  I didn’t account for some of the locations to be over a hour to get to (Which I do not get paid for.)  So that eats away at the profit.  

I could look it as in the eyes of an employee, who doesn’t get paid to commute to and from work. But I always look at the amount per hour that I make, so I can average it out, so I won’t look at it from that prospective.  

Second thing, I am not getting paid between locations.  No matter what company I have contracted with they have always paid between locations during the same day.  I have worked with this company numerous times and this is the first that this has happened.  I had to reach out to my point of contact and she is asking around, for this shouldn’t be.  

Another thing to note that this company doesn’t pay the maximum amount per mile to a location, I will be able to deduct the difference on my taxes.

$117 Tips From Clients.  This amount is a little higher than normal and I am not sure the reason.  I am believing it to be that this month is the half way mark of the year, so people are tipping me accordingly.  

Usually I only count the cash tips I receive from Clients, simply because if they used their credit/debit cards to pay that amount doesn’t come directly to me that day, I get it in my monthly check the following month.  These card tips usually evens out my supplies expense.  

$137.30 Amazon Profits.  This was a great month so far with the cereal I placed in Amazon.  I made a post in the middle of last month, that I did a Reevaluation and decided to keep Amazon in the arsenal.  Turns out it was a good decision and bad.

Amazon Orders June 2014

Unfortunately being so new to this, I made a few mistakes this month.  The biggest is that I bought around 500 cans of Chef Boyardee to send into Amazon on the cheap. Everything was looking great, it had a great sales rank (meaning it was selling well), I would be getting about 150% ROI on the product.  After all fees were taken out, I would make about $16 for a pack of 24.  

What I did not take into account was the weight of these cans.  Since you can only send 50 pounds per box into Amazon, I would go through a lot of supplies to ship them, plus the shipping fee would eat away a good amount of profit.  So I decided to sit on these products.  I will be probably going to some Farmer’s Markets to sell some of my coupon overstock.  Plus I might bring some used stuff.  Seems like a good way to spend a few days.  I will probably make about 80% ROI selling them through this venue, which is still good, but I definitely would have made more through Amazon.  

Another thing is that I decided to forgo the Pro Seller account, which costs $40 per month.  From what I read is that once you start selling 40 items a month is when you should go Pro.  The biggest benefit being that they don’t charge the $1 per order fulfillment fee.  So basically if you sell 40 items or more a month, this is a no brainer.  

For the month prior I had the free trial of the Pro Selling Plan.  Well now that I am on the Individual Selling Plan, Amazon reserves money from orders confirmed as shipped during the 14 days immediately preceding each settlement date (the day they pay the merchants.)  So now I have to wait for all my money to be disbursed throughout the month.  

Today I received $5.94 out of this amount.  Then I will receive $51.51 on July 1st.  It kinda sucks, maybe I should pay the $40 a month?  It probably will motivate me more to sell 40 items each month don’t you think?

Well there is still six days left in the month, wish me luck!


Paycheck!

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I just received my paycheck today and it dropped by another 80 bucks since the January 11 check.  I compared the two pay stubs and it appears I was paid near $80 in “stock dividends” on the 01/11/2013.   I didn’t catch that when I looked at  my 1/11/2013 check the first time but it appears the lesser amount that I see in today’s check is the “final answer.”   I see about $450 less per paycheck now and that is sobering.  As a reminder the new deductions are increased federal withholdings, my health insurance and the flexible spending accounts (FSA).

On the upside–of that $900–I have $208 to recover from my health care and dependent care FSA.  Please remind me that this is a good thing for tax purposes because the lazy financial person in me just does not want to deal with submitting receipts to recoup that money.  Hurry.  Tell me.  I already have expenditures to get that back but it’s just that hassle factor that gets me.  That is my old mindset rearing its ugly head–pay for convenience–I guess.  I’ll get over my silly fit about this but in this moment I simply do not want one more thing on my “to do” list.  I know.  Get over it.

It’s another busy weekend ahead.  There are kid events (a band performance and a end-of-season basketball party) and then a Real Food Workshop on Saturday.  I’ve put the invite out for the Feb 10 couples’ event and so far have 5 couples attending.  I am still excited about this little side hobby/money earner.  The kids and I have a lot of fun putting it all together.  The kids are natural little “party hosts” and I like to see those skills grow in them.

Have a good one!  I’m off to gather receipts for child care and medical expenses!  🙂


No Money? Things Not To Do

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There is plenty of information which can be found online about the possible options that you have if you find that you have run out of money, but you still haven’t received your paycheck. This is important information which may be able to help you survive during these uncomfortable circumstances, and you should consider all of your options. The advice for those short on cash before their paycheck arrives is usually along the lines of the following:

  • Contact friends and relatives that may be able to help you out.
  • Sell things you no longer need or use.
  • Pawn some items.
  • Look for quick cash earners like babysitting.
  • Cut back on everything except essentials.
  • Contact creditors and see if you can get a delay on payments.
  • Collect and recycle scrap metal.
  • Use any gift cards that may be stored away.
  • Take out a title loan.
  • Get a cash advance on your credit card.

These are just a few of the common tips that people suggest. Your actual options will greatly depend on your personal circumstances and how much time there is until the next paycheck arrives. What isn’t often expressed is the things that you shouldn’t do when you find yourself in this situation, and the things you shouldn’t do may be far more important than the things that you actually do. Here are a few of the things that you want to avoid doing when you find yourself not having enough before the end of the month:

Don’t Be Relived When The Check Arrives

Most people are so happy and relieved when the paycheck arrives that they stop thinking about everything and simply start living like there was never an issue the week before. This is absolutely not the thing to do. The fact that the situation came about in the first place means that there is a major financial emergency which needs to be addressed. Not having enough money at the end of the month is only a symptom of the underlying problem. The reason why this happened need to be addressed, and addressed quickly to avoid the same situation happens again.

Don’t think You Have Your Full Paycheck To Spend

When the paycheck does finally arrive, don’t assume that you have the full amount to spend. When you were short of money before the paycheck arrived, there is a chance that you had to borrow money or deplete your stockpile of food. Whatever costs you had to incur to make ends meet, they need to be repaid right away. This means that your actual paycheck will be less than usual. If you fail to take these costs into account, the greater the risk that you’ll find yourself in a revolving “can’t make it to payday” situation.

Don’t Assume Things Will Get Better

Don’t make the assumption that things will get better and there won’t be a problem next month. That assumption will almost always be wrong and create a situation where you find yourself in even deeper financial problems. Instead, address the issue head on and come up with a plan of attack by creating a better budget and figuring out a way to increase your income through side ventures before you find yourself right back in the same place. Things rarely get better unless you take an active role to ensure that they get better.

Don’t Make What You Did Your New Emergency Plan

Once you have survived once not having enough money until your paycheck arrives, you begin to form a basic plan to enact if such a situation should occur again. This is a terrible idea. The fact is that the more times you have to make due without money before your paycheck arrives, the more difficult it’ll get, and the more money you’ll end up losing in the process. Just because you were able to survive once doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to try to do it over and over again. Don’t let the situation become a monthly or bi-weekly habit. Instead, take the time to figure out a plan and make the difficult choices so that you never run short again before your paycheck arrives.

More often than not, avoiding some common actions that many people take when they first find themselves in a “no money at the end of the month” situation can go a long way to helping you not get deeper and deeper into a financial mess. So while it’s important to research all of your possible options on how to survive such a situation, don’t fail to take the often difficult, but necessary, steps afterwards to make sure that it doesn’t become a common occurrence.

To help those that might find themselves in a tight spot this holiday season, we are giving away $100 as part of our ongoing series of themed personal finance giveaways. There are plenty of ways to enter and you will have the opportunity to learn about a number of other personal finance blogs that may be suited for your current needs. At the very least, leave a comment about what you have done (or would do) if you found that you didn’t have enough money before your next paycheck arrived as this may be of great help to others that are going through this situation.

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Why we need that emergency fund…

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I’m so thankful that I decided to give myself a break this month and just sock extra money into the emergency fund.  I knew it was important given the tenuous times I am in right now, but I didn’t know how important until my paycheck didn’t show up on Friday.  I changed the direct deposit from the joint account to my separate account as soon as Steve told me he was moving out.  As these things often go, there’s a delay. So, the direct deposit was successfully cancelled but the direct deposit into the separate account was not successfully set up.  A paper check is “in the mail.”  So glad I had enough set aside to bridge the weekend.  That may not seem like a big deal but given these uncertain times, I’m taking it as a small victory.

Also, because I am really sticking to my budget and still had plenty of cash in my pocket I just did not have to worry.  There is so much relief in that!  While I was certainly aware that I didn’t get paid, it did not send me into an all out panic.  My budget habits are intact even throughout this turmoil and I do recognize how fortunate I am in that regard!

I did receive a waiver of service in the mail and although it was simply a form provided to Steve by the district clerk, I was not willing to sign the document.  It is entirely too broad.  So, I filed a pro se answer to the divorce outlining just three issues.  The first is that the signature loan that we just got earlier this year needs to be ordered by the court to be in my name only.  The loan is too new to be refinanced per the credit union but I can get a court order to put it in my name only.  That consolidation loan paid my separate obligations so that is how it should be.  We also have a $1100 tax obligation for 2011 that we need to split 50/50.  Finally, I asked for a name change back to my maiden name.  If all goes according to plan, the divorce will be final mid-November.  We have had no communication but I do know he refinanced his car loan b/c I had to sign the power of attorney to transfer the title.  Everything is happening via snail mail.

The overall feeling of relief continues to take root.  I can’t believe it has been just 3 weeks because it feels more like 3 months.  To have the distance from the unhealthy relationship has given me so much clarity.  I have my joy back and I am so thankful it was only 3 years of my life and not 20+ years like it is for so many.


Debt Update…

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Drum roll please…

We paid off… $3,500 this month!!!!!!!!

We paid the money remaining in savings and had some extra from December being a 3 paycheck month and knocked out a nice sized chunk!

Here are the new numbers:

My Debt
Original Debt: $38,495.86
Added Debt: $1,781.50
Total Debt: $40,277.36
Paid: $36,084.36
Remaining: $4,193.00

Broken Down
Auto Loan 1: $0.00
Credit Card: $0.00
Student Loan: $4,193.00
Auto Loan 2: $0.00
Vet Loan: $0.00

Tick tick tick. Counting down!


Debt Payoff Timeline…

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We’re on the Final Countdown!

Once everything shakes out next month and I go back to full-time, we’ll have a better idea of when our exact payoff will be but as of right now…

FEBRURY 2012!

Hubby and I both get an ‘extra check’ in December since it’s a 5 week month, we have a little left over from the baby budget, and we should get a tax refund for the rest.

We are running a year late because life sorta threw us some curves, but it’s almost over.

Can’t wait…


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