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Archive for April, 2015

$750 to IRA

April 16th, 2015 at 10:58 am

I got a check for March freelance work today for $750. I put it all in the IRA for 2015. That feels good. I'm making a dedicated effort to put the last few checks into the retirement account. I have a $300 check coming tomorrow that I will also deposit, which will bring me to $1550 of my $5500 goal for the year.

I still plan to contribute to the IRA once I stop working, but would like to stash as much of this money as I can into that account, rather than fritter it away on this or that.

$400 budget blown and "work" news

April 14th, 2015 at 06:32 am

Well, our $400 weekly budget went out the window for March, thanks to my knock-down drag-out 40th birthday festivities. I'm not complaining. These are the things we WANT to spend money on: visits with out of town friends, tickets to shows, and overall time with our good friends. So yes, it was worth it. 40 was definitely memorable. Now I'm paying the bill! So yes, back to austerity, although it's totally worth it.

I'm not complaining. I love the $400 a week budget. It's going to serve us well.

In other news, as anticipated, my editor does not yet have a replacement for me for my weekly freelance project and has asked me to stay longer. He wanted a month. I stewed about it all weekend. Technically, it's not my problem because they've already had nearly 2 months to find someone and have been dragging their feet. But, since I want to leave on a good note and the editor is my friend, I agreed to two more weeks. Ugh. Luckily, it was easy to secure interviews for those two articles. I did those interviews yesterday and don't have to do much more work on them. I just have to write them and turn them in.

Still. I am ready to move on with my life!

If I can stick with the $400 a week budget, I will be able to send my remaining freelance pay for the year (about $1800) directly to my IRA for 2015. That will be less money that comes out of the savings account come tax time next year, so that is good.

$3,000 off the mortgage

April 9th, 2015 at 09:17 am

Our tax refund came today and we sent 75 percent of it to the mortgage, a total of $3,000 to principal. When it posts, hopefully tomorrow, we should be down to $32,200. I'm trying to get this house paid off as fast as I can. Each $1,000 in extra knocks one month off the pay off time, so this is 3 months off!

They offered me more $

April 8th, 2015 at 08:43 am

Some of you may remember the drama surrounding my freelance income. I did the taxes, realized I wasn't making any money, so I put in my notice.

Yesterday, I get an email from the big boss asking me to name my price to stay on the weekly project. I'm supposed to be finished in two weeks, and this makes me think they haven't found a replacement.

It threw a wrench into my life, debating what to do. So, I ran the numbers, and even if they more than doubled the current rate, it still wouldn't be profitable after I paid the taxes. I'd still get "paid" more in the form of a tax refund if I didn't work. And, after childcare, I would still have to pay to work.

Ugh. This is so depressing!

So, after much thought, number-crunching, and crying to my mom, I stuck with my decision to leave. Of course, I'm now convinced that at the last minute they're going to beg me to stay on for a another month because they clearly have no plan B.

If you want to see the dirty depressing math of my situation, go back to my main page and scroll back a few posts. I've got it all laid out there.

tax thoughts

April 2nd, 2015 at 07:29 am

I'm finishing up the taxes, and the software does a year by year comparison. It's interesting.

First, we're accelerating our mortgage pay off. We hope to have the house paid off in 2017, about six years after we bought it. Even though the balance doesn't seem THAT much lower, we paid $1000 less in mortgage interest this year than last. This makes me happy because mortgage interest is money in the trash in my opinion.

And most strangely, as a household, we made $2000 more last year, despite my cutting my freelance income in half. Looks like DH has been getting bigger raises than I thought. Because I cut my freelance income our refund was $3000 more. I hate that there is a disincentive for two spouses to work!

Work problems and Your Money or Your Life.

April 1st, 2015 at 07:00 am

As some of you know, I put in notice at my main freelancing gig. It's a weekly article for the newspaper. I've been writing it for 6 years, and the pay has not gone up once. It was never a lot of money, but when I started I had just left the newspaper as a full time staffer and was home with two little kids. I naively thought that I would be welcome back to a full-time job once the kids got older. Alas, my boss has hired four people instead of me in that time, and only once briefly considered me, before backtracking because he essentially didn't want to hire a mom with childcare concerns. (I swear he is a nice guy in real life and probably doesn't even realize the gravity of those kinds of actions) So yes. This is the world we live in.

Anyway, I put in notice because after taxes (self-employment), I was only making about $25 on each article. Ouch. After I paid for childcare, I was paying to work. That was a cold hard fact to swallow. When I put in my notice, they said can we pay you to stay? Then immediately said sorry, we can't afford to pay anymore. Way to make you feel special for busting your butt to meet all those deadlines!

That is the end of my rant. All of this has made me seriously reevaluate work and my work life. I have to accept that giving this weekly gig up isn't just giving up a job. It's giving up a career. Journalism is dead. I mean, I work in the industry and even I can't remember the last time I paid to read the news. It's nothing but layoffs and no future. I'm 40, so I'm too young to just wait out retirement.

Although, I do still get editors calling me to write for them. I'm lucky in that I don't have to seek out work, it seeks me. I just wish it paid more. Which brings me to what I've been ruminating about.

Yesterday, another editor asked me if I wanted to write an article for a special monthly Sunday section. I've written for him before and I like him. The problem: The same crappy pay rate, for a story that requires more planning and more interviews. I filled with dread when I got the email. I used to be excited at the prospect of another check, another byline, etc. but I guess the thrill is gone.

I was debating whether I should say yes or no (Yes being, a check, and maintaining a good relationship with this editor in case I need work in the future. No, being low pay and more time working when I have other things I need to focus on: my novel, my kids, my garden, etc.)

I re-read part of Your Money or Your Life last night and it was a very poignant reminder that work is paid employment-- the small part of your life when you do something to earn money, and as such, you should seek to maximize what you earn for the hours you spend working.

So it all got me thinking. Maybe I should stop feeling so obligated to a company that offers me only low pay, no full-time gig, and shrugged shoulders when I quit.

Maybe instead of saying yes, I should just make it clear I'm only taking assignments that pay at a certain level or above. My level would be 2x what the weekly gig and this Sunday story pay. Those jobs do come along. I'm working on one for that rate now for a different editor, and another magazine within the company always pays me at that rate of higher. I Wouldn't be working nearly as often, but when I did take a story, I'd at least be making more for it.

Any thoughts?

I'm wrapping up my last few weeks at my weekly gig. I think I have four more articles to write before my time is up. I'm looking forward to moving on.