Home > $700 to mortgage, career ponderings.

$700 to mortgage, career ponderings.

February 8th, 2013 at 09:15 pm

I got paid today for some freelance work, so I went to the bank and paid $700 directly to the principal of the mortgage. I can't wait for it to post. We make the regular payment next friday, which is payday, so that will be more off the balance. I just didn't want to wait another week to lump the payments all in together. It's too easy for money to be absorbed back into the checking account.

I also sent another $150 check to my IRA, plus a $362 check from earlier this week (paid for a late gig last year). I do like the new goal structure of concentrating larger chunks on one or two goals rather than sending tiny bits to more goals and waiting so long to see results. It feels so much faster. instant gratification, I guess.

I'm getting ready to do the taxes this weekend. I'm still waiting on one or two of my 1099s. Anyway, I usually do some soul-searching career wise once I see how my freelance income (1099) impacts our tax burden. I write A LOT of articles as a freelance journalist, but the fee per story is small, and this may be the year that it's not worth doing so many when my after tax income is so pathetic. I have one gig I'm thinking of dropping due to that.

This particular job: I write one column a week for $100 pre-tax, and the job requirements have increased significantly ( I now have to either photograph the topics myself or secure good photos they can run, which doesn't sound like a big deal, but considering the time it takes to do that, plus interview and write the story, plus the frustration, it's fast becoming way too much work for the money). So yeah...

I've contemplated dropping this gig in the past, but have waffled. Partly, I feel like I have to take all the work I can get given the economy and the state of the industry. Second, we're trying to pay off the house and put away for college, and pay for daycare, and even though it's not a lot of money, it adds up.

On the other side, I could probably make up the money through other jobs-- ones that paid more per assignment, but weren't guaranteed, and didn't pay regularly. I also have a finished but unedited novel that I never have time to work on. Of course, that doesn't pay, but it's my avocation rather than vocation, so that argument is money versus self actualization.

So yeah, pros and cons. I guess if it turns out I'm busting my bottom and I'm only clearing $30 a week for that assignment, it really will become not worth it any more. Any thoughts?

26 Responses to “$700 to mortgage, career ponderings.”

  1. NJDebbie Says:

    Nice job on reducing your mortgage balance. My goal for 2013 is to have a balance of $50K.

  2. sarah Says:

    Snowflakes do tend to melt, even big ones.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Great job on making that mortgage payment. Can raise your rate for that gig? I can't say I would balk at netting $30 a week, think of how much $120 a month is in terms of your mortgage or college. Of course, if you don't like it, you don't like it and it is okay to let it go.

  4. ThriftoRama Says:

    I can't raise the rate. In journalism, publications have a set budget and there is no just asking for more. They'll either fire you and find someone who is willing to do it, or just forget it and let a staffer write it. The industry is in decline, and rates overall have been stagnant or falling for the past 10 years.

    Anyway, to answer your thought on $30 a week. Sure, that sounds great on the surface, but when you look at how much work I'm doing that would be what, 1.50 - $2/ a hour? For a professional, college-grad level job? And I'm turning down more occasional, but easier and better paying, lower-stress projects? That is the rub. Sure, I could keep it, but should I? Opportunity cost plus pay after taxes might be out of whack. When I'm always stressed out and short on time, I have to weigh the worth.

  5. ceejay74 Says:

    I get that. There was a point where we would take any income opportunity, no matter how small the actual return for the effort. But we recently decided AS should take far fewer freelance gigs. Her full-time job plus the kids is exhausting enough. There are still things we'd like to do that require more money, but we've decided we're doing OK enough to start being pickier about side hustles.

  6. creditcardfree Says:

    It does sound like it might be better to pass on that job, if you have better opportunities available that would be more lucrative.

  7. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I think for the amount of work you're putting in, that $30/wk is not a gig to keep. If the $30/wk meant the difference between your family eating and not eating, then that might be different.

  8. ThriftoRama Says:

    I've been thinking about it all day. I'm going to finish the taxes then run some scenarios adjusting my income. It appears like we're in a situation where it literally pays not to work. My freelance income of a measly $16,000 pretty much took us from a $6,00 refund to owing more than $1000, so really, just I really only 'made' $9,000 for all that work. More than 120 articles this year. And that doesn't even count the child care. Doesn't seem worth it.

  9. rob62521 Says:

    Second what Frugal Texan wrote...sounds like a lot of bother for little chump change.

  10. MonkeyMama Says:

    Did you run your tax return with a SEP IRA contribution? Put it into your retirement instead of handing it over to the government?

    Also, to be fair, the reason you are being so highly taxed is due to spouse's income. Would it help you to think about it as his tax? (That it should come from his income?) IT could be a fair way to look at it. Though I totally understand it is the bottom line that matters.

    If you think there is some benefit in the long-run to working for $2/hour..., but overall is not something I think I would *ever* do. My time sure is worth more than that - if I need money, I'd rather go get a minimum wage job. Unless it is just a temporary stepping stone.

    Overall I am in the "why work your butt off for pennies?" camp. IT was literally my spouse would have been working full time to bring home about the $10k per year, when our first child was born. His gross was $50k. That would be $10k FULL TIME. That's crazy. If you only made $9,000, I bet you could come up with that in MUCH EASIER ways. Even if you put most that energy to cutting costs versus earning more income. Or 50% of the energy to cutting costs and 50% to maximizing what you do earn.

    You've already figured the tax savings, which is often quite huge.

    You need to read some Money Mustache. Seriously. Big Grin (Or maybe you have been??)

  11. MonkeyMama Says:

    P.S. If you were going to have a $6k refund without your income, that means if you stopped working you could lower spouse's withholdings by $500/month. That's $500/month more in your hands.

  12. ThriftoRama Says:

    I only brought in about 16,000 last year, so the sep-ira wouldn't help. The 20 percent would be less than the 5000-5500 I could put in an ira, right?

  13. MonkeyMama Says:

    Yes, but you can put the money into a SEP in addition to an IRA. IT's either that or give more to the government. It's tax efficient to max out a SEP. I get the feeling you have money in taxable funds that you can shift over? I'd think in your situation it would be a bit of a no-brainer.

    Run it through your tax software.

  14. ThriftoRama Says:

    I thought the SEP-IRA and my IRA were either or. Are you saying I can do BOTH?? That could be a game changer for this whole thing.

  15. MonkeyMama Says:

    Yes, BOTH!

  16. ThriftoRama Says:

    You're blowing my mind. I've read over all the irs guides and there was nothing about being able to do both....

  17. MonkeyMama Says:

    YEs, we already had this conversation a while back - I told you you would be convinced when you did your taxes. Wink Seriously, just put it in Turbo tax or whatever tax program you are using. Have it calculate how much you can put into both. You will see.

  18. MonkeyMama Says:

    The middle class does not have a lot of deductions. Retirement is usually the biggie. Honestly, you could put a lot more into retirement if you set up a solo 401k. Probably kind of a perfect tool for your situation.

    Text is and Link is

  19. ThriftoRama Says:

    I just did the calculations on the fidelity site and looks like I might be opening a solo 401k soon. I could pretty much save ALL of it. That might make it worth it.

  20. MonkeyMama Says:

    The only problem is you would not be able to do so for 2012 - just to be clear. At least I don't think so. I think it had to be set up in 2012 to deduct in 2012? Just make sure to look into that part, but is a good plan going forward. The tax savings is obviously substantial, from what you have said.

  21. ThriftoRama Says:

    Yeah. It's too late to help me on the 2012 taxes, but still worth considering for 2013. I was just in turbotax and fiddled with adding a sep-ira, and it actually increased the tax I had to pay. Not sure what was going on there.

  22. Says:

    Aside from the SEP IRA, as someone who is self-employed, do you take all the deductions you're entitled to? It's a pain to fill out the extra form but it does provide important deductions that might make your smallish income more worthwhile.

    Maybe instead of working for someone who's going to 1099 you, maybe find more short-term, one-time gigs where you don't have to report the income.

  23. MonkeyMama Says:

    @Thrift - well that doesn't sound right!!

    Not reporting income because you did not get a 1099, is tax evasion. You are still supposed to report the income.

  24. ThriftoRama Says:

    Yeah. Patientsaver. I'm not interested in under the table. I'm not opposed to paying taxes. I believe in paying my fare share. The question is just is how can I make it worth the time and strain?

    And MM, I know right? I'm wondering if Turbotax had something screwy going on. Or, maybe it's only letting me deduct either the IRA OR the SEP.

    I've got some time to work it out before filing (still waiting on two 1099s anyway). If I decide the solo 401k is the way to go for this tax year, I might just bite the bullet this year, and skip the SEP, for simplicity.

  25. MonkeyMama Says:

    @Thrift - I was at a loss as to why you would not be able to do both SEP and IRA. Anyway, I am now at work with my tools. The reason is because if you have a "Retirement plan," then your income level is disallowing a regular IRA contribution. This income level/cutoff is much higher if you do not have a retirement plan. So, just a heads up that a solo 401k will produce the same problem.

    I just never thought about it or came across this. I know this from a W-2 standpoint, but most my clients who are self-employed have way too much income for a Traditional IRA contribution. I have probably never seen this situation with a Schedule C.

    It sounds like you can both max out ROTHs though?

    I also think you could be well served by a tax consultation. Not that I think you should pay someone to do your taxes every year. But to really sit down with a professional who can look at your entire situation - I think it could only help you. Might be worth paying for once every 5 to 10 years. As you see, there is nothing "simple" about it. Wink But I think you could likely be far more tax efficient.

  26. ThriftoRama Says:

    We could max out hubby's roth, not mine. (I'm maxed at 5500 contribution for BOTH ira and roth).

    I did run the numbers through turbotax with a solo 401k and it was much more advantageous tax-wise. It would let me stash about 17,000 in income away this year. The question is, can I afford to save that much, as my income mostly now goes to paying off the mortgage and paying for preschool.

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