Monday, February 27, 2012

Asking my boss for a raise

If you knew me, you'd find I'm one of the quietest people you've ever met. I am an introvert. I rarely speak up in fear I'm going to make a fool of myself. Sadly it seems like if I have one of those rare feelings of confidence and blurt out what I'm thinking, I usually wish I'd just kept my mouth closed.

That's why I'm scared to do what I'm planning on doing. I am going to ask my boss for a raise. Gulp! My co-workers have been encouraging me to do so ever since I was thrown into a new position last Fall. They are currently doing annual reviews for the "real" employees (I'm just a temp), and so far it sounds like people are happy with their raises. I currently make $13.40 an hour. My co-workers are very careful not to say what they make, but I think they make somewhere in the range of $17-$21/hour. So I was thinking of maybe asking for $14.75 an hour. Is that too much? It would be about a 10% raise if I got it.

I'm doing more than the guy I replaced. I was given about 6 hours for him to train me in because he left without much notice (he was a temp worker as well, so he probably figured he didn't need to give a 2 week notice). However he did tell me he was given a raise when he was put in my position and he also said he made $14.85 an hour (he didn't really give a crap because it was his last day, so he offered information like that without me even asking).

Gas prices reached $3.69 today so if it takes about 2 gallons of gas to drive to work round trip each day, it's almost $8 just to get to work. After income taxes that's almost a hour of my pay. And speaking of gas prices, I'm sick of stressing myself out over pennies. I consider myself a very frugal person so I try to time the gas prices correctly only to be frustrated because I think they're going to go down, so I wait a day only to see them jump up another 10 cents a gallon. Or if I do fill up, it seems like the prices will naturally decrease the next day and then I kick myself for having bad timing.

Last week I had a coupon for 50 cents off yogurt that I forgot to use when I checked out. Sad to say, that little screw up ruined my day. I get angry with myself if I miss an opportunity to save money even if it's a few cents. I stress over little things like gas, being a smart shopper who only buys stuff when it is on sale and using coupons.  I'm not saying bargain shopping is bad, but will it really make a big difference in my financial future whether or not I saved that 50 cents on the yogurt? Is it worth being bummed out and mad at myself the rest of the day if I'm not perfect in being a smart shopper.

I need to start thinking about earning more money rather than saving it by getting bargains. There is only so much we can cut back on before our quality of life suffers.  I  try to make "money" online by doing things that only bring a few pennies each day such as MyPoints and Swagbucks. But, I need to think bigger. To try to motivate myself to be brave enough to ask for the raise, I calculated how much extra money I could be making.

Current: $13.40/hour = $27,872/year (based on 40 hour work week)
Proposed: $14.75/hour = $30,680/year

That's more money than I made at that job last year even though I worked overtime almost every Saturday between January and April of last year. I need to keep telling myself it is a $2,808 decision. Even if I only get a 50 cent raise, that's still $1,040 a year! Maybe then I won't be so hard on myself when I realized I should have filled up yesterday.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Standard Deduction vs. Itemized Deduction on Income Tax

I had recently read an article and it mentioned something about taking the "standard deduction" instead of deducting things such as your mortgage interest etc. I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about taxes, but I thought I'd look into this and see if it would be beneficial to go the standard deduction route in the future.

I found out that the standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly is $11,600 for 2011 (check out the Wikipedia page on standard deductions for other filing statuses). At first I was thinking we would for sure be better off taking the standard deduction next year because we would be paying just $8,556 in mortgage interest this year due to getting rid of that second mortgage last year and refinancing our first mortgage. Last year we paid $11,019.

We did this year's taxes with TurboTax, so I figure they would make the decision of whether to go with the standard or itemized deductions for me. I took a look at our return and it did itemized deductions. But I didn't realize how much you could deduct - the largest being state income tax. Other things it deducted were property tax, license plate tabs and gifts to charity. For 2011 our itemized tax deduction was $19,104. I estimate that this year's eligible tax deductions will be about $16,641 assuming everything except the mortgage interest stays the same. We will pay $2,463 less in mortgage interest this year (yay!), but at a 25% tax rate, we will pay an additional $615 in tax this year (boo!). But even with the extra tax, we will be saving a net total of $1,848!

Anyway, getting back to which deduction to take, with a estimated $16,641 in tax deductions available in 2012, it looks like we will continue to do the itemized deductions until the itemized gets below the standard deduction of $11,600 (or whatever it is in the future because it generally increases slightly each year).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Money Updates

We did our taxes last week and would you believe even after having them take out an additional $50 for Federal taxes out of my weekly paychecks for the last 17 weeks of 2011 (which totaled $850), we still owed even more money! We owed $300. At least I over estimated how much we owed the state and got a small refund of $130. I think part of the problem is my husband is claiming a "2" on his W4, and our combined household income just barely surpassed the 6-figure mark for the first time ever! I don't know if we'll earn as much this year because I am not getting any overtime and my husband's bonus will be less this year because sales are down.

Well it looks like I may not have to save $20K by September 1 after all. A couple weeks ago we had a guy knock on our door and it just so happened he was selling windows and siding. My husband said he would be interested in replacing just our basement windows at this time. With the off-season discount, replacing our 3 basement windows is going to cost us $4,200. We already have that amount saved! So, I'm not sure if I should continue to save. I guess the only thing I'd do besides save cash is put money into my Roth IRA. We recently refinanced our mortgage to a new 25 year loan at 4.5%, so even though we still owe more than our house is worth, I've going to leave it alone for now. Besides the interest is tax deductable. I might compromise and put $2,500 (half of what I'm eligible for) in the IRA and then still save up cash for maybe the rest of the windows next year or to replace our vehicles when the time comes.

In other news we were recently victims of bank fraud. I woke up one morning to find we only had $4.23 in our joint checking account. Someone 300 miles away withdrew $500 from the account! We filed a fraud report and a couple weeks later got it resolved. But it was no fun to call the banks and hassle with them asking if we were being too careless with our personal information. We also closed the account just to be safe and then had to go through the hassle of changing all our monthly automatic withdrawals to a new account. When they finally resolved the issue the bank didn't say what happened. Our last name is not that common, but my husband has a distant relative who lives in the same area that the money was withdrawn from with the same first and last name. I didn't notice until I did a Google search and found an obituary that listed the family's names that this relative married someone with my first name! What are the odds? So now there is another couple with our exact names out there. We kind of think because of this that the bank made an error. Hopefully we won't have to deal with this name issue again. I wonder how often this happens to the Smith’s.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - January Results

Here are my January numbers for my extra cash challenge.

Advertising for my blogs: $91.71
Amazon affiliate: $5.58

Total made for January: $97.29
Last month: $151.69
Difference from last month: -$54.4

I did not get around to listing anything on Ebay like I had planned last month.  I also have absolutely no income from the part time job in the month of January. I also have the worst month of blog advertising since last April.  So overall, I didn't do a great job last month.  I can attribute some of it to laziness, but some of it like how much work my part job gives me is out of my control. I need to get back on track with making closer to $300 extra a month like I was a few months ago.