Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's official, I got a raise!

I checked my pay stub online and as of tomorrow's paycheck I make 50 cents more an hour! It's not great, but every little bit helps!  Fifty cents an hour equals $1,040  a year.  So my yearly wage (assuming I don't take any days off because I still don't get paid vacation and sick time) would be $28,912. Oooh, so close to $29k.  I should be eligible for my regularly scheduled raise in August, so that should push it over the $29k mark.  Next goal: $30k. I did make over $30k last year because of overtime and if you included my side income. However, I'd love to make over $30k just from my regular 40 hours a week.

After taxes, the weekly pay check is about $15 more than before, so that means I'll be making about an extra $60 a month!  I want to use this extra money wisely, so if you haven't already, let me know what you would do with the extra money.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The 60 Things De-Cluttering Challenge

My sister let me know that she will be having a garage sale in a few weeks. This will be a nice opportunity to make some extra money and clean up the house a bit. I just donated some stuff to the Good Will about a month ago (and will get a bit of a tax deduction), so I already got rid of the stuff that was easiest to part with. Without looking, I can't really think of much to put in the garage sale.  Since participating in her garage sale will involve an hour drive each way and a day of volunteering to help, I want to make it worth it. So I am putting out a challenge to myself to find at least 60 items to sell in the garage sale. Hopefully 60 items will make it worth my time and the gas money to bring the stuff there. I have tried to de-clutter before, but I need to dig deeper!  I have been reading this blog once in a while called "Zen Habits" by Leo Babauta and he is a big believer in de-cluttering your environment to bring more peace in your life.  I've also read that getting rid of old stuff will help create space physically and metaphysically for more abundance. Over the next few weeks I will look around the house for what I can get rid of and will share my results on here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Help me decide what to do - vote now!

So as you might know, I finally got the news a couple weeks ago I will be getting a small raise. I still don't know how much it will be, but I should hopefully find out next Wednesday when my latest paycheck will be available to view online. I'm guessing it'll be 50 cents an hour.  Before taxes that will be about $80 a month, or roughly $50 after tax.

So I have been debating what to do with this extra money each month.  I was thinking I would increase my Roth IRA contribution from $200 to $250.  However, I looked at my balance yesterday and it had dropped $1,463 since my last net worth update which was only about a month and a half ago. To make matters worse, I had invested an additional $400 since then ($200 on April 15 and $200 May 15), so I really lost about $1,863 - which is about 8% of the value.  I know this can just as easily bounce back in a month, but I get frustrated when I see I lost more money than I make in a month at my job!

So another option that might be a little safer is to increase our mortgage payment.  We are paying 4.5% interest, so this would be like getting a guaranteed 4.5% return. If you look at my post about increasing your mortgage payment to save money on interest, you'll see increasing your extra payment from $100 a month (which we are already doing) to $150 per month would save us $7,856 over the course of the mortgage. It would also shorten the mortgage by 18 months.  That's an extra year and a half of no mortgage payment!

So what would you do?  Put the extra money towards the Roth IRA or the mortgage payment? Leave a comment below and I'll choose which ever one has the most votes by May 31st!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


It only took nine weeks, but my boss finally told me yesterday I will be getting a raise! The bad news is he didn't know how much. He said "starting this Monday you will be getting an increase". Of course it starts the week I'm gone and won't get paid at all. So I might have to wait until I actually see a paycheck to find out how much it is, and that paycheck won't be until May 24. But at least I know something is coming. I don't think it'll be as big as I was going to ask for if my boss had asked what I wanted, but at least it'll be something!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Extra Cash Challenge - April Results

Here are my results of my extra cash challenge from April 2012. I am pretty happy with my blogging results. The majority of the earnings still come from one blog. The second most popular blog dropped to $16.56. It was 26% of the earnings last month, and this month it is only about 8% of the earnings. On the plus side, I actually made a little money on this blog! Overall the extra cash challenge was a success since I got back up over $200 total. Here are the numbers:

(Very) part time job: $7.44
Advertising for my blogs: $197.48
Amazon affiliate: $8.85

Total made for April: $213.77

Last month: $188.06
Difference from last month: + $25.71

I'll have to try extra hard for May's extra cash challenge, because next week I'm going on vacation, and since I don't get paid time off, I'll be losing a whole week's worth of pay.  However, yesterday I got back one day's worth of salary by calling my local Internet provider.  Even though they advertise $19.99 per month Internet for new customers, they were charging us $60 a month.  I called them back in January to see what they could do for me. After they tried to get us to sign up for their phone service or any other extras they could come up with, they agreed to give us Internet for $39.99 a month.  The company is not know for their customer service, so not surprisingly, it didn't get updated on the next bill at the end of February.  I called them again and they said it would start the following month.  There was still no change in price on March's bill, but I really didn't feel like calling customer service, so put it on the back burner and waited for April's bill.  April's bill came and it was still $60, so I finally gave them a call.  At first they said they had no record, but the second person I talked to saw the new price on their records, so I wonder if the first one was lying or just looking in the wrong place.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I got them to back-date the new price, so I should (if they don't screw it up again) be getting an $80.04 credit on my account this next month.  And since $80 is one day's worth of work, now I feel like I'm only losing out on 4 day's worth of pay instead of 5. And if I consider I should be getting another eight months of Internet for about $20 less than they wanted to charge, that's like $160 in addition to that $80 - a total of $240 or 3 days pay just for one 20 minute phone call.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When is the market value assessment for property taxes determined?

After I wrote my last post about my concern about the market value of our house, I asked my aunt who is an appraiser when the values are determined. She says that the values are assessed every January and they are based on the sales from the previous year. So if I understand her correctly, the 2013 market value was determined by the 2011 sales. So that's a relief that the $40,000 drop in value is not necessarily a prediction of a further decline in value this year.  I also found a website for a different county that says:

The value notice for payable 2013 tax is based on:
The market value of each property on January 2, 2012. The January 2, 2012, market value was based on "open-market-sales" that happened between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011.
I'm starting to wonder if Eppraisal is actually more accurate than Zillow?  On September 17, 2011 Eppraisal valued our house at $165,161 and that falls at the end of the date range that the county used to determine our house's value.  The value our county came up with was $167,200, which is pretty close.

By the way, here is what Eppraisal came up for the value today:

The exact same value! I wonder how often they update the values on that site? However, the Zillow value has decreased since September.

So, I don't really have any conclusions other than it looks like our tax assessment uses somewhat outdated sales information.  I guess I'll have to wait until next year to see if it drops further.

I really had not planned on moving out of our house any time soon, but my husband came home from work the other day saying he wants to start looking for a job in his home town.  I hate to wish him ill-luck, but I hope he doesn't find anything too soon so our house value can bounce back up.  The houses in his home town were not as dramatically affected by the down housing market, so it wouldn't be like we'd get a great deal if we bought a new house there.