Well, October was a month full of surprises, to say the least. We had a number of annual expenses which were going to stretch the budget to begin with, then we had to replace the tires on my car, we got a much bigger reimbursement check for our trip to my spouse’s conference than we expected, the blog made its first income, and the contracting job I’ve been doing for the past 4 years abruptly ended. It was a roller coaster indeed.
I’m happy to report though that despite all the ups and downs, we managed to spend less than we earned last month (generally thanks to that reimbursement check) and we did not have to touch the emergency fund at all. These numbers are going to look very high (and they are) but they are inflated by the reimbursement check and the ad revenue (the ad revenue was snowflaked, inflating the outflow number too):
- We earned $4980.09 in October
- We spent/put into long term savings $4823.11 in October
- We need to carryover $134.88 for irregular expenses to the November budget
- That leaves a surplus of $22.10
So we managed to have a very small surplus this month after all. That surplus, like all surpluses, will be snowflaked to our credit card debt after my spouse’s second November paycheck (usually after the first paycheck but since this is a three paycheck month we are treating the first paycheck as the “extra” one).
This month we snowflaked a huge amount. We snowflaked $787.70 to our credit card. $125 of that was budgeted as part of the normal $200 payment I make every month. The other $613.70 was a combination of the September surplus (~$82) and alternative income that came in, most of it ad revenue and about $40 in survey payments.
So, with the loss of my contracting income, how is our strategy changing? Well, for now, not much is changing. We are sticking to the extra paycheck strategy for November of snowflaking about $350 of it, saving $500 for Christmas presents/travel, and $500 into our general budget for groceries and other expenses for the two weeks that paycheck covers. I am hoping not to have to spend much of the $500 in our budget for expenses and then what remains will go into our emergency fund at the end of the month to offset any Christmas overages. In January, we will reassess and decide if any that remains will stay in our emergency fund or get snowflaked to debt. We are also going to continue to snowflake survey income, at least for November. I already have earned about $80 in survey-related income that should get paid to me in November for snowflakes. In December we will reassess that as well.
We are also making two changes to my spouse’s paycheck. First, we are increasing his withholding by one. We have his withholding artificially high to offset the fact that I don’t get taxes taken out of my contracting pay. That way I don’t have to make as high of estimated tax payments throughout the year because part of that is taken care of week to week by his paycheck. Well, without that contracting income, we don’t need that buffer and I’d rather have the money in hand versus waiting until the IRS refunds it to us. This will make up some of the money we are losing from my contracting work ending. If I quickly find a new work-at-home contracting position we can always readjust his withholding again, or I can increase my estimated tax payments. The other change we are making will take away a little of that adjustment – we had planned to increase my spouse’s 401K contribution from 4% to 5% at the beginning of the new year (and then to 6% in May if he receives his annual raise, 6% is the maximum that gets the employer 20% match) and we are still going to do that. The match my spouse gets is not huge (20% of what he contributes) but it is still a good amount and free money we are leaving on the table. So we want to take full advantage of that, and we are still planning to.
I have started to look into finding a new contracting position, and will continue to do that. Hopefully something pans out to bring in at least a little extra income, either through another legal coding position or maybe online tutoring. I’m also tossing about in my head starting another blog, not exactly for its earning potential, although maybe eventually it’d earn some ad revenue, but I’ve been thinking about it for a little while now. I often have ramblings about parenting and my kids floating in my head that are a little too off-topic for this blog so I’ve thought about creating a blog for them. We’ll see.
Anyhow… it was an exciting month, to say the least. All I can say is thanks to our being proactive about our debt in recent times and also all of our budgeting and penny-tracking, we are much better prepared to deal with the unexpected loss of my income than we would have been 6 months ago. Whew. On to November!