Coffee heat rising

In the money happens department…

This is weird.

Yesterday I sent off my tax returns, bearing news to Uncle Sam of the startling amount of money I made last year. Think of this: even though my gross income in 2009 was 2.5 times what it will be in 2010, the net that I’m living on just now is more than my 2009 net!

Is that bizarre?

The only difference is that the university was withholding money for various “benefits.” Still, none of those cost as much as COBRA or Medicare—my health insurance cost me $36 a month, a far cry from the $220 I’ll have to pony up for Medicare, which will be absent dental insurance (about $5 a month at GDU). My ASU net was reduced by contributions to the 403(b), although not by very much. When my pay was not being cut $480 a month by GDU’s furlough strategy, take-home was $3,000 a month. Today…well, check this out:

That’s teaching three sections a semester, or six sections a year. This year, though, I’ve decided to cut back to two sections in the fall, so as to be sure not to offend the Social Security nabobs by exceeding that worthy entity’s earning limitation. So, what will happen in the fall?

Almost $430 less than I was earning at GDU…but still more than what, in full bag-lady syndrome mode, I budgeted to live on. The present monthly budget is $423 less than that:

Now, during the summer when there’s no teaching income, my net will fall way below budgeted expenses…at a time when expenses expand to fill all available space. However, because I’m spending way less than $1,625 in the winter, when I have to run neither the air conditioner nor the heat (and because the discounted COBRA is significantly cheaper than Medicare, which kicks in on May 1), I think there’ll be plenty to cover summer expenses and get by fine in the fall even without the third section of freshman composition.

I figure the five summer months will cost about $1,000 more, all told, than it costs to live through five cooler months. On average, I’ve spent about $222 a month less than I’ve been bringing in this winter. That means that by the end of March I’ll have about $667 saved from budget underruns. So, I need only another $333 to accrue the extra thousand bucks needed to cover the higher summertime water and electric bills; that is, in April and May I’ll need to come in $166.50 a month under budget. Even though bills will start to rise in April, I think that should be doable!

It boggles my little pea brain that I could be netting more than I earned at GDU by teaching three piddly classes of freshman comp, a chore that most weeks occupies significantly less than half-time. That wouldn’t be possible without Social Security…or would it? This year I’m not drawing down anything like 4 percent of savings. If I were, the net would be $600 more than the gross from Social Security! So in fact, you could argue that even without Social Security I would net more in less-than-semiretirement than I did while I was working full-time.

I don’t know whether this is a statement on how little Arizona State University pays its faculty (you net less than you would scrounging together a living with Social Security and $2,400/course adjunct teaching gigs???) or on my own obsessive saving habits. But it’s weird.

2 thoughts on “In the money happens department…”

  1. @ FS: I think it has something to do with taxes, among other things. Also the amounts that were withheld for dental care, health care, eye care, life insurance, short-term disability insurance, and long-term disabiilty insurance (all but one of which were purchases of air). No doubt if one were to get up off one’s duff and look at one of last year’s paychecks, there would be more. Still…even with all those rips, it’s pretty amazing, especially since I never paid the $800/year gouge for parking. How could all those dings and nicks bring your net pay down to the equivalent of net income for a person grossing less than half of ASU’s gross pay? Not that I’m complaining! I’ll take it…just sayin’: something’s not fair here.

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