So, in the first month of unemployment, how did the budget fare?
Net income was $550.32.
Net outgo (including $325 to the self-escrow account for homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, and property taxes, and $200 to monthly savings) was $1,636. Since that $200 to savings didn’t actually go away, we could say net outgo was really $1,436.
January’s cash flow: –$886
Well, it’s not as dire as it looks. First, I have a $10,000 cushion, so I’m not bouncing any checks yet. Second, I started with $$4,500, the amount accrued by December 31 from my last paycheck and vacation pay. So in terms of dollars that were actually in the account, we have $4500 + 550 – 1436, allowing us to argue with some plausibility that the actual cash flow was a positive $2,514.
The problem with that argument, of course, is that we now have used up almost half the original bankroll, and we still don’t know whether enough cash will come in to cover expenses.
I have yet to see a Social Security check. Because I have no accurate way of knowing what the tax gouge will be, I can only estimate that it will be around $1,000. But in every other case so far, the estimated tax bite of 20% has been a bit on the optimistic side.
And I still have no idea what a full paycheck from the community colleges will look like. January’s munificent net of $161 (!!) was for only two sections, since one started “late”—a week after the first day of classes. And it was, I think, for only one or two days of each section. I had hoped that the fare for three sections would be around $800 to $900. Two of those a month would keep the wolf from the door, and if I actually manage to keep my expenses around $1,400 to $1,600, during the few months when the college is disbursing two full paychecks, it would cover almost all my expenses. The Social Security money, then, could go into savings to cover the high-cost summer months and the six-week winter break.
In the fall, one of my classes is an eight-week session. This means that for half the semester, I will be paid for only two sections; in the other half, I’ll be paid for three sections, with one at an accelerated schedule. Net pay over 16 weeks will be the same, but for half the 16 weeks, I’ll be just barely scraping by.
Clearly, the strategy of cobbling together a living from several piddly sources is not something that can be done without a substantial base to use as a cash cushion. If no major expenses happen, at the end of the year I’ll probably come out about even, maybe as much as a thousand dollars ahead. But it’s going to be close. Very close.
And the car, house, and pool had better keep running without a hitch…