I’m Anxious To See What My Paycheck Will Look Like

Tomorrow is payday.  I’ve been at my current job for over five years and haven’t gotten a raise in three years running.  So, you’d think I would know exactly what my paycheck will look like…but I don’t.

Why?

Because we made two significant changes on our health care plan that will take effect beginning the first of the year.  Normally we get paid on the 15th and 31st, but because the 15th falls on a Sunday, payday is the Friday before…or tomorrow (yikes, just realized it’s Friday the 13th!).

The changes we made were both tied back to the fact that we are not anticipating any major health care expenditures in 2012.   While there is always the case of a major cost item taking place (for which we have an emergency fund), we had significantly higher costs in 2011 due to the planned birth of our baby daughter, which took place in June.  Knowing that we were going to incur that major expense, in 2011 we were on the highest tier plan and also contributed a significant amount to our Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to cover the projected out of pocket costs.

Since we aren’t anticipating a major cost, we went back down to the mid-range health plan and also reduced our FSA contribution signifcantly.

My guess is that this will result in a net paycheck increase of around $50.  Once the dust settle, I’ll put any extra towards a split of increased 401(k) contributions as well as beefing up a few saving categories that have been needing some attention.

It’s not a windfall by any means, but the fact that my paycheck will be going up slightly is something I haven’t seen in a very long time.  So, though the base salary amount is staying the same, I’m still a bit excited.

Is your paycheck amount changing for better or worse this year?

 

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Being Mean Is OK, I Guess, According To AT&T

My least favorite ad on TV these days is an ad for AT&T advertising free mobile-to-mobile minutes with the purchase of a messaging and data plan.  Or something like that.

The commercial is basically a guy bursting in to tell his wife that he just signed up the entire family for unlimited minutes.

She replies, sarcastically, saying “Great, and how are we supposed to pay for that?” and proceeds to berate him for making such a costly decision without consulting her, ending her rant by basically saying that she never should have married him.

And this is supposed to make me want to buy AT&T products?!?

The rest of the commercial is the guy trying to defend himself by telling her that they were free, but at that point I don’t even remember the rest, because it’s so irritating and off-putting to me.

I don’t think every commercial should be filled with images of boats and friends and noodle salad, but do we really need to be shown the idea of spouses being spiteful and mean to one another as a message for selling cell phones?

Count me out.

What commercials get on your nerves?  

Footnote: My second least favorite these days is the Master Card ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ commercial where Ray Romano ‘surprises’ a customer using her Master Card, who is making a behind-the-scenes donation to cancer research with each card swipe.  I’m all about donating to cancer and trying to knock it out, so in their case, the message is perfect.   I just don’t like Ray Romano!  *lol*

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How Can 62 Students Fit In A Classroom?

The Detroit Public School system is one of the worst in the country.  It has horrible dropout rates, low test scores, and has been plagued with corruption for years and years.  The poor school system is one of the many things that gives the city of Detroit (and the surrounding region) a terrible reputation.

For years, many leaders have pledged to turn things around and improve the system.  Instead, it’s never happened.  There is optimism in the leadership trio of Robert Bobb (the emergency financial manager for the district), Dave Bing (the recently elected mayor of Detroit) and Rick Snyder (the newly elected governor of Michigan, who has said that a healthy Michigan *has* to include a healthy Detroit, including schools).

Bobb recently presented a fact that if the current projections of enrollment and funding hold true, the school district will be forced to close half of it’s schools in the next four years.  This would result in high school classrooms with as many as 62 student.

My wife brought up a good point that most classrooms, as built, would be ill equipped to handle that large number of students.

Now, Bobb went on to say that there’s no way this should ever be allowed to happen, and was using it as a ‘doomsday’ example to try to get additional funding, more favorable financing of existing debt, better cooperation from the state and local governments, etc.  He’s throwing the numbers out there, but as a scare tactic.  What’s even more scary is that they are based on actual numbers, not pie in the sky projections.

I think everybody knows that the school system can’t turn around with class sizes that large.  No high school can handle that, let alone high schools with some of the most troubled kids in the country.  Everybody knows that this can’t happen.  I think Bobb was throwing the message out there as a first step to ensure that it doesn’t happen.

The poor school system is one reason that millions have fled Detroit for the suburbs or have left Michigan altogether.  Without a good school system, many continue and will continue to avoid Detroit and the metro area.  The trio I mentioned above seem to be cooperating and on the same page in ways that I haven’t seen in my lifetime.

I just hope it translates into results.

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Looking For Some Additional Side Income

Our neighborhood recently launched a new web site for the neighborhood, to inform residents about neighborhood happenings, improvements, news, and anything else worthy.

They have a couple of cool features.  One is an area where you recommend (or warn about) contractors that have performed work that you’d like to spread the word about.  Since so many of these places depend on word of mouth for their business, I like the idea.  It’s like a mini (and free) version of Angie’s List.

The other area that they have is for classifieds.  You can post things for sale or services offered.  One neighbor on the next street over is fairly handy, and has posted a couple of ads about things he can do.  It got me to thinking and I decided to post an ad of my own.

I’ve always been somewhat of a techie.  For a number of years, my job was hands on setting up computers, networks, printers, desktops, servers, and the like and I’ve always been known by my friends as someone they can turn to for advice or help.  While I’ve gotten more into the project and strategic management in my career, and while my own computers aren’t by any means new, I still consider myself fairly adept at being able to handle some of the basics.

So, I put a short ad out there offering basic computer services, things like virus removal, upgrades, wireless network setup, and the like.  We’ll see how it goes, but I found it encouraging that the person that manages the website wrote back and said that, in addition to acknowledging the ad, she needed some work done. So, I already have my first ‘customer’ lined up!

Even a few hours a month would be nice to have a couple of extra bucks come our way.  My wife asked ‘What would you do with the money?’ Honestly, I didn’t have an answer, because I wanted to first see if anybody would even be interested, so I didn’t want to spend money I wasn’t sure would even be earned.

Stay tuned!

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