Cutting A Paycheck In Half

In advance of my wife having our baby in May, we are starting to prepare financially for the new baby.
One of the things we are preparing for is for my wife leaving the workforce. She is going to be a stay-at-home mom. We had always agreed that when we started our family, that this would be the way. The main reason from a financial perspective is that she doesn’t make a lot in her field. She works in child care, and that isn’t a high paying profession. We did the math, and for her to work, and us send our child to day care, the net income would be less than $7,000 per year. We decided that wouldn’t be worth it.
Plus, since she’s already in child care, I have full confidence that at least one of us will know what we’re doing once the baby comes home. It still blows my mind that they’ll just let us take him/her with us afterwards!
Anyways, since we’re about two months out from when we expect her to stop working, we are phasing out her income. No, we’re not giving it back to the company, but we’re applying it right to savings rather than even let it hit our checking account. By the time that the last few checks come through, hopefully we’ll have ‘weaned ‘ ourselves of her paycheck, and the transition to a one-income family will be relatively seamless.
Wish us luck!

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Avoiding The Mess Left By The Snow Plow

It’s been a very snowy season here in Michigan. I think I saw a statistic on the news the other morning that we’ve already exceeded our average snowfall for the season, and we still have a couple of months to go!
Although I have a snow blower (compliments of my dad), the hardest part of our driveway is the mess left at the end after the snow plower goes through. Nothing drives me more crazy than cleaning off the entire driveway, only to have the plow come through and leave a huge pile of snow at the end of the driveway.
I decided to look and see if anything can be done, and it turns out that there IS a way to reduce the amount of snow left by the plow.
Most people clear off the area in front of their driveway. To ‘avoid the plow’, you need to take it one step further. Clear off the street on either side of the driveway. The reasoning behind this is that you will then create a ‘drop off’ area for the plow to drop off what has been collected so far. According to some of the reading I did, you should still get some snow left in front of the driveway, but at a greatly reduced level.
I decided to try that this year when possible, and it does work! My wife even commented last week after one of our many snowfalls that we had less snow in front of our driveway than other neighbors, even though the plow had come during the day while we were both at work. I proudly told her that because of the little bit of extra work I did the evening before, it was indeed a lot less of a mess. Going out and cleaning up the little bit that was there was a breeze, compared to what it would have been had I not.
So, for those who have to shovel snow, my suggestion is to make an investment in your time in order to save some time later.

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Was This Fraud Or Plain Bad Cash Management? Does It Matter?

Many news outlets reported a Pennsylvania couple that is now in jail because they spent a $175,000 bank error. Essentially the bank credited them $177,250 for a $1,772.50 error. By the time the bank traced the missing money to the couple, the money was in the process of being spent, and the couple was arrested.
Their answer to the charge: They didn’t realize it was an error. According to the wife, her husband often deposited large checks due to his profession (roofer) and so they thought it was normal.
HUH?!?
I have a hard time believing that you wouldn’t notice this as maybe a little unusual. After all, I doubt that the husband was putting a new roof on the Taj Mahal, in which case maybe the amount would be justified.
Still, it got me to thinking. What if they REALLY didn’t know it was an error?
Could you imagine how bad your cash flow management would have to be to not realize that you had $175,000 more than you were supposed to have. The thought alone makes me shudder!
Think about that. You would have absolutely no idea how much money you had at any given time. I can’t even imagine that.
After all, my personal story to this regard comes about four years ago. I was let go from a job, but the imagine my surprise when the company kept direct depositing paychecks into my account! I noticed it within hours of the deposit. I contacted them and let them know the error. They actually kept making deposits for three pay periods. I was never tempted to spend it and I let them know every time that I was still collecting paychecks even though I wasn’t working there.
Finally, they came and asked me to send them the money. I actually used the fact that I had notified them promtply and repeatedly to negotiate an agreement where I got to keep a portion of the money for my ‘troubles’.
Still, the point is that I couldn’t possibly imagine being taken by surprise by this situation, let alone one that resulted in an ‘extra’ $175,000 appearing in my account.

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Wasting Money On Poorly Timed Traffic Lights

The first electric traffic light was installed around 1920 in response to numerous accidents as the automobile picked up in popularity. Since then, there have been hundreds of thousands of traffic lights installed as well as a lot more intricate technology.
In the 1990’s, the county where I live began implementing a new type of traffic control system. At most major intersections, they began installing cameras or pavement sensors to detect traffic. The purpose is to adjust the timing on traffic lights based on traffic at the intersections. It is designed to adjust traffic during high volume times, as well as to avoid people sitting at intersections where there is no traffic, yet wasting gas because of a red light.
For the most part, the statistics show that these systems have helped relieve congestion versus a standard traffic light system that changes on fixed intervals. I can see the benefit at times, though there have been some frustrating areas.
One thing that drives me nuts is how the system deals with gaps in traffic. The system is designed to sense a gap in traffic, and change the light if there is traffic waiting to go the other way. In theory this makes sense, but I think it can be improved. Right now, the system detects gaps via cameras placed near the intersection, and it can sense the number of cars at or near. That’s great most of the time, but I wish that they would take it one step further and place sensors further away from the lights. This way, the system would know what’s coming.
I’ll illustrate why I think this could be an improvement. There have been times where a gap is created because of someone driving a little slow, or someone who pulls out of a side street or business, and hasn’t gotten up to full speed. The sensors see only the break and change the light, but as a result, a whole line of traffic gets stopped. I think that if the system had knowledge of what’s further back, it may be able to allow more traffic through at a time. The system could anticipate as well as react.
The other thing I wish they would do is consider reducing the number of lights in operation during non-rush hour times. Obviously, lights at major intersections need to run all the time, but it’s the other lights that drive me nuts. The lights around subdivisions or shopping centers are the two most common types.
I can understand having many of these lights operate during high traffic times, but how many times have you been stopped at a light that could easily be a blinking yellow for 16 hours per day? I know some might say I’m being impatient, but I see that it’s a waste of money if people have to spend time idling and burning gas unnecessarily.
Hopefully the technology for these ’smart’ traffic light system improves and saves time and money for drivers.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.