Tax Rates, Paychecks, Overtime, and Road Trip

April 20, 2012 at 10:53 am (overtime, paycheck) (, , )

I got my paycheck today and as always, it was about $50 from what I expected it to be. I finally found out why! Overtime is taxed at a higher rate than regular hours! Thank you to my friend in accounting that finally explained that. I’ve always had a varying discrepency with my paycheck. I calculate my 401K deduction(6%), I subtract my health care contribution (10% per paycheck or $51), then try to multiply by what I calculate is my taxable rate, which seems to change from paycheck to paycheck!!! Not knowing until today that regular hours and overtime hours are taxed at differing rates has always stupified me!!! Now I finally know why.

This paycheck today is abysmally small. It’s only for a 10 day period, and there is precious little overtime. So it’s on the low end of what I typically get paid. Unfortunate, sad, and potentially disasterous unless I remain vigilant about my spending until May 4 (my next pay check which as you’ll soon see is going to be a humdinger). I’m managing my new budget under a microscope, and as I just posted about, I’m trying to reduce my lofty idealized expectations of how much I can afford to save and how much I can afford to pay towards debt. Both have shrunken from what I want to spend, and with this even smaller-than-usual paycheck I just received, it’s going to be that much more of a struggle. I guess I’ll take it as a lesson in humility and learning some lessons on creative budgetting! Maybe it will make me look at my food spending and throw in some extra frugal meals like soups and rice and beans, etc etc (now doesn’t that sound boring?).

Balancing my tiny paycheck today is the ginormous amount of overtime I’ve been working this week. I have had several 12 hour+ days already this week. It’s exhausting, and mentally draining, and makes me not have time to cook or prep lunches for the next day, and makes me want to not get out of bed, but in the long run, overtime makes me happy. I wish it was something more controllable, but it’s not. It’s all driven by clients and circumstances. I am responsible for closing the building I work in 2 nights a week. If jobs go long, I have to stay and wait for staff to return. Sometimes we have after hour jobs. I love those! They are great overtime opportunities for relatively little effort. This week is a cornicopia of overtime, but the last 2 weeks were a famine. Nothing I can do about that except be available and desirous of working long hours. Luckily I have very little other competition for this among my coworkers. Yeah me!  I guess I’m the only one without a life.

I normally average about 3.5 hours of overtime per week (due to my closing responsibilities) – when I stay until at least 6 or 6:30 twice a week. I have to be available 8:30-5 to answer the phones (I’m the main point of contact with the outside world), so anything that makes me stay late is gravy. As I can’t come in any later (remember, I have to be in by 8:30), I just have to stay longer. When I have nights that allow me to stay until 7, 8, or 9 pm, it’s a slog, yes, but the overtime hours are yummy. Getting paid time and a half for every hour over 40 that I work (and double for any jobs that happen between midnight and 5 am, which does occur occasionally) is so financially satisfying! Being able to get paid 4 hours minimum at overtime rates when sometimes i only have to drive in to work during off hours and weekends and be in the building 30 minutes to 1 hour is so awesome. It can suck not having time to do anything but grab some grub (quickly), and go straight to bed, but it’s a small sacrifice. This week alone I will have 12 hours of overtime!!

So. Back to this month’s finances. My yummy overtime paycheck (probably $300 more than I typically get) won’t be until May, so I have to make do with scrooge-like proportions. I’m also planning a road trip to eastern washington to take some photos. I have planned it already and I’m taking a friend who’s up for the 16-18 hour day!!! 4 hours to drive to the area I like to photograph, each way, plus 6 hours photographing, plus down time to snag a meal or two. It will be a long day. And expensive. I estimate $90 – $110 in gas. Then I will come back and have several rolls of film to process at $6 a pop – it’s a special larger format size, different than 35mm film (it’s called medium-format), which takes 12 images per roll and costs a lot of money, both to buy ($5/roll + $6/roll to process). Basically it costs about $1/image. And there are only 2-3 places in Seattle that process it. I have a show in July that I have to prepare for, so this is the fun part – going and taking photos. Then comes the financial drain of processing the work, and going to a lab and working on them and printing them (and paying for the time and ink to do so). $$$$$ Expensive. So I will be cutting into my debt payment a bit this month.

I was gonig to celebrate sticking to my frugal lifestyle this last 2 weeks, and get a nice dinner and a bottle of wine tonight. But UGH, that costs a lot! I may stick with a less expensive cut of steak, but I think I’m going to continue to avoid buying any wine for a few weeks. I’ve already stopped myself from getting wine to go with dinner several times in the weeks prior, and I’ve been totally ok with that. 

Road trip – 1
Finances – 0

debtmaven out


1 Comment

  1. Tammy said,

    Hey DM! I love overtime too! My next paycheque will have well over $400 on it. I wish I could put it straight to my travel fund but I bought patio furniture without saving for it first (which I don’t regret, it looks great on my balcony and has already gotten good use and will get tons more when we actually get some spring and summer here) so it has to go to paying that off.

    Enjoy your road trip. I’m off to Costa Rica for a week leaving this Saturday.

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