Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How I Gave Myself a $3,200 Raise

The economy’s down and money is tight. Food prices went up with gasoline prices, but didn’t come back down with them. The stock market’s tanking, 401k’s are devalued, and the easy money has dried up. With well over a million jobs cut this year alone – and more on the way – it’s a good time just to be thankful that you have a job; certainly not the environment to ask for a raise.

So don’t ask. Just take one. It’s not that hard, and you can make it as big or small as you decide. Here’s what we did:

Cell phone: Cat & I were paying $89 a month to have our 2 phones. We actually got rid of them 3 years ago, but I include them here because for most people the money is there to be had. But oh my! How can you live without a cell phone! Easy; the same way you used to live before you had one.

AOL: Why we ever used AOL in the first place I’m not sure, but we did for years. It’s completely unnecessary, unlike the $24.95 a month we used to pay for it.

DSL: In for a penny, in for a pound. That’s right, we no longer have internet service at any speed in our house. Still have it at work. Still have it at the library. Like the cell phone, you may shudder at the thought of giving it up. Have you ever asked yourself why? Do you realize how much time you waste surfing the internet? Do you realize how little value it actually brings you? Do you know how much money you could save without it? I do: $29.99 a month.

Cable/Satellite TV: Honestly, how much value does this bring into your home? “Deal or No Deal”? “Dancing With the Stars”? “The Biggest Loser”? You’re kidding me, right? The only thing I have missed at all is watching college football, but you know what? I’m still alive. Turns out I really don’t miss it that much after all. Don’t miss the $31.88 a month we used to pay for it either, because we’re keeping that now.

Long Distance: Is there really a reason to pay for a long distance plan when you don’t need to? Isn’t it nice to get a real letter in the mail every now and then? It doesn’t affect incoming long distance calls, and we can still “10-10-xxx” if we need to make one ourselves. In the meantime, we’ll use the $28 that we used to spend on long distance each month for something else.

Here’s how it all stacks up:

Item Monthly
Cell Phone: $ 89.00
AOL: $ 24.95
DSL: $ 29.99
Cable: $ 31.88
Long Dist: $ 28.60 (avg)
Total: $ 204.42

That comes out to $2,453 annually, and that’s conservative, because it does not include associated taxes, fees, surcharges, etc., associated with any of the above, nor does it include money spent for new phones, accessories, and the like.

But it’s important to remember that that $2,453 is post-tax money; raises are pre-tax. Assuming a 20% tax bracket (state & federal combined), my boss would have to give me a raise of $3,200 in order for my take home pay to go up by that much.

My boss can’t do that; so I did.

You may wonder, “What do we do without cell phones, TV, or the internet?” Well, interestingly, we do all of those things that we didn’t do when we did. We play games. We have conversations. We play (or learn to play) instruments. We do things outside. We read books. We go for walks. We watch movies from the library (free) or from Netflix (about $1 each over the course of the month). We get involved in community events. We fix, improve, repair, or replace all of those things that we didn’t have time to before. We . . . . well, you get the idea.

It’s really kind of nice.


I am Tammy, Welcome to my Farm said...

Now I know why Cat is no longer blogging. I have been missing her! Way to go on the cut backs - I wish everyone would look at the waste that is going out. As far as cell phones go...we went with the net 10 route. You get the phone at walmart and just pay for as little of minutes as you need. We pay only $33.52 tax included every three months. This gets our weekly long distance calls to parents. We usually still have minutes left over as well - No surprise bills! I feel safe traveling on the road with a phone in case of problems. We live on a farm and can't really walk for groceries and supplies.

Homehearts said...

Thanks for the eye opener about deeper cuts we could make. I think if we sat down and actually added up the savings and perhaps set a goal of what we would DO with the money, perhaps we would be more likely to make the cuts.

I was convicted after reading this as to how much time I am wasting watching mindless TV and piddling on the internet. My kids and home would benefit greatly by my giving up TV completely and curtailing internet to only answering emails and doing needed research.

I miss getting letters...REAL letters. I assume that all my friends who try to keep in touch with me through emails probably feel the same way. I decided to be the one to do a throwback to older ways and start writing letters again.

Thanks for the dose of good common sense. I'm encouraged now to put a pencil to it and see how much money we could appropriate for our own "raise" around here.


MamaHen said...

Way to go! I would love to do the same things your family has, but unfortunately I am out-voted around here. When hubby goes away on his long trips, I often have the satellite put on "vacation" mode, so we don't have it or watch it. Still can see the local news with the rabbit ears, though that will change soon.

But how nice to be able to "undigitize" yourselves, and save the money to boot!

Anonymous said...

Way to go with getting "unplugged"! Thanks for sharing about this. We are TV free, satellite free, only hubby has a cell phone(needs it with his job)...can't imagine life without the internet,though! I am housebound for now due to some health issues, so this is a necessity for the time being. Keep up the good writing.