On small victories

I promised myself some time ago that, once my credit cards were all paid off, I would reward myself with a lightsaber. Well, I’ve held a $0 credit card balance for a few months now, minus a couple of reasonable things (I paid for the hotel last weekend on one of my cards, then came home and immediately paid it off) and … well, I haven’t ordered a saber yet, because I’ve managed to convince myself I’m still in the “research” stage, thus preventing me from dropping $500 on something that is the absolute pinnacle of “meaningless nerd cruft I don’t need.” Shit, I don’t even know if I like Star Wars any longer; one of the many ways the last several years have sucked is watching a number of things I used to love turn into even more entries into the “shit that makes me tired” category.

But I don’t want this to be another obnoxiously maudlin post; I want to focus on the fact that I am remaining (somewhat) financially disciplined by 1) not wantonly ordering a lightsaber today and further 2) determining that there must be at least twice the cost of said lightsaber in savings before said lightsaber is ordered. Which, okay, isn’t going to hold me for long, but kept me from spending money today.

The above, by the way, hasn’t yet achieved the status of “my lightsaber,” because 1) if it’s a fixed color, the blade is going to be yellow and 2) I’m serious about reading a ton of reviews and doing research here, because I am doing this once and I am not about to start a collection of these fucking things. It looks like the saber I had my eyes on when I first started thinking about this has been discontinued, as I foolishly didn’t bookmark it and now I can’t find the design anywhere, but I don’t want one that looks exactly like one of the official ones. It won’t be unique, of course, as these things are mass-produced, but I don’t want a fellow nerd to be able to look at it and recognize it as Plo Koon’s lightsaber or some shit like that.

I probably ought to put the whole thing off until after I know if there’s going to be a teacher strike later this year, shouldn’t I?

They happen once in a while

It’s left me a bit worried about tomorrow, honestly— not only did my kids handle both of their two assignments today with aplomb (I think literally every single student turned their assignment in today, which is unheard of) and not only did my meeting with the grandmother of Not In My Class Anymore Kid go quite well, but Not In My Class Anymore Kid really isn’t in my class anymore. I was half-expecting admin to try and reverse the decision but they didn’t. There weren’t even any real discipline issues today! On top of all that, I’ve seen my pay stub for tomorrow, and it’s unexpectedly about twice what it normally is, because not only have they finally started paying me for being the 8th grade team lead again, but I got back pay for it, and half of my money for the TLT team came through unexpectedly.

Am I looking for something to blow some money on? Yes. Yes I am. I paid off a couple of things already and about half of it is going into savings but that still leaves a nice little chunk of change that I can use as mad money.

I’m going to end up blowing it all on roleplaying materials that I’ll never read, won’t I?

Anyway, I’m going to go curl up with a book and hope that I won’t pay for all these good vibes tomorrow.

In which I gain levels in Adult, Responsible and Financial Independence

…and then ruin them by relating them to Dungeons and Dragons.

Folks, as of today, technically, and definitely as of Saturday when the payment will officially go through, I have no credit card debt. This has not been true at any point since I was in college– probably since my freshman year, in fact. Said credit card debt was at one point north of thirty thousand dollars and it is now gone. Now, I’m not free of debt itself by any means– there is a mortgage, and a car loan, and my student loans, and another installment loan at a very low APR that I used to make a large chunk of that credit card debt not credit card debt any more. But this is still a Goddamn milestone; I don’t owe any money to actual credit cards any longer, and every debt I have is on an installment plan where I can point at a date on a calendar and say “This is when that will be repaid.”

Except not really, because now that I’ve got the money I’ve been using to aggressively pay down credit card debt back in my pocket, I’m going to start working on the car. I think I can actually afford to make my car payment twice a month now and still come out ahead from what I was putting into credit cards. That’ll have that paid off in a little over a year, I think. After that, assuming I don’t lose my job or have some other shit life event, things are going to seriously change. I will be moving into Actual Discretionary Income territory, which … well, I know it probably seems like I already spend money whenever I want to, and yes, I’m saving up for a criminally expensive lightsaber as a Paid Off My Credit Cards award, but … this is still a big Goddamned deal, y’all.

I just gotta remember to spend the rest of my life not being stupid now.

Some realizations

  • First, that it is 7:30 PM, and I probably ought to blog today;
  • Second, that I am officially closer to retirement than I am to college, even assuming I wait to 65 to retire;
  • Third, that my student loans are due to be paid off four years prior to said 65th birthday, which should be a crime;
  • Fourth, that even if the notion of living another 20 years much less teaching for that long is difficult to wrap my head around, I probably ought to take this retirement thing seriously since I have, y’know, a wife and child in the mix now.

In case you can’t tell, I met with a retirement … dude, of some sort, at work on Friday, and several mortality-confronty sorts of things were discussed, and then this weekend I managed to keep my shit together long enough to dig through the folder that I throw anything even vaguely investment-related into and find not one but two different investment-related accounts that appear to no longer be receiving active contributions; I did some strategic scanning and sent them off to The Dude with a note attached that basically said I don’t know any of the money words, please help and we will see if anything happens. I have never really believed in retirement, to be honest; not in the sense that I don’t want to eventually quit working– I want to quit working now— but in the sense that I suspect any money I “invest” in my “future” will be stolen or siphoned off somehow before I’m able to actually benefit from any of it.

Today also included mowing, putting all my laundered clothes away like a big boy, finishing a book, starting another one, getting my grading done, writing a number of important emails, and a couple of videos recorded for The YouTubes. All in all, not bad for a Sunday.

In which it looks like I screwed up

You may recall that I turned down an opportunity to teach summer school in June. Now, despite everything I’m about to say, the reason I turned that position down remains true: that by the time they got around to offering me the job, we had signed our son up for a bunch of summer camps and I’d signed up for National Board Certification, meaning that I now need to cram four years of high school mathematics into a summer.

That said:

There are twenty days of summer school, six hours long each, and I was originally under the impression that my hourly rate was around $32.(*) That would mean that I’d have made $32 x 20 x 6 = $3840 before taxes. Which isn’t nothing by any stretch of the imagination, mind you, but it wasn’t quite enough to get me to back out of stuff that I’d already committed to or screw up my kid’s summer.

Then I found out my actual hourly rate is $41. I’m not sure how I fucked up that calculation, but that means my actual pay would have been $41 x 20 x 6 = $4,920 before taxes, and at that point– I discovered this after I turned the job down– losing out on that money starts to hurt a bit.

Well, they’re having serious trouble finding teachers– because I’m not the only person who took the two-month gap between applying for jobs and finding out whether they’d been accepted as a reason to find other summer plans– and the union and the district just signed off on increasing the summer pay to seventy fucking dollars an hour. Which is over twice the original rate I had calculated and would have meant a whopping $8400 before taxes, enough money to kill my last remaining credit card bill and put a substantial dent in the amount of money I owe on my car.

And … well, now I’m pissed. I mean, I’ll get over it, and I’m still not screwing over my son, but … shit.

Anybody want to hand me a big pile of money for no particular reason?

(Also, shit, how much Covid money must my district be sitting on right now, that they can even contemplate this level of pay? Holy shit.)

(* And before anybody jumps on my case for being a math teacher and not being able to calculate my own hourly pay: it’s not as simple as dividing my salary by 52 and then however many hours of pay I get in a week– first of all, it’s the actual number of weeks we’re paid for teaching in a year, a number I don’t know off the top of my head, and secondly, at least until recently anything that was paid on an “hourly” basis was actually paid at the scale of the lowest-paid teachers, not actually on my individual hourly pay, so the “hourly” for all the teachers in the district was the same. They’ve apparently changed the formula at some point and I didn’t notice.)