Saturday, September 1, 2012

Scraping by

It's been a rough week on me, although I was mostly satisfied with the classroom results.  I have to get myself into physical as well as mental shape to handle the workload here, since there's just so damn much to do.  I'm about one lesson ahead of the students, if that much, in all three of my classes.  Likely to remain so, except for the odd week when we tackle a reading I know particularly well.

To my surprise, I'm not doing as poorly as I feared I would at Intro to Libel and Slander.  It's kind of amazing to me to see that, indeed, I know more about this stuff than my students do.  (I honestly didn't quite believe that, given how much of the course is predicated on relatively simple scientific concepts that one could easily encounter in high school.)  It blows my mind that I'm able to explain this stuff as well as I have done so far.  Sure hope I can keep this up.  I worry I'm going to hit the wall in another few lessons, but we'll see.  But at the moment, I sound more or less like a competent libeler to my students.

The week ended on something of a low note for us new faculty members: the first paycheck finally came in.  That should be good news, but it was complicated by the form: the initial paycheck for a new employee at CBU is always issued on paper, rather than by direct deposit.  It seems that a lot of new hires have not yet had their mailboxes squared away in their departments – how could this be? I couldn't tell you – and thus they literally did not receive their paychecks.  Seriously, CBU?  You couldn't actually ensure that your employees got paid?  I'd have almost expected such neglect at Ghosttown U., but this was a shock to me.  Luckily, I was not one of these unfortunate souls, and got my pay.

At least, I got my base pay.  The moving reimbursements seem to have been roundly delayed, for no good reason that anyone will admit to us.  I personally handed over my form to the next person in the bureaucratic process ten days before payday.  For those of us who not only had to carry credit card balances during our time of non-employment but also had to move house, it's a real hardship to wait even longer for that cash.

But hey, who am I to complain?  At least I got a proper paycheck, and at least it was for the legally mandatory sum.  One of my colleagues suffered the indignity of a clerical error on hir paycheck, so that instead of hir actual salary installment, it was for $300.  After months of no pay, that must seem almost worse than nothing at all — like adding insult to injury.  Sure hope they work that shit out for hir fast.  Rent was due today, after all.

On the plus side, I finally got to act on (one half of) Grumpy Rumblings' advice, and bought myself a cheaply priced used microwave oven.  Assuming it works decently, I'll never find a cheaper one, so I'm pleased.  Oddly enough, its previous owner is the previous occupant of my new office.  Small college in a small town, these things are bound to happen, I suppose.  (You can tell Tinytown is tiny from the fact that the used furniture dealer could recall the microwave's last owner by name.)  I can reheat things without resorting to my regular oven, now!  I'm still debating whether or not to spring for a toaster oven, too.  It's obviously money I don't want to spend, and it would take up countertop space.  But, on the other hand, it's probably an easier and cleaner way to toast bread and heat up things that tend to drip.  I'll think about it.

Oh yeah, money: after talking over the matter with my financial consultants/parental units, it looks like I went a little too gung-ho with saving for retirement.  I decided to throw a full 10% of my base pay into my 403(b), since I've only had one for a year now, and I feel the need to make up for all those years that I had no savings at all.  But, like I mention above, I'm carrying credit card debt from the summer.  A lot, in fact, since I had to buy a relatively large number of household appliances and goods that I had not previously owned for many years.  Those are abnormal and, FSM willin', one-time costs that I won't have to factor in on a regular basis, but the damage is done.  Given the thousands of dollars I had to put on plastic, I might have made a miscalculation in sacrificing 10% of my pay.  As Nicole and Maggie will likely concur, I really need to pay down that credit card debt as fast as reasonably possible, and only then worry about socking away the maximum in my 403(b).  I'm a little embarrassed that I couldn't/didn't figure that out for myself, and a bit annoyed that it might take a few weeks (or months?) before I can alter that arrangement with the Payroll Office.

Meanwhile, I'd better keep a sharp eye on my expenses, since I'll be halfway through September before I can pay any more large bills.


  1. Re the reinmbursment for moving expenses: some part of it (I don't know what) can be taxable. Payroll people are not always aware of this, so when somebody finds out they may want to take the deduction out of your next paycheck: I ended up with $500 less on a paycheck for that reason. So make sure to ask (and, if you are up to it, read the IRS code on the matter).

  2. Yes, pay down that credit card debt!

    The problem with not putting money away to retirement is that it's hard to remember to start it up again once you're ready to go and you end up spending that money instead. Though I assume that 10% is on top of some mandatory amount that you don't get a choice about?

    We actually put off buying things until we'd gotten a few paychecks. Used the laundromat for a couple of months (fun times...).

    If you haven't, see if there are any 0% cc offers that will let you float without interest, since the big problem with cc debt is the nasty interest that just eats away at your income (I used a 0% cc check when my reimbursement was slow to come). #2 has also had luck calling her credit card company and just asking for a lower rate. It didn't get her to 0% but it definitely shaved quite a bit of interest costs off.

  3. Oh, man, I hear you! Good luck getting up to speed in your classes, and I hope you don't have to sell your plasma to make ends meet!

    Hmm, I should go look into that...

  4. If it's any consolation, it took 6 weeks for me to get my moving reimbursement. They always process those things differently, for reasons beyond anyone's comprehension. Also, toaster ovens are awfully nice, especially for cooking small items that don't actually require a huge oven. I wish I had one...sigh...

  5. I recommend the toaster oven, too. We use ours a lot to make mini-pizzas for the kiddos on whole wheat English muffins. Yum!

    As for teaching -- just make sure you keep one step ahead of the students, and you're doing fine. I feel like I'm stressed beyond reason this semester because of three brand new preps -- humanities being the most stressful -- and yet I feel like keeping a step ahead of the students is all I'm going to accomplish this semester. You have to be happy with that if it's the best you can do, right?

    If nothing else works to help relieve the stress, then have a drink. I'll join you in spirit. heh. Get it? Spirits? Okay... bedtime...