Monday, October 03, 2016

Keeping track of money - September 2016

After doing so well with tracking almost every single day's spending in August, I managed to do it for a big fat five days in September. And really, it was only three because on one of those days I forgot and afterwards couldn't even remember what I had spent where and on another one I never left the house. I'm glad that the start of October has been a weekend and that I've seen other people posting financials for the end of September as it was a good reminder to me to really try and get on top of tracking again this month. I've just spent the last three days at home (it's a bank holiday here today) and have done just about nothing other than reading, watching a film or two, and a bit less than the bare minimum of housework needed (however I have managed to get washing-up back under control and have cooked two days in a row, which is progress compared to most of September).

Part of the reason for not tracking was some careless spending brought about by me basically freaking out about not having any money. Stupid response obviously but I felt like I was struggling to really not fall back into the habits from the worst of my spendy mid-twenties. And yet, given the amount of stress I have been feeling about my lack of money, I have been strangely ambivalent about finding a second part-time job. I did have an interview at the start of September but looking back, I really didn't do a good interview, and it's not because I didn't find the position interesting (same as now but working in the law faculty for a human rights lawyer - how cool would that have been!?!) but I wasn't simultaneously stressing about money and about having to go back to working fulltime. And part of it was because my current position does want me to increase my hours up to 75% (30 hours a week - it's currently 20 hours/50%), which I told them I was definitely interested in but now I know that the money for that probably won't start until March. At any rate I haven't heard back from that interview and since she wanted to make a decision the week after it, I assume that means she has chosen someone else and is just waiting for the paperwork to be finished before sending rejections for everyone else.

After almost no translation work in July or August (hence the lack of funds - my salary from my office job is not enough to cover any but the most basic of expenses and I had a few non-regular ones come up in August and September), I was very grateful to get a big job from a new client in September. It turned out to be slightly shorter than originally envisaged but a week later they contacted me to translate something else as well. And an existing client turned up with a small job, too. So, I knew there was money coming in but just didn't actually have any. I've more or less depleted by savings entirely, the overdraft on my Irish account was almost up to its limit, and I had to use my credit card to buy groceries where possible, to leave what cash I had free for things that you can't use a credit card for (which is quite a lot in Germany - it's only in the last few years you can even use a credit card in most supermarkets).

I have been obsessively checking my bank account to see if my new client had paid their invoice. It's always a bit tricky with bigger organisations as they can sometimes take a month or more to process an invoice. I know that myself from having worked on the other side. Despite it being a bank holiday today, however, when I logged in, my account was showing that it had been paid. Phew. I really can't describe the feeling of relief. I immediately transferred enough to pay most of the credit card bill (there are a couple of transactions that haven't cleared yet but the amount for the total will just come out by direct debit mid-month as usual - I still prefer to have cleared the bulk of it immediately) and also transferred €500 to my Irish bank account. I will most likely need to withdraw money from that account again, if not this month, then next, but at least that's a bit of a chunk off the overdraft, which I have been finding very stressful to have again.

So, I now have enough left in my normal bank account to cover all of the bills I am expecting for this month and have a bit left over to buy food/drink each week. I will have to be very strict with myself but it's doable. That invoice was enough, so to speak, to cover the shortfall between by salary and what I really need for September and October. Now I need to try and get some work in so that I have something else coming in to cover the shortfall for November. I'm not too worried about December as we get a type of bonus/extra salary paid out at the end of November. It's not quite a full month's extra salary and because of tax, will be a bit less than salary, too, but it'll be enough to cover the shortfall for December. So that's that. We'll see how it goes for October. One thing about not having a lot of money is at least that there's less tracking to do, too.


Fiona said...

It sounds very stressful, but at the same time, a good kick towards being vigilant all the time on the bank balance and therefore a push towards spending less overall.

It sounds really positive if your current job could go up to 75%. Maybe that would actually mean more overall than if you got a second job but had to travel etc. to a different location. Would it be worth trying to hold out till March for that opportunity?

Moonwaves said...

Yes and no. It would solve my immediate problem of not earning enough in salary each month. However, the job I have now is unfortunately only a two-year contract and because of the funding that our program has, and the silly law that it is covered by, it's not possible to extend or renew that contract. And I can never get another, similar type of contract in this state again. The other job I interviewed for is a permanent position, as it's for a new professor and financed by what might be called 1st-party or basic funding, i.e. the basic funding the university gets from the state. That's fine. Or financed by third-party funding is also fine, although those positions are often also temporoary, they can be for as long as a project lasts and extended again and again. So, if I were to be offered it, it would at least mean that in two years I have one 50% position still to go to, even if the other is gone.

In my current job, we fall into a category known as 2nd-party funding. We're financed by the state but only for a limited time. Academia really is a whole other world - no-one I've spoken to outside the university has ever heard of this type of financing.

At any rate, we're currently also trying to set the wheels in motion to move away from being solely financed by the ministry and perhaps getting part of our funding through donations. We could then make sure that that funding went to paying the admin costs, which includes our wages. We have a very big meeting with the minstry next week as part of an big evaluation process. The results of that will determine whether the program will continue or if it will be wound up over the next three years. But it's all very up in the air and uncertain and I'm not sure how long it's okay to just wait and see and hope everything will turn out for the best.