Trim the Fat Tuesday: The Payroll Deductions

Ok, I'm kind of obsessed.

I've now been regularly looking at our budget to find places to cut some easy money. By regularly, I mean almost every day. I made a fun spreadsheet that uses math to show how much we spend per month, per year, and how that factors out over the next 20 years until retirement. I can play with the numbers to see how much a cut here or a little trim there affects the bottom line not only for right now, but also over the long term. I also have it arranged to add our savings up, and there's a special box that shows how much is still needed until we can retire.

Right now, that's a big, giant number, but every cut makes it go down by more than you'd think, as the savings accrue each month and over the years.

It's totally addicting to test out new numbers in those boxes.

Anyway, one area that's not really part of our budget (because it's kind of invisible) is the various payroll deductions that come off the top of our checks every payday. I scanned over mine just to remind myself what was going on. When's the last time you took a good look?

Check paycheck to eliminate unnecessary payroll deductions. 

When I started my current job, I guess I signed up for a couple of insurance benefits. One is a $5,000 term life insurance policy that costs me 91 cents per paycheck.

That's sure doesn't sound like much, but I ran the numbers just to be sure. I only get paid 21 times per year, because sometimes teachers get $0 during summer vacation. (Which in that case starts to seem less like a "vacation" and more like a "furlough," but whatever.) So $0.91 x 21 checks = $19.11 per year. Divided across 12 months (since monthly savings is my standard here), it's only $1.59 per month.

So I decided to keep that one. If I die, that's some funeral funding for Kirk to spend on a nice pine box, maybe with a pillow. Plus ditching it required a trip to Town Hall, which would have taken forever, and this is one that I can honestly say is just not worth the effort.

The other, deduction, though, was a supplemental disability insurance policy. I guess the idea is that if I am disabled and can't work, I get paid a portion of my salary. I'll take my chances, as this is a bigger chunk of change.

At $13.34 per check x 21 checks, this insurance was costing $280.14 per year, or $23.35 per month. So I got rid of that. Am I rolling the dice? Maybe, but I'm healthy, and we'll be building our own savings cushion by investing that $23.35 (first in paying off the car, then the house, which will free up a lot of money to act like our own insurance policy).

But good grief, was this a pain in the ass to deal with. I emailed payroll, who forwarded it to the town insurance guy, who forwarded it to our union president, who forwarded it to the union's insurance guy, who forwarded it right back to payroll.


So one week and one ring of bureaucratic email hell later, I had my money back. Whew.

Savings per month: $23.


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