Staying Out of the 25% Tax Bracket

With two full-time teaching salaries, we were on the borderline of the 15% and 25% tax brackets for many years. The biggest jump in tax brackets is between 15% and 25%. To avoid the 25% tax bracket, we contributed to retirement through a 403b plan (public sector 401k), or an IRA.  I always hated paying a 25% rate, because it means for each additional dollar I earned, I only got to keep about 61 cents, since I also had to pay 7.65% in Social Security and Medicare, as well as 6% to our state retirement plan.  If we contributed an additional 10% to charity, that only left about 51 cents on the dollar. Continue reading Staying Out of the 25% Tax Bracket

Reducing the Cost of Paper Products

image (39)We buy toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins on a regular basis.  Years ago we tried using cloth napkins to save money.  We didn’t like the inconvenience and the persistent stains on them.  We could avoid paper towel use by using rags more often.  However, we find that the rags often get sour and don’t like the inconvenience of washing them. Continue reading Reducing the Cost of Paper Products

Reducing Movie Costs

The law of demand says that quantity demanded goes down as price goes up. If you are a retailer, that means that there are people who will insist on a lower price and those who are willing to pay a higher price. When I taught economics, I used the cost of movie options available where I live to demonstrate a demand curve. Movie theaters charge the prices they do for entry and snacks because they can. Continue reading Reducing Movie Costs

Budgeting for Christmas

image (37)The average family of four last year was expected to spend between $700 and $1,300 on Christmas, according to We save $40 a month for Christmas, for a total of $480, but that doesn’t include all of our expenses. Here is how the national average breaks down :

Continue reading Budgeting for Christmas

Reducing Pet Expenses

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Fourteen years ago, when our older daughter was in second grade, she came hold and told us,”A boy in my class has kittens, and they’re free!” After chuckling about it, my wife and I agreed to let each of our daughters each pick out a kitten. I would have preferred a dog, but cats are more self-sufficient, which makes traveling easier. Continue reading Reducing Pet Expenses

Reducing Health Care Costs

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In my post on The Affordable Care Act and Retirement, I discussed our plan to switch from our current policy through our former employer to a policy on the health care exchange.  Insurance premiums are obviously a major part of health care costs.  If you have employer provided health insurance, you really don’t have a choice about your coverage.  Our employer used to offer a choice of a high deductible and a low deductible plan.  The high deductible plan had lower premium, which more than made up for the higher deductible, in a worst case scenario. Continue reading Reducing Health Care Costs

The Affordable Care Act and Retirement

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Our school district had a retirement incentive of 85% of our final salary spread over five years, so 17% of our salary per year.  This  can be used to pay health insurance premium or put in a 403b retirement plan.  While we were working, I had family coverage and my wife didn’t take health insurance benefits.  When we retired, we dropped family coverage and my wife and I each took individual policies.  If we hadn’t, my wife would have had to withdraw money from her 403b and then pay taxes on it before using it to pay for our family health insurance premium.  Our older daughter graduated from college and is no longer on our health insurance policy.  We took out a private individual health insurance policy for our daughter who just started college. Continue reading The Affordable Care Act and Retirement