Lori's original contract with St. Maurice had been for one semester, for $X. It happened that she stayed on for the full school year, but we never saw a revised contract with a new amount. So I'd assumed that she would be paid 2 * $X for two semesters. But she received paychecks through the summer as well, for a total of about 2.5 * $X.
Had it been Apple giving me a possible overpayment, I would have just deposited the checks without a second thought. But I know that St. Maurice is cash-strapped (the way almost every Catholic school is), so I hesitated to take advantage of a possible error there. (Note to those who might play Scruples with me: you can probably take this information together with the history of my behavior about the unemployment compensation after Queria laid me off to derive an exact calibration of my financial ethics.) So we resolved to talk with St. Maurice about how much she should have received.
In fact, we held off on depositing those checks, because I wanted to make sure that we wouldn't be too badly inconvenienced if it turned out that Lori should not have received that money. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to call St. Maurice, and the checks ended up expiring. (Oops.)
But after we got another uncashed paycheck replaced by the diocese, I finally got around to calling St. Maurice to check. The principal of St. Maurice was quite sure that Lori had not received any money to which she was not entitled. So, although I still have some lingering perplexities as to why Lori received more than two semesters' worth of pay, I am now sure that we have given St. Maurice every reasonable opportunity to correct a possible error, and the reduced chance of a possible error does not justify the increased effort that would be required for us to discover and correct such an error.
It's really been quite a good year for us financially. A year ago, I was extremely worried about how we'd scrape to afford what we needed to do in 2004; now, I'm feeling pretty comfortable about 2005, even though 2005 will likely involve a car purchase that we hadn't been planning before. I think my worries weren't unjustified, though--it's just that lots of things went better than I had been planning for.
One big income source that doesn't quite qualify as a windfall, even though I hadn't been willing to rely on it in last year's plans, was Lori's job:
- She kept her job at St. Maurice all school year. (At the beginning of 2004, we thought her term would be up in February.)
- She got a new job teaching at St. Joseph's this school year. (Not a huge surprise, but certainly not something to be taken for granted.
In addition, there were several other financial windfalls. In rough chronological order:
- Queria paid the deferred pay from my contracting last year.
- I was able to sell stock options at a good profit.
- We got a significant tax return.
- Lori got paid through the summer by St. Maurice.
- I got two bonuses from Apple.
- And this year turned out to have 27 pay dates in it instead of the usual 26.
And we got some big savings (in the short term, at least) by not actually getting the house painted or sided as we had planned (and as the house badly needs). But we'll be able to do so in 2005, and we did get the downspouts fixed.
2005 may not yet be a year of astonishing savings for us, because we do have some big-ticket expenses planned:
- replace Lori's car
- get the house painted or sided (and replace a lot of windows too)
- pay off her loan for grad school
But I'm confident that we'll be able to manage these expenses, barring catastrophe. It's a good feeling.