The only huge negative about self-employment that is a little rough for me is the feeling that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Having a job that I love for the first time also means worrying a little that it will go away. So I’ve been thinking about backup plans for our finances so I’ll never have to work in a cubicle again unless by choice.
Lowering Our Monthly Nut
Mr. BFS and I save a lot of our income for different goals and padding. But our main way of combatting the need to find “real jobs” again is to take regular looks at our monthly expenses and make sure we know what we can cut if necessary. We just paid off our rent house about a month ago and are also working to pay off our last mortgage so our overhead could be as low as possible if necessary.
Property taxes and income taxes will always mean we need more than we did when we graduated from college, but rental income and more skills also means we’re in a better position anyway. Overall, the less you need to live on, the more flexibility you have with employment options. That’s very important to us since we both appreciate working from home more than we ever thought we would.
Our other way to stop worrying is to remind ourselves of our skills. Even if blog advertising isn’t around anymore, I know that I could make a living online via blog commenting, staff writing, ghost writing, or even by being a blog manager or assistant. We only really need $5000 a month to cover everything including taxes, and even in a bad month, I could bring in $3000 online.
Then Mr. BFS could just sign up for more sports officiating to cover the other $2000 a month or more. He also could use his Master’s of Librarian Sciences again if necessary, although I think he would like sports officiating more. We both also have more customer service skills than we ever had before and could look into that field for openings too. If we were desperate, we could even run social media for others and make a decent living (neither one of appreciate social media sites as much as normal 30 year olds).
Overall, between lowering our monthly expenses and knowing what I can do if all else fails, I feel like I am on the right path. My business is doing well and hopefully will continue that streak for years, but I am the sort of person that needs backup plans in place since change is usually not my favorite thing in the world anyway.
Do you have backup plans for your situation? Any other job suggestions for me if I’m ever in the market again?
The following is a guest post from Robert Farrington, who writes at The College Investor, a personal finance blog for young adults. He is starting a new venture to Beat the Nine to Five, where he is chronicling his journey to make the jump to entrepreneurship. You can get a free copy of his Quitters Checklist, the ultimate guide to quitting your job to become an entrepreneur.
A lot of people dream of the day when they can call it quits at their job and head out on their own. Crystal did it over a year ago. In fact, a lot of bloggers have made the jump to self-employment.
However, one question always arises when moving to self-employment. Is it more fun, or is it just going to be more work? The answer isn’t an easy one, but here are some things to consider about leaving your nine to five job and moving out on your own.
The Pros of Self-Employment
The dream: all of the positives of self-employment. Lifestyle engineering… Working from a laptop on the beach… No boss to answer to… Whatever your dream is, there is no doubt there are a lot of positives that come with getting out of the rat race. However, it also depends on what type of business you are in.
I believe the biggest perk is freedom. It’s something that confines you in your day job. You can’t sleep in late – you typically have to follow office time. You have certain tasks you must do, and there is a strict order to operations.
Along the same lines, lack of freedom means rigidity in where you work. You typically have to be in the office. You have set meetings that require your presence. All of these things can potentially disappear with self-employment.
It moves to you setting the terms. Yes, you still have to earn an income, but you have more flexibility in your work hours, your work location, and even when setting up meetings. And while the client comes first, they don’t need to know you’re taking that conference call in your pajamas from your coffee table while catching up on last night’s television shows.
Finally, that freedom of self-employment means that you only report to yourself (and possibly your family). No more boss breathing down you next, no more annoying co-workers chewing gum loudly in the next cubicle. No more decisions you disagree with. It’s just you. If you don’t like something, you can change it.
The Drawbacks of Self-Employment
However, that last part is also the biggest drawback of self-employment. It is just you. That can add a lot of stress to the mix, something that you might not have experienced before at your nine to five job. The buck does stop with you, and your choices can have a profound effect on your success or failure.
And on that note, your freedom will slowly escape you. You have to find clients, build relationships, and complete the work. And while you can do it on your time, if you don’t, you will fail and be back working for a boss again in no time.
That means that you do need to put some structure in place to help you. Not only will it allow you to get more work done, but it will also help your family distinguish between work and play time. Suddenly, this self-employment thing is starting to feel more like a regular job after all.
Figuring Out What Matters to You
The key is figuring out what matters to you. What aspects of your current job do you dislike, and what aspects do you love?
What’s not to say that your current job isn’t a lot of fun? A “real” job can be hugely rewarding and entertaining. It can also be mind-numbing and skull crushing.
When moving to self-employment, the goal is to find the balance – how can you make money, support yourself and your family, and still have fun.
Maybe you learn from your current employer, see what works and what doesn’t, and apply that to your business. If you’re changing careers altogether, maybe the journey is going to be the key factor in deciding what matters and what doesn’t for you.
The fact is that self-employment is naturally more work. You’re suddenly going to be wearing every hat in the office: receptionist, salesman, accountant, tech support, and CEO. Not only are you driven by your vision, but you have to do all the work to support yourself as a whole.
By figuring out what matters and finding a balance, self-employment can be fun, even though it is work. But don’t forget that the same can be true about work itself. There is no need to make a jump to self-employment unless that is your true calling.
What are your thoughts? Do you need to be self-employed to have fun and be happy at work?
Crystal’s Comments: I don’t think self employment means that you will automatically be happy. It really depends on the person. It makes me happy because I’m a stubborn redhead that hates being bossed around and wasting time…that was like the definition of my last job, lol. What makes you happy?
The following is a guest post from “Your Boss”, the creator and author of the blog What Your Boss Really Thinks, where she expresses her opinion and advice on career, job search, management issues and office life. Your Boss created her site to help people to better understand their boss, give a direction and provide some guidelines on how to navigate life in the office. Feel free to ask her about your office or career dilemma by submitting an Ask Your Boss form on her website. She also offers resume review services that are worth checking out.
Freelancing Isn’t For Me
Sometimes I think about going rogue and doing stuff on my own. You know, stuff like writing, blogging and such. But then I take a step back and think about it. A lot of web sites and blogs encourage people to step outside of their office life and become freelancers. Nothing is wrong with it. Freelancing might open up great opportunities. The key word here is “might.” Not everyone can survive as a freelancer. Not everyone will.
I, personally, am not cut out to be a freelancer. For a few good reasons that I am going to list below. Those reasons apply not just to me. Over the years that I worked with people and observed them, I concluded that there are those who can embrace freelancing with all its risks and opportunities, and there are those who cannot.
You Are Not A Freelancer If
You like stability. I know that no one is guaranteed stability at any office or through a freelance contract. However, I believe that a regular 9 to 5 job provides more stability than any freelance contract can offer. At least, you know that a paycheck is coming. Your vacation time is paid. You even have insurance coverage and 401K employer matching contributions. Can you forgo all of this in the name of being your own boss? Not everyone can.
You like regular hours. People who are freelancers work long and odd hours. I like to have a routine. I like to know what I am doing next, where I am going to be and what the next project I am working on. Don’t tell me that freelancers have set regular hours too. Yes, they try to set regular hours, but tell me how many freelancers you know who actually work those hours?
You like flexibility. Freelancing does not equal freedom, and, in turn, it does not equal flexibility. Do not be naive and think that you will lounge in a hammock in your backyard. You will have a boss who will set your hours. Good news is you can choose who that boss will be. Bad news is that boss is not you. That boss is your clients.
You like the social aspect of your office life. I love dressing up and heading out the door. I love the feeling of anticipation of a busy work day. I crave social interaction that my office offers. I need to work with people and around people. Freelancing, depending on the type of work you are doing, can be a lonely business.
You want to get rich quick. Some of us watch others coming up with ideas, propelling these ideas to a profitable enterprise and think that “if they could do it, I can do it too.” Let’s be realistic and admit that no, you cannot do the same thing. First, you need to know what you are good at doing. Don’t just copy an idea, be really good at it! Second, borrowing the idea is fine, but developing it into something unique and profitable is a completely different endeavor. The overnight success stories are the results of a lot of hard work, sleepless nights and sometimes years of sweat.
You like to have real vacations. I know I do! If you are a freelancer, you can (pretty much) forget about having relaxing vacations, especially in the beginning of your freelance carrier.
You would rather have a long-term career as an employee. There are people who want to work for someone else.
You like “being a writer.” Really? If this is your reason to start freelancing, please do not say this out loud. To anyone
Do you think you are a freelancer? Or could be?
Crystal’s Comments: I do agree that not everyone can be a freelancer sucessfully. It takes a lot of personal motivation to make yourself wake up every day and do what needs to be done. In my case, it takes a routine…one that I better follow or risk falling days behind. But there is some flexibility in where I work, which is nice. And there’s no commute, which kicks butt. But I do know that self-employment and/or freelancing has its downsides. We all need to find our happy spots.
As I’ve mentioned before, my younger sister moved in earlier in January to start working in downtown Houston. She came home yesterday with her first ever paycheck from an after-college job! I totally remember that feeling I had in 2005 when I saw that check. It was amazing!
First Paycheck Memories
My first ever “real” paycheck was a bit smaller than my sister’s, but the budget for hers is so similar to the one I created way back then! Here is the general breakdown of what our first paychecks were/will be used for:
- Work Clothes
- Tiny Entertainment Budget
Honestly, talking about her plans made me feel like I was 22 again. When Mr. BFS and I just started out, we were broke, happy, and had retirement dreams before we even both landed real jobs.
My First Real Paycheck Budget
And, just for fun, I went back in my budget records and here is our budget from July 2005 when we were taking home a grand total of $2500 a month after taxes (Mr. BFS didn’t start teaching until the following year).
- Rent (550 square ft apt) - $400
- Car Payment (we just had one) – $200
- Car Maintenance – $100
- Gasoline – $200
- Groceries – $150
- Fast Food/Restaurants – $200
- Water – $20
- Electricity – $100
- Cable/DSL – $110
- Land Line – $30
- Cell Phones – $110
- Meds – $30
- Fun Money Savings – $100
- Entertainment – $50
- Cash – $100
- Savings – $600
Learning from the Past
Looking back at my first ever budget versus what my younger sister will be working with, I am happy to say that she is already on an even better track than we were way back then. By renting a room for $500 a month instead of an apartment (which would be $600-ish in this area now), she gets to skip a lot of stupid extra expenses too like cable/DSL and utilities. Her lack of a car payment is sort of evened out with Park & Ride expenses, but she spends way less than the two of us did on entertainment and groceries. And she has a super affordable cell phone plan through Boost mobile since she doesn’t use as many minutes as me. Overall, she could probably save for any huge expense she wants in the next two years. Go, girl, go!!!
Do you remember your first budget or that feeling of seeing “real” money? What sticks out to you?
I actually wrote a post today about Craigslisting, but WordPress ate it and I was ticked off. I was going to rewrite it today but kept getting mad all over again, lol. Then I came across My Entire Work History: All 30+ Jobs! at Budgets Are Sexy and it got me going. I’m turning 30 this December, and it seems that I’ve had nearly half that many jobs. So without further ado, here have been all of my jobs over the last 30 years.
- Babysitting ($5 an hour) – This was awesome since the main two kids I watched when I was 13 were really laid back and we had a lot of fun.
- English Tutor in Argentina ($0 – volunteer) – I still have the goodbye poster from the very cool kids and staff at the Sherlock Holmes English Institute in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
- Pawn reseller ($15-$60 per ring) – I would buy rings from the “new and crazy” arena of online auctions in 1998 (like Bidz) and resell those rings to the local pawn shops. It was fantastic since I could get the rings super cheap (like $9.99) simply because people were hesitant about the online arena. But I do think the pawn shops wondered where this 17 year old was getting all of this gold and diamond jewelry, lol.
- Dorm 24-hour help desk ($6 an hour) – I actually met Mr. BFS at this job one late night when I pulled him over to keep me company. Found out later that he kept walking by since he was trying to think of something to say, lol. He’s lucky I am social and get bored easily, hahaha.
- Dorm tour guide ($6 an hour) – This was boring and required a lot of walking. Parents also always seemed surprised that dorm rooms are small. Note to all parents – dorm rooms are small and most teenagers don’t care. You can eat, sleep, and hang out…don’t need much space for that.
- University of Houston donation center caller ($6.50 an hour and it sucked for 2.5 months before I quit) – I don’t know how many people hung up on me while saying that they worked for Enron and couldn’t afford anything, much less donations.
- University of Houston Games Room Attendant ($6.25 an hour and I did it for 3 years) – This was AWESOME. Made some great friends and am just super lucky to have ever gotten this position so I could leave the donation center.
- University of Houston Admin Office Assistant ($6.25 an hour for 2.5 years at the same time I worked the Games Room) – This was a great filler position, especially during the summers.
- Black Jack Dealer for Company Parties ($11 an hour but travel time didn’t count..overlapped with my last year of college) – I worked a bunch of company and private parties throughout Houston. It was a great Friday and Saturday night job throughout my last year of school and first couple of years after graduation.
- Tax Office Receptionist ($7 an hour) - This one overlapped with the Games Room and the Black Jack Dealing for my last semester of college…had 12 hours of classes and 60+ hours of part-time jobs, lol.
- Forms programmer ($26,500-$35,500 a year over 6 years) – That job was pointless but I met a handful of amazing people, and the free time there did lead me to find out about blogging. So yay!
- Petsitting on and off for years ($20 per dog per night) – My favorite puppy to watch moved to Kansas, Asia the Shar-Pei.
- Babysitting on and off ($10 an hour for two kids) – This lasted for about 6 days in one month. Then the kids started acting out since their mom left so often to be with her boyfriend.
- Blogging and Blog Advertising Management ($5000 first year, $99,000 second year, and $119,000 so far this year – all before Paypal and other expenses, but still happy!) – This is by far the best job that I’ve ever had. It fits my leap frog brain activity and lets me have the flexibility to actually live. The money is nice but the real benefits aren’t monetary. It’s nice to have a job that just finally fits me and not the other way around.
What does your work history look like? Have you had a billion jobs or is your work history more subdued?
I was telling you yesterday that Mr. BFS has started filling in some of his free time with working at the local bowling alley. Not to be outdone, I started looking into part-time jobs that I thought would be fun. I decided I want to be a cow.
Specifically, I decided to try myself out as a Chick-Fil-A cow mascot. Since I am only 5’2″ tall, I technically auditioned to become a Chick-Fil-A Kid Cow. My try out was last Friday but I don’t know if they will end up using me or not.
I think I was the only adult over 18 at the audition other than the Marketing Director herself. The kid cow head of the mascot did not fit on me as well as it seemed to work for others. And I didn’t really have time and wasn’t able to see well enough thanks to the head’s fit to truly play around while I was the cow, so now I feel deflated. I know that is silly, but I actually feel bad for not putting my best foot forward on being a mascot. I hate to fail.
I Might Have the Job
All of that said, since I am not a high school or college kid, and I do work from home, I might be one of the few people that could be scheduled for day-time events. If she does end up sending a scheduling email my way, I have a plan.
- I will get a sports band to hold my glasses onto my face while the mascot’s head is placed over me.
- I will also make the head work for me whether I can see perfectly or not. Even if I end up running into stuff sometimes when I try to move too fast without checking, I could make that part of my schtick.
- I want to have fun with this. Part of what makes me think I would make a great mascot is that I love to make people happy. That is why I volunteer for the local hospice. If I can make a dementia patient smile, I can make a room full of already-happy preschoolers smile too.
So I hope I am contacted again. At this point, I have something to prove, oddly enough. Plus, this will be a fun way to get out of the house more, make some side income, get some exercise, and get to eat discounted Chick-Fil-A. That’s a win-win-win-win in my opinion.
Have you ever gotten worked up about something most people would consider silly? Is it weird for me to want this little 5-10 hour a week job so badly?