My company has let go every contractor except for me. That’s the good news. I feel proud of the work I’ve done for the company in the year and some odd months that I’ve been there, and hope that my contribution to the company is as apparent to my bosses as it is to my other colleagues.
Writer Karen Karbo details her three marriages, her long-ago dream to be taken care of by her breadwinner husband, and the reality of her making most of the dough in each of her marriages. She writes how a friend, whose husband made enough money to give her time off for a few years to “figure out her life” ended up with a cheating husband, stuck in a marriage in fear of now having enough money to live the life she’s become accustomed to.
Karbo poses the question, “Is it better for the longevity of a marriage if one party (usually the woman) feels financially trapped?”
Well, yes. Marriage, just like any other business relationship, tends to survive longer the more complicated it is to get out of. But that isn’t the kind of marriage I want to be in. Does it really take three marriages to get it right? Karbo sounds like she’s found happiness now, with split incomes and an unromantic agreement on who pays for what (including who pays for who’s kids.)
As I’ve written before, I’m worried about my current relationship because I’m the half of the duo motivated by money. That means my dreams of being the woman who works part time and takes care of the kids while my hubby brings home the bacon are all but dashed. Those dreams aren’t real anyway, but they certainly are, in the back of my mind, what I expected. That’s what happened to my mom. She went to school for fashion design and worked in the industry for 10 years, only to quit when I was born and become a housewife. And she’s always been afraid to leave my father because, like Karbo’s friend, she doesn’t want to also leave the life she’s grown accustomed to. The money she’s used to spending. Even if she did get a job, she’d likely be earning minimum wage. At 50 something years old, how many raises can one expect before retirement age approaches?
I refuse to get stuck in a marriage that’s destined for a situation like that. I’d rather be the breadwinner, accidental or predetermined. Still, my dream is a marriage where both parties bring in a sizable amount of income. My aunt and uncle are prime examples of that type of couple. The husband owns a one-man marketing firm, stays home, takes care of the kids, and still takes in six figures. The wife works as a marketing exec for a magazine, and also takes in six figures. Together, they own a nice house in a really nice neighborhood. That’s the kind of life I dream of. I can only hope that Mr. Sweetheart will realize that asking for raises is an expected and acceptable part of being in the workforce.
Yesterday, the state of California posted an 8.4 percent jobless rate, the third highest in the U.S. According to The Los Angeles Times, The state lost a net 41,700 jobs in November. The rate is at its highest level since 1994 and puts the state behind only Michigan and Rhode Island.
Last month, U.S. employers slashed 533,000 jobs – the most in 34 years – as unemployment rose to a 15-year high of 6.7 percent, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. With the high rates of job loss in my state and elsewhere, everyone is watching their piggy bank. Closely. For workers who lose their jobs, health insurance options are limited. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that (As most of you know, I’m fortunately employed, but as a freelance worker with pre-existing health conditions, my options for health insurance are fairly non-existent.)
It isn’t helping matters that in California, the state’s financial crisis means that traditional safety-net options, such as public health programs and clinics, are being cut back or threatened by the state and national budget crisis. It’s true California’s estimated $41.8 billion budget deficit needs to be fixed somehow, but with the current state of the economy and rates of job loss in Cali, it’s a tough time to go cutting public health programs.
When I exclaimed to my roommates “let’s have a dinner party!”… I certainly wasn’t thinking about cost. Last night, we had about 15 people over (including us) who we fed and entertained for the evening. It was a really lovely gathering, a holiday event dubbed the J-Food Dinner party were we served a mix of Jewish food and Japanese food (don’t ask.)
But the bill came out to be way more than I expected. Not that I thought that through when I decided to have a dinner party, or when my roommate and I invited enough people to have to feed a small country.
Problem with throwing dinner parties is that you’re never sure how many people are really going to make it. You need to invite a few extras just to make sure you’re not sitting alone with all the food you make.
So between all the dishes we made, it cost about $300. I ended up buying $50 worth of frozen blintz at the last minute because I ran out of time to cook, and sadly bought the ingredients to actually cook them fresh as well – but that was only a few extra eggs and a lot of creme cheese, like $10 worth.
My boyfriend also decided to cook up this mushroom tart that we learned how to cook at my work’s holiday party the day before. It was a Whole Foods cooking party, which was awesome, but of course they used expensive ingredients and in order to recreate our delicious tart he had to buy all these things… pastry shells, wild mushrooms, Camembert cheese, sherry… all of that added up.
And then there was the hummus and baba ganosh for an appetizer and bread, and the two bottles of wine (not to mention the other two bottles we already had) that got served. And a few bottles of martenelli’s cider for the non alcohol drinkers. And all the latke ingredients, which my roommate bought, that I owe her for… about $60 worth (that’s included in the $300 total).
Ultimately $300 for a party of 15 people isn’t that bad, I guess. But it’s still… $300. The same $300 I’m not making this month because my uncle’s marketing firm had to cut back on its freelance budget. Yea, exactly $300.
Well, at least I’ve made $75 thus far in my posts for that tech blog I’m writing for about twice a week. I’m going to have to really turn up the posting on that so I can make up for lost costs. My next paycheck is going to rent, paying my boyfriend back (I owe him about $900 now including the cost of food for this party, he charged it since my credit card is missing), bills, taxes, and that’s about it. I hope people don’t mind that this Christmas I’m going to be a bit short on gifts. At least I bought my one really good friend a dishwasher for her birthday earlier this year (split with my boyfriend as a gift for her new kitchen) but still – she can’t complain that i’m not getting her a gift. I should get my roommates something but… that might have to come with the next paycheck.
My “stable” job is still on the rocks. It’s looking ok… but I’m not sure. They’re letting go all the contractors besides me, which is really sad for those contractors and rather uncomfortable for me. My contract isn’t up until the end of Jan, so at that point they’ll have to decide how valuable I am to the team. I think I’ve proven my dedication – I’ve been there for over a year now, but in this economic climate anything is possible. And I’m a little worried. I’m hoping for a full time job with health benefits (!!!) but expecting the worst. And the worst case scenerio is that I can write up to 5 posts for this tech blog a week, making about $500 a month, which covers a large chunk of rent. Then I seek out other freelance positions… since the full time job market seems non-existent in my field at this point.
Probably not the best time to throw a $300 dinner party, huh?
My stable $400 a month gig has been reduced to… well, I’m not sure yet, but $250 or $300 a month. I’ve come to rely on that extra cash (it covers almost all of my rent, which is, by the way, going up from $612 to $670 in January) – so I’m exploring new cash-making opportunities and side projects.
The latest is a blogging gig that pays $25 a post. I’m starting out at twice a week with 200 word posts, and that’s pretty easy to do. Even if it takes 45 minutes a post, that’s $50 for less than 2 hours of work. I can write more too, if I have time. I like that, I just don’t want them to come to expect 5 or more posts a week from me. That’s why I left my blogging gig, and that paid a lot better.
Still, if I could make an extra $200 a month in blogging that would at least balance my losses. Supposedly I could make up to $500 a month – which would be good to strive for if I can do that and still maintain my 40-hour a week gig.
Plus, I need to keep writing things that I can share professionally (like, stuff other than this blog.) It’s good to stay in the writing habit. The analytical section of my brain needs to be worked out again. It’s getting flabby.
Some people, some people who have a family to support, have lost their jobs. By those standards, I’m doing fine. I’m doing great! But it still sucks to see business opportunities, especially fairly stable ones, in the middle of the fiscal crossfire.
For the last two years or so, I’ve been providing copy to my uncle’s one-man marketing firm. It started out as a gig writing some article summaries, and I made $50 a month. Over time, we upped it to more writing assignments and a $400 retainer. That was when times were good. Now, some companies are cutting back on their e-marketing budgets, which means they’re cutting back on him. And he has to cut back on me.
The good news is that I still have my day job. Well, it’s a day job on a contract that expires Jan 22. And my company is also, howdoyousay, skimming the fat from the company. Contractors are the first to go. We still have a good runway of VC bucks behind us, but they’re now concerned that even with that, we won’t make the revenue we need through advertising and other means because the economy is vacationing in the gutter. I’ve only been working there a year and a month, but in that year the world has changed. I may not have a job come Jan 22, and that’s freaking me out.
Chances are, if I do my job well – and i need to do my job well – they’ll keep me on as a contractor. I’ve been pushing for a full-time gig (which basically means I’ll get some employee-pays-a-little health benefits and won’t have to pay self-employement tax) but they’re pushing back, saying that they need to be really careful about new hires. Of course, I’m supposed to work from the office 4 days a week and 40 hours a week, which seems legally to be an “employee.” But what do I know?
I recently took advantage of my contractor status by traveling and working remotely for about 2.5 weeks. It’s a double-edged sword, because they could very easily use that against me when deciding whether or not to hire me full time. I probably should be in 5 days a week if I really want to get hired on. I guess when it comes down to it, I’m not sure I’m thrilled with the idea of trading in my one-day-a-week work-from-home gig for health benefits. Sounds stupid, but with my anxiety disorder I need a day to just be away from people and focus on my work.
So… my uncle hasn’t gotten back to me on how much I’ll be making a month now that one company cut their monthly newsletter to quarterly. But it won’t be $400. That $400 really put me in a comfortable salary point given my cost of living. Plus, if I ever want to actually save up for year one of grad school before I go, then I need the money. That doesn’t seem possible either, though.
I’m trying really hard not to worry about this whole financial “crisis.” I’m young(ish) and resilient, as are my stocks, as is my career, and I’m in a much better place than all the baby boomers who are currently watching their 401k’s break even after years of saving… or worse.
Me? I have a job. It’s more stable than not, though after the latest Sequoia report came out it’s looking more and more like if I don’t have the skills to hack it at a web startup, I’m going to be toast. Or dust. Or dust-buttered toast. I’m nervous.
More than anything, I wish I had some serious skills – like computer programming. Then I’d be able to do something useful. But I know that I have to do a lot to prove that I’m useful over the coming months, or it will be my head on the chopping block.
Working for a startup, I’ve always assumed any day could be my last. That’s the joy of working for a startup… even if the markets are doing great, you could be unemployed tomorrow! 🙂
I really wonder what the Silicon Valley shakeout will look like in the coming years. During my brief stint in business journalism, one thing I saw was how many silly companies were getting millions of dollars just because they happened to have a persuasive CEO. It’s totally a bubble, and with the latest turn in the economy, it’s certain to burst. I’m trying to just hold my breath and hope for the best. Again, I’m young, and this won’t last forever. I just hate that I’m trying my darndest to save and I’m still losing money. Bah.
While working 60 hours at a salaried job each week seems beyond boring, diversifying one’s time and one’s ongoing work portfolio can lead to professional fulfillment on many levels, including by not limited to one’s bank account.
I recently found out that in order to be a full-time salaried employee at my current company, I need to sign on for 50-60 hours a week. While I love my job AND the company, that’s still not enough to have me sign every possible work hour away to one job.
Besides boredom, the reason to keep my ‘after 40’ job hours open is because some of my other opportunities pay much better than what I’m spending most of my week on. At my 40 hour per week job I make about $27 an hour right now. But I’m also taking my late evenings to work as a freelance marketing writer, with projects I’m getting paid $50 per hour for.
I’m not sure what my value is as a full-time employee versus freelance, but for some reason I feel like my $50 per hour charge as a freelancer is justified, while I could never imagine asking my freelance full-time employer for such a raise.
When it comes down to it, I’d rather make slightly less at my “day job” and use the opportunity to pitch my writing skills for extra income that ultimately covers health insurance and other things I need.
That brings about the question… how much can I actually make in one month without not sleeping and going completely insane…
Monthly Potential Income
1. $4800 — Gig 1. 40 hours per week (on contract)
2. $400 — Gig 2. Approx 8 hours, or 4 projects per month at $50/hr
3. $250 — Gig 3. 10 hours of administrative Work at $25/hr
4. $400 — Gig 4. 8 hours of research & article writing at $50/hr
$5850 per month
Which is a lot of money. Sort of.
Minus $2340 ((40% taxes (25 % tax bracket + 15 % self-employment tax))) that comes out to a grande total of…
$3510 per month after taxes, or a net income of $42,120 per year.
That’s still pretty good, I think.
As many of you know, I’ve been working a contract gig for the past few months that I really love. I feel like I’ve finally found a job that keeps me excited most minutes of the day and that can use my talents and ideas.
My contract is expiring in a few weeks, so my boss and I sat down to renegotiate the next part of my working with the company. It turns out that in addition to my liking the job, the people there, somehow, seem to like me too! Wow. Ok, so the only crappy part of the whole deal is that I’ve upped my hours to 40 a week, but I’m not considered “full time” because, as I’ve mentioned before, “full time” at my company is 50-60 hours a week. I’m not in the mood to work 60 hours a week (I’ll burn out fast) so I said give me 40 and an offer I can’t refuse. Well, I just said give me 40 on contract for another three months and make me an offer.
So I was making $3300 a month plus some small amount of stock options for 30 hours a week. That was fine, but in order to really make a living I needed to start working 40 hours a week. I figured I’d get offered $4400, without a raise at all. I’d ask for $200-$500 more, depending on what I was offered. So my boss decided to get rid of my stock options and instead give me more cash. That’s ok with me… I love my company, but I know the odds of it succeeding to the point where my stock options would be worth more than the paper they one day will be written on is slim. So he offered $4600 a month for 40 hours a week. That was a good offer, indeed. Still, it doesn’t include benefits, and I plan on my health insurance costing about $400 a month, with basic monthly payments and HSA savings (plus dental and vision). So I figured I’d ask for $200 more a month. The worst he could do was say no.
But he said yes. I probably could have gotten away with asking for even more than that, but I think I’ll try to raise my pay slowly over the time I work with the company. In three months, I might end up signing on for a full-time salaried position. It’s exciting to think what sort of offer would come out of that, given they’d be expecting me to work 60 hours a week! Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever want that, but it would surely be a nice way to save up some money for grad school and my potential house.
Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, guys. I’ve been extremely busy casting a play that I’m directing at a local community theater. Rehearsals start next week, so every moment I’m not working on one of my freelance projects, I’m figuring out things like blocking, character intention, etc.
The good news is that I’m getting paid $500 to direct this play. Most fo that will go to gas money and gifts for the actors and such, but I might even end up with a small profit I can pocket in the end.
Theater has an interesting relationship with my life. Admittedly, it holds me back from my career at times. Most jobs require that you have a flexible schedule, with evenings free for occasional long hours or overnight trips. Even my current job, which if it were full time, would be 60 hours per week, would require me to give up theater.
Every time I have to make my passion versus job decision, I cannot. Given my inability to make such a compromise, things have turned out quite well – at least for the time being. As a freelance writer with a fairly-stable part-time writing gig, I have the flexibility to direct a show in the evenings and work… during the day and in the even later evenings.
I’ve often thought about returning to graduate school for theater directing. But those $100k three-year programs seems like a terrible idea, at least financially. I was hoping my mutual fund and stocks would somehow add some of those funds to my account, but given the dismal performance of the stock market I’m actually losing money right now. Lots of it. Well, about $1035 of it to date, and most of that’s from my mutual fund.
My goal in the back of my mind is still to save up $100k by the time I turn 30 (which is in only 5.5 years, omg) and then apply to grad school for directing *OR* buy a house. If I can even save that much, that will be a tough decision to make. And as you’ve already learned from this entry, I’m no good at making decisions!