It's been a Year

It's been a year now (a little over) since I left my job. I had the day marked in my calendar as "Freedom Day." That was a good, good day. Now, my actual celebration of that anniversary was a little anti-climatic, but that's my own fault. I have a tendency to short-change myself on things, and that day was no different. Hopefully every year will get a little better on that front.

I really wish I had a super introspective thing to say here, a-la the Mad Fientist's First Year of Freedom Post, but I don't think I do. I'm just kind of acknowledging that I made it for a year without starving. Just to recap though, I'd say the following are insights I've had in my first year of self-employment:

1) It takes money, or cajones, to be self-employed. My first few months were extremely stressful. This was probably at least in part because I had a lot of cajones but not a lot of cash cushion. The more you have of one, the less you need of the other. In retrospect, I probably would have done it 1-2 months later, although I don't regret what I did, it just probably would have reduced my stress level about one notch.

2) Always have multiple payors. I come from a business-y background, so I knew this. I try to keep 3 major payors in the mix. You never know if you'll lose a contract, the organization you're working for will go under, there will be a major payment gap with insurance payments...whatever. The company that kept a roof over my head for the first 6 months of my self-employment hasn't contacted me in four months now. I have two other major contracts that I do so much work for that I haven't had time to call and follow up with them, but I am very aware that could change at any moment.

3) Being self-employed doesn't fix everything. It is, seriously, a HUGE improvement, but there will still be some things about it you'll hate, most likely. I hate franchise tax in my state. Payroll is also a huge pain in the ass. There are days I over-schedule myself. On the plus side, I don't have any meetings I have to attend, really. I am learning how not to over-schedule myself. I pay the damn franchise tax. My accountant changed the payroll system, so that's getting better. There have been, in the past year...I want to say maybe 2 days? where I thought, "Why the fuck am I doing this? This sucks." But the other 363 have all been much better. I'll take it.

4) Finding good subcontractors is hard. I had a terrible bookkeeper there for a while. I didn't know enough about the topic to know she was terrible, so I paid her for what she did, then I had to pay someone to come in and fix what she did. That may be the most pissed off I've gotten about any work-related thing in the past year. I also had a transcriptionist that promised me good turn around and then took 3+ weeks to finish things. That's been the only deadline I missed this year. That was pretty irritating as well. That whole thing they say about being quick to fire is accurate. I am learning that if I'm disappointed with someone right off the bat, it's probably going to stay disappointing. Just pull the trigger and get it over with.

5) It's harder than you would think funneling money from your business into your personal accounts. You have to keep your salary and your distributions approximately equal, and things count as distributions (like estimated tax payments) that I didn't know would count. I screwed that up my first year. Luckily I also didn't make a huge amount of money, and it was my first year, so the IRS was apparently pretty forgiving, and I didn't get audited or anything. I'm working on keeping it more equal this year, and also getting to set up a solo-401K here soon to help with that, so I'm looking forward to locking that down.

So yeah, that's the thing, I don't have much to say about it because there's not much to bitch about, I guess. I'm just humming along, working on my own stuff. This year is going to be a good year though, I suspect I'll be student loan free in 2020, which will open up a whole new horizon for me. I'm working on that whole not-overscheduling thing now, but I think I'll feel a little freer to do that once I no longer have to pay those debt payments. I'm looking forward to it!

Trying on sunglasses on a Tuesday, because I'm self-employed.


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