Feb 132013

Once upon a time I had a “real” job. Meaning I showed up at a more-or-less set time and left at a more-or-less set time, every day of the week, year in, year out. Highly predictable.

This seems about the right amount... (the picture actually comes from a computer game I used to play 20 years ago...)

This seems about the right amount… (the picture actually comes from a computer game I used to play 20 years ago…)

In trade for that, at the end of each month, a certain sum of money would be written to my bank account. Highly predictable.

As a freelancer I get money when I work. And when there is no work, there is no money. Luckily when I do have work, I earn enough to save up for the times when there is nothing to do (up to a point of course). The amount of work is unpredictable and thus the money coming in is unpredictable.

Outflow however is much easier to adjust. Cooking at home and not buying any new clothes unless absolutely necessary will make the same Euro last a whole lot longer than weekly dinners in town and shopping sprees.

With a fixed pay-check it’s easy. You get in X, you spend X (including some savings (hopefully).

With variable income, I need to think about what my monthly budget is. Which is related to how much time I expect to have between assignments. Should I expect to have a month of sitting on my hands for every month I work? Or is it one month in between all assignments no matter how long the assignment was? Should three months of pay last me six months or four months?

I went looking for some more plates on my attic the other day, but had trouble finding them in the stacks of boxes I have up there. So, I gave up and instead went out to buy a new plate (I had one, I have space for 2 people to eat here, so I needed one more). At a local shop they had the best plates ever, so now I’m the proud owner of a Winnie-the-Pooh plate. I’m very surprised at how happy this plate actually makes me…
The solution I found so far is: Continue the way I did when I had a fixed pay-check. My income then was Y, I spent Y, so I’ll continue spending Y.

I know it is very difficult to get used to having less, whereas it is very easy to get used to having more. As soon as I start spending more, expecting that assignments will keep coming, I will have great difficulty scaling back if push ever does come to shove. And spending less now is also difficult, because I got used to my current level of luxury (with some occasional new clothes and going out for dinner once and awhile).

I’m not giving up anything, I seem to be building up a bit of a buffer. And if I really do need to cut back, there is still enough slack to do just that.


Going on a shopping spree can be very tempting…

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