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Posts tagged with: self-employed

Work and Travel

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Someone asked a good question in my post earlier this week about travel tips.  What do I do about work? Missed income? when I travel.  This is a key point as to why I travel and will continue to travel so I wanted to make sure it was clear thus this post rather than just my response in the comments…

As you know I am self employed and have been for going on 10 years now.  My income fluctuates but minimally unless I pick up new projects or work, and I have a pretty stable group of clients who I’ve been with for 5+ years.  With that being said, with my line of work, I can work from literally ANYWHERE and typically ANY TIME.  I appreciate this blessing EVERY SINGLE DAY as it’s key to making my lifestyle work.

This works because 1) the type of work I do; 2) the equipment and tools/technology available and 3) the way I have set up my business.

First, I am trained as a software engineer, which just a fancy way of saying I read and write computer speak relatively well.  So much of my work is either developing new code or troubleshooting old code, add to that I test out the products, document the products and teach people how to use the products of this work.  With this work I am able to work when and how I want to as long as I communicate with my clients and meet deadlines.  Without my education and experience, there is no way I could have made this change in my work after my kids were born.   In addition to this work, I am not afraid to get my hands dirty doing other things and in fact, love the variety as I do tend to get bored easily and love to multi-task, so rather than marketing myself as a software engineer, do so as a high tech virtual assistant.  This allows me much more access to work and different clients and I have found that my jobs have grown with my relationships with those clients so it’s the best of both worlds.  (I’ve writting more about what I do on my personal blog here and you can find my business site that has not been updated in forever here in case you are curious or in need of a good VA as I’m always looking for great clients and challenges projects!)

Second, thanks to technology such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, I can connect to any of my clients from anywhere.  My office line is a Skype line so I can use it as VoIP from my computer headset or from my phone when I’m on the road.  And my clients just have one number that will literally reach me anywhere.  When we travelled and will hopefully travel more often in the past, I had a subscription with my cell phone company for on the go internet access, but cut that cost a couple of years ago when we cut down significantly on travel.  I see that changing in the future but for now I rely on free wifi hot spots or staying places with free wifi.  I also have several software programs that I can 1) communicate my work schedule to clients without a lot of back and forth which can get time consuming and confusing and 2)helps me track work time and project deadlines so I can stay on task even if I’m moving around doing it.

Lastly, when I set up my business I knew that my priority was my kids, that was the reason I was leaving the corporate world; so from the very beginning I structured my work around their schedules and lives and needs.  It wasn’t easy and often feels like I am juggling 1/2 dozen balls at any given time (some of them on fire too,) but it’s so worth it and I feel that the benefits have been immeasurable in regards to my relationship with my kids and my ability to homeschool them.  I have been upfront with my clients and while it does sometimes take a while to gain their trust, I have found all of my clients have responded positively to my work arrangement, I don’t pull any punches, set realistic expectations and am very open and responsible with my communication.

I hope this clears up some of the questions regarding my ability to travel without losing any income and using my frugal tips and planning we are really able to not go too far over budget in most cases without some forethought.

*Note: The exception now is my new part time job; however, I told them upfront of my travel plans and have offered to make up hours if needed.  I hesitated to offer but felt I needed too, they have been fine with me not and since I have not added that additional income into my budget, it’s still icing on the cake as far as income goes.


When Nothing Goes Right, Go Left – Jim’s Introduction

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Note: This is the introduction the Jim put together to introduce himself to all of you in hopes of becoming the next blogger for BAD. If you have any questions or observations for him, please leave a comment. You can find more information about this blogging position here

Hey everybody, my name is Jim, a 32 year self-employed husband and father of two. I have been on the road to get out of debt since last year. And to be honest I thought I was doing pretty well, paid off three credit cards, all my student loans, and a personal loan. This all done on about $30,000 combined income for my wife and I.

My greatest accomplishment was paying off the pain in the butt personal loan at the end of the year It just so happens to be also one of my biggest consumer mistakes I have ever made. My wife and I were just moving in together, when we got this loan for all of our furnishings. They were marked at great prices, and even had a 18 months same as cash plan. Well turns out that they didn’t make the monthly payments to equal a complete payoff in 18 months. And when month 18 came around, we got hit with all the incurred interest. Needless to say a $5,000 loan turned into $9,000.

Have you ever heard the Booker T. Jones quote, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all,” well story of my family’s life. We don’t dwell on it, but almost all the time, things just don’t work out for us. Don’t get me wrong, there are periods of time where everything is going pretty good, but then we are hit with something we didn’t expect, or something that was totally out of our grips to control.

We have no savings, no emergency fund, no college savings, and very little for retirement funds and live month to month. At the end of last year, I had written up a game plan and that was to really snowball our debt and start building our credit scores back up to a respectful number. But as stated in the last paragraph, our luck just wouldn’t let this happen for the last few months and we ended up taking more debt on.

Let me start from the beginning of this year… First off I was totally unprepared for the winter that we have been having. We have been in the house that we rent, since End of September 2011. Before that we rented apartments. With that said, we were going through roughly 100-150 gallons of oil per month, the last two years. Well this winter, we have been going through 250-300 gallons (I honestly don.’t even know how I came up with this money). and we ran out of oil on two occasions. On both occasions we had oil coming the next day. Last week was one of those occasions, and well… Our pipes froze overnight and the radiator in our kitchen burst. Talk about an added expense, with that and the next thing I talk about about… there went our income tax return.

In the beginning of last month, my wife and I were in a car accident where we hit some black ice and went into a guard rail. The vehicle that we were driving (’04 Chevy Malibu) was deemed a total loss. I only had $1400 left to pay on it. Now I hated this car, I put just about the same amount of money fixing this beast as I did financing it. I was hoping to get another year at least out of it, then trade it in for something better. If everything would have worked out, it would have been paid off in April if not sooner, and we could have started saving for one. Well after everything was said and done, we got $2400 for the payout.

I already knew that both the wife and I had pretty bad credit (I will tell you about it in another post, if I am chosen) and I was going to start working on this, this year. As this was our only vehicle, we had to find another one. The wife and I had each a stipulation when we were out buying a vehicle. Her’s being that if I wanted another child that we get a bigger vehicle. Mine was that I wanted one that had low mileage so I would be able to pin point many things that could be wrong with it, as I do most of the car maintenance on my own. We ended up getting a ’13 Dodge Grand Caravan.

I am pleased to say that we love the van, what I can also say is that I hate the financing that we got. I hope that I can get it refinanced, if there is such a thing. But we do have sub-prime credit… and might have to take the big hit if we have to.

Well I know all of you readers are number people and want to see the numbers so here you are. The first table you might not be interested since it has to deal with my utilities and everything, but it is something I track so I am still going to put it here.

Rent Electric Oil Verizon Auto/Renter Ins.
January 2014 $600 $105.44 $1019.79 $76.35 $369.28
February 2014 $600 $84.46 $388.90 $76.59 $134.52
March 2014 $600 $89.10 $ $76.54 $118.48

And here is my total debt numbers as of the end of last month… Please note that there are two car amounts, that is because we still have a balance until the bank gets the check from the insurance company.

Store Card #1: $203.18 (24.99% APR)
Store Card #2: $532.55 (22.9% APR)
Credit Card #1: $3279.37 (13.99% APR)
Personal Loan: $1725.63 (15.5% APR)
Car Loan #1: $1435.92 (10.19% APR)
Car Loan #2: $17914.69 (12.99% APR)
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Total: $25,091.34

So there you have it… As of next month I will be starting from scratch, and am willing to take any and all suggestions into advisement if I am chosen. Not only will I talk about my journey to get out of debt, but I am also willing to talk about how I am trying to improve my credit and everything that is dealing with personal finance. Before heading out I also wanted to leave you with a picture of me and my family.

Jim