Transitioning Back to Freelance

This isn’t my April net worth update — that’ll come eventually. Preview: I spent a lot of money on travel, friends’ books, and family birthday gifts, and the markets were iffy, so, probably not great. However, I will get a really, really large boost in May, because (a) I’m leaving my job and for complicated reasons will get 2.5 months of salary payout (this isn’t a bonus. There are two ways to pay if you are hiring someone for a single academic year: you can either pay the person from July 1 to June 30, or pay them from August 15 to May 15, in which case you end up paying the summer salary when the person leaves. It saves them on health insurance, which is why I guess they do it; my previous employers all took the July-June route which was a lot simpler for me.) (b) I should also get paid for the summer class I’m teaching at the adjunct rate. It’s hard to know how much will be taken out in taxes, but I think I will get somewhere around $12000-13000 after tax from both of those combined. Whew!

Right, but this post isn’t about any of that. It’s about leaving my job. Since I was hired on a one-year contract, I had to decide whether to renew or not. I like many things about this job, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t pay enough to allow me to live a reasonable life in one of the most expensive cities in America, in which I have few ties. It also offers no stability — I could have worked here another year, maybe two, but not more than that. Those two factors together meant that, with some reluctance, I decided not to renew. Combined with that, though, I really want to volunteer on the 2018 fall elections back in the midwest, and I didn’t see any other academic jobs come up that looked so attractive to me that I would miss out on the volunteering opportunity. So, for the first time in six years, I didn’t apply to any teaching or research jobs. I may or may not do a freelance research project this summer (I should hear this week) but either way, by the end of September at the latest I will be completely free of school obligations for the first time in more like 15 years.

This is what I’ve been saving up that Life Fund for; while it’s at $22k now I’m going to put all of my big final payout in there, so I expect it to be at about $35K, plus my efund of $6K or so (this is all give or take a grand by the time I finish summer travel, moving back to the midwest, etc.) My expenses in Indiana are rock bottom, so I legitimately think that even without any income whatsoever I could live on that for several years (!) However, I very much hope I do have some income! I will be putting a fair amount of effort into volunteering, but I also plan to look for freelance work: writing, editing, and so on. (PS, if you have freelance work to pass on let me know! I will probably start pitching PF articles again, which I haven’t done in a while.) I’m really excited to work for myself again. Right now I have a ton of ideas about potential income sources, although many are in perpetually underfunded humanities areas so 90% of them will probably not pan out. But I think I can make it work, and get the flexibility to travel and to invest time in my community, which is what I really want to do. Eventually, whether it’s a year or three years from now, I think I’ll go back to ‘normal’ work, but right now I am mostly just very excited to have the freedom to try this out (ok, maybe 10% scared, so supportive comments are also welcome.)

March 2018 Net Worth Update

OK, we can tell how my April has gone by the fact that (a) my net worth update is five days late and (b) I typed “February” above and then had to erase it because my mind is like jelly right now.

It’s been a good first week of April actually! Taught some good classes on subjects I love, did a lot of professional writing — a LOT of it — and got the first copy of my new book in the mail. Just extremely busy. But now it’s Friday night, I met my biggest work deadline, and I have time to post some numbers.

March was a pretty good month. Here’s the spending:

That’s a bunch of green! I traveled the last week of the month, but had already paid for most of it earlier, so I just spent a little bit getting to the airport, basically. I went to see friends so I didn’t have to spend money when I was there. I got a haircut, bought some underwear, made my usual monthly donations.

Slush was the usual: a random collection of stuff! I went out to eat with a friend, bought a couple of new sheet pans, bought a book and a CD, saw A Wrinkle in Time, bought some coffee out, and paid for my Washington Post digital subscription.

What I’m most pleased by is that my food spending finally got under control. I chalk that up to only having school two weeks of March (we had a week of spring break and nearly a week of Easter break.) Turns out when I’m not teaching I find it much easier to eat cheaply!

Despite this good month, the overall net worth numbers don’t look great….

But that’s really just because of the markets. Eh. It’ll be fine. I wish things had gone just a little better because I thought I’d crack $80,000 in March, but hopefully I’ll get there in April. In the meantime, I ended March at $79765, an increase of $1405 — not bad for a month in which my investments lost over $1000!