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.)

13 thoughts on “Transitioning Back to Freelance

  1. Amanda says:

    Congrats! Very excited about this decision. I can’t wait to hear about these humanities ideas! I’ve been thinking about all the ways for humanities professionals to get paid, and my list is longer than I would have originally thought! I think you’ll kill it in freelancing, and I can’t wait to hear more about the move.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I will be hitting you up for some of those ideas. I wonder if we can get any Columbus-South Bend things going….

  2. Elizabeth says:

    This is exciting—good luck!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thank you! I appreciate the good wishes!

  3. Megan says:

    I love that you are using your Life Fund for yourself! Sometimes it is hard to spend savings, but this seems like such a judicious, intentional, self-care way to spend this.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      it’s either judicious or crazy! But I’m excited.

  4. That’s so cool, C! I’ve dreamed about doing something like that when I’m out of debt — just taking a year and doing what I want, developing myself how I want. I’m a little, ok, a lot, jealous. 🙂

    This is what Life Funds are for. You are debt free and young. You’ve got options.

    I hope your volunteer efforts go very, very, very well! Civic engagement is a great thing.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      ain’t as young as I used to be! I’m going to miss this career I’m in, but also I hope that I will find some new good things on the other side (and in the meantime, civic engagement.)

  5. Chonce says:

    Congrats congrats! That sounds so exciting. And good for you on having such a great emergency fund and savings! It’s going to make all the difference.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thank you! It’s going to keep me from starving!

  6. Cindy says:

    It’s incredibly awesome what you’ve been able to achieve. I hope this opportunity leads to amazing things for you! After all, the biggest rewards come when you’re willing to take some risks!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I hope so!!!!!!!! I’m mostly excited, but also nervous. But mostly excited 🙂

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