Jumping to Self-Employment

Photo Credit: Sjaek via Compfight cc
Bunnies don’t have anything to do with self-employment, but they’re cute so why not?
Photo Credit: Sjaek via Compfight cc

It’s not uncommon for people working in my industry to be self-employed. I never seriously considered it before and was fine with a full-time job. When a really good opportunity came along though, I took the plunge and became self-employed! It’s been about a year and a half since then, and I’ve definitely learned a lot and am glad that I did it! I wouldn’t object to going back to a full-time position if it was the right place, but self-employment really broadens your skills and can challenge you a lot more.

There are definite pros and cons to being self-employed. Organizing and scheduling your own time, staying focused on your work, paying higher taxes, having to pay quarterly taxes, etc. To each their own. Some people like being full-time employees while others like the flexibility of self-employment.

How it happened
I definitely wasn’t looking to become self-employed at all. In fact, I was looking for another full-time position. A really good company offered me a month-to-month freelance contract though, and so I took a chance. Since then, I’ve actually been working steadily with that same company. I work project-to-project now, but it’s been pretty steady overall, other than a few months of “vacation” when the holidays came around and the industry got slow. Plus a month or two off around the time I had my wedding. I only knew a little about what self-employment would really mean, but now after time has passed, I know a bit more.

The pros
Freedom and flexibility!!! With self-employment, you can choose what you want to work on. My situation is a bit different in that I work with one company steadily. Since I’m on a lot of their projects, I go in about three days a week and stay home 2 days a week. I try to work the hours they work, but as long as you get your work done, it’s totally fine. Many self-employed people in my industry usually go to different companies based on each project. Generally, they also only work on one or two projects at a time too. Depending on the company you freelance for, hours can be 9-5 or any hours you set. Days I work from home, I usually break up my day so that I can go out for a 2 hour lunch or run some errands. It frees up my weekend a bit to do the things I want to do.

It’s different for everyone, but I’m really liking it! I mostly work from home actually and even on the days I go in, I’m only there for a few hours. I happen to live pretty far away so not having to drive into an office every day really helps my overall well-being. I absolutely detest driving in traffic, and my round trip commute can end up being 2 hrs long. My setup works for me since I get to work from home, but I get a change when I go in.

One of the best parts is less wasted time. Sometimes it feels like you’re always stuck in meetings and nothing ever gets done and everyone just talks. My time is used more wisely and I’m in less meetings.

Another great thing is being able to take as many vacations as you want for as long as you want.

The cons
Self-employment isn’t very stable, but then again full-time jobs aren’t these days either. There are times when I won’t have any work coming in. Holidays are actually a bad time because my industry slows down a lot. I’m sure a lot of other industries do too!

Paid vacations are another thing that I miss. Any days you don’t work, you don’t get paid for obviously. In a way, I don’t want to take any vacations!

I found out that employers actually pay about 7% of your income tax! I’ve had to learn a lot bout taxes and how to calculate and pay them quarterly. You can’t just pay them in a big lump sum once a year, you have to predict how much you will earn in a year and pay it in 4 quarterly sums. There are a lot of business deductions you can take, but you need to keep track of everything! Paying my own taxes really makes me appreciate all the money I earn. It hurts a lot more to pay it knowingly rather than getting it taken out of your paycheck automatically.

Individual health insurance is something I had to look into for myself. For the price I paid compared to the price my husband pays for me now on his employer plan, I was getting ripped off. Health insurance companies don’t care about offering individuals good health care plans, they care about the companies that will buy more policies. For the same price, my coverage now is 10 times better.

There’s so much I’m still learning about being self-employed! Taxes were extremely confusing and so was adjusting to keeping to my own set schedule. I love the flexibility in my schedule and how I only need to drive 3 days a week. For now, it works for me!

Are you self-employed or do you have a full-time job? What do you like about it?

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