I was chatting with my son last night about K’s new job, school, life, other stuff, and mentioned that we’re leaving on Wednesday, they are leaving on Thursday, C and A are on home check (for us) and dog-sitting (for them) duty, and I am in pre-vacation craziness. G grew up with me, lived at home a few years after graduating high school, and got the firsthand look at what consulting life is like for me. In response to my statements about now being self-employed and busy with a lot of new things, he remarked “vacay cray-cray … on steroids.” It made me laugh.

But he’s not far off the mark. I am working all day today and all weekend, save for yoga practices and time for my gym workouts. I do have my priorities! This time is different, though. This time I feel like this pre-vacation craziness is for a better, higher, more worthy cause, because I am primarily my own employer. While still “employed” by my prior firm, invoicing for them will be completed today and in the hands on the in-the-office project assistant for distribution. Tuesday I will stop in to drop off a pile of paid invoices for her to mail and file, plus collect any checks that have come in and deposit them. The rest of what is on my plate and that will consume the weekend and most of Monday and Tuesday is all my own work. For my own little business, my first month of invoicing will be supremely satisfying.

M and I have been doing very well with our budget. Because we live on the prior month’s income, we have not been especially impacted this month by the part-time status and change to self-employment. Next month will be a bare-bones budget situation, with only my part-time income and what I invoiced from my side gigs, but we are prepared. It is long past due to eat from the pantry, as our cupboards are stuffed full with food and the freezers – all 4 of them – are amply stocked. We will have to have fresh produce and fruit, perhaps some of M’s kefir milk, but other than that I think we’ll be eating just fine for the entire month.

Once I issue my first invoices for my new business, subtract taxes and other expenses, I will know if my thoughts and basis for a new budget are realistic or completely out of line. The new budget is conservative, because I anticipate variable self-employment income, and anything extra will be tucked away in short-term savings until things level off. But I’m resisting projecting right now. I know I have worked hard, worked a lot for my major client (law firm) as well as extra stuff for my other gigs, but the final dollar amounts remain a mystery. No matter what amount I invoice, M and I have agreed to a scaled-down budget for the remainder of 2015, to give time to let my contracts and projects settle down and “repay” our savings for the amount I have allocated as operating capital. I have not yet actually spent the money, but moving it from our savings to the business’ checking account was its own little psychological drama for me.

As it is, our needs are very basic. The mortgage and utilities get paid, we own our vehicles, our insurance is not due again until next July. Food we covered. Vacations were already funded, and fuel is actually pretty minimal, unless M goes adventure running in the mountains, and there is room in the budget for that. Right now we are in a very sweet spot to be on a bare-bones budget, because most everything going on in our lives between now and December 31 has either been funded or already paid. I’ve zillions of ideas about work and future projects and thoughts on growing zooming through my head and scribbled on post-it notes all over my desk. Once we are done vacationing – we are gone again in September – I will be getting more serious about working and utilizing my time more efficiently.

Including hiring my first employee.

It will likely be a part-time, on-call/as-needed gig, and since my daughter works weekends and one or two shifts during the week, she has complete whole weekdays to help me out. She has a strong desire to transition to office-related work, this will give her a good taste of what it’s like being a clerical employee. It’s going to be data entry, filing, following up on routine emails, phone calls, etc. I will have to review and ensure accuracy, but that’s actually a lot easier and faster than actually doing the work myself. We are going to try it for a month and see how it goes for both of us, and I will pay her a reasonable hourly wage.

For the prospective or existing clients where I will be using her versus doing all the work myself, I have adjusted my contract and hourly fee schedule for a project support assistant. I am actually pretty pleased with the results for a couple of proposals I’m doing right now (another aspect of my vacay cray-cray). We have discussed this already, and she is quite excited about the prospect. Most of the work she will do at my home office initially, but we may be able to move into a remote work situation for her as well once I get her adequately trained. It is going to be a work-in-progress situation, evolving to suit what I need in an assistant.

While I feel good about the situation, I am realistic and have been honest with her about my expectations. I cannot say she gets no special treatment – she is already getting special treatment by getting to test-drive for this opportunity – but I was completely clear about what I need and if I am constructively critical of her performance she cannot take it personally and hold it against me. There are reservations on both sides, that’s for sure. Yet I have confidence in her and absolutely believe our mother/dauther relationship can withstand working together. I have a lot I can share/teach her, and she is smart and takes direction well.

So life is busy/hectic/crazy right now, but in the nicest possible ways. Onward.

2 thoughts on “Vacay cray-cray

  1. Ahh…self-employment. Vacations will never be quite the same – but that is OK. Sounds like you have a good plan for budgeting/cash flow. Just for a perspective on what my business did – we had a loan to the business and established a basic salary that would be paid regardless of cash flow (we were good for 9 months which makes sense given the lead time we were facing and type of work). As money came in we continued on the same salary, paid off what had been drawn from loan (all within first six months) and just stockpiled cash. As we got close to end of year we allocated the cash for taxes, operating costs in next year, max’ed out retirement contributions and only then paid out additional distributions to our selves. We have had one cash crunch since then – literally borrowed for 72 hours – but otherwise that has worked well for us. Now will C be a W-2 or 1099? If it works out well there could be some significant advantages for her to be a 1099 (both for her and you) in terms of tax deferred retirement savings, etc. One more thing to consider! Have a great vacation?

    1. I am actually following a similar plan with regard to cash planning, only my overhead is so low I have not concerns about cash. I decided on a minimum salary to draw based on everything, and I’m mostly resisting projections because I don’t want to think about the cash I might be able to stockpile. But yes, I expect to be doing some work and be more available by phone while we are away, but before I even began I set boundaries and parameters about when I am available by phone and replying to emails, etc. Most of the work I’m doing now makes it easy for me to practice enforcing such rules.
      C is going to be 1099 for now, simply because I did not want to go through all the drama of setting up a payroll account. I’ll do it for clients, but I really don’t want to do it for myself at this stage.

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