Work services and budgets

It’s Wednesday, trash night. I am hoping my recent emotional funks are on the curb with our trash and recycling cans this evening.

Intriguing work news to report – my daughter and I are undertaking a brave new venture for a few of my clients: we are going to be personal shoppers and small party planners for the upcoming holiday season.

Yes, it is true – between us we have waayyy too much experience as shoppers and might even go so far to suggest that shopaholism is a hereditary condition. As far as personal shopping experience for others, I have assisted my original part-time job #2 boss with this for the last couple of years. This year, he has recommended my services to a couple of other business associates, and now that I am establishing myself as both accounting and business concierge service, my client base for this has suddenly tripled. It’s primarily holiday gifts for employees, clients, and a few elderly family members. There will be lists and guidelines, and then I will turn C loose on the internet to shop until she drops using someone else’s money. For my part, I will take the suggestions she finds back to the client for final approval, before we make arrangements for purchase. We will then wrap and creates a beautiful presentation package; C does amazing things with gift wrap and ribbons, having spent her high school and early college years working at a party supply store and doing gift wrap at both Nordstrom and Macy’s. If there is need for specialized baskets, we both have experience in that as well. Someday we may learn diaper cakes, but as yet there has been no need.

Despite my social anxiety and lack of event planning experience, I have actually pulled off a few small party events (20 to 40 guests) for PTB #2 and PTB #1 in the past. I have found it is primarily the logistics of establishing budgets, finding vendors, making arrangements, getting approval from the client, following up on arrangements, and having a plan B for every possible thing that could go wrong. I am not foolish enough to attempt anything larger and more “themey” than planning and arranging holiday meals or employee parties, but for at-home events and a couple of larger restaurant/destination events described to me I will be able to manage it with assistance from my daughter and possibly K, who is a fountain of ideas for this sort of thing.

Speaking of K, the marketing genuis of the family, she has a lot of ideas to market and grow my little business. I keep putting her off, because at present I have more than enough work and seem to be naturally diversifying by the hour. Her new job is going very well, and she’s very happy learning the ropes of this new organization. G is back in school and still working as well, so there is time when she’s at home alone or looking for new things to help challenge her.

In other work-related news, my long-time PTB #1 boss has asked me to lead/teach a small budgeting class – he thinks I would be a natural at it because I do not come across as an accountant or a finance person (I think that is meant as a compliment). I would explain the basics of budgeting, the pitfalls of debt, and why having a spending plan (or budget) is so important in one meeting, then go over the moving parts of a budget (income, monthly expenses, periodic expenses, debt, savings, etc.) and how to establish one in a second meeting, and then meet with couples individually in a series of 3 appointments (each) to establish, monitor, and update their personal budgets. This would be a program through a nonprofit group and would initially involve 10 couples/families, so there is a 20 to 25 hour time commitment over a 3 month period.

This is not a done-deal by any stretch of the imagination, merely something being explored as community service. I know Dave Ramsey’s financial peace university is offered by a lot of churches in the area, but it has not been especially well received by the group my PTB #1 is associated with. I am still thinking about the idea, because nothing is every as simple as it sounds. For me to be approved by the group’s leadership, I will have to prepare an outline of my budgeting approach and the basics that I plan to present in the two meetings, followed by a simple budgeting template for the participants to use either online or in paper-and-pen format.

Although I am completely flattered and freaked-out at the same time by the proposal, the rational parts of my head know I can and would do well at this. I have budget coached others in the past and they still speak to me regularly. I am also more compassionate than judgmental about the decisions people make, because personal finance should be just that – personal. And anyone who knows me or reads this blog for even a little while is aware that I have a very real understanding of how difficult it is to change habits and make better choices. Sometimes it does take a village to help us as individuals muster the courage to make the harder choices and then support us over the lumpy bumps in the path to our goals.

How this all figures into my own big-picture budgeting … I don’t know yet. For this year, I believe my fledgling business is rocking right out the gate and that I can look forward to a good, profitable first few months. M and I are living on what we refer to as the “starving artist” budget for the most part, even though I/we are generating quite a lot of income right now. But we agreed that it was better to limit ourselves for now with me drawing a regular salary from the business to meet our basic budget and his contributions from his income-generating efforts adding to the wants and whims that may come up.

A lot going on in just a few hours and a few dozen emails today. Still, progress is progress, and I am still going to the gym tonight to get my workout done. Bear planks await me – oh boy.

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