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As most people know, I left my stable, full-time job to pursue self-employment in April of 2013.
The fact that I was able to quit was a dream-come-true at the time. I truly liked my old job at the mortuary, but working for someone else got old- and fast. I had always dreamed of being the boss lady – creating my own schedule and succeeding or failing on my own terms. And now, here I am, doing exactly that.
And on most days, it rocks.
Unfortunate Facts about Self-Employment
Still, self-employment isn’t perfect. Even though I no longer have to deal with the public, a boss, or co-workers, I still experience plenty of heartache and cringe-worthy moments. With that being said, here are five unfortunate facts about self-employment and how I cope:
No Paid Vacation
I started my old job with 15 days of PTO and slowly worked my way up until I had 20 paid days. Once I had 20 days to burn each year, I could typically take three weeks of vacation and save the other days for sickness or errands. Now that I’m self-employed, I get zero paid vacation days. Yes, zero. This often means that I end up working on vacation in some capacity, whether it’s just checking emails or keeping up with social media.
I recently had a few people question why I would complain about slow wifi while on vacation. “You shouldn’t even be on the internet while on vacation,” they said. “Maybe that’s your problem.” Unfortunately, staying connected is part of the deal when you’re self-employed. When you work for yourself, ignoring emails for days often means missing out on opportunities, disappointing clients, and taking away from your bottom line.
My old job offered crappy health insurance and a 401K match, but that’s about it. However, I know other people whose jobs offer excellent health care plans, pensions, and even life insurance to their employees. One frustrating thing about self-employment is that you are generally not afforded any of that- unless you pay for it yourself.
I don’t mind paying for my own life insurance and I am rock solid on saving for my own retirement, but we are pretty screwed in the health insurance department for a few reasons. We currently have a $393 per month plan with Anthem that we like, but it will soon go the way of the dinosaur due to changes brought on by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The cheapest plan available to us in 2014 was almost $800 per month and came with a $12,000 family deductible! Even worse, premiums in my state are supposed to increase 9-20% for 2015, which means that they will only ask for more.
Because of this, we have decided to abandon the idea of health insurance altogether and join a health care sharing ministry for around $400 per month. I’ll write more about that in a future post, but it is extremely frustrating to find out that, as a self-employed person, I am being asked to carry far more of my share of the burden when it comes to health care. And because of this law, I will soon be without traditional health insurance for the first time in my adult life.
A lot of people ask where I get all of my writing and consulting jobs. It’s as if they think there is some magic job board that posts only the best opportunities, with the highest pay and the best opportunity for growth. Trust me, it doesn’t exist.
The truth is, being self-employed usually means that you have to hustle for everything you have. And when you don’t see a job opportunity out there, you sometimes have to create one yourself- either by pitching your services or convincing someone that they need what you have to offer. I personally don’t mind the hustle, but I also know that it is not for everyone.
High Tax Rate
Because of the way the U.S. tax system is set up, self-employed individuals often pay some of the highest tax rates in the United States. Having plenty of deductions helps, but working as a web-based writer means that I have very few. I could structure my business differently, but with each change comes new challenges. There is just no way around it- I pay a lot of taxes, and writing that check hurts.
Most self-employed people I know have similar complaints, although those in different industries often have far more deductions than I do. Regardless, it is nice to make enough money that your tax bill is frightening. First world problems, right? Still, you know the saying, “Mo Money, Mo Problems!”
People Assuming You Don’t Really Have a Job
I’m pretty sure that most people we know think I live a life of leisure. However, that couldn’t be farther than the truth. Even though I work at home and don’t necessarily get dressed every day, I still have a real job with real responsibilities. In fact, I often work far more than 40 hours per week, including evenings and weekends. And I have never once even turned the TV on during the day in my entire 18 months of self-employment history.
I hear similar complaints from other home-based workers. If you don’t leave your house, people don’t think you are really working. I recently had a neighbor suggest I start volunteering to fill my time since I am “obviously home all day.” She meant well, but I knew she had no idea that I not only work full-time, but bring in a salary that is usually more than my husband’s!
I Still Love Self-Employment
All of these complaints aside, I wouldn’t trade my situation for any other. No, self-employment isn’t perfect, but no job is. Anyone who works has to deal with something they don’t like at least part of the time. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called “work,” am I right?
The best part about self-employment is that I have the opportunity to make more money than I did in the past. If I continue to hustle and look for additional streams of revenue, my income should theoretically continue to grow. Working at home isn’t perfect, but I do feel as if it has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Now I just need to make it last until I reach financial independence. Then, and only then, I can throw in the towel for good.
Are there any unfortunate facts about your job? What do you think you would like/dislike about self-employment?