On Letting Go and Trusting. . .

Since I quit my day job 8 months ago, I have been incredibly blessed.   I started out with two small little freelance jobs a year ago this month, and miraculously, those jobs have blossomed into another group of jobs, which lead to more connections and other jobs.  Truly, I am so appreciative.

I have never been one to shy away from working hard, and because I love what I am doing and I so want to pay off our debts, I struggle with saying no.

I worry that the jobs will stop coming, that my husband’s post doc won’t be renewed. . .I have always been the worrying type, and that feeling creeps up more and more during the winter.  I am glad that the spring sunshine is starting to appear.

Financial Lessons Learned in My Childhood

When I was 12, my dad lost his job.  My parents never had much money, and after he lost his job, they struggled to survive.  I didn’t know the extent of their financial straits until I was much older, but I grew up seeing my mom, who handled the budget, sitting at the table with her budget notebook and her calculator, adding and computing over and over again.

She still does it today.

Meanwhile my dad used to get irritated when he worked overtime because rather than being surprised by how big his paycheck would be, she had calculated almost down to the penny.

What I learned is that money is scarce.  It is not that my mom taught me that, but it is how I interpreted our situation and my parents’ behavior.

Money is scarce. . .

How Childhood Financial Lessons Are Affecting Me Now

And now, I am a mom to three wonderful kids, and I find myself conflicted.  I quit my job to stay home with my kids, especially my daughters, because my son had to go to daycare and preschool when he was little.  Even though I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, we couldn’t afford it because my husband was still in school.  Once he graduated, we both agreed that I would quit to take care of our girls during the day and to pick up most of the household work so my husband could concentrate on his post-doc and securing a tenure track teaching position.

I wanted to work a bit from home, but watching my business grow and being able to do something I love is more than I ever planned.

Recently, I have experienced business growing pains, so to speak.  I had to let some clients I enjoyed working with go because my schedule was just too full.  This would be easy if I had disliked the clients or the jobs, but I didn’t.  They were nice to work with.

Because I enjoyed working with them, and because I grew up with the notion that money is scarce, it wasn’t an easy decision.  However, I am working on trusting that letting some clients go was right not only for me professionally, but for my family, who should be my first priority.  When the kids are older and in school, I can easily work more and juggle more jobs.

I am new to the freelance world, but from other freelancers I have spoken with, there is always a delicate balance between how much work you can take.  I also understand that there is a delicate balance between jobs.  Sometimes you have to let some clients go to free up your schedule a bit more or to make room for new clients.

More than learning about the freelance lifestyle, I am learning about myself through this process.  I am learning that so much of my thoughts about money revolve around what I learned as a child even though there may be no basis to those fears.  I am learning to let go and trust that my work at home mom career will work itself out.  Look how it has in the last 8 months.  I think the progress I have made should make me willing to trust more.

What financial lessons did you learn in childhood that continue to affect your financial decisions today? 

Comments

  1. I’m sure you will have many other great opportunities! It sounds like you’ve learned a great deal from your parents.

    • I did learn a lot from her about how to stretch money and how to budget. I didn’t learn about savings, mainly because she and my dad were never able to save much.

  2. Hi Melissa,
    I admire your work ethic and ability to juggle so many balloons. You are inspiring and a great role model for other freelancers!

  3. Brenda Patterson says:

    Very interesting post.I am fearful of freelancing. I want to but too afraid it will end badly.

    • I would recommend beginning freelance work on the side while keeping your day job. Then you can decide if it is a good fit for you or not.

  4. It’s tough to find a work life balance but it’s important you recognized when you were too busy and had the ability to say no.

    But these are good problems to have, right?! Too many clients? too much work? : ) I understand the concerns though.

  5. You have had incredible success over the last few months! It’s really impressive that you’ve earned so much working part-time from home as a freelancer, and now you’re at the point of turning down work because you have enough. It’s a great thing that you recognize this and acknowledge your priorities in balancing your time.

    My sweetie and I were discussing last night the possibilities for working and raising children together, especially whether she would be comfortable as a stay-at-home parent if I could support us on one income. (I have a promising interview next week, which led to the discussion. We’re still a couple years away from welcoming children, but the potential new job would be an extremely positive long-term career move.) She said that she liked some aspects of that plan, but that she would have to get used to it over time, especially working through her feelings about not contributing financially. I pointed out your example of working at virtual assistant jobs while caring for your family, and that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. We can live and save from one income, and bank all of the other for the kids’ education, retirement, etc. You’re inspiring!

    • That sounds like an excellent plan for you and your fiancee. Honestly, I would be bored if I wasn’t doing some type of work at home while the kids were sleeping. (I am not the clean the house endlessly type of person. :)) I think working from home part-time is a great way to contribute while raising your kids.

  6. In my childhood, I learned many great finance lessons from my dad. He always bought cheap, functional and not always so pretty, used cars. He kept our house from falling apart but never made upgrades to it. He bought us clothes on clearance. Most importantly, he paid cash for what he bought, never borrowing money. His example was a very good one for me and helped me make the transition from being a spendaholic to the extreme goal setting, saver that I am today, saving over half of my income last year.

    • That is a great story. Even when you were a spendthrift, you still had your dad’s lessons to fall back on when you wanted to change your ways.

  7. Great thoughts melisssa – I think that it’s important to trust when you’re freelancing like you are. you are in full control, and it seems like your business is booming. You’ve got nothing to worry about as long as you work hard (and that’s what you do) then you’ll be fine.

    • Thanks, Jeff. I just want to be careful not to take on too much. I have to remind myself there will be time to take on more work when my youngest goes to preschool in another year.

  8. Good job in knowing when to draw the line – and striving for a good work/life balance. It’s so hard to do when work and life take place under the same roof.

  9. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom raising 3 sons but had some part-time jobs I started along the way. I am glad I stayed home, especially when my sons got involved with girls. We did move to Belize to reconnect when they were 16, 13 and 10, and this was the best lesson for all of us. Strangely, I’m a dreamer when it comes to money, but a worrier when it comes to getting my publishing career going.

  10. Why is almost always the woman who ends up staying home with the kids? Does what we gain from doing that offset what we lose from losing clients or being out of the work force?

    • Good question, Marie. My husband did stay home for 1.5 years with our son because I couldn’t afford to quit my job. He put his grad school on hold during that time, which is part of the reason why it took him so long to graduate. However, I always wanted to be the one to stay home, and he is happy pursuing his career now. (It just doesn’t pay very much right now. :))

  11. I can totally relate to this. As silly as it sounds, I always seem to worry the most when things are going well!

    However, I’m sure your freelancing will always be in demand, Melissa. You’re a great writer and you take amazing care of your clients!

  12. Great post, Melissa and I stand amazed at how quickly you’ve added to your business over the last few months. If you don’t mind me asking, did you bid on jobs on Freelance or something similar to start….or did you do something else? There are so many different avenues to use but I’m just wondering what worked for you.

    Mary

    • Melissa says:

      I responded to one job that was advertised on a blog forum I am on. After that, it was word of mouth. Then, as I began working with more people and writing more, other people saw my writing and contacted me.

  13. Having the power to give up jobs takes a whole lot of willpower, but it’s a great business attitude. You were honest with yourself and your clients – I wish more business people were like that. You were not willing to compromise the quality of your work. Kudos to you,

  14. I could have written this post! My father lost his job when I was 12 and my parents finances were very tight and my mother decided that I, the 12 year old child, was the person to confide in about it. Now I’m married, have 6 figures in the bank, we make good salaries, and yet I can’t bear to take the tags off a $200 coach purse I love b/c I am scared someone will lose a job and it will make or break us. I’m neurotic and I can’t relax b/c I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The one time I was laid off (2008) it was expected and I had a new job within a few weeks, but still. I can’t shake the feeling that something horrible will happen that will eat up all of our finances and leave us destitute and living in the streets.

    • It is amazing how we cling to ideas from our childhood even though circumstances are vastly different now. Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. Balance truly is vital, it matters in every area of life – not just money. I agree with that, while I also go along with the idea that money is scarce. Or, that money can become scarce at any time. However, the one thing that’s truly limited is time – we can make more money, but we can’t make more time.

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