Can you ever truly have enough money?
I, like many other people, really like money. Forgive me if that makes me sound exceptionally greedy or materialistic, but it’s true. Knowing that I can buy the things I need or want (within reason, of course) and handle those unexpected expenses without having to stress gives me great satisfaction and fulfillment.
As much as I hate to admit it, however, my desire to amass large amounts of cash has started to become a little addicting. Before you roll your eyes and brush me off as a money-hungry plutomaniac who can never have enough money, allow me to explain.
Quitting My Job
A little over a year ago, I abandoned the comfort and security of my full-time job (and a steady paycheck) in order to pursue a life and career as a freelance writer.
Admittedly, I probably jumped ship from my full-time gig a little prematurely. I didn’t have much work or income lined up once I officially closed the door on my traditional position. So, to put it kindly, my husband and I were in dire financial straits for a while.
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When I was just getting my business started, I was bringing home around $50 per month. Unfortunately, that’s not an exaggerated figure, and we had a tough time trying to navigate life as a single-income couple — particularly since we were saddled with hefty student debt, car loans, and a mortgage payment.
But, we stuck together and made it through that particularly trying time where we barely had enough money to survive. I was fortunate that I was able to kick my freelance business into gear relatively quickly.
But honestly, there were days when it felt like things were taking an eternity to get up and running.
I may have left my job too soon, but hey, you live and you learn. I’ve come to understand there are ways to prevent such desperate financial situations.
Do You Have Enough Money?
“The first thing to do is understand your ‘burn rate’, or how much you are spending every month,” advises Logan Murray, a certified financial planner and owner of Pocket Project.
“Compare that to what you have available in cash to understand how much time you have before you have to start making money again,” Murray says. “Available funds should be in cash — if you have investments, these should not be considered if the market is volatile.”
Murray reminds us to consider all protections lost after leaving a job.
“My second point is health insurance. Many forget this expense because it is partially or fully subsidized by the employer. Make sure this is added to your burn rate for when you leave your job, and consider getting something in place prior to leaving.” Taking note of these changes is necessary to setting yourself up for success during a job transition.
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Hard Work Pays Off
Now, I’m proud of the fact that I make an incredibly comfortable living from my freelance work. I’m bringing home almost as much as my husband who has a degree in mathematics and a traditional full-time job. We aren’t millionaires, but we’re financially comfortable. I feel happy to be a contributing member of our partnership once again.
That period of time when we were digging through the couch cushions for spare change was an incredible motivator for me.
But, now I find myself facing the opposite problem. Watching that total continuously increase in my bank account has become somewhat intoxicating. Now, I have a hard time turning down any opportunities to take on more work and bring in more cash. I just want that number to keep growing, and I’ll do pretty much whatever it takes to make it happen.
My attitude can be summed up by picturing a classic cartoon character with dollar symbols in their eyes.
So, what does this mean? Well, while I’m making great money, I rarely have any time to enjoy spending it. I work all hours of the day and enthusiastically nod “yes” to every project that falls into my lap. But, what do I do with that money? For the most part, it sits there —untouched and unspent.
The Bottom Line: Making Enough Money
Today, there’s a lot of talk about finding work/life balance. And if you’re self-employed —that is, you’re the one deciding how much work you’re doing — finding that balance can be particularly challenging.
This got me thinking — when is enough money truly enough for me? Am I waiting for my bank account to hit a certain number so I’ll feel like I can finally slow down and start enjoying the fruits of my labor? Or, will seeing that number increase always feel this exhilarating — meaning I’m always going to keep putting the pedal to the metal trying to earn more?
Maybe, there isn’t really an answer to this question. And, if there is, I’m willing to bet the answer is different for every individual. After all, we all have our own definitions of financial comfort.
So, where you draw the line is really a personal choice.
As for me? Well, I’ve decided I’m going to keep trucking along like this for a while — maybe for the next year or so. You could argue that now is the time, as young adults, that my husband and I should be traveling and enjoying life.
But on the other hand, it’s also a great time for us to build up a solid financial security blanket, so that we can eventually start a family without worrying about money.