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Prioritizing time

Life has been pretty hectic over the last few weeks, and a lot of changes have taken place. I wanted to go back to working 70 hours/week like I was doing prior to moving to Europe… but once I got back, I realized that lifestyle isn’t really going to work for me anymore. While I don’t regret that crazy work schedule (and it was actually a lot of fun!), there’s so much more that I want to do with my time.

One of my goals for 2013 was to cut down my workload down to (hopefully) 50-55 hours/week. I spend 40 hours/week at the full-time job, which leaves 10-15 hours/week for freelancing. I think this is a good balance for me, and I can always tweak it down the road if I find it’s not what I need.

In order to achieve this work-life balance, one of the first things I did was to step down from my position with the Toronto Star’s Moneyville.ca. It was a really, really tough decision because I’m one of the original bloggers that my editor hired. I’ve been writing for Moneyville for 2.5 years, and I’ve learned so much in that time. But I just can’t conduct interviews and follow-up with stories/leads during the day when I’m at work. It’s sad, but I’ve made some terrific industry contacts, and I’m still going to be writing for the Toronto Star on occasion.

I’m not sure how that will affect my 2013 income goal of $85-90k, but I’m still going to try as hard as I can to get there. I’ll need to make between $1,500 and $1,600 each month in freelance income in order to hit that target. So far this month, I’ve pulled  in just under $2,000 – so it’s possible as long as I keep on top of everything.

As for the full-time job, it’s been great so far. Although it feels weird to be a decision-maker (and a boss), I’m really enjoying the challenge. The people I’m working with are nice, and I think this is a great next step in my career. I was really nervous about being able to handle such a crazy position, but it turns out all of the experience I’ve had in past jobs has really prepared me for this one. Plus, it looks like down the road there could be some major international travel involved. So fingers crossed. :)

Anyway, with the extra time I had on my hands over the weekend, I was able to accomplish a few things to get my finances back on track:

    • Increased my mortgage contributions back to accelerated bi-weekly payments with an additional 20%.
    • Created a spreadsheet to track my 2013 income.
    • Submitted paperwork to turn my TFSA with TD Canada Trust into an e-series mutual fund account.
    • Started sorting through my 2012 receipts (this is going to be a long process).
    • Started looking for an accountant.

How was your weekend?

A career change

Some of you know that for the past few months, I’ve been casually looking at full-time job postings. I knew finding the right job would be tough, so I wanted to take my time finding a job that would allow me to further my career, provide the financial stability I want, as well as align with my personal values. And I’m happy to say that as of late last week, I was offered a position with a Vancouver-based high tech company that I just couldn’t refuse. :)

First, let me backtrack a bit because ending my full-time freelancing career was not an easy decision. One interviewer even asked why I wanted to give up what seemed like a perfect location-independent career, and that’s a valid question. As a freelancer, I had the ability to create my own schedule, travel whenever I wanted – and I made more money this year freelancing 25-30 hours/week than I did at my 40 hour/week full-time job last year. It really was a tough lifestyle to give up.

Related: Why I’m quitting my day job and moving to Europe

But, working for myself over the last year has made me realized a few things about myself:

I don’t like working alone
It’s funny because I’m not a super social person, but I hated the isolation of freelancing a lot more than I thought I would. I get to network and converse with people online all the time. And often I’ll meet clients and colleagues in person. But it’s not the same as the social interaction of working with people on a daily basis. I miss bouncing ideas off of people. I miss collaboration.

I want to work on bigger projects
As a one-woman show, I’m always working on projects within my budgetary means. But, the high I get from working on projects way bigger than myself is something I’ve been craving more and more.

I miss stability
Knowing you’re going to get paid every other week is something I really took for granted before this year. Like I said, I made more money in 2012 than at my full-time job last year, so it’s not necessarily about the amount of money coming in. It’s the frequency, and the stability knowing that I will definitely get paid. Plus the medical benefits are nice. :)

I miss making more money
In the back of my mind, I keep thinking about how I need to be utilizing my (relative) youth to its fullest potential. Working hard now while I have the energy is going to pay off in the future. So by taking on a full-time job, and pushing my freelancing back into a part-time role, I’ll be creating a potential income level that will help me save significantly more each month. It would be silly of me to waste that kind of opportunity, because I know 10 years from now I won’t want to work 65 hours/week.

Related: A freelancing career isn’t for everyone

So there you have it. This blogger is moving back into the corporate world, and I’m really, really excited about this job. It’s in the high tech field of science and nuclear medicine – something I have no background in, but am extremely eager to learn about.

It’s a big chance to work with a company that aligns with my personal values, and work in a department with seemingly unlimited growth and potential for advancement.

As for freelancing, it will still play a big part of my life. I expected to have to work 40-50 hours/week this year to create the income I wanted for myself. But as it turned out, I only needed to put in as much effort as I did last year. So the idea of moving the 25-30 hours/week back into evening/weekend work is a definite possibility. BUT I will likely be cutting back on the amount of new clients I take in, and potentially scale back on my current projects because this full-time job is going to be extremely challenging.

Of course, this blog will continue as it always has. I expect new life to be pumped into it, because I’ll finally be able to grow my savings and achieve more financially with this added income. :)

The jobs before my career

Ages ago, I saw a cool post at Budgets are Sexy, where he listed every single job he’s ever had. I’ve had some pretty fun/weird jobs over my lifetime, so I thought it would be fun to list out all the jobs I’ve had before starting my career – and I encourage you to do the same on your blogs or in the comments! :)

Jobs Before College

Babysitter ($7/hour) -I babysat for a couple across the street who had 3 boys. They behaved themselves most of the time, but boys will be boys! I was lucky that the couple paid me minimum wage at the time, since most sitters were only getting $5-6. But then again, I was looking after 3 boys, so maybe the joke was on me! :)

Referee ($15-20/game) – When I was growing up, I spent most of my time at the field hockey field. From age 14-18, I was at practice or playing games at least twice per day, so I figured if I practically made my home at the field, I might as well make some money too. I took a 2-day referee clinic, and officiated everything from kids to adults to high school tournaments. I didn’t work as often as I would have liked because it often interfered with my own training… but I made some extra cash that helped me get through high school.

Department store salesperson ($8.90/hour) – I took a class in high school that was aimed at prepping students for their careers. It also included a 200 hour work experience placement. At that point, I wanted to work in the professional sports industry, so where did I get placed? In the shoes and luggage section of a major department store. :| But I worked there with a very good friend, and at the end of our (unpaid) work experience, we were hired on as part-time staff. My boss was great because she let me schedule work around my field hockey practices/games. Oh, and school work too.

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Jobs During College

Sports store salesperson ($8/hour) – In between my 1st and 2nd year of university, I worked for a local sports store. It was the worst 6 weeks of my life because I was still a pretty shy kid, and we all worked on commission. I remember they all clapped when I finally made my first commission – when I sold a pair of roller blades 2 weeks into the job.

Newspaper bundler ($8.50/hour) – Normally, you’d make $8/hour at this job, but I chose to work the graveyard shift for an extra 50 cents/hour. It was horrible and extremely lonely work. From 11pm-7am, I worked next to women who didn’t speak English, as we inserted flyers into newspapers, and bundled them in stacks of 25. I lasted 6 weeks before I quit because my fingers started to bleed.

Promotional Rep ($12/hour) – You know those people who do “special announcements” in movie theatres before the show is about to start? Well, that was me. I saw the ad in the newspaper, and decided to go in for the interview. There were about 20 of us in a room, where we had our photos taken, and filled out a questionnaire. From that group, two people were chosen to be the promo reps for Altoids mints – and I was one of them. Back when the minimum wage was $8, I felt so rich making $12/hour. Plus, I got all the free Altoids I could eat, so bonus?

Field hockey coach ($200/season) – I coached my old junior high team (age 13-15) for one season (1 practice, 1 game per week). It was a lot of fun, even though some of the girls were huge brats.

Cashier ($8-10/hour) – I was hired to work at a very popular local electronics store. It was the kind of place where people lined up the night before for the Boxing Day sales. I have nothing bad to say about the job. My boss was great, I made some amazing friends there, and the job was flexible over the years. I worked there off-and-on for about 4 years.

Call Centre Agent ($9-12/hour) – I know another fellow PF blogger who worked here too while I was there. :) It was a great job for a while. I was able to make a lot of extra money because I could take OT hours if they were available, and it was my first real full-time job. Every other job up until this point was shift work. This job made me feel like a real grown-up. I had great stats, got promoted, and felt like I could actually be worth something one day. But then they started dissolving departments (including the one I was in), and I left pretty quickly after that.

Admin Assistant ($17/hour) – This was my first taste of working for the government, and my first taste at a “real world” salary. I got a 4-month temporary assignment one summer. It was a fantastic opportunity, and when my assignment was over and they offered me another job, it was very hard to go back to school. That being said, I didn’t know what to do with all of the extra income I was making, so I blew a lot of it on clothing, concerts, and anything I could think of.

Promotions Coordinator ($10/hour) – I traveled to Northern Alberta for this 4-month summer co-op job with a non-profit. It was my opportunity to lead a team of other summer employees and see my projects through from concept to completion.

Beauty Advisor ($9/hour) – Well, this was a weird job! For a gal who wears minimal make-up, and is arguably never in style, for some reason I was offered the job of Beauty Advisor at a local drug store. I went to beauty school on the weekends, got tons of free product, and had a good time. But the time commitment got to be too much during school, and a few weeks after graduating from college, I landed a job back in government.

Event Coordinator ($10/hour) – This was with the professional sports team in the city I lived in, and I am extremely proud of the 5 years I spent at this job. I was hired during the first season of the club’s existence, and I led a team of 3-7 other people. It was part-time during the evenings and weekends, which meant it was perfect for school. And when I graduated, I could still work and have a full-time job at the same time. I loved this job so much that once I moved to Vancouver, I still went home on the weekends so that I could work at the games.

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So there it is. All the jobs I had before my career started. After I graduated from college, I started working in marketing, communications, and graphic design jobs – all while blogging in my spare time. Now, the roles are reversed and I’m a full-time blogger/writer. But working so many diverse jobs when I was younger really helped me communicate more effectively, and learn quickly. :) Plus it was super fun to learn about such random careers like promoting Altoids mints, and going to beauty school!

AND, I think with each job, I got more satisfied with what I was doing and where I eventually wanted to take my career. So that’s always a bonus. :)

What were some of the best (and worst) jobs you’ve ever had?