Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hidden costs of freelancing

When you decide to work for yourself, create your own business, live life on your own terms, there are certain costs involved. For one thing, you have to pay yourself. You have to pay your own taxes - no withholding or worker's comp taken out each week by an employer. You have to pay for your health insurance (yowch!), office supplies, electric bills, computer costs, etc. No more paid holidays or sick time or vacation.

But you know all of that. After all, you're smart enough to be working for yourself, not THE MAN. If you're starting a new business, you've probably saved up some money to live on while the business builds and you've budgeted rent and food and Netflix too so you're good to go.

Wait. Did you know about some of these other costs?

1. Coffee - my former employer had a well-stocked break room which included all manner of coffees, teas and hot chocolates. There were plenty of bottles of name-brand spring water too, plus the occasional treat someone would bring in or the company (in its flush years) would provide. On your own, YOU supply the break room. And it can't be a trip to Starbucks every morning either or you will quickly go broke.

2. TP - you're in an office environment for 8-10 hours per day. You're gonna use the bathroom. That's toilet paper, paper towels, and soap five days a week, fifty weeks a year. Now YOU have to provide the bathroom supplies. And the more time you spend in there, the more you have to clean the sink and floor and wash towels. That's added expense too unless you have a cleaning person and since you're on a budget, I'm thinking NOT.

3. Gas - when I worked in Burbank, I would park my car in the company garage for free and walk to do all my errands at lunch, thus saving gas and time that would have been spent after work. Now I have to drive to the bank, drive to the pharmacy, drive to the doctor, rather than walking. So that's gas I must use and parking I must pay for.

4. Birthday lunches, holiday parties, special occasions - without co-workers and an employer, YOU are paying for your own birthday lunches and YOU are spending your precious money to have a party at the holidays. No, it's not a big deal and honestly, who needs to see the guys from accounting wasted and Xeroxing their naked butts in the copy room? But these are social opportunities you could use to blow off steam or vent about the new memo policy...then again, you're working for yourself so you shouldn't need this!