Monday, 28 October 2013

Increasing my income

One of my main targets from last year was to increase my income.

I freelance as a consultant in a specialist field, and I decided last year that I need to focus more effort on earning more money doing this, rather than getting distracted with side-hustles.

  • I suddenly realised a very basic truth about my expanding my existing work - that even though I had a good reputation to build on and had always successfully relied on word of mouth, people didn't necessarily know my availability. Duh.  So I updated my CV, sent it to a few likely contacts, and built a website advertising my services.  Beginner's stuff, admittedly, but obviously necessary and it bore results.  Within a few weeks I was having interesting lunches and finding out about potential new work.  I found Ramit Sethi's blog invaluable for advice on this. 
  • I started to read a bit more about how to work freelance.  I found a few useful blogs, such as Freelance Advisor and Freelance Folder, which had some pertinent information.  I realised I have to be my own CFO, CTO, Head of Sales and Marketing and coffee boy, and that if this is something I want to carry on doing, I need to find sustainable ways to deal with this. 
  • I started diversifying my output.  Instead of only working on a consultancy basis, I started to look at specialist information products that I could create. I gave a workshop at a local university and plan to do a residential weekend in the future. These are not particularly well paid but I enjoy teaching, they expand my skill set, and I will make connections.  And who knows, maybe one day I'll run a webinar or create some monetised YouTube content on my specialised area. 
  • Finally, I started to professionalise my own internal systems.  I started to be more systematic about keeping track of all my work contacts, and how to keep them updated on my availability and portfolio. I started setting myself earnings targets and tracking my progress towards them.   This was astonishingly motivating, considering it was just me putting some made-up numbers into an Excel worksheet and making a chart or two. 

Taking my career seriously is an interesting experience for me, and part of me still wants to write a novel, dabble in complementary health and so on.  But having this focus is definitely good for me ... and for our bank balance.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A year of managing our money more wisely

Wow, I can't believe it has been exactly a year since I last posted. How weird is that. I didn't even look at this blog until today, partly because I have been busy doing the things I said I would do!

We have been trying really hard to look after our money more wisely.  You penny-wise people would be so proud of us.  Everyone else can learn from my mistakes.

  • The money meetings we instituted a while ago were very useful in improving our communication around money. We don't have them as often any more, but that is because we no longer feel like money is a separate topic that is somehow hived off from the rest of our lives. 
  • We had a windfall that meant that we could be less stressed about money for a while, but my attitude to this windfall is completely different than it would have been two years ago.  Instead of immediately planning how to spend it, we have saved a lot of it in various places, and are spending some of it on essential household maintenance. 
  • We have set up a regular payment into a tracker fund. I cannot believe it took me a whole year to do that but it did.
  • We have also started tracking our net worth, and keeping an eye on how much pension we will get when we retire and the value of the children's savings for university.  I don't think the actual figure is very important at this early stage (and if I did I would be freaking out, trust me), but I would like to see it going up rather than down.  And up quickly, if possible.  
More posts later about other efforts we have made over the past year. I'm proud of how far we have come, but we have a long way to go.