“The thing some folks don’t understand about sacrifice… Sometimes it’s more of a trade (The Skeleton Key).”
One of the things I hated the most about a regular 9-5 was missing out on beautiful weather. Those first few nice days of Spring when it’s sunny and warm, but you’re stuck behind a desk and the sun is setting by the time you get off work – those days were torture. Every time the weather is like that, I remember that trapped feeling and I’m so thankful for the freedom to work outside if I want to or delay my work for a few hours just to enjoy the beautiful sunshine.
I just finished writing about the costs of running a freelance writing business. I immediately started thinking about the other costs – the things that you give up to be a freelance writer.
Travelling on someone else’s dime. When you work for a company with several different operating locations, there’s a great opportunity to see various parts of the country or even the world. I travelled more during my years in corporate America than I had in my whole life prior to that. My first trips to Chicago, New York City, and Puerto Rico were company paid trips.
As full-time freelancers, we typically have to pay trips from our earnings even if they’re business-related.
Great health care. Up until I actually started freelancing full-time, I assumed all health care plans were the same. I thought it’d be easy to get another health care plan that was just as comprehensive as the one offered by my corporate employer. Boy, was I wrong.
While many of the best parts aren’t effective until 2014, President Obama’s Health Care Reform will solve a lot of the health care problems for solo self-employer workers. That’s if Congress doesn’t repeal the law.
Dedicated workspace. I’m yet to live in an apartment with enough space for an office. So, for the past six years, I’ve been working on the dining table, the sofa, the bed, the floor, wherever is comfortable and least distracting at the time. As confined as it was, I do sometimes miss the seclusion of a cubicle. But, on the upside, I can always see the sunlight from wherever I work inside my home.
Employer-matched retirement contributions. I never participated in my employer’s 401(k) matching program. Back then I didn’t realize how important it was to save for retirement as early as possible. Not contributing also allowed me to create a cushion that I used to launch my full-time freelancing career.
Since we are our own employers, we can’t really match our own contributions. There are some retirement plans that let us contribute more as self-employed workers, but we still have to earn that money. It isn’t “free.”
Working for a company has its perks. For many of us who decide to freelance full-time, the perks don’t outweigh the freedom of being your own boss. I don’t miss the politics, the constant pressure to climb the corporate ladder, and the lack of freedom over what I worked on. And I definitely would't trade back.