Don’t Quit Your Day Job! Or Should You? The Realities Of Money and Writing /@StephanieKeyes

When I began my first novel, I had no intention of leaving my job. I loved Human Resources training. Not only did I enjoy helping people, but it was a role that couldn’t have suited me better. So, even as I worked on my first draft of The Star Child, I planned to continue working full-time, dedicating my weekends to writing and family.

So…I Might Have Changed My Mind

My discontent with trying to fit both working full-time and writing into my schedule kicked in after I had my second son–the one we affectionately refer to as Bam-Bam. With a generous maternity leave, I not only had time to spend with the new little guy, but also to self-publish The Star Child. It was a huge accomplishment–especially with a newborn. It also planted a seed:

What if I don’t go back to work?

It was a big decision. There were dozens of factors to take into account. My company had always been extremely generous–I’d be giving up a lot more than just a salary if I left. At this point, I only knew two things: I was done sidelining my writing and tired of leaving my family to travel all over the country.

With my husband’s support, I decided to turn in my resignation. Signing my first publishing contract with Inkspell Publishing, spurred me on–the suggested I demanded release schedule for the series, which I was determined to meet. I’d get to write full-time and stay home with my boys. What could go wrong?

 

Courtesy Philip Taylor, Flickr Commons

 The Truth Behind the Choice

It all sounded good on paper–or to be exact, my color-coded Excel spreadsheet. Once I’d left my job, though, it all hit me. After being a high-earner for years, I came face-to-face with life as someone without an income. Sure, my husband was still working, but I wasn’t making any money. I’d told everyone I’d freelance in whatever–graphic design, web design, whatever I needed. The truth, though, is that freelancing is tough work. Customers have strict demands. Freelancing rarely paid well, at least when I factored in all of the time. Plus, there was the culture shock.

I went from being able to buy whatever I wanted, to pinching pennies to buy coffee. With my job, the health insurance was so wonderful that I never saw a bill. With my husband’s insurance? I saw $4000 worth of bills in three months. Yeah, I wasn’t prepared for that.

By the time my first book launched in September of 2012, I went from having no credit cards, to $10k in credit card debt. Then my first royalty check came–well, at least I could afford to buy that coffee.

The good news was that I was still able to pay all of my bills. The bad? I couldn’t take my kids to the museum or on vacation or do anything at all. How could I possibly promote my upcoming book with no room to breathe financially? Forget trying to promote my work. I couldn’t afford to buy a copy of my book, let alone spend it on advertising.

 

Courtesy McKay Savage, Flickr Commons

 

The Proof Is In The Budget
Something had to give. So we took a good hard look at our finances–here’s where we landed. We:

  • Looked at every bill. Where could we cut? We changed cable plans, cell phone plans, paid off our cars to eliminate car loans.
  • Consolidated loans.
  • Refinanced our house.
  • Wrote down every recurring expense and tried to plan for them.
  • Tracked expenses by category.
  • Did our best to budget for expenses and put aside money for savings.
  • Talked about every expense we had–in-depth.
  • Started shopping smarter, buy food at stores like Aldi, devising stricter grocery lists. This even resulted in healthier eating.

After all this was said and done, I rebooted my expectations. No, I couldn’t live the way I used to, but I could live a better life, a richer one.

Now, I make hard choices about where and when I spend money. Book marketing is usually done on a quarterly basis and planned in a year in advance. I try to minimize surprises.And all those bills? Well, they’re still there, but we’re working on them.

Okay, maybe it’s not writing for a living J.K. Rowling-style, but I write every day, watch my kids grow up, kiss my husband goodnight each evening. The only time I spend on airplanes is on family vacations.

So, guess what? It didn’t work out the way I thought it would. But now, coming up on my third anniversary outside of the corporate world, I’m still more than okay. And most important? I’m still writing.

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10 Comments on “Don’t Quit Your Day Job! Or Should You? The Realities Of Money and Writing /@StephanieKeyes

  1. I can so relate to this!

    I am planning on writing full time once I retire (which is approaching quicker than I’d like to admit), and I’m having all the same angst about both – working full time now, and not working full time later.

    I wish you much success as you do what you love –

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  2. Reblogged this on pattytmitchell and commented:
    I can so relate to this!

    I am planning on writing full time once I retire (which is approaching quicker than I’d like to admit), and I’m having all the same angst about both – working full time now, and not working full time later.
    Interesting thoughts for anyone who wants to do what they love.

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  3. “After all this was said and done, I rebooted my expectations. No, I couldn’t live the way I used to, but I could live a better life, a richer one.” Favorite line of all! xo

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    • Aw! Thank you rockstar Hannah! So glad you enjoyed. I’ll tell you–I hope things never go back to the way they were. Things happen for a reason. This is where I’m supposed to be. 😀

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  4. Great article. Loved it. Reality is beautiful when written like you did there, even when it’s not what we expected (sometimes, especially).

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    • Thanks so much, Erika! It’s funny how life turns out, but that’s just it. It turns out. Things have a way of resolving themselves, even if it’s not what we had in mind. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! 🙂

      Like

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