When starting to freelance full-time several years ago, I began hearing what is by now a familiar statement from people:

“I can’t imagine not knowing how much money I was going to make each month. I don’t think I could stand the insecurity of not knowing.”

Lois demonstrates what viewing something from a new angle looks like. Thanks, Lois.
Lois demonstrates what viewing something from a new angle looks like. Thanks, Lois.

I know it’s always meant to be a good-natured comment, but it always rubs me funny. At first, I would stumble out a half-defensive, half-analytical explanation for why that simply isn’t the case. I have regular clients who count on me for regular work, and I therefore always have an idea that I’ll be making at least a certain amount each month, blah, blah, blah. And new things just come up, you know, all the time, etc., etc. It varies, but it doesn’t just rise and fall, you know? Does that make sense?

But now that it’s been a good long time since someone has said that to me (of course), I’ve finally organized my thoughts on the matter to respond correctly. If, you know, anyone asks:

I can’t imagine knowing that even if I worked as hard as humanly possible all month, I couldn’t make any more money than if I totally slacked off. I don’t think I could stand the limits of a steady paycheck anymore.”

And I save a lot of dough never buying pantsuits or pumps. But you already knew that. Whether or not anyone ever makes that comment to me again, I find it a helpful perspective to have sorted out. Freelancers aren’t limited by the lack of a regular salary, we’re set free by it.

2 thoughts on “The limits of financial security

  1. This reminds me of a comic strip from Nemi by Lise Myhre. The character Cyan is paying for her groceries and the cashier keeps going on and on about her becoming a freelancer and how insecure it all must be. Eventually Cyan replies “Yes, sure. Have a good weekend.”. When the cashier replies “It’s Monday!”, she retorts, in a sing-songy voice: “Not for me!”. 😉

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