Saturday, December 6, 2008

Balancing Work and Life

Both Friday and Saturday nights I am working at one of my part-time temporary jobs. Actually, I am working it the next two Friday nights as well. I admit I have a bit of a mental seesaw in my brain when it comes to non-passive "dollars for hours" work. Take this job that I am doing - I rather enjoy the work and I love the people I work with, but I also love sitting at home by the Christmas tree wrapping presents, which is what I'd be doing if I weren't working. I get this mental block when I think about going down there - I do not want to go. As it is, I already work 8 hours, then I am going to go work somewhere else for 4-5 more. It makes for a very long day. Yet at the same time, I know it will be absolutely fine once I get there, I even have fun. It is only the hour or two beforehand that I think about staying home, once I get down there, I enjoy it. Plus, I am so very grateful for this job. Let's face it, the extra income is wonderful and this is one of the few jobs out there where I can set my own schedule and like what I do. It is a perfect second job.

What is hard is deciding how much to take on. On one hand, you look at that meter up there in my sidebar and you can see that I can use every shekel I can get, which means I should work every opportunity I can get. A the same time though, there has to be a balance. I have to find the right place between making extra income and losing valuable time that could be spent with friends, family or just at home recharging. I also could be using that time to work on other income streams - for example, last month I was not able to do many eBay sales because I worked two different part time jobs. One was for a week at the top of the month and another was for 5 nights at the end of the month. That may not sound like a lot, but combined with the other activities in my life, it adds up. So, what's a girl to do?

To be honest, I don't have a perfect answer. I don't know if there is one. Most of me feels like I need to make hay while the sun is shining. These part time jobs o' mine only happen from September through June, so the summer will be mighty quiet. My emergency fund is doing okay, but it could certainly use a shot in the arm - and there is that annoying $971 on my credit card. If I can work as much as I can now, while still looking for ways to trim my budget, I can make it through the year.

Next year has some bright spots for me. Not only the big financial things - my car will be paid off and I will pay off that pesky credit card, but also, every month I am getting a better and better understanding of how my budget and money flows work together. Here's an example - I get paid every month on the 7th and the 21st. I pay all of my bills online. So, I set the payments to all happen either on the 7th or the 21st, depending on when they are due. (If a bill is due on the 1st, it gets paid on the 21st, if it is due on the 15th, it gets paid on the 7th, and so on.) All of this happens rather automatically, and though it is a bit embarrassing to say, I never really had a good feel for how much I needed in my account to pay on each of those days. That is, I knew what my monthly budget was, but I really didn't pay attention to what pays out when. Why is this important? Well, most of my bills are paid on the 7th and only a small fraction are paid on the the 21st. That means that money has to ride over from the 21st to the 7th, so if I look in my account on the 30th and see an "extra" couple of hundred dollars in there, it isn't money I can use. However, if on the 10th I were to see extra money, that really would be an excess. Up until I started really tracking my money, I never made that connection - and didn't understand why some months I seemed short while others were fine. Just understanding what is happening when is a huge boon.

Math is not something that comes instinctively to me, although I enjoy the budgeting process. The last six months of tracking each penny and watching every dollar has really opened up my eyes. That alone will be a huge benefit for next year, each bit of information I learn helps me with the following month. This in turn will help me moderate my spending and hopefully get me to a place where I can decrease my outside employment somewhat. I don't want to let go of it by any means, but I do need to find the right balance. Right now I am more heavily weighed towards scraping up every shekel I can find, but in the not too distant future I can see a time when I can let it even out a little bit more.

In the meantime I am just eternally grateful for every opportunity I have.

Photo by: Fogboy


Maria said...

I am so glad I stumbled accross your blog. What an admirable goal and I think it's great you're sharing your story with others. I wish more people were as dedicated as you obviously are. With a second house that wouldn't sell, my husband and I faced months of payments that were hard to make. But we did it, and now have the house rented to a great tenant. I am earning a very good part-time income online, and I want to encourage you -- you can do it!

Dawn said...

Hi Maria! Thanks so much for stopping by - comments like yours make my day! I appreciate your support!!