Out of Office – taking the financial hit

How I save before holidays…

Going on holiday is great. There is nothing better than going away and having a break from your usual life. The only snag that I have (except missing my dog) is a loss of income. During the school holidays, I take a small dip in income as I do not take on as many projects but I still work and juggle childcare.

If I’m away, I really do not want to take my work with me – I can’t do anything half-a*sed and I want to be away away and not glued to my phone constantly checking emails. It isn’t a holiday. (I’ve written about half-term adventures on this blog post.)

This sadly means that I do have the potential to lose money – I won’t charge clients for work that I’m not doing and I can’t exactly give myself holiday pay. It is the only downside I feel for being self-employed.

I plan, plan and plan for holidays so that there isn’t a major dip in income

How I get around this potential income loss is the following:

  1. Plan my workload – we book our holidays fairly in advance and I know when we will be away, this means I can see the potential income dips.
  2. I tend to take on an extra quick project a month before we leave – this is sometimes a bit bonkers as I’m not only working longer hours but I’m also having to plan our packing. It however soothes me to know that whilst I’m away, income will still be reaching my bank account.
  3. On return, I’ll look at my schedule and see if I can hustle for an extra project as well. This can be tricky because in my line of work, the busiest time tends to be in March and October. Finding extra work in August is often pointless but I’ll try!
  4. Budget – I’ll see where I can save money in the month before my holiday, perhaps not visiting a coffee shop for my Wednesday treat or meeting a friend at their house instead. I’ll also limit my travel as train tickets to London can be expensive.
  5. Blitz the house and attend a car boot sale. I am yet to do this but I have friends that have a clear out and regularly bring back £200.
  6. Lastly I save up every £2 coin that I’m given for a year – this can often add an extra £100-200 to my budget and I really recommend it.
Holiday to mean means switching off the laptop.

Do you factor in holidays with your financial planning or are you happy to work when you can?

Recommended reads:

Guest post for 9 to 3 jobs!

923 jobs logo

Recently I was asked for my advice on how to work from home by 923jobs as part of their #25dayflexup campaign. I was completely thrilled to be asked because I think what they are offering is really great. Just recently I was talking to the cashier at my local Morrison’s who told me that she was able to work 9am to 3pm because she had been an employee at the store for so long. “Hours like that, aren’t really an option for newcomers” she said.

Anyway, please do go and have a read. Their blog is great!


How I manage time-sucking clients

Clock image by @sonjalangford
Time goes by…so slowly photo by @sonjalangford

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog and Instagram for these first initial weeks back after Christmas. I’ve been really busy with work and clients. Actually, scratch that, I’ve been really busy with clients which has meant I have been busy with work.

My clients are lovely but a lot of them do not understand the principles of publicity. This is absolutely fine as it is a random industry where you cannot ever guarantee media coverage and therefore a solid return on investment. I pride myself on working really hard for my clients (I sweat blood) and getting them a satisfactory service where their product is featured.

But this does take time – lots of chasing and looking for niche angles. I do spend a lot of time reading books, magazines, blogs and on social media scouting for new places that would suit my clients products. I really love it and I am very lucky that I get to call it a job.

Recently though, I’ve been finding my 9 to 3 getting a little stretched and I’ve been running out of time on some projects. Looking back over my diary (which I keep for work schedules) I can see that my days have been filled with talking to my clients every day. Each call can last an hour. So I have not been factoring in these calls when I agree to work on certain projects. These calls have been eating into my work time – i.e. getting the job done that they are paying me for. Argh!!!

Here’s what I did:

  1. I told them. I said that the calls were taking me away too much from the work. The calls were over-riding the projects.
  2. I set up an agenda for the daily calls which was agreed in email the night before. Unless urgent, we stuck to those agenda points.
  3. The calls could only last 30 minutes at the very most. 15 minutes were preferable.
  4. I sent a catch up email each evening so they could see my progress during the day. This was 3-4 lines long.
  5. We agreed a time to speak every day – normally from 9.30am as this gave me time to assess any incoming overnight emails.

And that’s it! Nothing fancy but it has made such a difference! I’m focused, my client is reassured that I’m working and they can see my progress. Have you had this issue? I’d love to hear your tips because I’m embarrassed to say that it took me at least 10 days to figure out why I was running behind and getting stressed!

Working from your local library

Image of Bingham Library

Today I visited my local library – I live near a small market town in Nottinghamshire which has a few cafes that I occasionally work from on my “Treat Wednesday” (I know it’s Thursday) but I’m trying to not spend as much in January and felt that the library could take me out of the house, show me some inspiring reads and allow me to choose some new books for Amy.

It was really great! Surprisingly busy, free Wifi and a selection of tables to work from. I’m such a book geek that I found sitting amongst the shelves very inspiring. I also loved sneaking a peek at what people were picking up, putting back and borrowing. There was a hot drinks machine as well if I fancied a drink. Bravo!

I’m guessing that it could be a little noisy for some as there was a children’s reading group there whilst I was working but I tend to be able to switch off. I noticed a few people putting on headphones at one point!

I left with 6 books – 4 for Amy and 2 for me. I also read a good portion of a parenting book that I’m thinking about purchasing. All in all a great place to spend a few hours and I got my work finished. Yay!

So if you are looking for a new venue to sit yourself for a few hours, then I would suggest having a look at your local library.

Love Libraries image campaign by The Library Campaign