My 2016 Budget Challenge: Does Taking a Regular Day Job Mean Giving Up?


[Editor's Note: This is another episode in Max Wong's journey to find an extra $31,000 this year. Read the whole series here.]

Although most people hate their boring job, there is something to be said for mindless labor — at the end of the workday, you can leave the job at the office. I am currently looking for a regular, turnkey job, and money is not even the first reason why.

I Am Tired of Thinking

I know. This seems like a stupid thing that only a stupid person would say. But I am really tired at the end of every day. Like, my brain is worn out. And, when I wake up in the morning, I don't feel mentally refreshed. In fact, my first thought upon waking is a rundown on that day's To Do list, which is basically the list of what I didn't finish the day before.

Other than having no benefits like health care or a 401K, the biggest drag about my current battalion of creative, freelance jobs is that I have to do 100% of the brainwork. I have to write the stories for Wise Bread. I have to organize the photo shoot. I have to make the jam. If I worked a standard service job, I would have time between customers for reflection or even daydreaming. With my current work, I have no time to work through complex problems or innovate. My creative jobs are actually preventing me from being creative.

Yes. This is a first world problem. Most definitely.

Getting Paid by the Gig Is Actually a Problem

I love beekeeping because bees are endlessly fascinating. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't learn something new about bees or how to keep them. Unfortunately, bees wait for nobody. I have pretty much given up trying to schedule around beekeeping jobs. Also, depending on the size and the grumpiness of the hive, the simplest beekeeping tasks can take five minutes or five hours. While the master beekeeper I assist tells me that I will get better at assessing the work flow as I level-up as a beekeeper, right now I get paid the same for swarm capture jobs whether I get stung once or 20 times.

The days that I get stung 20 times are the days I wish I had a salary.

My Random Payment Schedule Is Annoying

I spend all day harvesting lemons and making marmalade on the assumption that I will be able to sell it. While my profit estimates are usually accurate, the schedule of payment never is. Sometime I sell out of jam in 48 hours and sometimes it takes months for me to sell 100 jars. I know that I will make $4,000 in profit if I sell my entire summer harvest of honey, but I might not make the brunt of those sales until Christmas rolls around. Meanwhile, I still need $423 by next week as the minimum payment on my bank loan.

Okay, thanks for letting me get all that whining off my chest.

Hooray! Three Job Offers

I had the most peculiar Monday. I got three job offers in one day.

I woke up to the first job offer. A tech startup wants to hire me to write content for their blog. It's an intriguing company — working in affiliate marketing — a white-hot space right now. Creatively I said yes, but financially, I said no. The company isn't funded, and I currently can't afford to take a spec job for someone else. If I am going to work for free, it has to be for me.

I am sure I am walking away from a million dollar opportunity.

The second job came through a knitting buddy who has created a probiotic cookie that Los Angeles foodies are going crazy over. She's never run a company and needs someone to be her factory manager. Although I have experience working as a private cook, I don't have the mass production experience she needs to make the jump to the big leagues. With my family's restaurant background, I feel like I could probably figure out what she needs to do to get her product into Whole Foods. Even though a salaried job is so tempting, I know that running any kind of food-based company is a 24-hour job that will take over my life and brain. I don't take her up on the job, but I do take her up on the offer of free cookies. I need probiotics. And cookies.

I am sure I am walking away from a million dollar opportunity.

The third job came from my sister who is an illustrator. The company she works for is short on freelance inkers. Since I have never worked as an inker, I am naturally worried that I will fail spectacularly at the job and bring shame upon my entire family.

Here's her assessment of my skills: "I think you're going to get this. Your obsessive tendencies and perfectionism…well, you are like a meth user without the meth. Those are the makings of a good freelance inker. How fast can you learn Adobe Illustrator?"

That's comforting, I think.

My sister hadn't considered me for the job before because she thought I would get bored with the assembly line aspect of the work. But then she discovered that her boyfriend's brother just made $50,000 in two months working as a freelance inker. Granted her boyfriend's brother is like a cyborg with a stylus and is super fast on Adobe Illustrator, but if that guy could make $25,000 in a month, I could at least manage that amount of work by the end of the year. This is my sister's plan to help me make my $31,000 budget challenge.

What makes me think this is the dream-come-true, turnkey job isn't even the pay, it's my sister's description of the work: "It's mindless, but never boring. It's relaxing, like coloring."

It's times like this that I could kiss my fine arts degrees. And my sister.

Progress So Far

My husband managed to save $600 from his last paycheck. I made $410 from writing gigs and $15 running an errand for a neighbor. While we didn't earn much this pay period, we managed to spend $0 in the last two weeks because we were both submerged in work.

Goal: $31,000

Amount Raised: $19,905.84

Amount Spent: $10,653.66

Amount Left to Go: $21,747.82

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