Sandy writes in with the following dilemma regarding choosing a “real” job over continued freelancing:
Hi Frugal Dad,
I have a question that maybe your readers can help me with. I have been freelancing from home for over 10 years and have made a comfortable living at it. There have been bumps along the way, but for the most part when I lose a client, one seems to appear to fill the gap. I have been very blessed that way. It has also allowed me to stay at home with my kids, and I currently homeschool them as well. My husband works a full-time job with outstanding benefits, so we have that covered.
On a whim, I applied for a “real” job in another state which I didn’t expect would really play out, but surprise– it did. There is a very attractive salary offered, outstanding benefits, a ridiculous amount of vacation time, and a pension (which I don’t currently have, though we do contribute heavily to my husband’s 401K). Part of the perks would be a free college education for my kids, who are currently in middle school. Even though they are currently homeschooled we had planned, and I know they want, to go back to “real” school next year.
So, what to do? Part of me likes the idea of job security — no more clients, no more constantly thinking about work. The other part of me is loathing the thought of giving up my my freedom of being self-employed. Housing in the other state is quite a bit more expensive than here, though we would stand to make a substantial gain on the sale of our current home.
To throw in another wrench, I was just awarded a very lucrative contract for my freelance business that would keep me solvent for the coming year. (I was getting a little nervous as work was seeming to dry up) After that, it would be up to me to find more work, though I do have a quite a few irons in the fire. Doing both would not be an option — there are only so many hours in a day, and I need to be a mommy to my kids too.
I have thought about just trying it out to see if it is a fit, but that would mean uprooting my kids and losing the contract as well.
What would you do? What other things should I consider that I haven’t?
Sandy, a few questions come to mind. What happens to your husband’s job if you relocate? Is his industry/expertise fairly transportable, meaning the likelihood of him finding a comparable job fairly high, even in this market?
I might be reading between the lines a bit here, but I don’t think you really want the new job. You have been a successful freelancer for a decade – not many people can say that. There is no shortage of people who start freelancing, but very few survive on their own for ten years.
On a related note, I would point out what is obvious to an unfortunate number of people these days – there is no such thing as “job security.” In fact, you may have more security, more stability, in hunting down work on your own using the experience and networking you already have in place as a freelancer. If you rejoin the corporate world, you are dependent on them to continue to find you work. If they fail, you will be unemployed, and will have given up a lucrative freelance contract.
The decision is yours and your family’s, as you recognize. But since you asked for my opinion, I’ll give it. If I was in your shoes, and my spouse had a stable job to cover benefits, and I had enough work to stay covered up for the next year, it would take a truckload of money to uproot my family and turn in that freedom for an employee badge. Whatever you decide, I wish you and your family well.
Ask the Readers: What would you do if you were in Sandy’s shoes?