Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How I'm Surviving the Recession

As you all know, I lost my primary client 6+ months ago. At the time, I figured my emergency fund had about 4-5 months of living expenses. Am I broke now? No. It's 6+ months on, and I still have about four months in cash reserves (yes, I have earned and received some money during this time). In addition, I have outstanding invoices with one client, and that will be a minor windfall when they pay up.

Here's how I've survived:

1. I've embraced a frugality previously unknown to me. I still go out with friends maybe once a week, but I used to go out more often than that. I stay at home more than I used to, and this is dull -- however, I tend to figure that leaving the house costs about $25 (bus fare, maybe buy a magazine/movie ticket/lunch/drink/etc). As such, I'm more judicious about going out. (Side note: I never want to live like this again -- it drives me nuts; I'm not one of those people who find extreme personal satisfaction in extreme frugality (no offense if you do -- I just prefer the lifestyle I had, and I don't consider that luxurious, in fact, it was fairly frugal to begin with)).

2. My Crock Pot. This was a gift from my mother, and I'm glad I asked for it. Not only am I eating healthier (I'm an expert at veggie soups), it's cheaper to buy veggies than processed foods. I do add chicken or ham to some soups (what would black bean soup be without ham??!), and I have a bag of Ikea meatballs that I sometimes add to soups when I'm reheating them, though this is the exception more than the norm. I'm not eating as much soup as I was a couple months ago, though I attribute that more to the weather finally warming up. I'm planning on experimenting with roasting a whole chicken soon, which while easy, is something I've never done before.

3. Cooking more. I generally spend about $30-40 on groceries each week. Considering it's easy to spend that much on a moderate dinner, that's not bad (for me). I've expanded the number of "go to" dishes I make, and I've taken more interest in the food I cook for myself (aside from the soup craze I've gone through). In addition, I've pretty much eliminated high fructose corn syrup from my eat-at-home diet, which is fabulous. I just wish I could find a great strawbery jam that doesn't have HFCS. (As a side note, those commercials that try to make you think it's ok to consumer HFCS are reeking of BS -- the prevalence of obesity in the US is eerily related to the inclusion of HFCS in US food.)

4. Diversifying my client list. I wrote about this earlier, and it's one of the smarter choices I'm making as positioning myself business-wise. I learned my lesson about having too much invested in one client, and that's a mistake I'm not planning to repeat.

5. Taking (almost) all jobs offered, even if they pay low. I know I've ranted about this in different places, and I'm sad I've had to resort to doing work for sub-par rates. However, I spoke with an agency a few months ago, and they told me pretty clearly that they wouldn't be able to find me work as a technical writer, because of the type and length of experience I have, and more importantly, that there is a glut of technical writers with much more experience than I have. So, I'm picking up non-writing clients. This is nice in its own way, because these are clients that I never visit (because they are in different states), so I can fit their work in as it suits my personal daily schedule. Because of this, when I land a local client and need to visit them, it shouldn't interfere with my virtual clients much.


Jerry said...

LOVE this post! I'm very passionate about health and nutrition because I know it leads to true wellness. You're so right about the HFCS ads. They are ridiculous. The only insurance against this campaign to fatten up the American public is grow as much food as you can and cook with whole foods. Good for you!

dawn hild said...

Where have you been???
Please update your blog and let us know how your doing!!!!