* a totally click-bait title, I admit. And I apologise for the heavy dose of humble-bragging in this post.
A couple of weeks ago I lost one of my side-hustles, after a string of unpleasant WhatsApp messages and respectful but cold replies (those replies were my side of the conversation, I hasten to add). It was not an amicable divorce. But I'm honestly very glad. The tiny hole in my budget (£6 each week) is a fair exchange for the evening I'll reclaim that I can now spend on myself.
Working 4 evenings per week after my full-time job was beginning to take its toll. Whilst I haven't actually spent my newfound Thursday evening freedom at home or relaxing, I do feel a little less like I'm treading water. I'm putting in more hours at work, but that means I can take entire days off to spend on myself. I'm no longer forced to squeeze grocery shopping into a two hour slot on a Saturday afternoon (along with every other person on the planet, it seems). If I want, I can cook something more elaborate than a (batch cooked) microwave meal from my freezer. I don't, but the option is there.
Losing this little job got me thinking: What am I willing to do for money? How much is my time really worth? What won't I sacrifice again?
An hour of my time, according to my full time job, is worth about £11 before taxes. In the evenings, I under-value my time at £7 per hour. Looking after children, cooking dinner and being one step ahead of mischievous 5-year-olds is actually more taxing than my day job, but with no one is willing to pay much for that.
I babysit and nanny because I enjoy it. I do my day job because
it pays the bills I enjoy it. I'm no longer going to do things for money that I don't enjoy; in this case, if I don't click with a job, I'm not going to accept cash from it for long. There's no point being miserable, and there's even less point putting energy into being so happy and creating an aura of everything is absolutely fine in a situation I'd rather wriggle out of.
In the future, I'm not going to sacrifice my sleep, my social life, or my sanity. I need at least one free evening per week. I don't want to get home after 9pm. I want to have the flexibility to see my friends if I want to (or read books because, let's be real, that's what I mean by 'friends'). I've said before that I'll put myself before my earnings, and I've failed. This little adventure into self-care (and the lack of it) has taught me otherwise.
|my version of self-care: books, bed and country walks alone with my thoughts|
And before you roll your eyes at 'self-care', because I've seen a lot of 'self-care bashing' going on, consider this: when you're on a low budget, earning money becomes your sole focus. You need money to survive, but what's the point in surviving if you're not healthy and happy doing so? I don't earn minimum wage, so I can't understand what a low budget really is. But I have a limited budget, and I need to take care not to wear myself thin making it stretch into all the pots I want it to fill (because, thankfully, the pots that need to be filled - mortgage, utilities and food - fit well within my budget). Sometimes I need a reminder; sometimes I need to set that time aside specifically for me, otherwise it'll be filled with - you guessed it - another side-gig.
I could never work this £6/week into my budget because it was such an unreliable income source. All side-gigs are unreliable, hence the 'side' part of their title. I long for the day that I can stop worrying about the amount of income my side-jobs are bringing in, but until then I'll continue trying to balance everything plus my well-being. The odd lapse of judgement is there to remind me that I need time for myself, and I shouldn't worry about lost earnings and definitely shouldn't feel guilty about it.
Until next time, please remember to speak and think kind words to yourself and to others~