Where Personal and Professional Life Collide...

My life in 8 words: Organized chaos, by preference. Exhausting, but never boring

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Thanks for posting about this. People really have no clue how much (or how little) writers make ;o)

I am actively trying to destigmatize the discussion of personal finances - I think we're collectively doing ourselves a disservice by being so reticent on the topic because... capitalism?

I suspect less capitalism and more materialism, which is NOT the same thing, really..

Good point, but I think a nontrivial facet of each is driven by the other, though the fractions can definitely be argued, and vary among participants. :-)

I'll note that not discussing one's finances in broad terms is generally a middle-class value; the super wealthy have their estimated net worth published publicly and people solidly out of middle class on the other end seem to be free with how much they got per hour at various jobs.

There's probably all sorts of reasons why money is such a taboo topic among people that have a reasonable lifestyle but still need to earn money paycheck to paycheck.

Generally, dentists, bricklayers, etc don't get asked (by friends or total strangers) how much they make....

this is going to be rambly and weird

At a guess, the biggest reason is shame.

As someone more or less without any, I'll use myself as an example. :-)

We (speaking broadly as a suburb-raised, middle-class white guy, and trying not to extrapolate over-broadly; this is mostly me talking about people/guys like me, the "american default setting" narrator... privilege of that statement position most thoroughly acknowledged)... are shamed by debt that doesn't exist as pending equity (and even this is mostly "mortgage ok, car payment less-ok").

there are lots of pressures to be debt-free, both in terms of sustainability in the face of loss of income, perceived responsibility (living within one's means), and flexibility (to buy or do stuff)... leavened with both materialistic pressures (both in favor and against) and long-term planning goals.

if you present as middle-class, the assumption is that you're on top of your finances, either being revolving-debt-free, or having a firm plan for getting there... and a lot of people aren't, and are ashamed of that situation.

destigmatizing it will allow people to talk about it, which means we can share ideas and coping strategies and, hell, just recognize that we're not alone.

debt is the depression of the financial arena, in that it can lurk, and drag on us, and is a lot more ubiquitous than a lot of folks think in terms of "my friends are dealing with this" and not "this amorphous, faceless chunk of society/the economy is dealing with this".

(i speak as someone who has struggled with and, most days, overcome mild to moderate depression, and who crawled out from under $20,000 in debt that got dropped on me... neither was enjoyable, both had short- and long-term costs in terms of my attitudes and how i live; your situation is your own, but if my data point provides you some leverage to move in a direction of your choosing, that's all i could hope for.)

Thanks for posting this.

In a similar vein, I had a discussion with a neighbor --who I'm pretty sure didn't vote for our recent school levy-- about how much the assistants who help special needs kids make. He seemed to think that since they were teachers, they make a "lot of money". I knew for a fact that the special needs assistants make not too much more than minimum wage, and said so. He mumbled something in return about "well, I don't know about that" and the conversation dropped. Some folks simply have no idea how little some of these jobs actually pay.

These guys don't want to know and will lock their minds shut if you try to tell them.

One of the boarders in my horse barn does that exact job. She makes just above minimum wage. Is not paid for vacations or sick days. Has to get a second job during summer break (had to turn down the one that wanted her to pay $150 to purchase her own security and ID cards, because funding got cut and that amount would render the rest of the pittance they pay basically nonexistent--for two months' work). Babysits, housesits, teaches riding lessons on a friend's horses (she pays the friend a commission), does a part-time paper route that involves being out all night before she leaves for her "real" job at 6:30 a.m., does whatever else she can to keep her ancient car running and her rent and horse board paid. She's looking to finish her nursing degree (had to stop when the funding ran out) so she can earn a more decent living working just one job. And maybe, someday, get some sleep once in a while.

I want to spit at people who talk the way your neighbor talks. And they are legion.

It is a reality check - especially when I moan about how badly I'm doing and for similar amounts (I'd have to check the exact exchange rate)you are doing well...

Hah! Yes, that's an interesting aspect, isn't it? What constitutes doing well in one field vs in another. It's all kind of augh!

Call me crazy, but I find this heartening in the sense that you are making a decent living and you can live in NYC and you still have work rolling in. Of course, there's a lot more than that going on and it's not without its perils (and one of course wants to be an outlier), but...nonetheless, in this time and this economy, heartening.

I will admit that from October through January is an ongoing underlying (and sometimes overt) panic attack over the next year's budget....

What?!? You're trying to tell me you don't all live the fabulous, carefree life of Richard Castle?!? :)

Granted, I'm in the camp of fans who are still baffled that neither you nor Catie aren't regular members of the NYT's best seller list.

I realize there are different tax rates for 1099 forms and self-employed people, but the UI payments is one thing I don't tend to think about -- Which has me now wondering about some of the other benefits most full time employees tend to take for granted, like health care. Granted, I know that there are a lot of companies who are shuffling hours around to try and avoid paying for those benefits -- some even before the AFCA went into effect.

But, I know that often individual health insurance can be priced higher than a group insurance, even if it's only a
group of two people. Is there any association, co-op or
similiar organization that you know of were writers join
in order to group discounts on insurance premiums or other
benefits generally made more affordable by a group?

But, I know that often individual health insurance can be priced higher than a group insurance, even if it's only a
group of two people. Is there any association, co-op or
similiar organization that you know of were writers join
in order to group discounts on insurance premiums or other
benefits generally made more affordable by a group?

Prior to the Affordable Care act (aka "ObmaCare") very few insurance companies offered plans to the self-employed/freelancers, and those plans tended to be very expensive and cover very little. And if you had a pre-existing condition? Forgetaboutit.

I get my insurance via Freelancers' Guild, which - because it pulls in ALL freelancers - was large enough to be able to create a decent-sized pool and therefore get semi-reasonable terms. I still pay $350/month for basic coverage, and have a large deductible. FG started in the NYC area but is trying to spread throughout the US (it's in Oregon and CT, I think, and a few other states now). Other orgs have offered/tried to offer plans, but it's been an uphill struggle....

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