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Tales from Limbo: Part 4

 |  Updates, Work

It doesn’t feel right to title the next post in this ‘series’ as Tales from Lockdown, but it doesn’t exactly feel like normality is restored, so Tales from Limbo it is.

In the last post from waaaay back in May (er, how did we get to October?) I was a little bit worried that more projects than I originally realised seemed to be freezing up or being dropped, and that I’d need to rely on the self-employment income support grant from the government. May’s gross income was only £1,142.50 so I was feeling the pressure somewhat. Successfully getting the first gov grant was a huge relief, although it was disappointing that it was calculated from earnings up to 2019, so didn’t include my awesome 2019-2020 year. Beggars can’t be choosers!

However, within a really short space of time, my inbox went bloody wild, and June of this year ended up being the biggest month for business of my entire freelance career. July also proved positive before things dipped again in August. August and September are normally pretty good months for me, so it’s a bit of a weird one.

Overall, I think my net profit will be higher this year than last, and I feel incredibly privileged to be in an industry that has seen growth throughout the pandemic. Despite the chaos and stress of juggling a business and home educating, this year has actually — finally — cemented in my head that I am doing the right thing. I have explored the possibility of going back to full time employment so many times over the years but it’s become clear that when the shit hits the fan, the stability of employment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; so many people with “stable jobs” have faced furlough and redundancy this year.

The flexibility to form my schedule around my children and accomodate such bizarre times has been invaluable, and 8 years of juggling kids and work through school holidays etc has finally proven its worth.

In the first tales from lockdown post I mentioned that we’d taken the Celica off the road and I had been able to pay off some of my debt because of it. Continued savings from that on top of my solid June meant that I was able to finish paying off that loan and have now wiped out my credit card debt too. I am now debt free (mortage aside) for the first time since kicking the ex out 6 years ago, & all that entailed: mortgage and equity buy-outs, taking on all the bills by myself etc.

In August 2019 I set myself a ‘stupid goal’ of having £750 guaranteed income per month. The idea being that having guaranteed income would be a way to tide me over when project/irregular work dipped, and would give me more opportunities for time off. As of September 2020, I now have guaranteed income in excess of £1,500 per month: more than double my original goal. It’s not as passive as I would like, and I’ve done sod-all on my “product”, but it makes a huge difference to my state of mind knowing that my children are safe, housed and fed. (Growing up in poverty as a kid messes with your mind, but I’ll talk more about that another day.)

By this time next year, I’d like to have that figure over £2,000, with at least 10% of that as passive income and growing.

This all sounds sunshine and roses, and I recognise how bloody fortunate I am to be in such a position financially, but it’s not been without its downsides. I’ve had perhaps two days off since February. I often work 10-12 hour days and weekends. I’m mentally exhausted and that’s before we get to my workout schedule for a rapidly approaching powerlifting competition. Things have gotten a little easier since the kids went back to school in September, but this level of hustle and grind is not maintanable and I have no intention of doing so. My tentative plan is to clear the deck by the end of November, do as little as possible in December and then hit the ground running refreshed in January. I have plans — I always have plans — I just need to not burn out before I can put them in motion…

Lead Photo by Josh Appel

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

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