Archive | March 2013

# 48 (2013) Rat Race

It’s official. I have rejoined the legions who spend their lives wishing their week days away and dread the onset of Monday mornings. Yes, after 4 years I am an office monkey again. And it’s every bit as bad as I remember it.

I stuff envelopes with bits of paper I have stapled together and tick boxes in databases for 37 hours a week. 5pm cannot come quick enough. But at least weekends have special recognition again. Kind of.

It was the situation I dreaded because it now means my business is back on hold. There is no time to work on commissions. Weekends are spent trying to catch up with general jobs I can’t do during the week.

I’m not going to pretend that being back in work is lucrative. I am temping. Therefore work is sporadic and badly paid. I am only able to take these jobs because I am currently under the personal tax allowance. It means I am not taxed for this work and as I already pay my own NI’s through my business I should receive 100% of my paycheck. And all the time I remain under this threshold I can keep on taking these jobs.

It is only now I see the Government’s cunning plan behind raising this threshold on a yearly basis. To boost employment numbers, minimise outlay for businesses trying to survive through the recession and improve employment statistics by making it possible for many people to accept jobs they previously wouldn’t have considered.

How this will get us out of recession and into recovery I’m not entirely sure. It certainly keeps everyone teetering on the edge of financial survival. Businesses can just about employee enough people to remain functional and workers can afford to take jobs and get off benefits provided they keep their earnings under the limit.

If I was doing my current job full time on the hourly rate I’m getting now, I’d be bringing in less than £1000 per month before tax, so that’s about £640 on a basic rate including NI contributions. And for a 37 hour week that’s pretty insulting by anyone’s standards. Thankfully (depending on how you look at it) I didn’t have to think twice before accepting the position on a temporary contract because I will get the rate before tax. 

If I only ever earn this rate, I have to average a 28 hour working week throughout the year to stay under the threshold. Thankfully though, because I am on a temporary contract, I know it’s not going to last forever.

Being ‘in it together’ really does suck for some of us.

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# 47 (2013) The Job You Love

Confucius says ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’.

Since last July I have been doing just that. And whilst it hasn’t been paying very well, at least the work has been exactly what I’ve always wanted to do – when it’s been there.

Before that I spent three years at University re-training so I could set up my business and concentrate on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And I loved that. But even though I tried to treat it like a 9 – 5 job there is no doubt that the education system has turned me into a very lazy person. Because it seems I would rather be struggling in my current situation than working full time and not worrying about how to pay the bills.

Before I went back to education I had what I call my first career as a professional PA. I did that for 17 years in London, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire and I worked long hours for lots of money. Choosing to go to Uni was no easy decision and there are aspects of my change of direction which I don’t enjoy and sometimes regret.

But a few weeks ago, amidst the realisation that if I didn’t sort out my finances I was going to be sleeping in my car instead of moving house at the end of April, I re-registered with one of my temp agencies. And this morning I got a call. I start work tomorrow.

I am admitting defeat, taking a temporary U-turn and going back to what I know will pay the bills. But whilst I will be extremely grateful for the money I won’t be glad to be going back to office hours. I am not ecstatic.

Like I said, University made me quite lazy.

This isn’t regular work. I am only temping because I don’t want to lose sight of what it is I am supposed to be doing, but for the next 6 weeks I am going to be punching data into a computer. Of course now that I am back on the temp wagon I may well find myself sucked back into the system. It’s something I have to be mindful of. But all the time my business isn’t living up to expectations, it’ll have to take a backseat.

Hopefully, it won’t be for long.

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# 46 (2013) In It Together?

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I shouldn’t complain really but the budget passes me by because none of it ever applies to me.

As a maritally single, childless, self employed, non-drinking, non-smoking, recreational driving, house renting, white British female there is really nothing there for me. We’re not quite ‘in it together’.

The BBC Budget Calculator tells me I will be £68 better off in the next financial year (yes that’s for the whole year) because of my £5 a week petrol habit and because I am self employed i.e. I earn so little that I fall under the new personal allowance threshold.

I don’t feel any better off. In fact some of the reasons I fall off this radar are actually quite depressing. But equally I don’t feel that scoring low on the budget is going to help me through this murky recession.

Like everyone else I am watching my bills and cutting back on food, heating and anything remotely resembling recreational spending. So I guess the next year is going to be much the same as the last. If economy recovery guestimates are anything to go by, I’m probably going to be worse off because the basic bills I can’t shake off are costing me more.

Like everyone else I am suffering from an income that never goes up but outgoings that keep going up. And I guess that’s the problem we’re all having to contend with. I guess we are all in it together for very different reasons.

# 45 (2013) Blogging Balance

Although I called this site ‘Blog A Day’, I rarely do. It’s not a competition and I don’t beat myself up about it. You can’t force creative writing. You have to be inspired. Writing a mundane one liner just for the sake of writing something every day really doesn’t fill the criteria.

I read a blog about balance by Amy Lynn Andrews. She thinks she spends too much time blogging rather than focusing on real life. I guess it depends on why you blog and what else is going on in your life. I do it to purge the things in my head that have no other outlet and to reach a wider audience than the few people who are close to me and may not want to hear me rant all the time.

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This writer of course, has other things in her life besides blogging. She has a family, kids, a life. Writing blogs, updating, researching and ‘tweaking’ are the things I look forward to at the end of the day. This is how I wind down. For me it’s like having a chat with friends over a glass of wine in the pub. I found her 20 questions quite disturbing. If I was asking myself questions like that I would be very concerned about my computer use. The fact of the matter is that I do use the computer a lot but I’m not worried about it and I don’t ask myself questions about it. I only answered yes to one of hers in any case.

I took a survey about blog addiction on another site I found whilst looking for images for this posting. I only scored 54% which I think was fair. It even asked me if I would be blogging about my blog addiction after the quiz ended and I said yes. But to be fair, I had almost finished this posting when I found the quiz.

To me the computer is a business tool. A necessary one, not just for blogging and surfing for pictures to insert into said blogs. If I am busy (and I am very thankful when I am) I am more than happy to walk away from the computer. I may occasionally make mental notes of things to write about if I’m out and about during the day, but that’s only when I think they are worth writing about and often they are subjects I think people will be really interested in.

If I was skipping important tasks or swapping a social life for the internet then I would be concerned. But in times of austerity the internet is a great social life alternative. I’m already paying for it. I’ll use it any which way I want.

I’d certainly never swap sex for the internet though. I mean, really? Who would…..?

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# 44 (2013) Stress Management – The Flip Side

I read a very interesting and totally unexpected blog the other day by a fellow Lincolnite who, if I am honest, I don’t really know. I know her partner – he’s a photographer I have worked with – but our paths have never crossed.

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Her topic was stress and how much it engulfs her life and metamorphs into a series of health problems that she is trying to cope with on a daily basis. You wouldn’t know any of this to look at her and I don’t doubt it’s probably only been priviledged information for those closest to her. So announcing it on a blog is a brave thing to do.

Kudos.

I run at the other end of the spectrum. My stress is very much internalised and it takes a lot of it to pull me down. In some ways this is worse because by the time stress starts to manifest outwardly in me, I am quite literally at breaking point. I take a lot of crap but it’s as if I use it as a form of self flagellation, I never seem to give myself a break.

It means I will let people waste huge chunks of my life before I fight back. I’m just too nice. And I’m sorry to say I have wasted a lot of my life on people who just didn’t matter in the long run.

I have a different attitude these days. Whilst there are some things that are continual nagging stress problems and never seem to be sufficiently resolved – financial, living environment, work concerns (most of society right?), there are many things I now deal with far more easily than I used to.

If people stress me out, I walk away. My ability to drop people who complicate my life may seem callous but believe me, it’s a lifetime of experience that’s got me to that point. What it means is that the people who are in my life are generally hassle free and the relationships are far more meaningful. I may have a small friend circle but it is refined and keeps the stress levels in check.