My freelance family life is a little unconventional. When my husband’s full-time job disappeared less than 10 years ago, he went freelance. And this is still not an understood way of life. The days of trusting the corporation to take care of the family through pensions and retirement are long gone, vanished with the unions and plowed down by corporate trading less than 30 years ago. Yet freelancers are still regarded as oddballs without a 9 – 5 lifestyle.
Freelance means that my husband has multiple sources of income. He accepts jobs and works them. He brings his own tools and makes his own schedule and payment arrives according to the agreed upon contracts with the contractors. We pay for our (unpaid) vacations and we worry about our workers comp . We have to save for our retirement. We pay our taxes plus those that the employer would have paid. When we can’t pay our taxes, even after throwing as many deductibles into the mix as we can, we just plain owe.
And we pay our own healthcare, or not depending on if we qualify for state assistance. We use a different line on our tax forms when determining what sliding scale fee we need to pay at the Y or to determine our eligibility for State paid healthcare. When I discovered we were eligible for the State insurance, our first reaction was happy. No more $500 healthcare bills ! But my husband had to relinquish his primary care physician who did not take that insurance and we felt the pinch of having privilege stripped.
The upside to being freelance would be that you can create your own schedule. My husband can help me out on days when he would otherwise be working. It also means that he has to be available at the drop of a hat. He truly enjoys the challenges of the different opportunities and the camaraderie of working with other freelancers. It’s a creative way of living and it’s what we know now.
There’s a sleazy trend for employers to call their employees freelance when they’re truly not responsible for the what, when, and where of the job. By denoting them as self-employed and refusing to give employees full-time hours, the employees must pay their own taxes and healthcare. It’s a loophole that is being obscenely stretched. There are lawsuits beginning, workers are fighting the companies who are taking advantage of their employees’ fears. My husband is currently represented in a civil suit against the government for just this.
The world is based on a capitalistic system. And as long as greed is present in man’s heart, everyone must fight for their own justice and fair treatment in their workplaces. Our family would not say no to the right full-time job were it to come along for my husband. But until then, we just have to keep the faith that the freelance jobs opportunities keep presenting themselves and that the company he started to supplement those opportunities continues to grow. As my husband says, “You’re only as good as your last gig.”
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