Blah, blah. Whine, whine. My first world problems are kind of weighing on me right now.
I understand how people feel trapped in their finances and in their jobs. Even if you have a good job (like I do) and you have enough to take care of your needs and most of your wants (like my family does), it’s still possible to feel trapped. It’s very “first world problems” of me, but I just feel like I have to get it out of my system.
And what better way to get it out of my system than to share it with the dozens of people who read my blog?
Hard Work and MORE Hard Work ≠ More Money
That’s not entirely true. You can work hard and be successful. I work hard, and I’ve been reasonably successful. Unfortunately, there comes a point when working harder doesn’t mean more money. It doesn’t matter how hard my husband works, or how much he helps students, or how much the students appreciate his efforts, a certain school just isn’t going to hire him full-time. They’ll let him teach 13 credits as an adjunct, and happily allow him to help students and consult on projects without letting him be on any committees, but they aren’t going to hire him and pay him the salary. They aren’t going to offer a benefits package. It doesn’t matter how hard he works.
And, honestly, it doesn’t matter how much harder I work at writing, or adding clients, or whatever. All that’s going to happen is burnout and missed deadlines. There’s only so much I can charge — and so much others are willing to pay — for my work. I can raise rates, but at some point I reach the point where working harder and harder results in diminishing returns.
Let’s stop focusing on me for a minute (it’s hard when I want to make this all about me), and look at others who work hard. The working poor probably have the shortest end of the stick. You can work hard — and there are people who work hard at two or three low-paying jobs — and still not get ahead. This is the nature of the beast sometimes. And I really have to feel extra sorry for them, because it doesn’t matter how hard they work. I have a nice life, even when I feel weighed down by my limitations. There are plenty of hard workers out there who don’t have that.
While hard work can help, hard work alone isn’t always enough to help you rise out of poverty. And you can still make all of the “right” choices, as defined by society, and still end up in financial trouble. All it takes is long-term unemployment, a major medical problem, or some other catastrophe, and your can burn through your emergency fund faster than you imagined.
Just Make Changes to Work Smarter
Right now I feel like I’m working hard and I don’t have the time or freedom to do some of the things that I really want to do. Rather than working harder, the solution might be to work smarter. Developing a marketable skill is one way to do that.
It’s also possible to focus on things like building up passive income or creating products or starting other businesses. You can reach out to your network for better contacts that can help you find a better job. There are a number of ways to change things up to work smarter, if you have the time and the resources to do so.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of changing the way you allocate your financial resources so that you aren’t wasting money and so that your cash flow evens out (and to be honest, a weird cash flow glitch is one of the reasons I feel like this).
Intellectually, I know that I can make changes to my life and my situation. I also know that I have more freedom to do so than many others who have more limited options than I do.
But it’s not really helping right now. Because, as often happens near the beginning of the holiday season, I feel as though things are careening out of control. Yeah, first world problems. I’ve got a good job, a good family, a good life, and I’m still feeling down in the dumps because it’s not exactly the “good” I think I want right now.
It’s Not Always Easy to Make Changes
Sometimes, when we — the bloggers of the PF Internet — talk about making changes, we make it sound so easy. Just start a side business. Just trim some fat from your budget. Just make the time to market your book or course. Just sign up as an affiliate.
All of these “justs” add up sometimes. Really? It’s just that simple? One of the problems that many low-wage workers have with developing the marketable skills that would allow them to make more money is that they can’t afford to take the classes they need to develop the skills. They need the money they earn for things like food and shelter. And usually they need these things for their children as well.
Sure, we all make mistakes, and maybe you shouldn’t have had all those kids, or maybe you shouldn’t have racked up the credit card debt, or whatever. But when you’re in that moment, when your past choices have backed you into a corner, and you acknowledge your mistakes, it still sucks. And you can’t see a way out.
That’s obviously not me. I’m not suffering from a low-wage job and limited options. I grew up middle class with opportunities that many of those who are born into poverty don’t even know exist (you can’t take advantage of opportunities you aren’t aware of).
But I am suffering from the idea that I don’t have the time to make changes. I had high hopes for my book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, but those are pretty much gone. Not only do I have to contend with the fact that the only review of the book is a one-star comment on a problem with my description that (as far as I can tell) doesn’t even exist, but I also have to deal with the fact that I don’t really have time to work on marketing the thing. *Update: Now that the issue has been pinpointed, and it’s being fixed by CreateSpace, I feel even worse about myself and my abilities. A typo or two in the book? Sure, just about every book has a few typos. But this is pretty bad, and I feel super idiotic now. I’m going to go have a pity party with ice cream and candy so I can add feeling bad about my body to my list of first world problems.*
I don’t feel like I have time to take on these projects and do a really good job because it’s a risk. It’s a risk to divert time from writing for other people to investing the time and money in trying to market my book. On top of that, I’m still scrambling to try to fulfill the terms of my Indiegogo campaign. Boy, do I regret that decision. I feel like I can’t really market the book until I get the damn perks squared away, and I don’t have time to square away the perks because I’m my family’s breadwinner, so I have to take care of the paying clients first so we can do things like eat and not miss a mortgage payment.
Plus, it’s not fair to ask my son and husband to bear the brunt of a lifestyle downgrade just because I wish I had more time to market a book that, apparently, no one wants to buy anyway.
And, even though you’ve probably already stopped reading, I’m still going to briefly touch on my issues with just becoming an affiliate. I don’t have time to drum up traffic on this site so that I can get more conversions and make more affiliate income. Because, once again, I’m too risk averse to just drop clients and focus on this stuff — especially if I’m not sure it will work. The regular gigs are what I can count on. All that other stuff — all the changes I can just make — might fail completely. Then I’m worse off, and so is my family. It’s a mindset that I’m really trying to shake. But it’s hard this time of year when demands on the pocketbook rise.
It’s almost enough to make me turn to cyberbegging. At least then I wouldn’t have to offer anyone anything.
Ok. It’s probably time to stop with my first world problems rant. Mainly because everything in my head at this point is swearing and I’m supposed to be a good example to the children at church. But I do feel a little bit better. And I know, for some perverse reason, that I will feel even better when I hit “publish.”
Well, I’ll feel better until I realize what I should have been doing for the last hour and a half. And it probably wasn’t writing a 1400-word screed on a blog that makes hardly any money for me.