Saturday, January 27, 2007



Since leaving my last employer in September, I've been living on my savings. I had put enough money aside to last a few months, but still, four momths without steady income was starting to worry me. However, I've finally received my first payment for a contracting invoice, and more are in the pipeline, so I can breathe (and spend) easy for a while.

A lot of regular employees think contract programmers must be wealthy, after hearing about the hourly rates. The money is good, when it is coming in, but contractors have a lot of expenses and risks that employees don't have. I have to pay self-employment tax. I have to pay for my own health plan. I have to provide a lot of my own stuff (hardware, software, etc.).

Being my own boss is nice, but being paid by the hour causes some concerns that I didn't have as an employee. Every time I hit the snooze button in the morning, delaying the beginning of my work day, it "costs" me about ten bucks. An idle non-billable conversation during working hours might cost me $20. Going out to lunch with co-workers costs me around $100. If the co-workers decide they want to take a long lunch, it costs even more.

For the most part, I don't worry about these "losses." Having choices over how to spend my time was the reason I went independent. But there is a part of me that is disgusted that I am passing up a fortune. If I were to bill 50 or 60 hours a week, I'd be making more than twice what I made as an employee. I wouldn't be happy, but that greedy part of me doesn't care.

Thankfully, that part of me doesn't serve on my Board of Directors.

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