Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Endless Free-Lance Spiral

I think this has happened to every one of my friends who starts out in this business and I can safely report it's happening to me too. I've entered into a sort of free fall with my finances based on the fact that all my income is theoretical until it appears to me in physical form via check in the mail. The mail is a hard thing to predict, even harder to predict: the whim of an accounting office. Now usually I can tell when I work for a major production company who is using one of the big pay roll firms like Entertainment Partners, I know I'll get paid within a week to two weeks. No big deal there. A bigger deal though is some of these smaller more local based companies who want me to send them an invoice--which they can then lose--at which point I have no idea when to predict when that magical check will arrive in the mail.

So, that's the gist of the spiral. You do a few days of work for (x) amount of dollars that you then get paid for (y) weeks later. This would be fine but land lords, utility companies, cell phone companies and insurance companies all want their money paid on time. Welcome to free fall. As soon as one check arrives in the mail it immediately goes towards paying for something that has backed up while waiting on other checks in the mail. Meantime--you gotta eat--so thus more stuff backs up and then by the time you to a point where you know you can pay it all off, you still can't because you're waiting on checks in the mail and all the while more bills keep coming.

I'm not sure I ever anticipated this part of free-lancing. I've definitely screwed up how I spend my money some how, not sure where, but it's really starting to hurt. I feel like I need to take out a loan or something, pay everything off and reset at 0. That would be nice in an ideal world but is it really possible? For me, it all depends on how much I work, and when I don't work, that more than anything is probably the cause of the spiral, not the mail or accounting offices.

P.S.---This led me thinking about another completely different point. Are companies really being rational when they look at your credit score while hiring you? If someone has been unemployed and thus, in a real need for a job, wouldn't their credit score be a bit lower because they are trying to make ends meet? Based on this isn't it unfair for companies to take a look at these scores as a basis for whether or not to hire people? Can't get a good paying job because you're in debt and can't get out of debt because you can't get a good paying job. It's another spiral.

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