Category Archives: Self employed and cash flow

Only Child on time and money dilemma

Only Child will no longer sit on time like this teddy bear

Only Child will no longer sit on time like this teddy bear

Time or the lack of enough is worrying me. This time (pun intended) it is connected to money. Already I’m juggling editing one client’s work with trying to finish the rewrite of my novel which my publisher wants to see and doing PR (including workshop related prep) for my first published book, Beyond the Tripping Point. Two more ongoing clients’ work are due to arrive for editing the beginning of February. So far, I think I can manage the time with all of this (and it is all work I enjoy doing). However, I have another repeat client needing another book edited. The catch here is the book is very long; the timeline is very short, and the client has a budget. The money part? I may need this potential client’s money to pay bills next month.

Such is the dilemma of freelancers who work on contract. Add in my situation (which some others have too) – what I call “only person,” I have to factor in personal and house stuff which beyond the odd snow shovelling job, I can’t afford to pay someone else to do. I do try to limit how much I do, but still I am up late doing bits and pieces of housework that needs doing before morning.

Then there are people who want free writing and editing advice and take up my phone and email time. Right now I deal with this on a priority basis – if it doesn’t look like it might lead to work or it’s beyond a reasonable follow-up to work already done, I reply when I can squeeze it in. This may sound harsh, but to borrow a phrase, “business is business.” Or as someone once said, “I’m not running a charity.”

Which brings me to the prospective client with the large book and my time constraints (which this person knows about – right now the situation is at a “maybe”). I will have to expand my parameters – money- and time-wise and if it doesn’t work with this person, then so be it. I will need to hope that the other editing prospects delayed because the rewriting of the manuscript is taking longer than expected (and I understand that from personal experience) will come my way sometime later in February. I will manage on what I have even if it means yet another hit on the decreasing RRSPs. I am my late mother’s child after all. Mom didn’t work (it was the 1950s and early to mid-1960s) until my dad was in the last stages of brain cancer – and after he died her arthritis kicked in and forced her to quit working. Mom was very good at budgeting and making do with what she had.

One more year until I can collect the Old Age Pension – I received my application yesterday and that will get filled out and sent in this week.

Next year I hope to cut back on the editing, even though I like doing it, and focus more on writing and writing workshops and readings, as well as other PR.

To paraphrase my mother’s making do with what she had, I am good at making do with what I don’t have.

And as I’ve mentioned promoting my book Beyond the Tripping Point, below is  a link to a three-minute video of me reading an excerpt from one of its short stories, “The Body in the Trunk” when I appeared on the Liquid Lunch Show on

Book is available in print and e-copy at both and as well as other venues.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Beyond the Tripping Point, Budget and budgeting, Decision Making, Life learning, Mom and Dad, Old Age pensions, Prioritizing, Self employed and cash flow, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child sums up year end

Only Child optimistic about 2012

The cupboards, fridge, freezer and root cellar are full but my bank accounts are almost bare. True there are a couple of Christmas cheques to deposit but it has been a very rough month. One client messed up on paying me for work done last month and I’m still waiting for the cheque. And the expenses kept rolling in. I’ve had to reach back to my childhood when my mother ruled as queen of the family budget to try and find some tips on getting through this month and into 2012. What I’ve learned is that’s it is only part “hereditary” but a lot of what I’m doing comes from ideas picked up over the years plus using my own skills. A good dose of persistence doesn’t hurt. However, I also found that sometimes yelling out there (read “God “or “Universe” or whatever) for “help” does get positive results. The surprise is, not what I anticipated, but maybe better.

Throughout the month I’ve found myself repeating a version of my mother’s budget process – except unlike her I don’t have a partner to consult. It’s only “me, myself, and I” – the trio of one. So, late at night (several nights) I was still up, calculating and re-calculating “income/cash on hand and expenses.” The situation changed frequently with a mess up in my gas bill (twice), two other utility bills arrived (I expected the water but not the hydro until the beginning of January). My business insurance was due January 1 (which means pay by December 31). My glasses payment was due and it looked like what I’d saved for that would have to pay other bills. The list went on and on. I put on my dual consumer/business hat and got to work on the phone, the Internet and e-mail. It turns out the glasses payment is next month – if I’d have known my statement date vis-a-vis the date of purchase, I could have figured that out myself. Some Internet research and a phone call got my business insurance placed on a credit card (payment not due til the end of January). Then I received an unexpected Christmas cheque; a new client (to start work in January), and notice of a settlement, possibly for late January.

I still haven’t received the delinquent client’s cheque and I still have a credit card payment (small amount) due later this week. But I’ve learned several somethings. Keeping a positive, but no-nonsense attitude. and following those through with positive action to rectify the situation(s) helps. It doesn’t help to just sit and moan. Sure we have a right to complain but we have to take the complaint a step beyond wailing.

Which brings me to another lesson learned and a blessing…my family and friends (well, some of them). They listened to my whining and gave helpful sympathetic responses. None of them told me to pull up my socks and do something. Perhaps the most surprising response was from my friend Carol who told me she had to admire me for all my persistence and consumer action (my paraphrasing). I was speechless, but managed a “thank you.”

Maybe I learned something here from my mother. And perhaps I have another career. Consumer advocate?  I do have insights about myself to take into 2012 – persistence and staying positive. Comments anyone?

Hope 2012 is better for all of us. Remember the old saying about making lemonade out of lemons.

Cheers and Happy New Year

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Budget and budgeting, Consumer action, Debt, finances, Only child, Persistence, Self employed and cash flow, Sharon Crawford

Transferring skills – hereditary or not – into work

Teenage Only Child with her Mom

Times are tough and everyone, especially those of us who are self-employed, has to stretch  his or her creativity to find new areas of work, especially if we fall into the “older” age brackets. Should be easy for us creative types. Well…maybe. But it got me thinking, not just about my underlying skills, but about my late Mom’s. And just how much have I inherited from her?

First, Mom, although a widow for six years, never made it to age 65. But she inherited from my dad when he died. Her skill here was financial acumen, something I definitely don’t have except in the area of budgeting. My financial inheritance came early (age 23) and at the expense of my mother’s death. Not really a fair trade. I’d rather have had my mother around a few years more. But on a practical basis, at that age and newly married, much money went into buying a house and later for our son. Later when my husband and I separated, I needed what was left to top up alimony and earnings from my writing for daily living with a growing son.

Mom was also great at organizing things. She had files related to her business of living stored in a dresser drawer. I’ve inherited that skill (although no files in my dresser drawers) as well as her attention to detail – both very important for a writer, editor and writing instructor and speaker. She was also a bit of a pack-rat – and so was I until a few years ago when I started the big purge. I still continue in this vein. Less is more.

My mother was creative in her own way – we share the gardening and cooking creativity and used to share the sewing one. She made many of my clothes and I made all my maternity clothes and my son’s first sleepers (years ago, but not quite in the grey ages). At that time I also quilted a lot (mostly by hand), something my mother never did. Instead she knitted. I gave up sewing around the time I sold my sewing machine at a garage sale just prior to moving back to Toronto. Now, my sewing is confined to mending…and only “kicking and screaming” about it. But you can’t present yourself to clients, prospective clients, etc. with holes in your clothes or missing buttons.

My creativity lies in coming up with ideas and following through with some of them, writing – personal essays/memoir, profiles of quirky people, businesses, gardens, health stories, book reviews, and fiction. I also find it helps when I edit other writers’ book manuscripts. No, not creative editing, but seeing what isn’t working in the story and the possibility for what might work, presented as suggestions for my clients. And as I’ve blogged about before, I love to teach and speak in public. Somehow from being completely tongue-tied and frozen as a teen debating in class, I’ve evolved into someone who likes to get up in front of people and not only provide knowledge, but entertain. Must be the frustrated actor in me. Although Mom wasn’t a teacher per se, she did teach me something by her help and acceptance when I practiced teaching for my grade 8 history class and when I had the audacity to teach her to play the piano – both when I was 13.

My point is that in these tough economic times, to find work we need to look beyond the obvious. What hidden skills do we have that we can transfer from parenting, volunteering, hobbies, etc. into ways to earn a living? If we are great at fund-raising for a community organization, can this skill be transferred to promoting ourselves and our work skills?  Or possibly teaching others to promote their business. If we have a cooking or baking expertise, can we transfer that into a business? Last month I met another writer on the same panel who is baking cupcakes and plans to turn that into a business. Still stuck? Think about your parents’ skills. Have you inherited any of them? Can you put them to use to expand how you make a living?

In these tough economic times, it’s worth a try. You know the old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Comments anyone?


Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under finances, Hereditary, Life learning, Only child, Self employed and cash flow, Skills transferable, Teaching

Only child revisits being alone

Only child in front of house

Besides the emotional end, being alone also has its practical repercussions as I keep finding out when money gets tight and the house (or stuff in it) literally starts falling apart. This goes way beyond just being an only child. Not having a life partner factors in a helluva lot here – maybe even more so than the only child situation. Add to that the “senior factor” (although at the lower age end here), and you have a recipe for stress, stress, anger and some resentment.

My late mother used to have a saying, “You can’t win nohow.” Although it comes across as negative, I’m beginning to  think she had a point. Consider my personal “crap list” for this month: house insurance premium due and way higher than last year coupled with s-l-o-w cash flow (common with the self-employed). Technically I have enough cash coming in to pay the bill but will it arrive before the due date? The other biggie is over the weekend my very old upright freezer (inherited from the previous house owners) took a turn for the worse. It probably wouldn’t make it through the winter so I’ve got a new one on order due here today. I’m not even going into the worries about getting the big old freezer out of my basement and out the door. But let’s just say it’s got me jumpy. And my credit card is getting a workout.

So here’s where the practical part of being alone comes in. A life partner could help with the expenses (not to mention the work around the house) and here comes the emotional – provide some support if only being someone to talk it over with. I’m not saying that having a life partner guarantees this support, but not having one guarantees the opposite.

Before you all think I’m into a “poor me pity party,” not exactly. Some of my friends are in similar boats – one had her computer die and is having trouble affording a new one. and she needs a computer to make a living.  Others are (like me) going deeper into debt. And you know – there are more older women in these types of situations than men. (However, I do know one older man in this type of situation).

What’s the solution? I don’t know. It is probably different for each of us. Me, I’m just very stubborn and determined. Yes, I get angry and resentful, but sometimes that fuels me to continue on. And here’s where being an only child comes in -it helps me strive towards independence, although not completely. Friends do help as does my son. And I take any help I can get.

How do others who are alone cope?



Only child writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Debt, Family, Insurance, Only child, Self employed and cash flow