I have been a hairdresser for 27 years. That’s 27 years of standing behind a chair and taking care of people. I have laughed with them, cried with them, had my heart broken by them, and helped them nurture their own broken hearts. It has been a long, surprisingly exhausting journey. I put a great deal of myself into those people, every day, all the time. But, unfortunately, people don’t provide security, at least, not the kind I’m needing. Because in that 27 years, I have no retirement, no savings, and no benefits. I’ve never gotten any benefits. Some salons did try to offer medical, occasionally, but it’s a very rare option to find.

A lot of people don’t know that hairdressers are typically independent contractors, and we don’t get any kind of benefits, unless we invest on our own.

I published my first book in 2008. Since then it’s been up and down. I’ve been at publishers who have closed their doors on me, some of my books being republished 3-5 times, trying to get a handle on this whole writing business. Figuring out pretty quick that if I want to get my books in front of people, it would cost money. In the early days of indy publishing (Some call it the golden time) everything was free or damn near, and books sold pretty much without having to do anything. Post something on Facebook, and you’d get twenty sales. Write a blog post, and boom, you had 30 new followers on your newsletter. It was so easy to build and grow.

Unfortunately, some of us aren’t smart enough to figure this stuff out at the time.

Me, I’m Us.

By the time I figured all this out, the Golden Time pretty much had disappeared. Facebook started wanting to be paid for you to promote your stuff. Groups weren’t even really a thing yet, either. Even Twitter was making it harder for people who didn’t post like 40 times a day to have their posts seen unless you paid for it. So if I wanted to pay for a $50 ad, or be a part of a collection or spend more on things like BookFunnel for book downloads, or SmarterQueue for social media posting, or Grammarly, or my newsletter provider (Currently, I use FloDesk), I had to find a way to earn the money on my own to pay for it. In came the cover art. I started doing book covers to pay for the writing because I couldn’t afford for it to come out of the house money (my husband has a steady, but not the greatest paying job). Hairdressing was inconsistent. I would literally have a week where I made $300-400, the next week to 10 days, I might make $100. (Probably should have been a sign way back when, but that’s a discussion for another time).

The expenses piled up, and I didn’t have the royalties to cover it. It was that spot again. That “spend money to make money” place that I was trying to find the sweet spot in. The place where the money I spent earned me more than I paid for it. I had a hard time trying to find this place. So I made book covers. And I got pretty good at it. (I still do it, but not as much, I just don’t have time.)

I had always hoped I would be able to support my family with my writing. I mean, I’m going to write; there’s no getting around that. These voices in my head won’t shut up. My 37th book comes out next week.

I’m probably not going to be able to fully support my family like I want with my writing. I am working on it, but a lot of it is the old “it takes money to make money” problem.

Well, when you don’t have any to spend on it, then where do you go?

Hoping I can make time for more reading in the future.

I’m 47. I don’t have any significant savings. No retirement. And while I love writing, it’s not paying the bills. Sitting here on the eve of 50, it occured to me, if something happened to my husband, I would be in some serious trouble. Financially speaking.

That is not a place I want to live in. And I don’t like the idea of being so dependant on the ebb and flow of so many waves of publishing, hairdressing, and cover design.

I think last year might be the first year that I actually turned a significant profit. Still not enough to live on, but enough that I was like “What the heck? I’m in the black?” I know that it’ll grow. But I don’t know that it will grow fast enough.

Never said I was the patient type.

So I’m retiring from doing hair.

Wait. Don’t come at me. I said I’m retiring from doing hair. Not that I won’t be working.

I have taken a job at my local cable provider’s call center, answering phones and helping people. Pretty much right in my wheelhouse of what I’ve done for the last 27 years anyway. Answering phones and talking clients through to find their needs and getting them set up. (Besides, I’m now my parent’s tech support as well, so I wind up doing calls with them all the time too. So you could say, I have some experience, lol)

The company has good benefits and retirement, and I get my services for free. So that’s always a help on the budget. I can at least get started saving more. Paying off the credit cards that we never seem to get paid down. Or if they do get paid off, it’s only for like a minute, and I wind up having to hit them with something else.

I want to take some of the stress off my husband with consistent, predictable pay. (Something, let’s be honest, I’ve never really had as a hairdresser. Or a writer. Or a cover designer.) I don’t know how this is going to change my life as far as my writing career. I hope the consistency will help me build a more workable writing habit. I do better with consistency. I’m also hoping it will allow me more regular relaxation time–like I won’t feel guilty if I’m taking time to binge a show like I want to. Or binge a book series. (I am totally a book series binger. I don’t read all the time, but when I do, I read everything in the series.)

Besides, I’ll get to work from home. Which means I’ll get to be barefoot. In my house.

That right there has to count for something.

I hope and pray this will be a good change for me and my family. Consistency that we can better plan for. Income that is dependable. Future me I think will thank me for this.

I hope so, anyway.

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