Thursday, December 04, 2008

This is not right...

Edited to add: I just noticed Jen has a competition up at hers for The Ellen Show DVD. If you want something to smile about, romp over there and enter!!!

Warning - what follows is a whinge.

Go to the post below that where we look at a photo which I have buried with my little tanty.

Go see the kitchens of Elizabeth and Pencil Writer (well, her mother-in-law's).

Wonder at the words of Woman in a Window as she watches her child grow up.

Flee while you can.

Waaaah!!! I got up at 4.18 this morning.

I would love to blame the cat, but really, the cat just confirmed that I was awake and made a request due to the angle of the sun on the horizon and the comfort of his bladder.

It would be fantastic to blame the heat - but it is nowhere near oppressive enough yet to use that chestnut.

Despite V's penchant for taking up real estate and pinning cover access in the bed, its not his fault either.

Its the economy. And yes, while the worldwide one is getting a look in, it is mainly the very local one that is stirring me up.

As in, the one I control right here.

And my goodness, I have learned to control rather well, even if I say so myself.

Back in my heady days when I was a career woman, I got done over very effectively by accepting an income that sounded like a lot to student me in a different city, and then tied up neatly by the term "wage freeze".

I learned how to spend to my limit and live on very little for the majority of each month, but I always ensured that bills were paid first.

As I moved up the ladder the money did get better - it could hardly get worse - but any employer I had always got a good deal out of me. A cheap workaholic, it seems, is a dream come true. But again, I learned how to spend to my limit without regard to the concept of "saving".

Once I jumped off that particular freight train, I worked for many years as a temp - which again brought out the frugalities, as without a guaranteed income I was forced to balance very closely the hours of work I needed with the lifestyle I was affording. Savings was a term I learned, and achieved in the sense that during the days of plenty some was salted for the days of lean - unfortunately those days came about as often as the other.

However, when I first had 'Salina, I DID HAVE a nest egg - which was effectively whittled by the outlaws unique microeconomy, and there were a few years where balance wasn't always achieved as smoothly as I would have liked.

I am ever grateful for the wonderful support that I got from my family and good friends during such times, but I truly hate being in debt, even if it is to ones that I love.

When I first moved up here, I had dreams of finding some sort of position that might give me a regular income, but it was not to be. They don't exist, and when they do it seems I am not the right person for the job - whether it be from their end or mine - but that turned out okay, because I now run my own business from home where I work and theoretically get paid for the hours I put in.

As you know, I have been working quite hard lately, and in the main it has been for one client.

I always operate on a 14 day payment policy, and for the most part only one reminder call is needed if that for my clients to even the ledger.

At the beginning of last month, the client paid for what was due to that date, and when the next one was due was advised that bill payments would only be made at the start of the month.

I changed the layout of my invoices and the 14 day policy, and therefore there is now an outstanding bill for 6 weeks work.

Knowing it to be resultantly a large figure, I put a "we can discuss" phrase in the note I sent with all my statements. In fact, I sent it twice as I was not acknowledged.

During a phone meeting, I brought it up again as I still had not had any indication that it was noted.

I was told that things were tight and payment would be made, although it may be a little slow and in bits.

Since then, I have been asked to keep doing more and more work for this client and its just peeving me more and more.

The amount I have done on this client's behalf has meant that I have not aggresively sought new business or followed urgent leads, because my plate was full.

I have not been able to do the volunteer work that I normally do because I was too busy.

I have not been able to help out at 'Salina's school to the degree that I normally do, because I had a paying job in my lap and I remain a cheap workaholic.

And man, you should see my financial systems. I know where every cent is - business, savings, household - for the next 6 months. I know how many hours I have to work to break even to cover the fact that V and I won't get a lot over Christmas, I know how much I have to have in which bank account to allow for electricity, phones, food and medical insurance.

It isn't always straightforward, as V also works and gets paid by the hour. That means every hour he can't work because of health or weather or the grossly incompetent organisational skills of certain members of the building industry impacts his economy, and therefore his ability to contribute.

But that is okay - because I have my little systems and can move things around so there is no red showing in any of my categories and I can economise where I can and we can maintain our lifestyle.

But the fact of the matter is - I have not been paid since before the wedding. In fact, I have not been paid for any of the work that stressed me during my preparation for the wedding either.

While there is still no red in all my ledgers, there is also absolutely no fat left to trim and the "are you going to have a honeymoon" question is getting quite irritating. We were going to, but right now honeymoon funds are what stands between us and Christmas.

But that is not what got me worked up at 4. What got me worked up was an email from this particular client wanting a phone meeting to discuss a project I am working on - or should be working on, but frankly I have to prioritise right now.

Today I have to call a friend who has been through a whole different version of hell and is now on the other side of that journey.

Today I have to do up the books for tuckshop for the P & C.

Today I have a project to finish for a paying client.

Today I have to go and see my daughter's class perform their end of year song & dance routine.

Today I have to take 'Salina to softball training and get briefed on being the dugout mum this weekend.

Today I have to feed my family, do several loads of washing, put together thankyou letters for the wedding and contemplate Christmas card lists.

Today I have to work out just how long we have before red shows on my books if an invoice or two isn't paid.

Today I don't expletive deleted feel like having a phone meeting with my client over what is perceived as timely or important to my client.

And today I feel really upset about that, because I am a cheap workaholic who would bend over backwards for anyone who needs me and because I am being forced into unkind thoughts when I really don't like to have them.

And what upsets me most about today is there are many others who are having a much tougher run than me, and I wish that I could give them strength, health, good thoughts and hell, even money.

And instead of being magnanimous and gracious and generous and full of goodwill to all mankind, I feel petty and nasty and angry. Three things I like least.

So today I will get myself and my daughter ready to go to school. I will collect the books for the tuckshop and buy petrol on the way home with my allocated petrol money. I will call my friend. I will do the work for the client that will pay me before the deadline for their invoice. I will do the books for tuckshop and drop them in for their meeting tonight, along with my polite note as to why I will not be at it (due to them not notifying more than 2 days out and my previous advice that Thursdays do not work for me due to softball training unless I am advised and can work out with V alternative arrangements) (I won't really put that in). I will enjoy my daughter's show and take her to practice. I will be gracious in my profuse thanks to those family and friends who gave such wonderful gifts for our wedding and businesses who helped me have a great day.

And somewhere in there, I will have to put together an email explaining to my client that I can't be the cheap workaholic unless some of the cheap is paid.

Maybe I should just send a link here.


Jayne said...

If I were you I'd start chasing those other leads to get other clients; sounds like this one is re-structuring to keep their heads above water and that is not a good sign this early into the recession.

Anonymous said...

I'd be refusing any further work from said client until bills are paid - you are a professional, NOT their mother. Their money issues are not your problem - they should either pay, or acknowledge that they don't actually need you that desperately. I've known a lot of people to fall into the trap of continuing to work with the promise of 'jam tomorrow' - and tomorrow rarely materialises.

Jen at Semantically driven said...

Cease all work for that client until they pay you, otherwise you are rewarding them for bad behaviour. See, parenting has taught me something. I too today had my son's end of year concert.

And thanks for the competition mention!

Tamsyn said...

Oh Jeanie, I hope something lovely happens to you today and gives you an unexpected smile. It sounds like you need it {{Hugs}}. I too think that you should be careful with these clients, if they can't pay now how will they manage when things get tougher? Be strong!

I'm Julie said...

First of all, you deserve to whinge after all that. If I were you, I would do far more than whinge. I would throw things across the room and open a bottle of wine entirely too early in the day.

Second of all, I agree with the above posters. You need to find some new clients! I will never understand businesses who pull this "sorry, times are tight" business. You are keeping yourself in the black by relying on them keeping their word.

See? Now I'm mad, too!

Whinge away, girl. We're here for you.

{Pop} Didja hear that? That was me, opening up a lovely bottle of California Zinfandel. I have poured both of us a glass. Now then, settle back on the couch, let's sip our wine and talk about silly things and giggle together.

WV - fegho. That's what you need to say to your client.

Debby said...

Jen is absolutely correct. Do nothing more for the client until you are paid. Be firm. Tell them that you may be cheap, but you are not easy.

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

You have every right to whine and vent.

OMG how rude of them - I can only echo what Jen and the others said - you are strong and invincible go do it
Hope Salina's concert went well.

Ps I love Jen's competitions.

jeanie said...

Thanks for all the support, folk.

It did help me. One of the problems with being a "holic" is you don't realise that the problem goes that deep and you can just do one more job without the reward...

Woman in a Window said...

ARGLE BARGLE! (that's me swearing my tight-fisted can't-do-a-thing-in-the-face-of-it swear.)

Crap! That's a lot of nerve. Them, not you. And good for you sending that e-mail!

(and thank you so much for the shout out. That was really, really sweet!)

MissyBoo said...

Yep, I agree time for a stop work strike. That really isn't right!