How To Give Yourself a Sweet Benefits Package

Happy Labor Day everyone! I hope you’re all indulging in bbqs and taking final trips down the shore and generally NOT WORKING. Because you deserve this holiday! Me? In addition to my at-home work, I travel into NY three days a week for five-hour shifts proofing at a newspaper, and today is no different. When my boss offered to give me today off, I told him I would be fine with coming in. Why?

  1. I’m an idiot.
  2. When you’re a freelancer, there’s no such thing as a paid vacation day.

Many of us leave our full-time jobs and become our own bosses in order to give ourselves the flexibility to sleep in, take more time off, and not work overtime. Yet when we go into business for ourselves, we often end up working longer hours than ever before, because there’s no one around to tell us: “Go home!” After the jump, the 5 benefits you shouldn’t forget to provide for yourself:

1. Higher Salary:

Once we go into business for ourselves, we have to go about the often daunting task of setting our own rates. Why is this so difficult? Due to to lack of experience, desperation for work, and a general unfamiliarity with the marketplace, we tend to undervalue ourselves. But guys! This is finally our chance to get the salary we truly deserve. So do the research, do up a budget, and figure out those rates, making sure you’re getting an hourly rate that makes sense.

2. Health Insurance:

At the moment, I’m sittin’ pretty with the health care coverage provided by my husband’s employer. Someday, though, my husband’s freelance business is going to expand so much, he’ll take it full-time. And then all my chronic ailments will become a much bigger problem. Take the time to invest in health insurance, as horrifyingly expensive as it can be. Many professional organizations offer coverage at a discount.

3. Paid Vacation Days:

Since I left my full-time cubicle job a little over a year ago, my husband and I have taken a single trip. And it was only for a long weekend. It makes me sick thinking of how my old colleagues in the UK get (at the very least) four full weeks of paid vacation time. I remember feeling as if they were always on vacation! Yet they were also incredibly on top of things, and projects never foundered due to absences from the office. When we’re setting our rates, we need to remember to consider how many “paid” days — nay, weeks — of vacation we’d like to account for, and make sure our budget covers that. We also need to remind ourselves that things will not fall apart if we take a few days. Clients will not drop us in a huff because we are unreachable whilst in wine country. Allow for vacation time. We deserve it!

4. Sick Days:

Speaking of days off, what happens when we get sick? Do we work anyway, because we’re already at home, and it’s not much of a leap from our beds to our computers? Well, that’s what I do, but you shouldn’t do what I do. I remember back in the old days, when I was afraid to go to the doctor because I didn’t want to miss work or take a sick day. Isn’t life supposed to be more flexible now? Go to the damn doctor. Get some meds. Rest up. It’s near impossible to perform quality work when we’re unfocused due to post-nasal drip, a scratchy throat, fevered hot flashes, and that hacking cough. And working through it could actually prolong the length of time you’re sick. Do what you need to do to get yourself better and get back to work.

5. Lunch Breaks:

Take them. For the love of God. I used to get an hour at my last job, and there were still many times when I’d just eat at my desk and work as I chewed. Totally unhealthy (not to mention antisocial). Now that you set your own hours, take the time to walk away from the desk and make yourself something nutritious (none of that vending machine crap or fast food fare). Go for a walk. Catch a matinée. Perhaps even run some easy errands. Make it a real break from the work day.

Happy Labor Day everyone!


  1. neonfoxtongue says:

    Good post! I particularly like tip #3 – I don’t think many people would think of doing that.

  2. Too true, we leave the confines of a 9 to 5 job only to allow our job to take even more of our time! Personally, I think it’s OK as long as we also remember to take breaks. Whether those breaks come in the form of shorter work days or actual vacations depends on each person’s style but we can’t always work!

    Right now I’m working on a big project that’s launching soon but once it’s up and running I’m forcing myself to take at least a week off and most importantly, leave my home because it’s also my office! I’m thinking of taking a bike trip to either North Carolina or Montreal (depending on the whether), which will literally force me out of the office!


  1. […] discussed this a bit back when I posted about providing yourself with a sweet benefits package. But it’s worth considering even if you’re not the one issuing your paychecks. […]

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