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A blog chronicling the up's and down's, trials and tribulations, fear and happiness of moving your life from the expected 9-to-5 job to a life of consulting. While it is a big and often scary decision, it is a time of discovery, rejuvenation and introspection that will help you remember who you are and who you were supposed to be. It's a wonderful journey.

How Consulting Made Me Cheap:

I mean "Thrifty"

Every month I write out a check to myself. I learned the hard way this past tax season to give myself a paycheck and pay rent for my home office on a monthly basis. The bank teller each time smiles when she sees the check made out to myself, signed by myself and transferred out of an account assigned to myself in my business. I then transfer 50% of my earnings into another account I have established for you guessed it – myself. This is my tax fund. At the end of taking care of myself, I am left with almost nothing to live on. I didn’t know I was such a demanding person. But all this monthly ritualized check writing and transferring has made me very, very aware of where my money goes and how much I need to save to meet my bottom line. I have picked up a series of habits that have helped me live in this new self-provided lifestyle.

I used to be guilty of needing paper to organize my life. I printed everything and kept impeccable files. Now, I keep the most amazingly organized electronic files and print very little. Why the change? I now have to pay for my own ink and paper!

It used to drive me crazy. My husband has managed to steal (he generally asks first) pens from every place we ever go – from hotels, of course, but also from the server at a nice restaurant or from our financial planner or from the guy who took us on a test drive of a car we never intend to buy. I am staring right now at my array of writing instruments and am ashamed to say that I only see one that I actually bought and a dozen that I pilfered from others. I have become my husband’s bad habit. But, not buying pens has saved me a little cash.

I am so very tired of almonds. I eat them every day when I need a snack. I know they are healthy so I feel good about consuming them. However, I used to buy a variety of healthy snacks every day at work. Now I buy the five pound bag of almonds at Sam’s Club and live with my new homogenous diet because I am saving a lot of money by not buying variety.

When a client sends me documents with paperclips, I steal the clip and staple the packets. I haven’t had to buy a single clip since I opened the business.

I bartered some free marketing assistance with a local printer for no charge on my business cards.

I have invited clients to lunch or dinner and paid, just because I am so broke that I cannot try out a cool new restaurant any way other than through a tax write-off for a business meeting.

I have convinced myself that going to the gym is a form of networking and business development. I am price-locked into a membership that costs very little, so it is cheap entertainment. When you have a home business and start to go stir crazy working with yourself only, you need to see people, somehow, some way. I haven’t actually gotten a client at the gym, but  my biceps are looking very good.

I signed up with survey companies and get paid to fill out surveys on a regular basis. I consider this professional development that has benefits. After all, I am learning more about my discipline – market research – while also earning a few bucks.

While things are going quite well, I am still a consulting novice, trying to figure out the ebbs and flows of business. I am slammed, or I am bored. I get paid well. I get no pay. I saved way too little for a hefty tax bill, so I had to dip into my savings. So as I learn, I am attempting to be thrifty. I KNOW all consultants out there have more and better ideas to share on this subject. Maybe we can discuss your ideas over a business lunch. I am having a bit of a dry moment, so can you pay and write it off on your taxes? Or maybe we just discuss while strolling through Sam’s Club and nibbling on free samples. (Tell me I am not the only one who occasionally eats my lunch via warehouse samples. Or maybe I am cheap.)

Life Without Gravity