Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blog Chain Post: How I can afford to stay home and write

Today's blog chain post was given to us by Lisa who asks:

The balancing act. How do you balance your writing time with everything else in your life--including kids, job, book promotion.

Oh gosh, that is an excellent question. Really, the answer is I wouldn't be able to if I hadn't quit my job to become a writer. When I was working full time, the only time I had to write was on my lunch breaks and evenings after my daughter went to sleep. This translated to me writing a book in a year. Now that I'm home and can write all day while my daughter's at school, I can now write a book every three months and still spend time with my family when they are home from work and school.

Staying home was absolutely key to me being able to balance writing and family. And let me tell you, while writing full time may sound like a wonderful life--and it is!--I've had to make huge sacrifices to be able to sit here every day and write.

As a published author I make money. YAY!

But as a published author I make about 1/4th what I did when I worked my desk job. BOO! :(

Luckily, I have a husband who both supports me and has faith that my career will continue to grow. And because of this, he wanted to give me every opportunity to succeed. Believe me ladies, I know how good I got it. He's a keeper.

So in order to make it work, my husband and I sat down and we had to make some serious cuts in our budget. Here's what we came up with:

1. No car payments. One of our cars is almost ten years old. The other is a salvage title. A car payment is absolutely out of the question, so as long as the wheels continue to spin, we're driving the cars we have into the ground.

2. No new furniture. That doesn't mean it doesn't have to be nice. When my daughter outgrew her toddler furniture, I scoured Craigslist for weeks until I found the most adorable girl's bedroom furniture in practically new condition. Our massive sectional sofa? Craigslist. Our bedroom set? Antique store. Second hand doesn't have to mean junky and 99% of the time no one will ever know.

3. Craigslist. Again, I don't know how I would have made it this far without it. When it comes to things we want, but don't absolutely need, Craigslist has been a Godsend. Last year, my husband and I took up biking and we wanted a bike trailer to pull the kiddo in. A bike trailer new in stores can cost up to $300. I spent $40 for one I found on Craigslist that had only been used once.

4. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm pretty sure my husband and I were the last people in this country to buy a flat screen T.V. Why spend the extra money when our massively large, too heavy to steal, tube television worked just fine? We ended up finally buying our first flat screen a couple months ago when we stumbled across an "Open Item" deal that was too good to pass up.

5. Tax deduct EVERYTHING. Seriously. The coffee I drink at my crit group? DEDUCTION! The mileage I drive to get there? DEDUCTION! My computer? iPad? Phone and phone bill? Internet bill? Paper? Computer? Swag? Conference and hotel fees? A fraction of my mortgage because I have a home office? DEDUCTION! The best money we ever spent was on an accountant who knew his stuff. I've learned to save every receipt and at the end of the year I'm usually rewarded with a big refund.

6. Eat at home! This was a biggie. When I was working, my husband and I usually ate out every night. It's insanity how much money that can suck out of your pockets. So now we make it a point to pack lunches, cook dinner, and we splurged on an espresso machine so we can even have our latte fix.

7. Find places to write where you don't have to spend money. I don't know about you, but I usually work better out of my house. I love Panera just as much as the next girl, but going there everyday to write was getting to be too much for my budget. So now I go to my local library. They have free wifi, quiet work desks, and outlets galore! Plus, my constant presence there enabled me to get to know the entire library staff who has been a huge source of help when it came to telling other libraries about me, as well as hosting my launch party. If you don't know your local librarians, get yourself to your library now!

8. Tax deduct vacations! Seriously. Let's say your character grew up in Florida. Obviously you need to travel there for research, right? The same thing goes for conferences. Next year RT is being held in NOLA, a place I've wanted to visit my entire life. Since I can deduct travel to the conference location as well as hotel fees, my husband and I decided to tack on a few extra days for sight seeing. 

So that's my guide to staying home and writing on a budget. I'd love to hear if any of you have any suggestions that I missed. To follow more of the chain and read other responses to this question, please check out Alyson's post from yesterday and Amparo's post today! (Because I was a day late. Oops.)

Happy Valentines Day!!!


  1. Oh my gosh, Cole - If I had been asked this question, my answer would have been the same. I mean, word-for-word.

    The one thing I'd add is that, like you, I'm fortunate enough to have a supportive spouse with a SALARIED position. I think the salaried bit is crucial. Advance checks are lovely, but you never know when they're going to arrive, and planning a budget around them is close to impossible. How writers who are couples manage to make things work, I'll never know!

  2. This is such a great post - I feel like I should be taking notes.

  3. Thanks for the glimpse into the life (I think) I want someday. :) With three kids in college right now (okay, and no sales YET to date), full-time writing is out of the question. If I was ever fortunate enough to sell a few books that do well, I have secretly toyed with the idea of job-sharing (I'm a teacher), so that I could continue to do two things I love. I'm a big believer in second-hand treasures, so I think I won't have any trouble there. :)

  4. Awesome! I'm a fan of thrift stores and frugal living anyway, so it looks like I was made for this writer life. ;) Lots of good info here. Thanks, Cole!

  5. I love the tax deduction points. All great ideas!! Also, I want to add freecycle to the list of cites with stuff. FREE stuff. Check it out. I'm going to get a FREE NordicTrack skiier from someone. Yes, it's not new, but it's FREE. :-)

    1. How have I never heard of Freecycle? I'm checking it out now! Thanks so much!

  6. Great advice! I definitely tax deduct EVERYTHING too, keep all reciepts...sometimes drives my husband crazy :) Grat Post!