Act 307

Make the best of that extra hour

I got more done today than I have for many days. I accredit it to that extra hour. Of course, it didn’t hurt that we went to bed at 7:30 last night and by 5:30 this morning I was up and about and hard at work.

An extra hour can make a difference. If you added up how much time it really takes to unload the dishes or switch over the laundry, you might be surprised how much can be done in an hour. And tackling the to do list is an important part of keeping on top of debt.

Here’s hoping the trend continues. But I best get to bed soon lest I break my new productive habit.


Act 297

Bring your kitchen to work

Sort of. At my office, I have a small fridge, a toaster, a kettle, a coffee grinder, a french press, some cutlery and some dishes.

Guess how much I spent on lunch this week (yes, week)? About seven bucks. Monday morning I picked up some day old bagels for 99 cents (they restock Monday morning so it’s 99 cent bread heaven at the local grocery store, if you get in early). Then I picked up some bologna. I already had some christmas oranges from the week before as well as some bulk chocolate (hard to get through a day without it). So, every day, I had a toasted bologna sandwich with an orange and a bit of chocolate.

I also bring milk from home in a clean ketchup bottle, and make fresh coffee.

I eat well. Probably better than when lunch was a visit to a local coffee or sushi shop (minus the bologna – but hey, it’s a nostalgic childhood thing so go with it).

I have a jar of mayo, mustard as well as some peanut butter. So if you’re nearby and want to catch up over lunch, I’ll make you a feast and it won’t cost a fortune.

Bon appetit!

Act 296

Repeat after me “I don’t work for free!”

This might be a peculiarity of working in the design business, but more often than I care to admit, people in my profession are asked to work for free.

“Can you design a logo for us? If we like it, we’ll pay you.”

“Can you help us with a project? We need a website but we don’t have any money. It’ll be good exposure for you.”

“We’re having a contest. If your design is selected, you’ll win a prize.”

I’m sorry, I can’t eat exposure and I can’t cash a prize at the bank.

Spec design (original design you produce on speculation of getting a contract) is unfair and unethical.

When was the last time you saw a contest for an accountant, a lawyer, a stylist or a dry cleaner, for example. Doesn’t happen because it isn’t right.

Your time has value. Don’t speculate with it other than to prepare resumes, references and a proper summary of what you can offer any new project. Don’t start the project for free in the hopes of getting the job. Chances are, you can’t do the job successfully unless you’ve been hired and given the proper frame of reference in order to meet the goals and objectives.

If you sell yourself short, what, precisely are you to expect from your prospective employer or client?

I have done speculative work, which I regret. I’ve also done work for free which has ALWAYS come back to bite me. People will easily dismiss your effort if there isn’t a price tag attached. Of the clients I’ve lost over the last 15 years of business, about 80% of them were clients for whom I did free work. I was easy to dismiss because there was no financial value attached to my work. Tough lesson to learn. Resist the temptation. Say it to yourself. “I don’t work for free”, except for mom – as this brilliant graphic so appropriately points out.


You can work pro bono for causes that are important for you. You can offer services in kind. You can invoice at a reduced rate and ask for sponsorship consideration. You have options. But free should never be one of them.

There. Rant over. Back to work.

Act 292

Take turns

Yes, I know. This is one of those things you learn in kindergarten but it still applies to us as adults.

As the end of the year approaches, both my husband and I have some very big projects to finish up and some fairly ambitious financial targets to hit. So our weekend time is becoming ever more scarce. Our compromise was for each of us to work one day and keep one day to be with the kids and deal with the house. He worked Saturday, while I had my pyjama day. I worked today while he hung out with the boys and did fun boy stuff including grocery shopping (which our kids do oddly enjoy). Worked out well.

There’s no “i” in debt, or team for that matter – so find an approach that makes the best of the time and the team that you have.