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Being self-employed is expensive, and not just because of the obvious reasons. You’re not just responsible for generating your own salary. You’re also responsible for financing your own benefits.
It’s not like I didn’t know this going into it, but it feels different when you actually have to do it.
When I decided to quit my job, a lot of people wondered how I afforded health insurance as a business owner. What about taking time off from work? Was maternity leave even an option?
Here’s how I made it work.
There’s no such thing, lol. Nah but really, paid time off isn’t really paid time off in the traditional sense as a small business owner.
But I did design my business model in a way that allowed me a sort of PTO experience.
I made sure not to tie the rates I charged my clients directly to my productivity. In other words, I never charged clients by the hour. That’s a quick way to find yourself in a money hole and an unhealthy grind.
Instead I charged by project and use value-based pricing to make sure I wasn’t caught in the trap of having to hustle in order to make money.
That means that if one of you was sick or had a doctor’s appointment or we wanted to go on vacay, I could take off a few hours—or even a few days—without it directly affecting my income.
I could take time off without worrying about not getting paid.
But also, the reality is that my hours as a business owner aren’t regular. I work during the day and I work at night.
I have no idea how many hours a week I work, but realistically if I’m taking time off, I’m probably making up for it at some other time.
Second, health insurance.
Let me first say that being married is a financial privilege. It’s intentionally designed that way, so there’s no surprise there.
But here’s what I mean exactly:
Tre, since you were already around when I first went into business on my own, you were able to be on your dad’s insurance plan. I could have hopped onto his plan as well, but I chose not to.
Here’s why and what I did instead.
We knew that we wanted to start trying for another baby around the time you turned 2. I wanted to use a birth center for my prenatal care, but your dad was under a managed care insurance plan, meaning that there were only certain facilities where medical services would be covered.
Basically, I couldn’t have been a patient at the birth center (and have the cost be covered) if I was on that same insurance plan with you and your dad.
But I also couldn’t afford $800 insurance through the Marketplace, so instead I opted for a health share which is kinda like health insurance, except it’s not.
There’s a yearly “premium” (that’s not called a premium) and a monthly contribution too. There’s also a “deductible” that’s not called a deductible.
All of these costs are MUCH cheaper than paying for real insurance on your own.
The premise is that everyone in the healthshare makes their monthly contribution. And then that big pool of money is used to pay for any covered medical expenses you may have.
Now, most health shares are affiliated with religious institutions and because of this, they are strict on what types of services, products, and procedures they will cover. (Trust me: I had my qualms about this but it ended up being the most economical decision for me.)
So I used the health share to finance my prenatal care and childbirth costs for you, Maya! I was admittedly nervous about whether it would really work, but it did.
Lastly, maternity leave.
There’s no formal maternity leave as a small business owner, but I’d been here before.
I didn’t have maternity leave with Tre either because I was between roles as a fellow and contractor. The difference was that at least then, I had a steady paycheck where I could extract some funds to save for a maternity leave.
When I became pregnant with you Maya, my funds weren’t as regular yet.
So what did I do to save money for maternity leave? I picked up a random part-time job that God pretty much dropped into my lap (more about that in this podcast episode).
In that job, I used my Spanish and pharmacy background to call patients and discuss their medications with them for about 10-15 hours a week for the several months leading up to giving birth with Maya. And the money I made from it, I used for maternity leave.
It’s possible to make it work as a young mom and new business owner, but it takes some creativity and it definitely helped to have your dad who could help also.