Author Topic: Freelance vs. a full-time job  (Read 1004 times)

startingsmall

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Freelance vs. a full-time job
« on: November 02, 2020, 02:22:19 PM »
I'm a veterinarian who recently transitioned out of clinical practice and into freelance writing work. (I've been making this gradual transition for several years, but finally stepped away from my PT clinical job when we relocated a month ago.) I'd rather never work in clinical practice again, although I had planned least keep my skills up in case my freelance writing work dries up.

But... one of my primary freelance clients has offered me a FT work-from-home job and now I don't know what to do.

I currently do freelance work 20-30 hrs/wk and make ~$75k/yr. This job would be 30-40 hrs/wk for $80-90k (that's the range they gave me, hopefully would successfully fight for the upper end), working completely from home on a flexible schedule (1-2 Zoom calls per week, but otherwise it's "work whenever you want, as long as the work gets done")... and it would include health insurance, a 401k, and some other perks.

The biggest motivator? My husband can't get health insurance through his FT job, so we're currently on COBRA and about to go on an ACA plan. Who knows how long that will last, so employer insurance is a big perk.

Other considerations:
- My husband has never really seen FT freelance as a viable/secure option and would STRONGLY prefer that I have a FT job. 
- I'd probably feel obligated to do at least occasional clinical fill-in work if I continued freelance, but would feel okay dropping that with a FT job.
- No more talking to new clients, invoicing, etc... just a paycheck via direct deposit.
- I could likely keep a few of my favorite and most lucrative freelance clients on the side if I wanted to do so (need to confirm that).
- This is a small business that was recently acquired by another relatively small business. They've promised over and over that nothing significant will change... but who knows? All of the current employees are happy so far, based on their interactions with the new owners.

It sounds like a win overall. I think I'm just having a hard time with the idea of giving up my freedom and the uncertainty of the acquisition. I've worked with this group for years, though, and (based on my conversations with FT employees) I feel like this is probably the most freedom I'd ever be able to find in a FT job. And HEALTH INSURANCE.

Any helpful thoughts/questions/insights?

FWIW, we're roughly 8ish years from FIRE. I'm homeschooling our daughter this year and therefore 20-30 hrs is more appealing than 30-40, but I keep reminding myself that the homeschooling won't last forever. (Schools are in-person in our area, but we plan to send her back next school year...  although there have been few cases in the schools, so I guess I could consider doing it in January.)

trollwithamustache

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Re: Freelance vs. a full-time job
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2020, 02:54:34 PM »
A couple of thoughts:

1. Everyone always assumes the Full time job is more stable than the freelancing. But is it really? Assuming you are in the US, it is going to be at will employment. As a self employed engineer, my income currently comes from 3 sources... I have never had more than about 50% cut off at one time.

2. What will health insurance cost? Go on your states marketplace and find out, otherwise we have no idea if the group policy is worth 800 a month or 2+k a month to you.  ACA insurance, FYI, can be fully written off against freelance income, whereas your COBRA must be paid with dollars that were taxed.

3. Full time pay for quasi less than full time work sounds too good to be true. Lots of those jobs really do exist were simply being available is part of your responsibilities... but those jobs are like Fight Club, you aren't supposed to talk about it.

4. Freelance clinical work sounds like something that you can write off an awful lot of expenses against. W-2 means no write offs, your salary number comparisons are not really apples to apples.

startingsmall

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Re: Freelance vs. a full-time job
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2020, 03:06:33 PM »
A couple of thoughts:

1. Everyone always assumes the Full time job is more stable than the freelancing. But is it really? Assuming you are in the US, it is going to be at will employment. As a self employed engineer, my income currently comes from 3 sources... I have never had more than about 50% cut off at one time.

2. What will health insurance cost? Go on your states marketplace and find out, otherwise we have no idea if the group policy is worth 800 a month or 2+k a month to you.  ACA insurance, FYI, can be fully written off against freelance income, whereas your COBRA must be paid with dollars that were taxed.

3. Full time pay for quasi less than full time work sounds too good to be true. Lots of those jobs really do exist were simply being available is part of your responsibilities... but those jobs are like Fight Club, you aren't supposed to talk about it.

4. Freelance clinical work sounds like something that you can write off an awful lot of expenses against. W-2 means no write offs, your salary number comparisons are not really apples to apples.

Thank you for these thoughts!!

1. I completely agree with you on the stability thing. That's why I mention that as my husband's hang-up/priority and not my own. He grew up in a pretty blue-collar family where you always take the FT job. He hasn't ever really given me a hard time about switching to freelance, but has made a number of comments that he isn't quite comfortable with it and feels that our situation is insecure.

2. We'd be spending around $1000/month on a ACA policy. And you're right that I planned to deduct that. So maybe the group insurance wouldn't really even save us that much, depending on what they charge for family members. To me, it's more an issue of how long the ACA can be counted on to stick around (in some form). Husband and I both have pre-existing conditions, so it's a pretty significant concern. If the shit hits the fan and I need to find a job for insurance, I doubt that I would find a job that's this appealing.

3. Honestly, that's my thought, too. But I've had several people swear that they're only working 30ish hrs most weeks? I don't really know what to expect and that is probably also a portion of what is making me hesitant.

4. I would lose some write-offs, but I'm honestly not too aggressive with writing things off. (Been audited once before and it was a headache, so I err on the side of caution.) Much of what I currently write off would be paid by the new employer (licensing, continuing education, etc.)
« Last Edit: November 02, 2020, 03:13:57 PM by startingsmall »

trollwithamustache

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Re: Freelance vs. a full-time job
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2020, 10:37:01 AM »
what about retirement plans? does the employer offer a decent 401k with a match? Since you are on this website, I'm gonna assume you could stuff a buffalo sized cash pile into a SEP IRA.

based on your response, you need to spreadsheet all these moving pieces out.

startingsmall

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Re: Freelance vs. a full-time job
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2020, 11:02:22 AM »
Good point. It's a 401k with a 3% match (which I would max) and I currently max my SEP IRA.

shingy

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Re: Freelance vs. a full-time job
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2020, 03:13:51 PM »
One additional benefit of the FT job is the savings on FICA taxes. Using your current freelance salary of $75k, that's about $5,600 of additional income that will go in your pocket. Also, if you are still able to do some freelance work, you may be able to continue to deduct some of those expenses.

AK

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Re: Freelance vs. a full-time job
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2020, 01:06:46 PM »
You could work part-time somewhere for health insurance coverage and keep the freelance work. See if the client would allow a part-time arrangement with medical insurance. That'll also let you do a trial to see if you'd like being their employee.

startingsmall

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Re: Freelance vs. a full-time job
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2021, 01:32:08 PM »
Bumping this thread because the conversation ended up being tabled (the company had other priorities and I was grateful to put off making a decision) but is now up for discussion again.

The only info that has changed is:
- Husband has become more comfortable with the idea of me working freelance instead of working as an employee.
- We're currently paying $1200/month for a family ACA plan.
- My freelance income for this year is on track to be around $90k, so I mentioned that I would probably need the pay to be in the six figures for this to be a viable opportunity. (Not sure if they're planning to offer that on our upcoming call, or if they're just going to ignore that and stick with the original $80-90k range.)
- My daughter will be starting summer camps in early June and then going to school after that, which makes this a much more realistic time to be thinking of a change since our homeschooling will end soon.
- They confirmed that I could continue doing freelance work on the side (so I'd still have a way to deduct the expenses that they won't be reimbursing)

I reread the previous posts.... just wondering if anyone else has any other thoughts that haven't been mentioned?

Thanks!

jrhampt

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Re: Freelance vs. a full-time job
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2021, 05:27:27 AM »
The best time to negotiate is when you really are willing to walk away from an offer if you don't get what you want.  You are in a position of strength here, so if you can negotiate >100k salary, I think it's worth trying it out for the 401k match and the health benefits.  Worst case scenario you end up working more hours than you are comfortable with, and you quit.  Then you are just back where you started, and you've been able to keep up your free-lance contacts.  I don't see how you can lose.