Budgeting is an emotionally and physically draining experience. More so when you have to write yourself in as an “item” in a budget (somewhere below computers and above blue pens). In fact, I loathe the idea of assigning a monetary value to the work that I do for people (particularly when it is field work). It isn’t just that I tend to undervalue my own time or that I am a sucker for trying to solve big problems that take me well over a regular 9-5 work day… it’s that I just can’t wrap my head around the concept of assigning an hourly or daily value to predominately intellectual property.
What is the going rate these days for the ponderings of one MA student, college educated at a top-notch/brand-name university, high quality genetic material (thanks to over-educated parental units), slightly obsessive-compulsive, definitely A-type, and eager to please? If most of what I do is think and problem-solve… how much are those thoughts actually worth?
Anyways, I tend to take a laissez faire approach to negotiations. I let people know if I am capable of accomplishing what they want me to accomplish and then I tell them to pay me whatever they feel is appropriate. Believe it or not (and my roommate and business manager K is probably shuddering as she reads this), things actually work out quite well for me (and when my system occasionally fails, things tend to come out in the wash).
In the end, I find my many jobs to be challenging and fun, and I relish the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of individuals, organizations, and on a wide range of projects. As long as I continue to be valued by the people that I work with and have at least enough money to eat, sleep under a roof, and buy myself the occasional splurge item, I calculate my self worth to be identical to the cost of my existence. Sure, that means that I have meager savings and what comes into my accounts invariably goes out. Conversely, I have an awesome life, great friends and family, an exciting job that takes me around the world, lots of challenges to keep me sharp, and (not to put too fine a point on it) no debt.