Some personal news: My wife, Adrienne, and I are expecting a baby boy in June! 👶 We are both taking 4 months of parental leave, so there won’t be another edition until the fall when I return to work.
We are both self-employed, so parental leave is a bit harder than with a “normal” 9-5 job. Read: no paid leave. 😰 Here’s how we’re planning for the gap in income and time off without breaking the bank.
Goal 1: Budget for 4 unpaid months 💵
First, we each wrote down our income goals for 2021, assuming working all 12 months. We took these numbers and removed ⅓ for leave then prorated it across the remaining 9 months. This lets us feel like we can hit our goal without feeling pressure to work during leave.
Next, we estimated how much we will spend for all of 2021. We included static costs like rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, subscriptions, etc. Then, we looked back on our 2020 budget to estimate our variable costs each month. These included groceries, dinners out, travel, Amazon, etc.
As expected, there was a discrepancy. 💸 So we revisited the budget to see where we could cut or reduce costs. One thing that dropped off quickly was investments. We are fortunate enough to be able to put that on pause for now.
Goal 2: Continued income while we’re out 👩💻👨💻
More importantly, we don’t want to work at all during leave; we want to spend as much time as possible with our baby. This proved a bit harder to account for on paper, but here are some things Adrienne and I did that will hopefully help. 🤞
The vast majority of our income comes from consulting engagements, so we started there. We tried to nail down as many leads as possible for when we return in the fall. We didn’t go as far as signing contracts, but we are both finishing the month with verbal commitments to kick off with a few clients in October. Obviously, not all of these will actually happen, but it at least enables us to prepare for when we return.
Next up is passive income. My non-consulting work is still growing, but every little bit helps. I’m currently earning a couple hundred dollars in MRR between Mugshot Bot and X-Wing AI and that won’t stop just because I’m not working! 💪 I also launched an iOS template for porting your Rails app to iOS, and I’ll see ARR from each sale there, too.
Adrienne launched a paid content strategy toolkit last year, which she extracted from the work she does for her clients. She created an automated email course and is ramping up paid advertising while we are on leave. These are also on autopilot, so they should generate income passively.
Goal 3: Reduce the pressure to work during leave 💭
Goal 2 was all about securing income during leave and for when we return. But I’d be lying if I told you I’m not going to want to work during those 4 months. Here are some techniques to keep the laptop closed.
First up is email. I’m planning to only check email once every week or two. 😲 I’ll also set up an out-of-office reply that notes a few things: when I return, how often I’m checking email, and an emergency contact number. Ideally, no one calls me, but it makes me feel a bit better to include it just in case. Also, I’m ruthlessly unsubscribing from newsletters to increase the signal-to-noise ratio of my inbox.
I’ve drafted emails to all the clients who expressed interest in working together when I return and set a reminder to send those emails. Now, when that reminder pings in September, I can spend an hour just hitting send, instead of trying to remember what the client wanted and drafting each individual email.
Notifications are a terrible source of distraction. I’m planning on uninstalling Slack and Twitter from my phone and disabling notifications for everything but text messages and phone calls. Expect me to be a bit quieter on social for the next few months. 😁
In other news…
I finished my 6-part series of Turbo iOS, wrapping up with native authentication and some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years. This series took 4 months of writing every Thursday for 3+ hours!
I was also a guest on a recent episode of Remote Ruby. Chris, Jason, and I talked about (you guessed it) Hotwire and Turbo Native development. 😆
That wraps it up for now! I hope this was helpful to any expecting parents or self-employed folks who are looking to take some time off. If you have any other tips or advice, don’t hesitate to send me an email or reach out on Twitter.