April Earnings Update and More Traveling

Oxburgh Hall

Oxburgh Hall, England

Guten Tag von Deutschland!

It’s been a couple months since I’ve provided an income update.  For new readers, I quit working full time last August when we moved from the US to the UK and now do a variety of part-time jobs and freelancing.

Lately, though,  freelancing has been on the back burner.  I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on military orders and, as I alluded to above, I’m actually in Germany right now.

Not to mention, I’ve also been busy completing two separate training courses over the past couple weeks.  One of the courses is for the adjunct teaching position I was hired for back in March.  I’m pretty much done with this one and should teach my first class(es) during the fall semester.  The other is a beast and will be ongoing for probably the remainder of the year.

German Beers

Enjoying some German beverages

As expected, March saw a huge spike in earnings, mostly resulting from my reserve job.  Between the two weeks I’m working now and another two weeks in June, we should see a couple more spikes like the one in March over the coming months.

In a way, it’s almost like I’m back on active duty without a lot of the day-to-day BS.  I could go without the daily shaving, though.  My face does not appreciate it.  A scruffy beard is one HUGE perk of semi-retirement!

To be fair, it is nice to be making some extra money.  I do feel bad leaving Mrs. DTG alone with the kids, though I think they’re secretly glad to get rid of me from time to time.

April saw a sprinkling of several income sources.  Because of our Mediterranean cruise and a visit from family, I didn’t work for half the month.  This will impact May’s freelance income.  No more PTO for me 😦

Still, it’s better than dragging myself to work every day.  No complaints here!

One a positive note, I finally got paid for an editing job I did on Upwork the first week of February.  I had nearly written it off as pro bono work to an ungrateful Chinese engineering student.  Thankfully, he pulled through and I got my $80.  Ballin’!

My primary source of freelance income continues to be from technical editing.  I’m not making a ton, but the work is there any time I want it.

Anyway, here it is.  Nothing spectacular, but some extra cash nonetheless.  The next few months should see a nice boost and I’ll hopefully start teaching in the fall.

Regardless, I don’t ever see myself going back to sustained full-time employment, especially after our recent net worth calculation turned out better than I’d expected. 😉

Freelance Earnings 201704

Is a Mediterranean Cruise Worth It?

Palma Cruise Ship

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

It’s been 10 days since we returned from Italy and things are finally getting back to normal… at least for me.

Mrs. DTG went back to work the day after we returned and the boys went back to school the day after that.  Our daughter was off of school last week and we also had a family visitor in town.

Now, the house has returned to the quiet I’ve grown accustomed to.

In all, we had a great family vacation.  Fortunately the kids’ school schedules lined up and we were able to spend nine days traveling around the western Mediterranean, the bulk of which was a weeklong cruise around the Italian, French, and Spanish coasts.

Because of its low cost and great itinerary, we chose a Costa cruise out of Savona, Italy, flying into Milan and taking a train down to Savona.  The ship docked in five ports with one full day at sea.  We were in each port for between 9–11 hours, which meant five long, and sometimes rushed, days of sightseeing.

Our ports of call included:

  • Marseille, France
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  • Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
  • La Spezia, Italy

I won’t go into detail about each place, but instead will outline some highlights and disappointments of our trip.  We didn’t do a ton of research on each destination beforehand.  I prefer to go freestyle and just wing it.

Highlights

    • Spain: Both Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca were beautiful.  I was surprised at how clean and open Barcelona felt for being a relatively large city.  Palma de Mallorca is in a class of its own.  It’s easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.
Cathedral in Palma

Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (La Seu)

    • Cinque Terre: While in La Spezia, we took a short train ride up to Cinque Terre, a series of five picturesque villages along the Italian coastline.  Walking through those towns felt like being in a postcard.
Manarola Cinque Terre

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Vernazza Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

    • Cathedrals: Pictures do not give you a true appreciation for the size of some of these cathedrals.  Both the Duomo di Milano (Milan) and the Sagrada Familia (Barcelona) are absolutely massive.  We didn’t get a chance to go inside Sagrada Familia, but the Duomo di Milano seemed to go on forever.  Extremely impressive.  The other day, I went by a cathedral near our house that now looks tiny in comparison.
Duomo di Milano

Duomo di Milano

Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Sagrada Familia – to give you an idea of its size, a red double decker bus is parked right in front of the cathedral

  • Daily Step Count: I walked over 32,000 steps in Barcelona alone, a personal record!  Other days averaged closer to 20,000.  We definitely worked off whatever calories we consumed on the ship!

Disappointments

    • Rome: Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked we got to see the Coliseum, Pantheon, and other ancient Roman sites, but I did not care for the overall vibe of Rome.  It was just too hectic and not my style.  We’re glad we left the kids at the Kids Club on the ship that day.  It would’ve been chaos with them.  We didn’t have enough time to go inside Vatican City, though we saw Saint Peter’s Basilica from the outside, and that’s probably the only reason I’d want to return to Rome.
Coliseum Rome

Coliseum 

  • Breakfast: I love breakfast and was looking forward to chowing down on some freshly made omelets.  But being an Italian cruise, the buffet-style breakfast only had breads, pastries, and fruits – a continental breakfast.  If you wanted a hot breakfast with eggs, sausage, bacon, etc., you needed to go down to the restaurant.  This wasn’t a huge deal, but it was a bit of a surprise the first morning and the system they had in place was a bit of a cluster.  After that, we adjusted and it was fine.
  • No free water at dinner: Along the same lines as the previous comment, water was not provided in the restaurant during dinner (it was available at the buffet, just not the restaurant).  If you wanted to drink something with your meal, which I presume most people did, you had to buy it.  The €3 for a bottle of water each night wasn’t a deal breaker but more of an irritant, especially the first evening.

Expectations management sums up our disappointments pretty well.  If you know what you’re getting into ahead of time, it’s no big deal.  The initial surprise is what gets you.

Prior to this, we’d be on at least a half a dozen or so cruises, primarily to the Caribbean and once to New England/Canada.  As you’d expect, those all had a distinctly American vibe.  This cruise, on the other hand, was a complete cultural immersion.  All announcements were made in four languages (Italian, English, Spanish, and German) and sometimes a fifth (French).  It was amazing listening to the cruise director and other crew members switch from one language to another without missing a beat.

For the five of us, we spent roughly $2,500 over the nine-day trip.  This includes airfare, the cruise itself, one night at a hotel, train tickets, pizza, gelato, and other miscellaneous costs.   In total, we visited nine cities in three countries.  Aside from a cold and rainy day in Marseille, the weather was perfect.  The main downside, it was exhausting!

At the end of the day, was the trip worth it?  You better believe it.

A New Job and Vacation Prep

River in Cambridge

Have you ever looked forward to something for so long that when the time finally arrives, you almost can’t believe it?

That’s how we feel right now.  With the kids off of school next week, we’re heading out on a much anticipated vacation.

On Friday morning, we’ll arrive in Milan for a Mediterranean cruise that’ll introduce us to parts of Italy, France, and Spain.  The itinerary is truly amazing.  If you follow us on Twitter, be on the lookout for pictures over the next couple weeks.

Despite my best intentions, my posting schedule continues to be erratic as I seem to miss a post every other week.  Every day I’m surprised at how busy I am not working, in the traditional sense. Continue reading

The Real Benefit of Financial Independence

Arizona Sun Behind Clouds

Yesterday, for the first time since I left my full-time job over seven months ago, I didn’t have any work when I actually wanted to work.

That’s not to say there wasn’t any work available.  I’ve found there’s always plenty of work to go around.

Yet, skimming through the list of editing jobs that had been allocated to me (and others) returned few worth the required effort.  Earlier in the day, on two separate occasions, I tried to accept what appeared to be an easy edit of a well-written paper only to have it snatched up by another freelancer seconds before I clicked “Accept.”

Instead of settling on a less than ideal job with either an unrealistic deadline or enough errors to require a complete rewrite, I decided to take the day off.

I kept myself busy by reading and working out.  Must be nice, huh? Continue reading

Am I Making Any Money Yet Or What?

Kings Cross Station London

King’s Cross Station, London

As you may have noticed, things have been slow on the blog lately.

Last week I was traveling for a work project and didn’t have time to post anything.  Aside from that, I’ve been taking a break from blogs altogether.

Still, I’ve been making progress on my freelancing.  I’ve also made a few observations.

  1. It can sometimes take a while to get paid.
  2. It sucks to get dinged on things you cannot control.
  3. I need to focus my efforts on tasks that pay the best (and that I still enjoy).

Ground breaking, I know.

About getting paid, you hear stories all the time about freelancers having issues with clients releasing pay and I’m getting a taste of that firsthand.   Continue reading