UK Pensions Basics for Freelance Translators

Great news! Human life expectancy is increasing. Earlier this year, The Independent newspaper published an article with the bold headline: There is someone alive today who will live to be 1,000 years-old. “Hurray, more time to translate!” I hear you cry. But what if, secretly, you’d really rather not? Perhaps you quite fancy taking a break to travel the world in your golden years? Maybe, by then, it could even be a space shuttle cruise around the galaxy.

Even if we live to the more widely-expected average age of around 80, we might just have to think about that thing that 43% of freelancers in the UK (compared to only 4% of those in employment) don’t yet have: a personal pension.

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Let’s Get Chatting!

Feeling left out as the translation conference season was about to kick off again with me still stuck at home, I thought it’d be interesting to chat to colleagues on a one-to-one level. Since some conferences sell access to videos of the talks after the event, others have even been streamed live and blog posts and webinars on a variety of topical subjects abound, it’s the networking you miss out on by not attending events rather than the content. That’s why I asked you all a couple of months ago whether you fancied a chat.

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The four o’clockish in the morning club: a tale of insomnia

The other day I was speaking to my niece, who lives abroad, on the phone, not something we do regularly, and she asked how I was. ‘Tired,’ I answered. ‘You’re always tired,’ she sighed back. And she’s right. But there’s generally not much else an insomniac can say.

While some people seem to manage on just a few hours of sleep (lots of politicians only get four to five hours, apparently, including Trump,  but I’m not sure that’s worked in his favour as he doesn’t make much sense most of the time), if I get less than six hours too many days in a row, my brain switches off.

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Fancy a Chat?

Feeling lonely in your translation bubble?

Envious of colleagues about to network at a conference?

Met me before and want to catch up?

Read something on my blog and would like to discuss it in more detail?

Join me for half an hour on Skype for a cup of afternoon tea, nightcap or morning coffee (depending on your time zone) and let’s talk shop.

Click here to book a time slot (appointments are currently available for the rest of August, September and October). Looking forward to chatting with you!

P.S.

  • There’s obviously no charge for the chats.
  • Chats won’t be recorded.
  • That’s not me in the photo.

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A New Year’s approach to exercising for freelance translators seeking a perfect work–life balance

Many freelancers start their solo career with grand visions of achieving a perfect work–life balance. They plan to shop when the supermarket is quiet, go for long runs on sunny days or take extended lunch breaks to meet up with friends who have also seen the freelancing light.

Six months of working ten hours per day later, and the dream turns out to be somewhat different from reality. Of course, although this isn’t the case for all freelancers, it is for many. Underestimating the time drain that running your own business can entail can play a key role in this. Tasks like marketing, networking and VAT returns (for starters) all take time away from hours that can be spent actually billing clients. This is part of what chips away at that initial vision.

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On Loneliness, Friendship and Resolutions

Ours can be a very lonely profession. Especially if we live on our own or are tied to the home as parents or carers. And jobs that ping into our inbox at unexpected times can make us change our plans and batten down the hatches until we meet the deadline. Because we need the money, don’t want to disappoint the client or cannot find anyone else to take the work on for us. And perhaps also because we’ve become workaholics.

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When the unthinkable happens and giving up work isn’t an option

Sometimes life throws you a curveball and the unthinkable happens: a family member is struck with a long-term illness and you suddenly have to take on the role of carer. Caring for a loved one can be physically and emotionally draining and as time-consuming as looking after a baby, but often with none of the happy milestones marking a transition from one phase to another. Not only does caring take huge bites out of your available work time, it often does not put you in the frame of mind to focus when you finally do manage to sit down at your desk.

Giving up work entirely is not always a financially viable option for the family. In my case, I’ve had no choice but to cut down on my hours and learn to work smarter. Although my earnings have dropped by about 20% in the past two years I’ve been a carer, I reckon the time I spend translating, on admin and other work-related matters is 50% less. I now very rarely work in the evenings or at weekends and I certainly don’t always work a full day either during the week. My aim is to get back to the same level of earnings without increasing the number of my working hours. In this post I’d like to share a few of the ways I’ve managed to ensure that the unthinkable didn’t turn into a financial disaster for my family.

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