What To Do With Dirty Money

Dirty MoneyThere are times when taking people’s money – even for a job you worked hard on – just doesn’t feel right. Some clients get a break because they needed help and you wanted to be generous or kind, but sometimes…

…sometimes a client wants to give you money and it just feels dirty.

You almost want to give the money back. “No, keep it. Thanks. No charge” you might say. You just want the project – and the client – gone. Come on. You know the jobs I’m talking about. Every freelancer has at least one memorable working relationship that leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Think back. Think about the overly difficult projects that extended far over the original scope, the clients who just couldn’t be pleased, or ones that asked you rush and work overtime – and you did.

Think about those rare relationships when you really didn’t like the client’s attitude but felt obliged to do the work. How about when you said yes to a job just because you really needed the money?

Listen to That Little Voice

A post-project “dirty” money feeling usually comes from jobs that you shouldn’t have taken in the first place. Thankfully, one tried-and-true method helps you discern which job aren’t going to be a good fit: trust your gut instinct.

There may not be any particular reason that you can see to pass the project over. But something way down deep inside tells you that you should leave this project for someone else to handle.

Most of the time, we hush up that little voice inside. We tell it to be quiet. We heap on the self-reassurance excuses. We get determined to face the project with clear communication to prevent any possible misunderstandings.

Nope. That little voice was right. The best plans always go astray, and sure enough, the project becomes one that you wished you’d never agreed to work on.

Pass It On

It’s too late to pass on the job. You’ve come this far. You can either tie it up or tell the client it’s just not a good fit, or you can put your head down and bull through the rest to get the work off your desk.

You’ll probably feel relieved when the day you’re done comes. You probably won’t feel very excited about the payment. It has lost its meaning. It isn’t a good incentive or reward any more. And when you look at your bank account, seeing the amount just makes you feel bad, reminding you of the past.

A reward should be a positive experience. It should make us feel better in some way. Proud, happy, fulfilled… not bitter and a little disgusted. That positive reward, somewhere along the way, turned into a negative reinforcement.

So pass it on. If you really don’t want to touch the money, accept payment gracefully and then pass on the dollars to someone else. The best way to deal with a negative is to turn it into a positive.

Give the money to a charity. Offer a lump sum as an angel investment to someone who is really struggling. Throw a contest and give the cash away on your blog or get some books and hold a raffle.

Trust me – you’ll feel better than if you just paid your Visa bill.



About the author: If you want more great advice on having a better freelance business from a freelancer that calls it like it is, head on over to James’ blog, Men with Pens. Read up on his tips and in-depth advice to build your freelancing business for success! Better yet, subscribe to the Men with Pens feed here.