Let's face this reality; the last two years have been tough financially because of the economy. Not just for me, but for many people. Unemployment, which is finally starting to fall (or is it; I'll leave that alone for now), has been high, and some people have been out of work for more than 2 years. That will put a strain on anyone.

It's hard for people to maintain their sense of themselves when a lack of money comes into the picture. There's a website called Fiverr that lets people bid on jobs to do almost anything for just $5. And some of the things people are asked to do border or the unethical and insane; that's just how it is.

And people accept these gigs without hesitation. Actually, that part might be unfair. I mean, if they absolutely need the money, and it was something they could do and live with, then who am I to question their motives? We all have to eat, right?

Last year a friend of mine took work with someone she'd done a major project for. She created something he asked for and got paid nicely for it. But he needed some further work from her and told her the only way he'd give it to her was if she went on his payroll for a salary that was way below her standard.

And she took it. I asked her why and she said she didn't see another big project coming down the pipeline any time soon and at least it would give her some extra money, no matter how small it was. I told her he was taking advantage of her skills and that, if it were me, I wouldn't do it. But she felt this sense of purpose; she wanted to see her project come to life.

Fast forward a year. My friend is now living with family because she couldn't afford to live on what this person was paying her. She spent most of her time there and didn't market her business while working for him. And it cost her dearly. Now there, no saying that she would have gotten another contract in the meantime, but had she stuck to her guns she probably would have gotten more money from this guy, who couldn't run the software without her knowledge, and sustained herself better, or she'd have had her free time to market her business and possibly land another contract elsewhere.

There's nothing wrong with lowering one's price if it helps to get business. There's something wrong with lowering one's standard of living to the point where they can't make it on their own. And there's a point at which everyone has to make a determination as to whether they absolutely need someone else's money or needs to keep their self respect; sometimes they're mutually exclusive, sometimes they're not.

This isn't a new thought; I wrote a newsletter titled Feeling Good back in 2004 where I talked about a mental change after firing a client, the first time I did that. Basically I'd lost my confidence and judgment because I was allowing someone else's money to dictate how I was going to work and how I was going to be presented. As an independent consultant, even as an employee, it's supposed to be a 2-way street; no one gets to always be the dominant one.

Still, in the end, we all do need money. So I ask you this question; what will you put up with for money? And where will you draw the line?

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