How Should I handle “Alternative Income” Opportunities when Friends and Family are Involved?

How Should I handle “Alternative Income” Opportunities when Friends and Family are Involved?

As I have explained in my “About” Section I passed the New York State Bar Exam (getting admitted next week) and have been employed as the Director of Financial Planning for a wealth management firm for the past 2 years.

Part of my job entails reading testamentary documents (think Wills and Complex Trusts) and critiquing them.  I am very confident and comfortable with “this world” and, thus, love to talk about it!  So, I guess it is only natural that people in my life to ask for my help. Which leads to the question:

What do you Charge for Professional Work for Family and Friends?

In my neck of the woods a good (and relatively simple) Will can cost anywhere from $750 to $1,500…so what do I charge friends and family?

First, I have to take my time into account.  Any drafting can take two to three meetings at an hour to two hours each.  All of these meetings will be done on my “off time” hence the Alternative Income blog title.

Second, I truly believe in the work I can produce, and the good it will bring whomever I help.  I know I can produce way better testamentary documents then what these particular people will obtain.

Third, I believe that practicing law should be taken seriously, and me creating wills for free (for those that don’t necessarily need free work) belittles the work that I put in to finish law school and pass the New York State Bar.

After I discussed it with the Wife and a few other Attorney-Friends I have decided to charge those that fit in the category of family/friends $250…which is one-third of an inexpensive Will.

Am I crazy? Should I be doing this stuff for free?  Help!

(photo: OzinOh)

5 Responses to How Should I handle “Alternative Income” Opportunities when Friends and Family are Involved?

  1. My husband is a computer tech and when he is doing work on the side, he has the same problem of what to charge. The going rate for what he does is at least $85 per hour. He charges $45 per hour, and only when he feels that he really did an hour of work. A lot of times, the fix is simple and he only charges about $25 to $30. He would never make it as an independent business owner–he is way too nice and charges way too little.

  2. Amy,

    It is a VERY weird feeling. Especially since I (and I assume him as well) enjoy what you do, and there are no "bad guy" partners to blame.

  3. I think it's a great discount, and I think that is very generous! I don't think you should do it for free!

  4. It's interesting how this same issue hits every work strata – the highly educated professional down to the skilled labor/tradesman! A normal person wouldn't expect their cardiologist cousin to treat them for free, would they? Anyway – yes, it's important that you follow your heart in providing a valuable service to those who you care for/about, but you also have to have boundaries, too! Charging a modest amount can help with that, I think. In my life, I am ALWAYs fielding requests from friends, neighbors, coworkers about my husband helping them with their electrical issues – from a bad outlet to wiring a ceiling fan to replacing service panels! My husband is a master electrician and it's been years since he's had to climb ladders and run wiring for a living – not that he's 'above' that work, but he got tired of climbing around in attics in the Texas summers and prefers not to do it for himself, either! So he did the work to become a master and spends his days drawing plans, doing proposals, etc.

  5. Part 2 – and this relates to your bartering post too!: His criteria for agreeing to a request is pretty specific: if I called this person and asked them to help me with a home-project (like building a deck or something), would they help? (he values people who are willing to get their hands dirty) If so, he'll generally do it and he'll either barter for services OR charge $50 for a housecall/evaluation or simple request and $40/hour for something more complicated/time consuming. But he has no problem saying he doesn't have time OR energy for side projects when necessary. On the bartering front, we received a free weekend at a family-friend's beach cottage (that normally is rented out when the family isn't using it), a mechanic friend changes our oil (it seems in perpetuity, but it's a 2 year deal, since hubby replaced his house service, which is a $3500 job excluding materials!), and got help building our deck. (gulp – tax implications?! Ack! This is anonymous, right?!)

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