Setting boundaries and making good choices can be challenging when you are desperate to make money, because there are plenty of people looking for vulnerable targets to exploit. It is not enough to say “I would like you to respect me so please do not lie to me or try to take advantage of me.” You have to find a way to believe in yourself enough that you listen to your gut, and if your alarm bells ring, you walk away. It can be really hard when somebody offers what looks like an opportunity.

I responded recently to a man who wanted somebody to write articles for him. I quoted and gave him my blog address for samples of my writing. He agreed to my quote and sent me an article to write. I did it at three in the morning. I was so proud of myself, and excited. If I worked for about 8-10 hours a day I could earn what I need to stay alive and maybe even have a bit extra. For the first time in eight years. I thought about being able to eat properly, get my car fixed, my piano tuned and buy underwear – even a good warm jersey and jeans for winter. Visit for more detailĀ

When I submitted the article I reiterated my fee. I finally fell asleep feeling safe for the first time in a long time. I woke up feeling like a different person. Until I got an email from the fellow saying he could not understand English very well and avoiding the issue of my fee. My alarm bells rang, even though I yearned to be able to believe that it would be okay; if I just did the work for him he would pay me.

Then he sent me five assignments, with a promise of lifetime work – and his price, which was half my quote. He had thought he could seduce me into agreeing, because he knew I was desperate. Exploiters can smell your vulnerability. It was so hard to say no, because I needed the money, and I could not see any other opportunities, but I had to. I had to say to myself, the opportunities will come. The power of life lies in what I say no to and what I say yes to.

Here is the lesson. My alarm bells go off for good reason. I do not have to try to work out whether they are right or not. They always are. They tell me about my inner truth, my emotional need to be valued, they point me to the path of making right choices. Being conscious of my worth is the foundation for a better life. I have two needs: for respect and for money. When I am offered money if I allow myself to be exploited, and I ignore my need for respect, I will end up with neither.