I have been consulting for 18 years and for most of that time have maintained at least 6 months worth of expenses in my company bank account. After my first consulting gig ended, it took about a month and a half to find the next one and I hadn't had the opportunity (or foresight) to build a reserve (besides, it was only a 4-month gig). We lived on credit cards during that period and ran up considerable debt. That's when I vowed never to let that happen again and have always maintained a reserve. The first couple of years we didn't go out to dinner or take vacations while we paid off the debt and built up the reserve, but it was worth it. The longest I've been between gigs since then was about 3 months. I won't say it was easy, but I was able to wait for the "right" opportunity rather than settling for something less out of desperation just to ring the cash register.
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