One of the reasons I love freelancing is the money I save. I don’t have to pay commuting cost, I don’t have to spend money on stockings or business casual clothes and I’m not buying lunch with my co-workers. Sometimes that’s not enough of a savings. In the feast or famine world of freelance writing, every little bit helps.
20 Ways for Freelance Writers to Save Money
- Go Paperless: Cutting out paper will save money in several different areas. For example, you’ll be spending less on paper, printer and toner. Plus you’ll save wear and tear on your printer and shredder and even cut out a little electricity and save a tree or two. If you have to read every article in hard copy before sending it to your editor or if you print out funny emails or online articles for your spouse to read, you’re wasting money and resources.
- Take Advantage of Free WiFi: Don’t want to pay for a high speed Internet connection? You don’t have to. There are free WiFi hotspots all over the world. Work at the library or the local coffee shop and save on your own bill.
- Use the Library: Save electricity by working at the library. Save on books and movies by borrowing from the library. Attend free classes, read magazines and take advantage of all the library has to offer.
- Comparison Shop: Everything you want to buy can be found somewhere else cheaper. Comparison shop. Check prices. Check shipping. Compare online vs. offline and go for the best deal.
- Buy in Bulk: Not only food but writing stuff like pencils, pens and paper are cheaper in bulk. Check out bargains at your local office supply emporiums.
- Re-think Your Energy Usage: Most writers don’t need lights on during the day. Also, energy efficient bulbs save more money in the long run. Look into ways you can save energy – and money.
- Look into Merchant Reward Programs: Staples, Best Buy, Office Depot and other stores offer rewards or discounts every time you spend money. Look into the rewards programs for your favorite shops.
- Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt: Easier said than done, but if you get out from under your credit card debt, you won’t have that monthly payment looming over your head. Once it’s gone, it’ll be easy to stay on top of everything else, and put money away.
- Pay Your Credit Card Balance Every Time: Interest payments are a waste of money. Only spend money you can afford to spend. Pay off the balance every month and you won’t have to worry about interest payments.
- Share With Other Writers or Professionals: If you rent office space consider sharing with other professionals.You can all split the cost and save a bit of coin.
- Buy Secondhand: Do you really need brand new office furniture? Consider shopping second hand. You can find some good bargains on classic merchandise.
- Freecycle: Your neighbors have some good stuff they don’t need anymore. Find it when you freecycle.
- Don’t Worry About Bells, Whistles or Keeping Up With the Jonses: There’s a reason I’m still using my old Razr instead of an iPhone. It’s because it’s still in great condition and I don’t really need a new phone yet. Think about wants vs. needs before you spend money.
- Keep Track of Every Penny: Write down every penny you earn, and every penny you spend. Knowing where your money goes can be a wake up call. When you see it written out for you, you might find some areas in which to cut costs.
- Take Advantage of Free Tools and Resources: There is a goldmine of online tools and resources and many of them are free. Before you plunk down money for a new program or app, see what’s available for free.
- Use Social Media for Marketing: If you can’t afford to attend conferences and networking events, don’t write off marketing altogether. Network using Twitter, FaceBook and blogs.
- Unplug: Pick a time to shut of the laptop for the night and do so. Enjoy time with your family instead.
- Cut Out the Starbucks Run: Yeah it’s good. And yeah, it’s a treat, but home brewed coffee is cheaper. Premium home brewed coffee costs more but it’s still cheaper than the daily Starbucks run.
- Spend More if it Means a Better, Longer-Lasting Product: So when you’re going for the laptop or any other major purchase, you want to go top of the line if it means longevity and less headaches. There’s a difference between being frugal and being cheap.
- Subscribe to Newspapers and Magazines Online: I know we want to support our newspapers and magazines because they’re cutting so many jobs, but the truth is, we also have to look out for ourselves. Sometimes the things we want to support most also have to be the first to go.
What do you do to save money?
Good tips. Unfortunately, I live in a small town with a small library. I’m not interested in writing for Ag Report, although they seem to have every issue ever printed, and not much else. So about once a month I make a trek “into town” and spend a few hours at Hastings, which has a wonderful mag selection. Of course, the help sort of gives you that “Are you going to buy that” look every once in a while, but it’s closer than B&N or Borders, and I can sell books or CDs while I’m there. The expense of gas factors in, so I have to plan my trip, but it’s totally worth it. Working at home can make you feel isolated sometimes and I find I’m more inspired when I get out from time to time.
eat lunch at home (leftovers). buy fewer clothes (and many at yard sales/rummage sales. exercise by going for walks and not by joining expensive clubs. bartering writing services for other services such as baby sitting, math tutoring for my son, etc. but even with all that, nothing seems cheap…
Alex Lim says
Thanks for the tips Deb. This gave some nice ideas to try. However I think I cannot do number 1. Personally, I really need to print out my work for editing. It has been a habit and I feel uneasy if I won’t do that. So for individuals like me, I may suggest to use the clean back page of a used paper for printing materials. It will save you few bucks and also your taking care of the environment at the same time.
Andy Hayes says
What a great list, Deb!! Although 18 is a difficult one for me – I love a good couple hours of work in a local cafe, but it is a treat.
Here’s an odd one for you – I save money on my local gym because I have an off-hours pass. I can’t go before 8AM (who the hell does?) and I can’t go after 5:30. Can go anytime on the weekends. Suits me because I usually go either before or after lunch. Win-win!
I’ll second the motion for paying off the credit cards. That was a big help to me; but, to do it, I had to establish a $1,000 emergency fund, first.
My favorite bill reducer? Sell the car! If you live in the city you can save several thousand dollars a year by using public transportation. Even small towns–like Wapello, Iowa–may have public transportation that will get you to the city and back for less than it costs to drive.
Tania Mara says
I know only one thing that can help a writer save money. It’s called self-discipline. The rest helps too, but without self-discipline, you won’t get too far. I learned it the hard way. 🙁
Jessie Fitzgerald says
These are all great tips. The ones that made the most difference for me have been going paperless and using the library / free wifi. Most of all though I’d recommend all freelance writers try to reduce their paper consumption or go entirely paperless. I have saved so much money not having to buy any paper supplies, I was able to buy a desk for a minute fraction of what I’d need if I used paper and I’m selling my filing cabinet because, hey, I don’t need it.
As Lisa mentioned, bartering is great! I’m always on the look out for someone who might be happy to swap a website rewrite or some blog posts for something I need.
Another way work at home freelance writers can save is to make good use of the flexible time schedule they have to improve their kitchen economics – grow some vegies and fresh herbs, get into preserving, cook up lots of lovely slow cooked meals using cheaper cuts of meat and keep leftovers for lunches.