Being a freelancer has lots of perks, but just like anything else, it also has its downsides. I could be wrong, but I think that being able to handle one’s finances smartly is a major concern of every freelance writer. Not only do you have to make sure that you land enough gigs to cover your living expenses every month, you also have to make sure that you are able to manage your income and not spend more than you earn.
For individuals who are new to freelance writing, and who may have worked for a regular salary prior to going freelance, the financial challenges may be bigger. I still remember the first month after I left my day job and relied on freelance writing as a sole source of income.
My day job used to pay twice a month, and I also wrote freelance on the side. That meant I had a steady of flow of money coming in, and while huge amounts were not involved, I always knew that there would be something no matter what.
Soon after that first month, I developed habits that contributed to making ends meet – bad month or good month.
You may find it old fashioned, but I became a regular visitor of coupons sites such as Cheap Sally. These sites are invaluable if you are serious about making savings. The discounts that you find may not be humongous, but at the end of the day, the small savings really do add up.
Another trick I have learned to rely on is to always set aside money for the essentials at the beginning of the month, when money comes in. Rent, electricity, water, phone, insurance, and Internet – no matter how much I earn each month, these things are first on the list of expenses. This way, I can be sure that I will not find myself without Internet connection at some point (it’s how I earn, after all!). I just adjust my spending habits after all the essentials are paid. If it’s a bad month, then working at coffee shops (or going out to eat) gets relegated for the next month.
I have found that groceries are usually the largest expense I have every month. To ensure against starvation during a bad month, I stock up on non-perishables during high earning months. Soups in cans, tinned tuna and salmon, tinned veggies, pasta noodles, etc. – my pantry may look like I am building a bomb shelter at some point, but stocking up really helps during lean months!
With a little preparation and the willingness to be frugal when necessary, a bad freelance writing month is not that bad after all. How about you? Do you have any tried and tested tips to make ends meet?
Photo via 401(K) 2012