The topic of money management comes up a lot when people are contemplating a freelance career. How will I pay my bills, save for the future and pay taxes with an irregular income? It’s a big concern, especially when you are used to getting a regular paycheck. I understand because, for me, Money was one of the top things I was worried about.
Your current financial state and lifestyle make a huge difference, not only for your peace of mind but for the longevity of your business. If you’re just starting out, it’s smart to work full-time and build up your side-hustle. Get yourself into a good place fiancially—pay off your debts and build up a nice cushion. This will relieve a lot of worries when you decided to take the leap into self-employment.
There are many exceptions to this. I’ve seen people dive right into freelancing without much thought and be super successful. It can be done, but personally, I’m not that brave!
Here are a few tips to help you get on track:
Setup tracking: Whether you want to track your freelance income and expenses with a spreadsheet or with Quickbooks, set up a way to track the money coming in and going out. This gives you an idea of what you have to live on and how much you can realistically spend.
Create a budget: For some reason, budgets freak people out. It’s tough to face reality, but it’s something that has to be done. I pay myself twice a month and put together a spreadsheet with my income minus expenses and savings all broken down. I recommend that you include savings and debt re-payment within your budget. It’s also a good idea to keep a calendar of business expenses that come up such as software renewals so you can plan ahead.
Set goals: Like any plan, there need to be clear goals that you’re working towards. You may want to save up to buy a piece of equipment for your business or save to travel. Here are a few other goals that I recommend for anyone starting out:
- Work towards paying off all debt
- Save 10-15% into a retirement account—ROTH, SEP or both
- Save for emergencies—Build up a balance of least $1,000 but reach for 3-6 months of living expenses
Set the right prices: You are in control of what you make, so it’s important to set your prices competitively. Take into account what others in your area are charging, how much time it takes and who you’re clients are.
Save for taxes: Paying taxes when your a freelancer is not nearly as scary as you might think. Open a second checking account and put at least 25% of every dime that you make in that account for taxes. Every quarter, you’re required to pay estimated taxes. Quickbooks comes in handy with this as it estimates what you should pay and makes it easy for you to pay directly online.
Get insurance: Basic health and car (if you have one) insurance are a must have no matter what. Accidents happen and can bankrupt you real quick. It’s not worth the risk.
Financial planning as a freelancer is not hard, but it does require you to be more organized and aware.
“The goal isn’t more money. The goal is living life on your terms.” – Will Rogers
Thanks for reading,