Many people find freelancing appealing because of the flexible schedule: you can set your own hours and work from basically anywhere. But being a freelancer is also unique when it comes to money. Freelancers can have inconsistent income. There are times when you’ve got a full work schedule, and there are times when work is slow and money’s tight.
Because of this, you need to be prepared for the lean times. I’ve been a freelance proofreader and editor for over 10 years now, and have found that consistency with my money is key. Having a budget and watching your finances will help you greatly. Here are some tips for how to save money as a freelancer.
Along with focusing on landing new clients, you have expenses to think about.Most people assume that if you work at home, you save a lot of money because there are no work-related costs. Sure, freelancers don’t have to worry about things like buying nice work clothes or transportation, but just like everyone else, it’s important for you to find ways to save money.
Freelancing comes with its share of expenses, and they’re ones you have to cover yourself like health and dental care, and office supplies. You also have to pay for conferences and memberships out of your own pocket. On top of that are also training fees and courses, because you want to always be growing your skills. Also, remember that you have to take care of retirement planning yourself. There are no employer contributions to take into consideration when planning for your future.
Keeping track of your expenses is key when freelancing, and it will help you separate personal spending from professional. This will make your life a lot easier come tax time.
Control Your Spending
Remember the days when you received a regular paycheck and looked forward to a shopping spree or a trip to the spa? Well, you can’t be so quick on that now. You had the luxury of thinking that way because your social security, taxes, medical, and retirement savings were already deducted from your check, so you knew what you had leftover to play with.
As a freelancer, you’re now responsible for those things yourself. Make sure your expenses are covered, plus you have a rainy day fund for the slow days before you even think about a day of pampering. And before you purchase anything, always ask yourself if you really need it.
Throughout my freelance career, I’ve found some great ways to save money without making huge sacrifices. Keep reading for some tips.
How To Save Money As A Freelancer
Go To Your Local Library
Go work at the public library. Seriously. It’s free, quiet, and people leave you alone. You have immediate access to resources, and you can bring your own snacks and drinks.
There’s also free wifi! Libraries are also air-conditioned in the summer, and warm in the fall and winter. Unlike a coffee shop where you start to feel self-conscious after an hour, you can stay in the library as long as you like. You save on your home energy bill, and you get to be out in the real world. Social isolation can be a problem for freelancers, so it’s nice to work in a space surrounded by other humans.
Coffee Shop Return On Investment
Working from home can be lonely; that’s why many freelancers work in coffee shops. It’s true that it can get expensive, since a latte can cost $4 and up. But what if I told you you should go—but you need to make it count? Instead of ordering the expensive coffee drinks, stick to the daily brewed coffee, which is much cheaper.
Even though I’m on a budget, I like to do my freelance proofreading work in a coffee shop twice a week as an investment. How is this an investment? Because working in one forces me to focus and get a ton of work done in a short amount of time.
Often I get way more work done in 2 hours in a coffee shop than I do a whole day spent at home being distracted by everything and anything. Spending $3 to $7 (sometimes I’ll buy food) can be worth the cost if it returns me more in business revenue generated from work done in a coffee shop.
Ditch Your Gym Membership
Physical health is important, and it’s way too easy for freelancers to stay in pj’s all day being stagnant. It’s not healthy for you. You need to get your body moving, but gym memberships can be expensive. My solution is to block an amount of time in your day for physical exercise that doesn’t cost a dime.
Working out to exercise videos is great. They’re cheap, you can borrow them from your library, or even do workouts with YouTube. You can even join an online exercise or yoga membership where, for less than $20 a month, you have access to unlimited classes.
You can also go for a run, walk, ride your bike, or if you have kids at home, take them to the park and play a game of tag. Don’t forget to check your local community center for free or reduced-price workout times at the gym.
Meal Plan And Eat Well At Home
Just because you work at home and want to save money doesn’t mean you have to eat from a tuna can or stick to peanut butter sandwiches. With some meal planning, you can eat an exciting, healthy meal for a lot less than at a bistro or restaurant.
Here are some tips:
- Choose one day to prepare for the week ahead so you don’t have to think about cooking for the next few days.
- Get creative and think about using ingredients in more than one meal.
- Roast and cook veggies and protein like chicken, pork, fish, or tofu, and store them in separate containers so you can easily grab what you need.
- Prepare any sauces or salad fixings or buy premade.
- Throughout the week, easily throw everything into a salad, wrap, or on top of brown rice or noodles.
- Buy bags of frozen fruit, which are just as nutritious as fresh fruit, for smoothies. No need to add yogurt, expensive milks, or juice. Just add water and let the natural fruit flavors shine!
- Bake your own muffins and snacks. If you’re not a baker, buy them from your grocery store in bulk. You can freeze what you don’t need immediately. You can also buy boxed muffin mix to suit any diet, including gluten free.
Saving money as a freelancer doesn’t mean you have to be bare bones and give up a lot. Be aware of how much you’re bringing in, what your expenses are, and how you spend on a daily basis. Remember, you just have to be creative, while also living a good life.