If you’re like 47% of individuals who are under the age of 35 and actively working, you’re not on staff. Yep, you’re a freelancer. According to Upwork, a global freelancing platform, an estimated 57.3 million employed folks are not full-time staffers. And it’s an inescapable fate for many, as experts predict the majority of the workforce will join that demographic by 2027.
There are perks and challenges to the freelance life. The benefits include higher compensation rates and increased flexibility with time. The challenges include inconsistency of assignments/contracts and payment, which can hit the pockets hard. “I tell my clients who are freelancers to make a spending diary to see where their money is going. Can you stop taking so many Ubers? Maybe,” says Ash Cash, a financial expert. “Whether they are successful or struggling they have to live below their means and create a cushion. That means reducing costs.”
CASSIUS asked our money guy to give a few universal tips that all freelancers can use to help them get on top of their dollars. Here are his suggestions.
1 Live On Less
Whether you’ve got big-paying projects or are cobbling together smaller gigs to make ends meet, freelancers cannot bank on timely payment for their contracts. Living below your means is the best way to ensure that you’re always in the position to save something, and to handle long lulls. That means fewer brunches, more roommates and no Ubers until your accounts are all the way up. Got a big check? Resist the urge to splurge when funds are abundant until you’ve saved six to eight months of living expenses in your emergency fund.
Do The Math
Consult with a financial professional, or do the research, to get a solid estimate of how much money you need to save for taxes. Next, determine what percentage of your income you want to commit to an emergency fund and regular savings.
Modify your bank account to automatically debit the amount you’d like to put aside for taxes and savings. You can automate your withdrawals to occur when your balance hits a certain amount, or monthly. This removes the temptation to spend money that is allocated for another purpose.
4 Get Your Mailbox Money
Invest. Think of business opportunities that don’t require your constant labor, or your presence, but will generate an income. Rental properties. Books. E-commerce sites. Find ways to let the money you have make money.
5 Just Say No
If your friends with 9-5s, higher incomes or bad spending habits want to go out but your pockets are on “E,” decline. Don’t succumb to the pressure to spend money you don’t have. Be honest with yourself about your finances and be okay with delayed gratification.
A personal finance expert, author and motivational speaker, Ash Cash is about all things cash money.