Five Budgeting Hacks for Freelancers: Manage Your Finances like a Pro!
Five budgeting ideas for freelancers to save money
If you’re a freelancer, then managing your finances can be quite a laborious task. The irregularities of income coupled with the absence of employer benefits can cause quite a dent in one’s regular stream of income.
Trust me. I have undergone financial strain many times. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with personal issues, tumbled my financial position, making me realize the importance of budgeting. My savings dwindled, I became financially restrained, and I was unemployed.
Simply put, I was jobless, clueless, and penniless.
Life gave me a tight slap.
Moral: Lesson learned the hard way.
So, as a freelancer, it is imperative to develop a clear understanding of one’s financial position. It is essential to develop a financial strategy (ideally a mix of short-term and long-term goals) that would not only help you during your rainy days but would also streamline your cash flow and strengthen your financial stability.
Okay. Enough of my preamble. In this article, I am going to provide you with some budgeting hacks I follow to devise an ideal budgeting plan.
1. Track your income
By now, you would have heard this point a gazillion times. But let me also reiterate it once. As freelancers, we don’t have a fixed income. Therefore, it is imperative to understand our spending and saving patterns. As a beginner, my earnings were volatile. I had both dry days and ‘money-is-pouring-in-babe’ days (you know what I mean 😉)
But, as time went by, I started taking on multiple projects to meet my financial aspirations, which made me visit burnoutsville for years together (yeah, I didn’t take up any work for the past 3 years). Fast forward to 2023. Now, I use Google Sheets predominantly to track both my income and my expenses. I mainly use the track sheet provided by Samanthability to track my spending and saving patterns. You can also use it if you want to (link provided above) or if you want to use your own, then please do 😊
2. Separate your personal and professional finances
When I became a freelancer, the first mistake I made was to put all my earnings in my personal bank account. I simply spent and saved from the same account, thinking that it was easier to maintain a single account than have multiple ones.
Result: I didn’t know where my finances went. I could neither track them nor properly save them for my future needs.
So, do me a favour.
Please create two bank accounts for your personal and business finances. Spare yourself the headache during tax season. Keep your finances tidy. Do all the work-related expenses from your business account. That way, you will know where your money goes, which will help you make the necessary tweaks to your budget plan.
If you do, great! Otherwise, please get started today!
3. Create a buffer for emergency expenses
Again, this is something everyone needs to do.
As we all know, life is unpredictable. There are both good days and bad days. So, it is vital to create an emergency fund to take care of an untoward situation.
Ah, but how do I manage that?
I transfer a part of my savings money into a contingency fund, which I ideally view as a cash reserve. I use a high-yield savings account as a contingency fund, which I mainly use whenever I am met with a cash crunch. While I aim to load my account with a minimum of three months of my earnings, I also top it up with small amounts (whenever I can) to make it flush with cash.
There are other options to create an emergency fund. So, you can choose the option with which you’re most comfortable and make an informed decision.
Remember: A penny saved is a penny earned.
4. Save money proportional to your income
Freelancing is a volatile business. You could be at the top one moment, and then it's poof...!!
When I started as a freelancer, I took up every odd gig (from clicking ads to checking calendars) to earn money, but I didn’t save even a penny. Money just came and went.
Result: As I said before, my bad financial habits rendered me penniless.
Now, what do I do? I try to save money proportional to my income.
How do I do that?
Let us assume I need $2000 to live on every month. And one month I earned around $4000. So, after saving for my taxes, say, 20% (around $800), I would be left with $3200, from which I would deduct $2000, which will leave me at $1200. I would then stash some of this excess amount in my contingency fund, and save the remaining in my personal account (if any work-related expenses need to be done, I would do them in this remaining amount). Some months I try to save more, some months I save less.
But, come what may, I try to save at least a few bucks.
After all, something is better than nothing 😊
5. Set financial goals
Yes, this is important. Setting proper financial goals is important to achieve prolonged financial stability and success.
Ideally, your goal should be a mix of short-term and long-term goals (Oh..have I told you this earlier 😉)
Your short-term goals can be anything ranging from building your contingency fund to paying off your debts.
But, your long-term goal should aim at saving for your retirement and having a sufficient bank balance to take care of your needs.
Setting proper goals will help you prioritize spending and will serve as great motivation. For example, if you set a short-term goal and achieve it, it will serve as an impetus for you to breeze through your next goal. This can be quite rewarding, as you can see tangible results from your efforts.
As a bonus, setting financial goals can help increase your financial awareness, which will help you take informed decisions on your investments.
That’s it. These are the five budgeting hacks I follow. Now I am curious and excited to know what hacks you follow to save money. Please share your favourite hacks in the comments so that I can learn more from you 😊
If you haven’t started saving money, then no worries. Please start today.
Any day is a good day to begin.
If you’re already budgeting, then great! You’re a champ and keep up the good work 😊
Tetrault, S. (2019, November 08). How to track your income as a freelancer. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://samanthability.com/track-your-income-as-a-freelancer/