For most businesses, a strong company culture is vital. A positive workplace culture tends to make employees more productive and loyal, as businesses that have cultivated such an atmosphere have voluntary turnover rates that are up to 65% lower than businesses without this kind of setting. For some organizations, choosing to work with freelancers or allowing employees to telecommute can boost company morale and allow workers to achieve a better work/life balance.
However, working from home has its challenges, and being a freelancer is no easy feat. When your income isn’t as steady as it might be in a conventional 9 to 5 position, you’ll likely need to make a few sacrifices (or, at the very least, be more careful about your spending), especially when you’re first starting out in the freelance world. For most freelancers, keeping track of their expenditures and financially planning ahead become important parts of their routine.
Having an accurate idea of your baseline expenses in a typical month will be important in creating a budget. This gives you a clear idea about what you need to bring in every month to survive. Experts suggest that you should separate these types of expenses into two categories: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses include your insurance and car payments, utilities, and your rent or mortgage. Variable expenses include the cost of food, entertainment, and fitness and health. When you lay out all of your average payments per month, you’ll be able to zero in on areas where you can cut back to give yourself a bit more breathing room. More than likely, you’re spending more than you realize.
You’ll also want to make sure you have an emergency fund. This should not be used to supplement your income when you don’t bring in as much as you’d hoped; it’s for emergencies only. So even though your home doubles as your office, you shouldn’t be spending money to upgrade your home in unnecessary ways. While about 69% of homeowners say they’re willing to spend more money for new kitchen appliances, you should only do so if an essential (like the fridge) breaks and needs to be replaced.
Your emergency fund will likely differ depending on your home and family circumstances. If you’re single and are renting an apartment, your fund may be equivalent to three months of living expenses. If you have a home and family to support, your fund may be closer to six to nine months’ worth of expenses. This is why creating a budget with an accurate listing of typical expenses is so important; it will determine how much you need to save up to get by, should you find yourself in dire circumstances.
These days, even those with a steady full-time job choose to pursue a side hustle. As a freelancer, bringing in additional income from other places can ease your money worries. Most industries experience ebbs and flows, but when you do freelance work, having an extra income stream or two can help offset those months where you aren’t able to bring in as much. Put your other skills to good use by turning your hobby into a side business or sign up to teach courses online. By getting a bit creative, you can give yourself a bit of a financial cushion and be paid to do something you enjoy.
As you gain experience as a freelancer, you’ll be better equipped to forecast your potential income in advance. If you create a spreadsheet to keep track of your clients and your income streams throughout the months, you’ll be in a better position to predict how much you’ll need to bring in and take action to ensure that happens. That way, your finances will never catch you by surprise.
Freelance work isn’t right for everyone, and even for those who love it, it’s not an easy way to live. But by staying on top of your budget, you’ll be able to implement financial strategies that will likely translate into success.