Your first year freelancing full-time can be extremely scary. The learning curve can be very intense but also an invigorating process of learning your weaknesses, your strengths, what you love, and what you hate as a freelancer.
Let’s be frank, freelancing has a certain allure to it. Working from home, going hiking during the day, and the ability to avoid rush hour is wonderful. What’s not so wonderful is learning how to manage variable income. It can be a daunting process but here are some suggestions that will hopefully keep you from eating Ramen Noodles every night and being worried about your next rent payment.
How To Be a Worry Free Freelancer
Please don’t dive head first into your freelancing career. Take some time to grow your clientele prior to become self-employed on a full-time basis. Then, live on the income that you earn from freelancing. Get used to it while you still have income coming in from your current job.
If you find yourself unexpectedly freelancing due to a job loss or unexpected career switch get ahead on your monthly expenses. Pay whatever you can at least one month in advance. In the event that you’re unable to pay all of your expenses in advance in one fell swoop, focus on one at a time until you’ve created an unconventional financial buffer to help you manage the moments when your cash flow runs low.
Think Outside the Box
Think creatively and cut your expenses ruthlessly. The lower your monthly expenses the easier it will be able to manage during low cash flow months. Use grocery apps to get refunds on your groceries, change your phone service, and eliminate any monthly payments for services that you don’t really use. Spend some time evaluating what is necessary or unnecessary to your monthly bottom line.
Keep your pantry well stocked and keep plenty of hygiene products on hand. This advice might seem a little quirky, but if you keep things well stocked and follow a basic grocery-shopping plan your variable expenses will become much more predictable.
Stop Playing the Worry Game
Most freelancers have experienced the anxiety of anxiously waiting for their checks to arrive. For those moments you should tap into a well-funded emergency fund. Hopefully you will have one in place before you take the leap. If not, begin funding your emergency fund now. This will be the best defensive move you can make as a freelancer. Having a healthy emergency fund will give you piece of mind whenever the check is in the mail.
Don’t be afraid of earning a variable income. Keep pitching and growing your business, have an emergency fund, and a plan. Be deliberate, focus on every budget line item and you’ll be able to manage the challenge of dealing with variable income.
Michelle Jackson is a personal finance and lifestyle blogger from Colorado. Check out her blog The Shop My Closet Project or listen to her podcast Girl Gone Frugal where she explores online entrepreneurship and crafting your best life.. When she's not writing about money you can find her looking for the next best coffee shop, hiking, or riding her bike around town.