If you’ve freelanced for any reasonable period of time, you’re likely already comfortable with the financial ebbs and flows that come with the gig lifestyle. While it can be a huge blessing, there’s no doubt that freelance income doesn’t follow traditional employment rules.
If you’re already established, you’re likely already used to basic fiscal tips like reaching your break-even income number, separating business and personal expenses, creating an emergency fund, and setting aside your taxes as you go.
These initial financial hurdles can feel numerous to overcome. However, at a certain point, you need to consider your long-term financial status as well. Here are a few tips to help you turn your temporarily successful freelance income into a seriously sustainable source of wealth for years to come.
Take Your Finances Seriously
The first thing that you have to do is seriously consider your attitude toward money. This isn’t a call to start obsessing over every dollar that you make, Scrooge McDuck style. Nevertheless, if you want to succeed as a freelancer, you have to take your finances seriously.
This means you can’t treat things like invoices, budgets, savings, and taxes as burdens and bothers that get in the way of your work. On the contrary, they are part of your work now.
As a self-employed individual, it’s up to you to care for your business’s finances. So make sure that you bring your A-game to the table the same way you doubtless do when it comes to your actual freelance work.
Understand the Reality of Competent Freelance Income
The one other thing to understand before you start working on the directly applicable stuff is the reality of your freelance finances. Most inexperienced people see the freelance lifestyle as one that is financially fraught with peril. Periods of lower income, the need to consistently find new gigs, and intense financial responsibilities can make freelancing feel financially unstable.
However, if you have drive, focus, and ambition, freelancing can be a very stable form of employment — even more so than a traditional job. How so? Because freelancing involves juggling multiple clients at a time. When this happens, you rarely are in a position where you can lose all of your income at once, as is the case when you’re in a full-time job.
If you are also responsible enough to set up other basic financial safeguards, such as creating an emergency fund or applying for business insurance, freelance finances can be more stable than most traditional jobs. All it takes is some responsibility, ambition, and a willingness to proactively care for your finances.
When it comes to applicable ways to establish solid long-term finances, organization is the crucial first step. In other words, you can’t keep track of your income and expenses haphazardly.
On the contrary, take the time to utilize technology, a pencil and paper, or any other tool that you’re comfortable with to track all of your financial activity. Use financial apps to monitor your cash flow. Create spreadsheets or start a financial notebook to track income earned, the money you’ve been paid, expenses that you’ve made, taxes you owe, and so on.
Set Long-Term Goals
In addition to staying organized, you should also set long-term goals. A few of these could be:
- Building up six months of pay in your business account as a backup plan to cover any lull in income that you may experience in the future.
- Saving for a downpayment on a house.
- Setting ambitious income objectives that you’d ideally like to achieve five, ten, or even fifteen years into the future.
- Setting up a self-directed IRA or another retirement savings option.
By having goals in place, it can give you a guiding light to keep you focused as the weeks fade into months and even years.
Stay On Top of Your Finances
Finally, remember that long-term finances aren’t a one-time deal. You can’t simply make a rock-solid plan and then leave it to run itself for the foreseeable future.
On the contrary, you must recalibrate your financial goals regularly. There are multiple reasons that this is important.
First, reviewing your current financial situation can help you see if you’re meeting, exceeding, or falling short of your current objectives. This enables you to make minor adjustments in real-time to stay on track and avoid larger issues from building up.
Second, consistent reviews allow you to tailor your goals over time. The truth is, freelancing is a fluid lifestyle, and chances are you’re going to have fluctuations in your goals just as much as your workload. Reviewing your financial goals regularly allows you to keep your goals fresh, relevant, and in focus.
Crushing Long-Term Finances as a Freelancer
Freelancing can be an exhilarating experience. If you want it to last, though, you must introduce a sense of stability and longevity to your solo operation, as well. Setting goals, staying organized, and recalibrating at times are all important tools to keep you focused.
However, the most important aspect of long-term success is your attitude. If you can maintain a responsible, forward-thinking, positive mindset throughout your business dealings, you’ll be able to thrive as you crush your long-term financial goals far into the future.
I agree that you should monitor your cash flow regularly. I need to get a financial planner to help with some investments. I want to make sure we can recover once COVID is over.
Yes! Love your section about financing. I would love to read more about self-employed taxes as well.