Freelance Notes: Less Money, Mo Problems

There aren't many people who choose to freelance and start out making a gazillion dollars. For some people it can be months, years or decades. I worked full time at a stressful job making really good money. So when I decided to make the plunge to freelance full time, I wasn't ready for the sacrifices that came with it. I THOUGHT I saved enough money and cleared my credit; but, I wasn't prepared for the mental anguish that accompanied my new lifestyle.

This is the happiest that I have ever been; but, the brokest (money wise). I have almost surpassed my former corporate America salary. I am a happy artist, just working to have my bank account reflect my current state of mind.

While freelancing you never know when you’ll receive your next pay. After you invoice a corporate client, it may take 30-45 days to see a check. 

Getting your finances in order before freelancing is a must. In addition to housing, food and other necessities, you have to restock your kit with products and pay for a website.

You have to keep yourself well-put together. Neat, clean, professional. Cultivate your relationships wisely. You may have to barter services until you get on your feet, but; don't forget those that help you along the way.

You will have to make some sacrifices to live this life. Starting with minimizing your monthly living expenses. As freelancers, we are not able to gauge how much money we will earn each month. Our salary can fluctuate quite a bit. You should pare down your living expenses to avoid shelling out too much money each month. Create a tight budget and stick to it. Yes, I know, it can be hard when you wanna take classes and purchase new products. Those are items that we set goals and plan for.

We are freelancers. We love to look the part so we must take care ourselves. You can do it on a budget. I buy most of my clothing on sale. Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21, ASOS, Zara and consignment shops are my close friends. Small boutiques always have 40-50% sales when they get in new merchandise or when seasons change.

Clean up your credit. Cash is king but credit is a Higher Power. It’s omniscient. You cannot run away from credit. It’s everywhere. If your credit is jacked, most likely you will not be able to keep detailed financial records for your business. Go to credit counseling and get a handle on things. Once you start freelancing, your credit will become an afterthought until you need it. If you need it, make sure its good.

Credit card frequent flyer miles and hotel points are great resources to have when you need to travel. If you need to travel (hotel stays, rental cars, plane tickets) you need a credit card. Yes, you can do it with a debit card. Citibank and Bank of America offer debit cards where you earn Frequent flyer miles.  But when you are waiting a month to 60 days for a check, you don’t always have the money. If you use the cards, pay the bill. Don't be late. Try to find people in your area who work at hotels and for airlines. You’ll be amazed at how easy they’ll offer you their buddy pass or discount room rates for a trade or lesser dollar amount.

If you have a car with an outstanding loan, try to negotiate a smaller payment or sell it. Purchase a reliable, used car with cash. Lower your car insurance premiums by adding on renter’s and life insurance.

If you have your own apartment, consider getting a roommate. Move with friends/family and pay them a set dollar amount for rent, utilities and other expenses. I understand that some people have families, in my case, I moved from my dream apartment into a less expensive, smaller home in a least desirable neighborhood. My rent is almost half and my car insurance is cheaper because I live on the city outskirts.

Just because you are freelancing, you can still receive help. Research options for assistance with healthcare, child care, food, housing, unemployment and education resources. A healthy non-smoking adult can purchase health insurance for roughly $100 monthly.

Family can be your worst enemies. Don’t let them belittle you for making the choice to freelance. Just keep them at a distance. Alot of times they cannot understand your new lifestyle.

Do what you can on your own. If you need to vent, reach out to your network for help.

Be resourceful, humble and focused. No one said the road would be easy, but the rewards are definitely worth it!