• Finance

5 money struggles every freelancer faces (and how to conquer them)

This is a post from Qapital, the money saving app that lets you save for the things you want just by doing the things you do. Qapital will automatically give Freelancers Union members $10 toward a Goal once after your first savings deposit hits your Goals account.

It’s easy to give up on things that make us frustrated, to accept the status quo as law, and never bother trying to avoid financial burdens we assume are inevitable. Sometimes it’s hard to see new ways to approach old problems. But it doesn’t have to be.

If you’re a freelancer, chances are you know at least one of these money struggles intimately. But the better you know the struggle the more equipped you are to pull yourself out of it.

Don’t wait for New Years to make a resolution. Step off the struggle bus today.

Tax Day Blues

Just because taxes aren’t automatically taken out of the paychecks you receive isn’t an excuse to not have money set aside when April rolls around. You don’t need to feel a drop in your gut every time you sit down to do your taxes or come across a W2 form. It can be hard to save for expensive things—thousands of dollars owed to the government, for example—when you have months to tell yourself that you’ll make up the money later, or that you haven’t dipped into very much of your tax money anyway...

The easiest way to avoid spending money you don’t have—money that should and will eventually go towards your federal and state taxes—is to set up automatic saving for them. Whether that means downloading the Qapital app and setting up a “Freelancer Saving Rule” that automatically takes a percentage of every paycheck and puts it in a designated savings account, or a promise to yourself to do the math and manually transfer funds yourself every time you get paid...It’s a good idea.

The less time you spend stressing, the less time you end up wasting.

The Looming Pressure of Retirement

The best defense against worrying about the future is to be prepared for it. No matter how many big or little projects, jobs, and paychecks come your way during the course of your freelance career, small savings now add up later—when you really need them. Open a savings account for your retirement. Make your own 401K. Make it goal, make it a promise to yourself… And one day you can pat yourself on the back.

Just think, if you put away just $20 per week every week for the next 30 years, you’ll have over $30K to fall back on when you can’t work like you used to. (Qapital makes it easy with a Set and Forget savings rule you can set up in less than minute and check up on anytime you want.) Do your future self a favor.

Fun-mergency Woes

Life can come at you fast. Sure, you can expect less-than-pleasant surprise expenses for things related to unforeseeable accidents and unpredictable disasters—you break your collarbone playing touch football one Sunday morning, your house is flooded by unseasonal weather, you find yourself in a fender bender car accident, etc... And then there are the fun-mergencies.

You didn’t expect your boyfriend to propose. You didn’t expect your daughter to pick the most expensive prom dress in the store. You didn’t expect your intramural team to make it to the finals. You forgot granny is turning 90 this year. You didn’t plan on your best friend having an extra ticket to U2.

It’s nice to have a fund to fall back on for the really fun stuff you just don’t see coming. A little cushion makes all the difference. Saying no to fun is no fun, which makes fun-mergency funds so darn special.

Letting Yourself Get Lowballed

Whether you accept job offers that underpay you, maintain professional relationships that undervalue you, or talk yourself out of buying the things you want most because you think you don’t deserve them… It’s important to protect yourself being taken advantage of. It’s easy to say “I shouldn’t” or “I can’t” or “I won’t” in the face of pressures like paycheck irregularity, bills, and productivity. But if you get in the habit of demanding certain things for yourself—salary, time, little luxuries—patterns change.

So go ahead and charge a competitive rate, talk your cell phone carrier into lowering your monthly bill, require two-way benefit from the professional relationships you contribute effort and resources to. You deserve it.

The Big Question: “Can I Buy This Now or Should I Buy This Later?”

When it comes to personal finance, it’s helpful to decide which kinds of purchases you make are spontaneous and which ones are not. Do you plan ahead saving for vacations, new gadgets, and gifts for your friends but splurge on clothing and meals out?

If you make space in your budget for things you know you’re going to spend money on, you remove the guilt from spontaneous purchases and opportunities to treat yourself—which are just as important to your happiness and financial freedom as bills are. Stop worrying “will this $100 dinner ruin my monthly spending target?” and realize “my $4 daily cappuccino contributes enough gusto to my productivity and pleasure to my workday that I need to make it a part of my regular, necessary expense budget.”

Having a sense of your financial flexibility allows you to stop asking “can I afford this?” and instead ask “do I really want this? Will it make me happy?” Figuring out ways to budget for purchases is only half the fight. Figuring out what to prioritize is just as important a question.

Qapital will automatically give Freelancers Union members $10 toward a Goal once after your first savings deposit hits your Goals account.

Qapital Qapital is a free savings app that lets you set saving Goals and customize Rules that help you achieve them. Freelancers Union members get $10 towards any Goal when you start saving!