• Finance

Moving through time and space: practical tips for tech nomads

This is a sponsored post from Joust, the first financial services company animated by and focused on the unique needs of freelancers. What if your bank admired your passion and respected your work? And what if it could guarantee you got paid? PayArmour, a revolutionary new solution from Joust, takes the hassle out of invoicing clients and protects you against client nonpayment.

You know the whole truism about “location, location, location”? If you are a tech nomad, forget it. Aside from the wifi signal, you don’t need to worry about it. You are that dimension.

Time is another matter. “Time is money” still holds. The converse, money is time, may be even more relevant when you’re taking your tech contract work on the road.

Let’s look at some of the possible parameters of tech nomad time:

  • Billing by the hour
  • Hard deadlines
  • Time zones
  • Scheduled calls
  • Your clients’ payment terms
  • When they actually pay you
  • Your business and household expense due dates
  • Time spent ensuring that the money is moving
  • The proportion of billable hours to (so-called) “free” time
  • The quality of that free time

We are going to make the wild assumption that you’re living or aspiring to this life because you value a high degree of freedom. Maybe you’re a dirtbag climber type, or a #vanlife surfer, or a global-schooling parent—those are the go-to, really fun stereotypes. Enjoy!

Or maybe your situation is more sober and serious, say you are taking care of an ill out-of-town relative. The point is: you want to be able to focus and be truly present wherever you are. Tech nomads are taking the whole work-life balancing act to the high wire.

Much of what I’m saying could be true for freelance work in a multitude of industries. Tech nomads make a nice example because so much of coding and other related work has been digitally accessible for so long. Coming full circle, it’s the work of technologists that have enabled all sorts of information-age remote endeavors.

At Joust, the tech nomad archetype holds a special relevance for us — we’re leveraging technology to improve the financial lives of freelancers and entrepreneurs. As a banking platform, we are, of course, very focused on the financial part, and we’ve also honed in on the time aspect.

We saw a gaping problem for freelancers with clients paying late—or worse, not at all. Following up on invoicing sucks up time and energy, and many freelancers are also busy managing income volatility even when payments are reliable. Tech nomads are giving themselves the extra challenge of keeping their administrative tasks and other life responsibilities in perfect order to compensate for their absence from a geographic address.

There are some tasks that you simply need to stay on top of or get done in advance, say: taxes, medical appointments, and auto registration renewal.

Then there are other surprise-type things that can trip up tech nomads, say jury duty summons or a burst pipe. Roll with these cases as they come and hope for helpful neighbors. Not all hazards are avoidable.

We created Joust’s PayArmour to move the cash-flow management issue from the latter category to the first. It’s an invoicing tool with a guarantee. (If you want to get technical, it’s a form of “factoring,” a service large banks typically provide large corporate clients, scaled down to freelance size.) It takes the uncertainty out of when those funds will actually show up in your account.

When you’re in that getting-things-in-order mode, you could open a Joust account. (Of course, you could from the road too, but we’re putting this in a certain organizational mindset.) After you hold the mail or hire someone to mow the lawn, try billing a client with PayArmour to see if it works well for you and so you know the drill when you’re billing your client from a family friend’s summer cabin.

Speaking of summer cabins, let me share a relevant personal anecdote that illustrates how even  experienced contract workers can fall prey to payment problems. Last summer I accepted an invite from my child’s friend’s family to stay at their place up in the mountains. The father is a very accomplished technologist. He’s been doing a variety of contract work. He spent that week fuming about a client who wasn’t paying him for recent hours spent in business meetings due to a “misunderstanding” about their contract.

When you are in full-on tech nomad mode you should either be working or doing your thing, not wondering if the accounts payable dude at FlakeClient did, in fact, process your invoice. Because “work hard, play hard, follow-up on invoices hard” just doesn’t sound right.

Vicki Apodaca Vicki is the Head of Marketing & Communications at Joust, the bank platform for freelancers. As a digital nomad, she's always in pursuit of the perfect beach.