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All industries have lulls. There will come a time when your freelance or solopreneurship will experience slow times. Hopefully, you’ll know which seasons are fruitful and which are not — and plan accordingly. Take a lesson from the squirrel (yes, I am a White Stripes fan!) and prepare for leaner days with these four tips:
1. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
This tip is not just healthy for your budget but also for you! You can find a CSA near you at LocalHarvest.org. You are essentially buying a portion of a farm to assist the farmer in the cost of growing the produce. So you’re helping another small business do their thang! Initially joining a CSA is costly. But if you do this during a financially fruitful time then you may be able to cover the cost. After that, you will not have to pay for produce for a while. You might have to give a couple of hours of your time to volunteer. Often the cost comes out to $20+ per week for a half share for about 22 weeks. The half share was more than enough for me and my partner (he has a serious appetite).
2. Freeze your produce
Freezing your extra CSA produce or even your grocery store/ farmer’s market buys means that you’ll have something in leaner times. Just spend some time chopping your veggies and blanch them in boiling water for 1-4 minutes. After blanching, lay out your veggies on a cookie sheet to flash freeze them. After they freeze, put the veggies in plastic freezer bags. Now you don’t need to buy frozen veggies! You can even make your own veggie meal starter. If you’re freezing fruit, you can skip the blanching step. We did this in our home and our CSA produce lasted us for a few more months. That gave us a break at the grocery store for a few months.
3. Buy toiletries in bulk
You can buy soap, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, and other hygienic needs in bulk since they have a long shelf life. If you have a difficult time saving money in a bank account then this tip will help you ease the stress by creating a cushion of things you need. You may not have a ton of room for storing Costco sized packs of toilet paper. Maybe consider buying an extra pack of toilet paper once in a while when you have the cash to spare. You will always need these basics so why not stock up? How much stress does it take off of you to know that your hygiene and food needs are mostly met?
4. Raise your rates
If you frequently run into situations in which you are living a hand-to-mouth existence then you probably need to raise your fees. Build a few extra dollars in your hourly charge just for savings. And yes, it should go to savings. My life changed drastically when I went from an hourly rate that I thought was reasonable to an hourly rate that reflected my true worth. With a higher rate, I was able to stash some away for a rainy day.
Planning goes a long way. Go on and be the squirreliest squirrel!
Alyson Toone is the founder and designer of Alyson Jon Life, a brand devoted to helping people design their best life. She teaches life skills to professionals through workshops. She also designs for life spaces. You can find her work at alysonjon.live. Follow her on Instagram @AlysonJonLife.