It is interesting how much you learn about yourself as a freelancer. Without a steady paycheque coming in, you learn how to budget well- and fast! You learn the difference between your wants and your needs, and ultimately you realize that you can live without all of that “fluff”.
That “fluff” can be anything – shoes, cosmetics (obsessed) clothes, throw pillows (obsessed), vacations, candles (obsessed), craft supplies or lots of eating out. It’s that nice, cozy padding. I’ve learnt that not only do I not need those things, but I thrive on the challenge of being thrifty, saving money and finding sales. Now I am more excited to grow my savings, then to be spending. The funny thing is that “fluff” that you are obsessing over online, in store, in your head and in your dreams will just disappear.
What helps me is that I love budgeting, spreadsheets and colour-coding. This is something that I find fun and not daunting in the least bit. If you do find it a daunting task, schedule time in your calendar to stay on top of your budget, that way there is no excuse not to do it.
I like to think of “freelance fluff” as the money you’ve been able to stash in savings until an “unexpected event” happens. Maybe you run over a nail and need to buy 4 new tires (true story), or need cavities filled at the dentist. So be sure to account for monthly savings in your budgeting. Also, budget for taxes! You want to make sure that you have that money for when you need it.
One of the many great things about the internet is that there are a lot of free online tools for budgeting. Whether there are excel templates or microsoft word printables. There is no right way, just use the way that works best for you.
It helps with the stress of the ups-and-downs of freelancing when I can count on my budget. I know exactly how much I need to cover everything – rent, gas, insurance, cell phone, internet, cable, savings and tax money. I also budget in for things like entertainment and restaurants. Budgeting doesn’t mean that you can’t spend any money or have any fun. Just be smart about it. Believe me, it will pay off.
Have problems budgeting? Have certain tools that you love? Share your thoughts in the comments below!