I’m one of those people who thrives on stability. My friends and family lovingly refer to me as a creature of habit. I’m far from spontaneous — I absolutely love predictability and routine.
Needless to say, when I decided to leave my secure full-time job in favor of pursuing freelance writing as a career, it was a little (alright, a lot) out of character.
I waved goodbye to a steady paycheck and a somewhat monotonous job to live a life filled with uncertainty. Yes, even the mere thought had me breathing into a paper bag on several occasions.
Anyone who has ever worked for themselves will tell you that your income can move like a yo-yo.
There are months when I work my tail off on project after project and feel like I’m sitting on a mountain of cash.
Other months? I’m wondering what will fill my time and my wallet. Will I ever get another assignment? Will I be eating ramen noodles and cold spaghetti for dinner?
I crave as much predictability as I can get. Yet I dove headfirst into a career path that offers little to none. My friends can’t figure out this contradiction. Of course, I see where they’re coming from—my decision was definitely outside of my comfort zone. But, I’m still glad I did it, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.
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One of the biggest skills I’ve picked up so far is better money management. In other words, you get a crash course in survival when you’re faced with a sporadic income.
This has been a challenge for me (both mentally and financially). However, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that take some of the pressure off and prevent me from having a panic attack every time the bills are due.
First, I may not always have full control over my income, but I do always hold the reins on my spending.
That’s an area that I truly can dictate, so I’ve become much more critical and selective with every single purchase I make. It was much easier to drop dollars here and there on random items when I knew I had another paycheck in that exact same amount arriving in my bank account in another two weeks.
Now? I’m pickier about what I spend my money on because replenishing those funds isn’t always a guarantee.
Secondly, I’ve truly found the value in saving for a rainy day — or a slow month. Because projects and assignments come and go, I never take a particularly big month for granted.
Instead of treating it as my opportunity to make a large impulse purchase, I try to chuck a large chunk of it into savings. Knowing that I have that safety net waiting for me really helps to reduce my anxiety.
Finally, I’ve discovered that just a little time and energy can go a long way in terms of saving a few dollars here and there. From cutting coupons to switching to store-brand beauty products, I’ve been able to shave quite a bit off of our monthly budget, which definitely helps in calming my nerves and instilling a greater sense of stability.
I admit you can’t be a full-time freelancer and free spender all at once!
These days, I'm even beginning to see that there is a brighter side to freelancing — there is safety in numbers. When regular employees lose a 9 to 5, they immediately file for unemployment. If I lose one of my several clients, my income takes a dip, but it doesn’t disappear completely.
I actually find great comfort in knowing that my income is diversified, as opposed to having all of my eggs in one basket. To me, that realization (along with loving what I do!) is well worth the occasional panic attacks.