Being a freelancer allows for far more flexibility than the typical 9-to-5 job. In many cases, you can set your own schedule and work from anywhere. However, one of the trade-offs of the freelance life is not knowing exactly how much you’re going to earn from month to month. Those who can live with and manage this uncertainty make the best freelancers; those who can’t will likely be too stressed to enjoy the benefits of the lifestyle.
Fortunately, there are ways freelancers can offset the effects of having inconsistent income and cash flow. The following are some of the most effective tips for managing “dry spells” so you can always pay your bills on time and enjoy the life of the freelancer:
1. Know Your Income Patterns
If you’ve been self-employed for at least a year or two, you likely have a sense of the fluctuations of your work and income. In most industries, there are typically “busy seasons” and times where orders dry up. Being aware of these natural ebbs and flows is the first step to being able to plan for and manage them.
2. Save During High-Income Periods
Once you become aware of your busiest months, pledge to put away money in savings during these prosperous times. A savings account is your best defense during periods of fewer clients and less cash flow.
3. Save Unexpected “Windfalls”
If you get a larger gig or a gift of income at any point in the year, save some or all of it if possible.
4. Set Income and Financial Goals
Are you fully satisfied with the amount of income you are earning as a freelancer? If so, you are one of the lucky few. However, changing your situation begins with having a vision for how it could be. Setting income goals each year helps you to keep growing and improving your business as well as your financial situation.
5. Create a Budget and Stick To It
One of the 101 basics of financial success is never spending more than you earn. However, that can be hard to master if you’re not sure how much you’re spending. Take a close look at your finances and set limits for areas like entertainment and going out to eat. Budgeting can make all the difference in getting control of your finances.
6. Find Freelancer-Friendly Banking
Banking and receiving financing can be challenging for freelancers. The best thing you can do is find and partner with financial institutions that are sympathetic to your situation so you aren’t forced to use predatory lending. The “gig” economy is growing larger all the time, and there are an increasing number of banks with features that reflect this.
Services like Oxygen can help tremendously with cash flow management. For a flat fee, you’ll get expert cash flow analysis that will help with managing high and low income periods as well as your expenses. Oxygen offers customized functions to match each freelancer’s needs with no expectation of pay stubs, W2s or fixed-recurring income. You’ll also receive banking perks, a zero interest line of credit and no overdraft or hidden fees.
Most people dream of being their own boss, setting their own schedule and doing what they love. However, the most challenging part of the freelance life is income uncertainty. Fortunately, there are ways to manage inconsistent cash flow. Use these six tips to help you enjoy all that being a freelancer has to offer.