The 7 Best Ways to Save Money While Freelancing
If you’re a freelancer like me, you probably get that saving money isn’t always the easiest thing.
There are bills to pay (my internet bill alone is way higher now that I work from home), plus, if you’re American, the whole “healthcare and benefits are tied to my employer” thing becomes even more pressing when you’re a freelancer. Sure, working at a salaried position still requires savings, but when you need to budget in your own taxes, retirement, and health insurance, it’s a whole other situation.
You might be thinking:
Yes, it’s impossible to actually have any savings in this economy. And, depending on what you do and your economic situation, you might actually be right.
But I know that even saving $5 a month can add up, and I want to help you find that extra $5.
Here’s what I do to make sure I have that extra end-of-month cash to put away into my savings account:
1) Work in a library.
A lot of people these days don’t appreciate how helpful the local library is. Internet access, air conditioning, quiet… if you’re working from a computer like I am, you can cut back on your utility costs and enjoy a quiet environment to get work done.
Plus, the resources there are boundless – access to periodicals for research and books to read, and the online access to movies and ebooks… it’s a big winner, in my estimation.
2) Don’t order out.
If you’re like me, you probably spend more time ordering out than you should.
Making the switch to homemade lunches can save hundreds each month. I love my Instant Pot, because it lets me make slow cooker recipes I can freeze for the month. Cooking in advance for the month and freezing meals is a lifesaver for me for those rushed nights when I don’t have time to cook (and don’t want to wait an hour for delivery).
If you’re not a gourmet cook – and a lot of us aren’t – find a recipe site you like, that doesn’t take you a lot of time. I like Damn Delicious, personally, but I know people are into different kinds of food. Find one that works for you. This is one of the best ways to save while freelancing, and also one of the hardest, due to the time management needed.
3) When you’re able to, buy bulk.
This is one of those things that really isn’t possible at certain income levels. For a long time, I couldn’t do this. But, when I can, I try to buy in bulk.
That can mean:
Buying perishable foods in bulk. Buying toilet paper or cleaning products in bulk. Buying a yearly subscription instead of a monthly one. It’s surprising how much I’ve saved over the past couple of years, just from switching to bulk shopping.
This isn’t always easy for me, because I don’t have a big family, so buying bulk for perishable items doesn’t go far. But I try to shop at Costco or Smart & Final when I can (I don’t presently have a Costco membership), and I end up making use of bulk items like dish soap or canned tomatoes throughout the year.
4) Raise your prices.
When you make more, you can afford more – and it won’t hit your wallet as hard to lose $10 if you’re bringing in $10k a month, vs. $1k a month. You know the drill – raise your prices when you’re setting your own rates.
I don’t talk about this enough, though a lot of other people do. I have clients I work with for: proofreading, script analysis, content writing, web design, video editing, and more!
I like to learn and grow my abilities. I may not be perfect at anything, but I can provide good service to people who need a hard worker who takes notes well and is happy to make adjustments.
For instance, I might make more in 1 day doing video editing than I do in 1 month doing proofreading, but I have fewer video editing clients. Why? I love video editing, but I’m not a motion graphics designer or sound mixer. My skills are good, but I don’t do enhancements beyond a clean cut and a quick color.
So, I likely won’t get a client who needs an “all in one” service, the way a lot of other people might. But I might get a client who needs a quick recut, a scene removed, a short film edited – something that they feel my skills are perfect for. And that person maybe shows up twice a year – so keeping my script analysis business going helps ensure a more regular income stream.
It’s possible this is one of the best ways to make money while freelancing, rather than one of the best ways to save money while freelancing. Let’s call it both?
Diversifying also allows me to keep working when some of my clients take a break or aren’t in need of help. And it keeps my mind engaged!
6) Cut down on subscriptions.
I refuse to subscribe to software. I know this isn’t possible for some people – there simply isn’t a choice. But I use FCPX instead of Premiere. I use a 1-license MS Word installation instead of Office 365.
I know that subscriptions are the future, truly! I’m simply not someone who wants to see $20 go out of my account every month, without added value that I will use. That doesn’t mean those subscriptions don’t have added value, it’s just not value I personally will make use of.
I can use Office 2011 or Office 2016 fine, and neither of them does any less for me than 365. I appreciate that there are new features, but I simply don’t use the additional features. And I can’t remember the last time I needed software help from a company.
If you’re in the category of basic users like me, finding a way to drop subscriptions – to unneeded magazines, software, or anything else you don’t use – can be a huge money saver.
I had a gym subscription for a while, but it didn’t work for me – so I canceled it, bought an elliptical and some weights, and can do all my gym workouts at home. Not everyone can do this – but keeping that cash is a great way for me to save. And, admittedly, I started another subscription to a different home workout – but it’s half the cost of my gym membership. So, even finding cheaper versions of what you might use can be helpful.
7) Sell & Condense
I used to have a ton of clothes I wasn’t throwing out. They didn’t fit or I didn’t like them anymore, but I couldn’t afford new things. Then, when I could afford new things, those clothes got pushed to the back of my drawers/closet, and I wore them as backups.
Then I realized:
Why do I have backup clothing? It adds to my laundry load (more money out), takes up space (that I could just leave empty, making my home neater, and saving on cleaning and organizing time), and I don’t even like these things.
This is a money and brain saver. Get rid of things you don’t use – either sell them or donate them, if you can afford to. I made a lot of money selling some old stuff – books, clothes, etc – and that freed up space, too, and reduced my cleaning time and laundry time (time and money saver!). Win/win.
FAQ About Best Ways to Save Money While Freelancing
Do I Have to Follow These Tips?
No. If you can’t for any reason, there’s no reason you have to! They’re just things that have worked for me.
What if I Can’t Save Right Now?
The majority of Americans can’t save much, if at all. I’m not shaming anyone for that. I’ve been there. For me, this is all about tips and tricks that can help, not things you have to do. If you’re unable to use these tricks right now, write them down for later on, and hopefully you’ll get to a point where you can put some of them into play.
How Much Should I Save?
That’s a question for your accountant or lawyer. I am neither of those, so my advice is only about what’s worked for me personally, and should not be taken as professional or monetary guidance. Save what works for you, according to your needs.
What else do you do to save money while freelancing?