8 money saving tips for freelancers
While working at home as a freelancer sounds like the ultimate dream for anyone tired of the rat race and daily commute, freelancers still have more than a few financial issues to worry about. Perhaps the most important trait that you should have as a freelancer is the ability to be fully responsible and accountable to yourself, and saving money is something that you should think about on a daily basis! So let’s walk through the basics of saving money when you work for yourself.
1. Have an Emergency Fund
Since you have little or no financial protection as a freelancer, maintaining an emergency fund is a good idea. You never know when the work will dry up, even though it will likely only be temporary. However, in order to have something to fall back on during these dry times, you should try to keep enough savings to cover essential things such as rental or mortgage payments and utility bills.
2. Have Multiple Sources of Income
Freelancers often find that work is inconsistent, particularly during the first year or two. A consistent and reliable income comes with time, since you’ll need to build up a regular and reliable client base. As a freelancer, it’s better to have a few strings to your bow, and it’s usually preferable to have lots of small clients rather than rely solely on one or two streams of income.
3. Keep the Debt Down
Avoid borrowing money from high interest sources or racking up a large credit card debt to get your freelancing career off the ground.
4. Use Open-Source Software
While freelancers typically don’t have high expenses, the cost of productivity software can still be considerable. There are cheaper options than purchasing a retail version of Microsoft Office, such as Apache OpenOffice, formerly OpenOffice.org. It’s available for free and it provides similar features to Microsoft Office.
5. Claim All Expenses
Many freelancers actually end up paying more tax than they need to, simply because they neglect to declare all of their expenses. All work-related expenses should be claimed as such when you’re filling in your tax returns, including software, hardware, home office equipment and everyday supplies. Any related bills, travel or education should also be claimed as expenses. Just be sure to keep all of your receipts and invoices in case you need to provide evidence! Using accounting software such as Xero will help with day to day reconciliation and tracking of expenses.
6. Use Free Forms of Marketing
If you maintain a website or blog as the hub of your online freelancing career, spend some effort on promoting it. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending money. Use free methods to promote your website and your business, such as social media marketing, search engine optimisation and content marketing.
7. Use VoIP Telephony
If you rely heavily on communication by telephone, consider VoIP telephony service for handling your phone calls. You can also get an online phone number so that people can call you from a landline or mobile phone. VoIP telephony also tends to be much cheaper for making international calls to landlines and mobiles. Skype is the best-known solution and GoToMeeting, WebEx and Google Hangouts are also worth considering.
8. Run a Paperless Office
There is rarely a reason for using the printer in the home office these days. While most freelancers still need one for those rare occasions, running a near-paperless office will help to save on things like ink cartridges, paper and printer maintenance itself. Only use the printer when it is absolutely necessary, such as when you need to send a letter or print out a copy of an important document.
Find out how you can run a paperless office by storing invoices, receipts, files and important business information in Xero.
If you’re setting up as a freelancer, talk to us on other ways to save money.