There are roughly 42 million freelancers in the United States, according to NBC News, mounting to roughly a third of the country’s workforce. While freelancing often comes with benefits like flexible hours and the option to work at home, you should keep some financial considerations in mind.
- Determine your hourly rate, since it will probably be one of the first things potential clients ask for, advises Lifehacker. For help figuring out what your rate should be, the site recommends checking out this hourly rate calculator from FreelanceSwitch.
- Track your tax-deductible expenses throughout the year, according to CBS News. This can prevent you from missing out on any deductions come tax time.
- Offer your clients discounts if they pay immediately upon job completion, suggests Lifehacker. Offering, say, a 5 percent discount for payment within 48-hours may save you the wait for your money. Also getting that money earlier allows you to earn more interest in a savings or checking account.
- Measure success by setting realistic income goals and increase them over time, according to FreelanceSwitch. You can set these on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
- Forget to save for retirement and taxes, reminds Mint. Employers automatically withhold for taxes and can direct funds to your 401(k) account. But as a freelancer, that burden would be yours. Mint suggests keeping three accounts: one for spending, one for taxes and one for retirement.
- Go without health insurance, advises Freelance Switch. You may be tempted to skip coverage to save money, but an unexpected accident or illness can lead to financial hardship if you’re not covered.
- Come down with a case of cell phone “bill shock,” warns CBS News. Freelance jobs can involve lots of phone calls to clients and sources, so be sure your cell plan allows for this extra usage (or use a landline with an unlimited calling plan).
- Immediately spend a big check that’s supposed to last you a few months, according to Mint. Instead, budget it out over time so you don’t go broke before your next job.
Do you make your living as a freelancer? How do you make the most of your income?