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Just had a slap-in-the-face moment!

This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Jennifer Mattern March 8, 2014 at 10:23 pm.

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    Alicia Rades

    So I just filed my taxes…

    And holy crap, I was not prepared!

    I have been filing taxes as a freelance writer for several years now, but I always qualified for the education credit. Last year, I got so much money back in returns that I thought I’d be okay this year. Turns out I didn’t qualify for the education credit this year (because I got too many scholarships and grants), so of course I had to pay in. (Luckily I have enough in savings to cover it.)

    But this slap-in-the-face moment really opened my eyes. How much money am I really making compared to other people? Probably next to nothing, I’d guess.

    So I really want to figure out how much I should be making and get my butt in gear and find clients willing to pay higher rates.

    Here’s my question: What types of expenses should I factor in? (I’ve been looking up info and have reviewed a few of Jenn’s articles, but I want to make sure I’m not missing anything.) Here’s what I have listed.

    • Monthly expenses (Internet, phone, rent, etc.)
    • Taxes
    • Retirement fund (I’m currently contributing 10% of every paycheck)
    • Business fund (I’m currently contributing 7 percent of each paycheck to my business fund)
    • Health insurance (I’m currently covered right now, but I’m considering this for later)
    • Extras (for savings and fun!)

    Is there any other calculations I’m missing? If there are any articles in the archives I missed, I’d be happy if you directed me to them. Thanks!


    Jennifer Mattern

    Yeah. Taxes can do that to you! I won’t even tell you how badly I screwed up mine early on. So I understand your frustration. You live and learn though! 🙂

    This includes what you’ve covered, but just to keep a single list for anyone referring to this, here’s what I would recommend:

    Monthly personal expenses

    • rent/mortgage
    • utilities (electric, propane/gas, cable, home phone, cell phone, etc.)
    • monthly health insurance premiums
    • any regular medical costs like OTC allergy meds or co-pays on prescriptions
    • groceries
    • monthly “fun money” for eating out or going out with friends
    • car insurance if you pay monthly
    • car payments — now or ones you might start in the near-ish future
    • gas
    • pet expenses
    • monthly website / service fees for memberships (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
    • Any other subscriptions you might have
    • monthly debt payments if you have them (if not, but you will soon — such as student loans — I’d account for them now; you can save the extra to put towards them later instead of raising rates to make up the difference when the time comes)
    • If you’re anything like me, a monthly book budget. 😉  — Seriously, don’t restrict the “fun money” to just going out; make sure you account for things you might buy as a want rather than a need (books, games, blu-rays, etc.).

    Other personal expenses (anything you pay less frequently)

    • insurance policies (car, home, renter’s; if not paid monthly)
    • any non-regular medical expenses that come out of pocket such as office visit co-pays — leave more than you think you’ll need in case you need to cover co-pays for surgery or other treatments
    • vacations
    • auto license renewals
    • car registrations
    • car maintenance and inspections
    • home maintenance
    • pet registrations
    • pet vet visits (check-ups, vaccinations, etc.)
    • yearly subscriptions (such as to magazines or websites or AAA or whatever)
    • yearly gifts (birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, or whenever you give people gifts)
    • your clothing budget
    • non-monthly hair care for cuts, dye jobs, or whatever
    • any charitable contributions you tend to make every year (or want to)
    • books and other expenses tied to your education

    Personal Savings & Investments

    • retirement
    • education (for you or your children)
    • emergency fund (start by aiming for a minimum of three months’ expenses, but ideally keep at it until you have at least a years’ expenses covered, if not more)
    • routine personal savings (money you don’t plan to spend, but that you can use to earn a bit of interest, tap when you need a bit extra without hitting your emergency fund — this is the money you might use to save for a large purchase, a downpayment on a future home, etc.)
    • however much you’d like to have available for investments, if that’s of interest to you

    Monthly Business Expenses

    • Web hosting (unless you pay for longer stretches at a time)
    • Office rent if you don’t work from home
    • Business utilities (such as if you have a separate business cell phone or internet account)
    • Regular payments to contractors (subcontractors, designers, developers, marketing assistance, etc.)
    • Monthly business memberships or subscriptions
    • Any regular office supplies (printer toner, paper, pens, etc.)

    Other Business Expenses

    • Yearly domain registrations
    • Dues for professional organizations
    • Non-monthly subscriptions or memberships
    • Your expected business taxes
    • Business travel (to visit prospects and clients, attend conferences or other networking events — travel plus admission costs)
    • Business attire, if necessary

    Business Savings

    • Any routine savings you want as money to be left in the business for future growth or to cover unanticipated expenses


    As much as that covers, I have no doubt I’m still missing things. So hopefully others will have some ideas. And as Yolander would tell you, plan for profit — something on top of all of this, including on top of your planned savings. You want to get to the point where everything you want and need can be comfortably covered by your earnings.

    I hope that helps!

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Owns AllFreelanceWriting.com | Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com


    Alicia Rades

    Wow! Thanks for such a thorough list. You should put it together in a blog post.


    Jennifer Mattern

    Perhaps I’ll do that. I already have posts scheduled through the weekend and possibly Monday, but after that I’ll see about putting it on the blog. 🙂

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Owns AllFreelanceWriting.com | Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com


    Jennifer Mattern

    I decided to take a break from the WordPress series tonight and share this information as a post a bit early. For anyone interested:

    47 Things to Consider When Setting Freelance Writing Rates

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Owns AllFreelanceWriting.com | Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

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