Reading Yo’s last post about accountability really got me to thinking, “Are people having financial trouble because they failed to take ownership of their finances?” Could that one word – ownership – have prevented the entire mortgage meltdown and subsequent recession?
Taking ownership of your freelance finances means charging a rate you can live on. It means managing the money you have and storing the excess for times you don’t have as much.
When you take ownership of something, you think and plan for the long term. You make sacrifices today so you’ll have something to look forward to tomorrow. Can you make it as a freelance writer if you never take ownership of your finances? I don’t think so.
If you never take ownership of your finances you may:
- Accept jobs that pay an unacceptable rate.
- Build your freelance career solely on content mills and other low-paying work.
- Spend more money than you can afford to.
- Mismanage your money and ignore the importance of budgeting.
- Take a head in the sand approach to your checking and savings account balances.
- Drain your savings and use debt to make ends meet.
- Fail to set aside money for taxes and end up with an IRS collection.
- Take out a loan you can’t afford because the bank says you qualify.
- Spend the extra money you make during “feast” months rather than save it for a famine.
- Market your freelance services only when you’re broke.
“How do I take ownership of my finances?”
Make a budget. There are budget worksheets all over the internet. Don’t mull over them for days trying to figure out which one will work for you. Just print a few, try them out, and tweak one until it works for you.
Evaluate your rates, often. Get in the habit of looking at your rates often to determine if they’re high enough to maintain your lifestyle. When you have a baby, buy a house, get married, or get a divorce, look at your rates to make sure you can continue to live on your current rate.
Stop making excuses. “I don’t make enough money to start an emergency fund.” “I can’t afford to pay my taxes.” Any rebuttal to taking ownership of your finances is an excuse. It’s as simple as that. With proper planning, I’m sure you can afford to take the steps you need to have complete ownership of your finances.
Realize that financial success is key to your freelance success. It doesn’t matter how well you write or market, if you’re not getting paid or you’re mismanaging your money, you won’t be a freelance writer for long.
I know the economy is bad and all that jazz, but I wholeheartedly believe that if you take ownership of your finances, you can make it. It may mean sacrificing. It may mean increasing your rate. It may even mean supplementing your income with some content mill work. If you take ownership of your finances, you'll figure out a way to make it work.