The economy has been tough on everyone and even freelance writers are not immune. Although working for yourself is one of the best ways to control your income you can not always control the amount of work that you land. Even if you do maintain the workload, there is no way to control the costs of items. Freelance writers have to learn to budget beyond the scope of normal people.
Key Points to a Budget for Freelance Writers
1. Taxes – The government WILL get its share of your money. It is possible to reduce the damage by taking advantage of deductions and credits, but FICA will still have to be paid. Keep in mind that you have to pay both ends of FICA as a freelance writer. Budget out around 30% from every freelance writing paycheck so that half can go towards FICA and half towards income tax. Anything that you don’t have to pay to the government you can divide between savings, vacation and re-investment after you file your taxes in the following year (it’s your own little tax refund but it has been earning you interest all year).
2. Supplies – being a freelance writer (particularly online) does cut back on the amount of money that you have to spend towards supplies but it’s still a good idea to budget around 3% of your income. Eventually you may need to make big purchases like a new computer or printer.
3. Fees – there are going to be costs for doing business when you are a freelance writer. Creating a website, launching an eBook or attending conferences will all take money. Setting aside around 2% of your freelance writing income will help you budget for these items.
4. Down times – expect dry seasons and start building up towards a reserve. Putting back around 5% of each freelance writing check should help smooth the times of trouble.
It is understandable why many people have trouble balancing a freelance writing budget. There is a lot of the initial income that has to be taken out for taxes, supplies, fees and other variables. If you think back to the days when you received a traditional paycheck you may realize that the amount you earned and the amount you actually received were always vastly different. Taking the steps budget out the money from your freelance writing income from the first day will save you pain and suffering in the long run.
Setting a Freelance Writing Budget
1. ALWAYS budget off your last month’s freelance writing income (the money that you have already made and deposited in your account). Never try to budget off your potential freelance writing income.
2. Take out 40% of every check that you receive for freelance writing and deposit that money into designated savings account to go towards the different items discussed earlier. Some people are disciplined enough to keep all of their funds together but I am better off with multiple savings accounts. Dave Ramsey fans can think of this like the envelope method.
3. Using the remaining 60% of your freelance writing income payout all of your bills for the month (you do not have to send the bills in until they are due but do go ahead and deduct the money from your account).
4. Review the remaining amount of money and begin dividing it between other essentials – groceries, gas, personal items and such.
5. Any money that remains should go towards savings and entertainment.
Ideally you would take out an additional 10% to budget for savings but losing half the income out the gate is too much for some people to handle. Start off with what you can handle and work your way up to what you should be handling. You will discover that budgeting off a freelance writing income is not as difficult as it once seemed and you may be even more surprised to find that you have more money than you thought possible at the end of the year!
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