It’s hilarious, the way money seems to have its own wings- for it to be made, you had to do a lot of serious work, but when it’s to be spent? Sweat not; it has the capacity to spend itself, or so it seems.
Money management is a skill which very few people have perfected.
For the freelancer, it’s one of those headaches that come along with handling your own business, one which you probably wouldn’t have loved to be bothered with. I’m sorry, but you probably don’t have a choice here…you have to handle your money properly, if you are going to have any left at the end of the day.
It’s the end of the month and after taking into consideration every bit of money which I’ve made during the month (which I certainly know how to do well, email me if you need help with this!), I find it relatively hard to list out what I have spent my money on (can you help? Send me your email address…please!), thus my account stays ‘unbalanced’. So no, I won’t claim to have all of the answers on this one. But I certainly have done better in times past, and it hasn’t always been so difficult to get my income and expenditure to be on the same page.
So here are some lessons from when it wasn’t a herculean task to balance my account:
1. Operate on a Budget
Did I hear you roll your eyes? (Yes, I can hear the sound produced by an eye-rolling movement). Dude, if you do not have a budget, you just might be on a suicide mission. It’s not really how much you earn, my dear, it’s how much is left in your account at the end of the month, the real amount which you can call ‘yours’. Trust me on this one. I have discovered that for those months when I don’t earn so much, I still tend to have quite a surplus amount- well I mean, much more than is left in my account on those months when I earn really well. That doesn’t make so much sense right? Well, it does, if you consider the fact that I spent less during the months when I earned less, because I was aware of the fact that I was making less. My budget was much stricter and I certainly programmed my mind in such a way that I didn’t even consider the idea of spending frivolously; since my father doesn’t own a bank (yet).
2. Create some regularity in cash flow
I know what you’re about to say: ‘I don’t have a regular income’, ‘I’m not sure of when my next paycheck will come in’ and other variants of that. Yes, I know that one peculiar thing about the freelance life is not having the certainty of a paycheck coming in weekly or monthly (Let’s take a minute to be thankful about the fact that we do have paychecks at all!). There’s still a way around this, though. What if you had a couple of regular gigs which help to create constancy in your cash flow? For me, that part of the job is being fixed by blogging and working for some people on a regular basis. This means that I can predict that at least, X amount would be coming in this month and with that, I can actually operate on a budget.
3. Work with Less than you actually earn
The advice ‘spend less than you earn’ wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t useful (scrap that, it could still be popular, but it really is useful, so…). When creating that beautiful document called a budget, try as much as possible to do so using less than you actually earn. There’s this situation I commonly find myself in- I see something that catches my attention for example, a bag; and when I get to know the price/look at the price tag, if it’s something I can afford (what I really mean is if the price is less than the total amount in my bank account), I get instantly giddy. Oh dear! I literally have to stop myself from pouncing on the bag, even if I don’t need it, although I’ll still deny being a shopaholic. The situation tends to be better if I have moved a major portion of that money into a ‘don’t touch region/account’. Then, I would be operating with the mindset of having a lesser amount in my account- which might be less than the cost of the bag…get my logic? Well, if it works for me, I believe it’ll work for at least one more person.
Bottom line: Creating an illusion of earning less than you actually do could be helpful.
I hope we all do better with managing our funds in the very near future! Do reach out to us if you have other money management principles that are tested and trusted, feedback is always welcome.