How to Save Half Your Income as a Freelancer
Here’s a secret from the world of personal finance: retiring early, becoming a millionaire, or reaching financial independence has everything to do with how much money you save. In fact, your savings rate is arguably more important than how much money you make. After all, there’s no point in making more money if you’re spending it. And here’s the real kicker – if you really want to make it financially you’ll want to save half your income as a freelancer.
If you’re like most Americans, you are probably scoffing at the idea of being able to save half your income as a freelancer. Financial experts agree that you need to save at least 20% to retire comfortably, and the average American savings rate only hovers around 5 percent.
Additionally, you may be tempted to think that it’s easier for full-time employees to save half their income because their paycheck is fixed. Meanwhile, freelancers have to take into account business expenses, insurance, taxes, retirement and more.
I’m here to tell you that freelancers can save half their income. In fact, while I was crunching some numbers and planning financial goals for 2016, I found out that I actually do save about half of my after-tax income as a freelancer. Some months are better than others, but on average I’m hovering around the 50% range. Here’s how you can do it too.
Don’t Listen to the Masses
If you want to save half your income as a freelancer you’re going to have to stop listening to the masses. Remember, the masses are only saving 5% of their money and then complain that they never have any.
Truth be told, I’ve been called cheap more than once. People have publicly called me crazy for not owning a car or choosing to live with family instead of getting my own place. But it’s because of these conscious choices that I’ve been able to build a profitable business, avoid debt, travel and save a significant amount of money each month.
I’ve learned to be very methodical when it comes to making financial decisions, and a big part of that has been ignoring almost everyone. When you begin to save money, and you then begin to take action in the form of cutting expenses, people will think you’re nuts. Do yourself a favor and don’t listen to them.
Food is a significant part of our budgets each month. And if you’re anything like me, you want to make sure you’re eating as healthy as possible. This alone can drive up the cost of food.
The best way I have found to save money and still eat well is by meal planning. Each week I sit down and plan all my meals for the next few days. I then spend a couple of hours on the weekends cooking as much as I can ahead of time.
Because I’m methodical with my meals, and because I’ve learned to work with what’s already in the kitchen, I don’t waste money on food. I’m also not wondering what the heck I’m going to eat during the week when the time comes. This helps me avoid ordering take out. The money I save is then moved to a savings account for some other purpose.
Set Up Systems
If you want to save half your income as a freelance you’re going to have to set up systems to help you do it. This could mean setting up automatic savings plans, making sure you pay yourself first or setting up a retirement account for the first time.
Here are some of my favorite tools, systems and services that I use to make sure I can save half my income as a freelancer:
- I use percentages. You can learn more about this by reading The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers and The Self-Employed.
- Once I’ve saved for taxes and business expenses, I use the Zero Sum Budget for everything else.
- I use services like Betterment and Acorns for investing and Digit for cash savings. They are automated so I don’t even have to think about it.
By setting up systems, I have a savings plan that runs on autopilot. This helps me make sure I’m meeting my financial goals.
It is possible to save half your income as a freelancer. By ignoring the masses, meal planning and setting up systems you can begin to create a plan to save more money than you ever thought possible. You can then use that money for whatever financial goals you have in mind.