Everyone needs an emergency fund, but I would argue that freelancers really need an emergency fund. While emergencies can happen to anyone, the reality is people with regular jobs get a regular paycheck. They know what they’re getting every two weeks and they can automatically adjust their savings accordingly.
With freelancing, your business can bring in $10,000 one month and $3,000 the next, making for an interesting time as you learn to deal with variable income. I’m going to admit that I’m still trying to figure this all out for myself, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that an emergency fund has saved me more times than I can count. Here are some of the ways in which an emergency fund can save freelancers.
An emergency fund can help with unexpected medical expenses.
A couple of years ago, I woke up one morning with my back gums on the left side of my mouth swollen like a balloon. I’ll spare you the details and skip straight to the point: I ended up needing oral surgery and it cost me a pretty penny.
If it wasn’t for my emergency fund, I would have had to slap the entire expense of that surgery on a credit card and hope that I could make enough money that month to pay it off. However, because I did have a decent emergency fund, I was able to cover a big part of it in cash.
Since this moment I have prioritized my emergency savings pretty much above all else. I learned the hard way that you never know when you’ll need some cash, and since my income is variable I need to make sure I have as much cash in the bank as possible.
An emergency fund can help with unexpected non-emergency (but still very important) expenses.
I recently had a large expense that, while not technically an emergency, was still extremely important. At this stage in the business, it became important for me to get media liability insurance. This ensures that my blog, my book and my writing work is covered in case I am ever sued for my work.
It’s not something most people think about, but liability insurance is a necessity when you run a business. Truth be told, I hadn’t thought about it either. It wasn’t until I saw a colleague get unfairly sued that I realized I needed to protect myself. Unfortunately, it’s costing me $1500 I was not expecting to have in the business budget. Fortunately, I have a pretty hefty emergency fund so I can pay it with no issue.
An emergency fund can help cover you during lean months.
This is where an emergency fund is especially important for a freelancer. As I already mentioned, freelancers have variable income which can make planning a little difficult. The only way to ride out the lean months is to have a fully stocked emergency fund.
For example, at this stage in my business, I know that the summer months are a little slow. Because I have a well-stocked emergency fund, I know that if I need to, I can dip into it to cover my bills. Fortunately, I haven’t had to do that this year but I do have peace of mind knowing the money is available.
Above all else, having an emergency fund can give freelancers peace of mind as they continue on with their businesses and their lives. Hopefully, you won’t need to use it, but at least you can rest assured knowing that your financial bases are covered.