Managing Money as a Freelancer

Unlike traditional 9-5 jobs, freelancers (including myself) don’t have a set salary and employer-paid benefits. Self-employed need to manage their money very attentively.

In this post, I’ll share my spending strategy as a freelancer. This is one of the examples of living with a freelance paycheck (:

Note: My husband and I use a joint bank account for bills, but separate accounts for savings. We split these expenses 50/50.

Related post: 5 Personal Finance Tips Every Freelancer Should Know

January 2021 Financial Update

Here are January 2021 spending for 2 people:

  1. Mortgage + Association fees (49.9% of the budget)
  2. Property tax (3.5% of the budget)
  3. Car insurance
  4. Hilton Grand Vacations (2.1% of the budget)
  5. Credit card membership fees
  6. Cell phone + internet (1.7% of the budget)
  7. Subscription
  8. Medical & doctor (15.1% of the budget)
  9. Gas
  10. Food (14.1% of the budget)
  11. Want (8.3% of the budget)

Mortgage + Association fee (49.4% of the budget)

Most Americans choose a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage when they purchased a home or condo.

It’s good! As long as you can pay the mortgage for 30 years.

As a freelancer myself, I had no confidence to pay the mortgage for 30 years. My husband is not a freelancer, but he had the same feelings too.

The 30-year loan will lower your monthly payments, but you’ll pay twice more interest compared to the 15-year loan. And also, 30-year mortgages generally get higher interest rates than shorter-term ones like a 15-year mortgage. For that reason, we decided to do a 15-year loan even though the monthly payment gets higher.

To us, paid off as soon as possible was the best strategy.

We purchased a condo in 2013. We are planning to pay it off next year! (because we pay a lot when we have the extra cash) I can’t wait to be debt-free.

Property tax (3.5% of the budget)

We pay property tax twice a year.

Paying property tax at once is huge spending to us! We divided the annual cost of property tax by 12 and include the monthly cost of property tax on our budget.

In that way, we can prepare for large payments without excessive worrying.

Car insurance

We switched our car insurance to AAA. It saved a ton of money for us!

If you sign up for AAA OnBoard, you’ll receive up to 15% off your auto insurance policy upon activation. Based on your Driving Score, you could also save up to 30% at your next renewal once enough driving data is collected. The driving Score is calculated by speeding and sudden braking. Drive safe, save money!

Hilton Grand Vacations (2.1% of the budget)

I don’t like this. lol

Hilton Grand Vacations was my husband’s impulsive buying. I should’ve stopped him, but he was so happy to be an HGVC owner.

I couldn’t say anything when I see his smile.

Well, Hilton Grand Vacations save a lot of money when you travel abroad. If you are the owner of Hilton Grand Vacations, you’ll get a free nice breakfast and lounge access in some hotels. (these can save money on food and drink) And also, you can stay at a beautiful hotel for a week just paying booking fees like $150.

However, we can’t travel at all during a pandemic. Even so, as long as we own this property, we need to pay this maintenance fee.

Credit Card Membership Fees

We own 6 credit cards but mainly use 3 of them. Our favorite credit card is Amex Delta SkyMiles. It has a lot of benefits for travelers. We earned SkyMiles points by using this credit card, so we don’t have to pay a lot on air fees.

I can’t wait to travel again. (we used to travel twice a year)

Cell phone + internet (1.7% of the budget)

We use Spectrum for the internet and T-Mobile for cell phones. Spectrum Internet connection is very unstable in our neighborhood, but we don’t have much choice here… We are still looking for a better internet connection at an affordable price.

Subscription

These are the Costco membership fee, gym membership fee, etc.

We haven’t hit the gym since a pandemic happens but kept our membership. We want to help small businesses like our gym as long as our budget allowed.

Medical & doctor (15.1% of the budget)

This was totally unexpected spending!!!

We have health insurance, but still, the copay was super expensive! We used the emergency funds to cover these unexpected expenses. I highly recommend you to have 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses as an emergency fund.

Gas

We both work at home for now. We didn’t really go out last month, and guess what? We only filled up the fuel ONCE in January. Staying at home really save tons of money on gas.

Food (14.1% of the budget)

Food spending includes grocery shopping and takeout.

In Michigan, we can’t eat at restaurants except for the outdoor seating, and outside is around 28 to 14 Fahrenheit. (as of January 2021)

So, we use curbside pickup services. Some restaurants started to charge extra service fees for curbside pickup, but still much cheaper than using delivery services.

Want (8.3% of the budget)

This was kind of unexpected spending too. We purchased a new dishwasher because the old one broke. We do share dishwashing responsibilities, so we both agreed to buy a new dishwasher immediately. lol

No argument here.

Wrapping Up

That’s all. How do you manage your spending? Do you have special saving tips?

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