Freelancer Financial Update: January 2021

Hello and welcome to my first ever Financial Update!

I’ve decided to share my financial update in order to keep track of my progress and also to inspire other self-employed and independent contractors.

Earn more, spend smarter, manage well (:

Freelancer Financial Update: January 2021 Click To Tweet

First of all, who am I?

I’m Julia, a freelance designer + developer, side hustler, and the blogger behind Happier Freelancing. I live in Michigan with my husband. (he is a salesman!)

I work 15 – 25 hours a week as a freelance designer + developer, spend the rest of my time dropshipping, reselling, blogging, etc.

When I said “freelancer,” most of my family members worried about my finances.

  • “Oh, no! Julia, you better get a job at the office.”
  • “You don’t have any employee benefits! How to gonna survive?”
  • “You can’t have 401K.”

Something like that.

I appreciate family member’s concern about my future, but “freelancer” is not that bad. Well, yes. I don’t have 401K and employee benefits. But I still can save money for my retirement as well as an emergency fund.

Freelancers are just needed close attention to their spending and TAX. That’s all.

Related post: 5 Personal Finance Tips Every Freelancer Should Know

In fact, my husband and I earn almost the same. It’s not a big difference between working at home and working at the office.

If one of your family members said “I want to be a freelancer,” don’t be so pessimistic. Just tell them, “be strategic.”

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.

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 appointment 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 a maintenance fee.

Credit Card Membership Fee

This is the Amex Delta SkyMiles credit card membership fee. Amex Delta SkyMiles has a lot of benefits to travelers. We earned SkyMiles points by using a credit card, so we don’t have to pay a lot of money 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 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.


These are the Costco membership fee and gym membership fee.

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 is 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.


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.

Stay-at-home things save up some money.

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. (outside is around 28 to 14 Fahrenheit)

We often use curbside pickup services now. Some restaurants started to charge extra service fees, but still much cheaper than tips.

This also saves up some money.

Want (8.3% of the budget)

This was kind of unexpected spending. We purchased a new dishwasher because the previous one broke.

Wrapping Up

How was your January? If you are a self-employed or an independent contractor like me, please share your budgeting tips as a freelancer. I would like to know your financial strategy.

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