5 Crazy Ways to Save Money as a Freelancer

By Bethany Johnson, Contributor, on May 1, 2017

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My freelance career is soaring. What first started as a desperate side hustle has turned into a dream come true. Three years ago, I devoted every minute of the day to pitching new clients or finding scrappy ways to save money as a freelancer. Today, the tables have flipped. New clients consistently approach me, which means it’s time to think big.

When everyone else in the house is asleep and I’m alone, staring at the ceiling, what wild financial milestones do I dare to hope for? Recently, my husband suggested one crazy, huge, weird goal, and it immediately appealed to me. My big, unrestrained dream is to stop saving someday.

That’s right — stop saving. Not retire, but instead, cap my portfolio at a million dollars, and then, start working for other causes I believe in. If the thought makes you laugh, don’t worry — I laughed, too, at first. Then, my husband and I talked about what it would take. And you know what? It’s not so zany after all. Here’s how I plan to make it happen.

1. Stay Scrappy

At some point, I want to upgrade my phone plan, buy a better coffee maker and score some gold-gilded business cards. When I do, I’ll keep the gritty, resourceful tenacity that earned me the momentum I have today and apply it to other creative ways to save money as a freelancer. For instance, I want to press my tax guy for advice on where to cut back, when to splurge and how I can increase my savings each year. I’ll also ask other freelancers what they’ve discovered to spend less. And I’ll keep up with industry news to take advantage of new trends and legislation giving freelancers an edge.

2. Prevent Costly Catastrophes

Backing up your work may not come to mind when brainstorming ways to save money as a freelancer, but one conversation with someone who’s just lost everything can quickly convince you of this necessary fail-safe. Other backup plans include business insurance and a hefty, hands-off emergency fund.

3. Invest in Money-Savers

The best ways to save money as a freelancer, ironically, come with an initial cost. Specifically, I want to purchase robust automation tools to save time (which, as you well know, is money), allowing me to invest that time in honing my craft to ensure every project I complete is a client-pleaser.

4. Build the Perfect Team

Who in your sphere can you trust to carry the torch when you need a break? Who can stand in for you when you’re ready to step back or focus on diversifying? If you’re not grooming helpers now, you’ll raise your head one day to realize your income is entirely, directly, inextricably tied to your effort. No work, no paycheck. I plan to avoid this by devoting one hour a week to investing in a “grasshopper” — someone who aspires to be in my position and appreciates working with a grand master sensei Jedi wizard, like me.

5. Allocate Wisely

My boutique agency must grow if ever I plan to cap my savings and start scattering Benjamins from a bridge. I’m going to take my savings and immediately dump it into smart investments. In fact, I’ve already begun — with a retirement account, college savings for the kids, exchange-traded funds and a rental property. Someday, I’ll be glad I did this. Why? When I clock out each day, those investments don’t. They keep earning, and if I ignore them long enough, their interest may even earn interest.

As freelancers, we’re in a unique position. Often, you hear or read about the stresses and difficulties of our quirky circumstances, but I prefer to focus on how we can get ahead in ways others can’t. Take some time today to dream big. What crazy savings goals can you imagine, if you let yourself hope?

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