A couple of years into my career as a freelancer, I got a phone call from a man with a shaky voice. He’d called to inform me that his wife had died.
This was terrible news, of course.
But awkwardly for me, this news was also bad because the man’s wife had not yet paid me the $800 she owed me for a gig I’d worked.
That $800 was how I was planning to pay for rent the next week.
So it goes for those of us who choose (or fall into) the freelance life. No pay period is quite the same. But managing your finances by the seat of your pants won’t work either; it’s how I ended up destroying my credit score in just a few years.
I learned the hard way that freelancers ought to do their taxes quarterly, and that a local accountant often ends up being cheaper than TurboTax, once you adjust for the tax penalties and the new credit card you have to open just to pay the IRS. Trust me, that follows you around for years, even once you have your $#!& together in your mid-30s, and yet STILL have to find someone to co-sign on your apartment lease, which makes you write extra-long, nearly run-on sentences out of sheer frustration.
When we started Contently, the first thing we did was put my business partner in charge of the finances (and we’ve made it almost a decade now!). The second thing we did was promise to help our freelancers with all the little things that have nothing to do with their craft. Things like marketing yourself, managing clients, and, yes, not screwing up your personal finances.
As tax season approaches, we want to wrap up all the great financial advice and words of wisdom we’ve collected over the years and put it one place. Here it is: The guide to financial planning and taxes that I wish I’d had when I started freelancing.
To a robust credit score, now and forever!