emergency fund

Why An Emergency Fund Is A Must For Freelancers

emergency fundIf you are thinking of switching to a freelancing career, you need to seriously build your emergency fund first.

A few days ago, my husband’s laptop stopped working. Both of us work as freelance writers so you can guess how important his laptop is. According to the service center, it could take a few weeks to a month before the laptop can be fixed. Obviously, waiting for it to be fixed is not an option. We need to find a replacement so he can keep working while his laptop is being repaired.

As a freelancer, our income is not stable. We only depend on what project is given to us. If we do not work, we cannot rely on a sick leave or vacation leave to help pay the bills. It is a situation that can easily make us feel anxious.

But believe it or not, we did not panic.

I do not say that to sound cocky. But I just want to stress the importance of having an emergency fund.

An emergency or reserve fund is the money that you will use for unexpected situations. Life can be very unpredictable. It does not matter if you are very careful with your actions or not. You will face these emergency situations and you need to be prepared for them. There are too many outside forces that could land you in an unexpected situation. You could get into a car accident. You can get sick. Your home could be in need of a repair. All of these situations can happen and you need to have the finances to help you pull through each one.

In a freelancer’s world, a busted laptop can be considered an emergency because it is just like being temporarily unemployed. You can just imagine the stress and pressure that we should have felt.

Fortunately, we had enough good sense to save up for an emergency. Instead of feeling stressed, we had our emergency fund to rely on. That allowed us to immediately look for a replacement that can fit our budget. Instead of worrying about where we will get the money, our emergency fund allowed us to go straight to the problem and solve it.

Hopefully, you will not wait for the unexpected to happen before you set aside an emergency fund for your family. If you have young ones, like we do, this becomes a necessity.

Some people I know would always say that they are not earning enough money to have something extra to put aside. Do not have that mentality. Even if you can only save P500 each month, that is enough. It would soon become P6,000 after 1 year. It can mean a lot when you are really strapped for cash.

Think about it. The financial security that an emergency fund can bring a huge relief when the going gets tough.

It is actually what makes me feel calm, even if I know that I have to bring my youngest son to the doctor tomorrow.

:)

Image courtesy of jk1991 for FreeDigitalPhotos.net

pregnant woman with laptop

How I Juggle 2 Kids And A Thriving Freelancing Career

pregnant woman with laptopMy freelancing career is still thriving – and I intend to do the same for this blog.

Yes I know, it had been 2 years since my last post and to give an update (and to explain why I had been absent for so long), my husband and I just had baby number 2. The second pregnancy was tough and I had to put a lot of things on the side. Unfortunately for this blog, it was one of the things I had to give up.

Well giving up was not really what I had in mind. I intended to continue with the blog because it is my way of sharing my experiences as a freelance writer. Now that I am back, I intend to keep on contributing my thoughts and experiences through this blog.

So how have I been juggling 2 kids and a freelancing career: with a lot of discipline and self-control.

I have a pre-schooler and a 1-year old and these two can be a handful. Any mother can attest to that. How some can take care of 4 kids is beyond me.

If taking care of the kids is not hard enough, earning an income through a full-time freelancing career makes it even more challenging. Although my mind and body would like to devote my every waking moment to motherhood, my wallet tells me that I cannot afford it. So I need to pull out that SuperWoman cape and do multiple tasks all at the same time.

I have found that discipline and self-control help me juggle full-time motherhood and a freelancing career.

Discipline is my way of describing how my week starts with a well thought out meal-plan, writing schedules, planned chores, etc. Everything about my family should be planned because if not, we will miss out on a lot of things. I will probably find myself writing in the wee hours of the morning and catching only a few hours of sleep to finish everything on my to-do list. Of course, my family deviates from the plan most of the time – something that I have no control over. But it still gives me a sense of control about everything that this growing family needs.

Self-control, on the other hand, is my way of keeping myself from burning out. I tend to overexert myself – which I know is not really healthy. So I need to exhibit self-control to force myself to enjoy my kids and give myself a break every now and then. A massage, spa treatment, facial, and a trip to the hair salon usually does the trick for me.

These two, discipline and self-control help me juggle this new life that I am leading right now. It took a while for the dust to settle after baby number 2 came into the picture but I am proud to say that I have been able to survive all of it.

The struggle is real. That is my favorite line for now. If you are a mother of more than one kid and you hold a full-time job – I salute you. We all have to encourage each other and I hope this tidbit of information that I shared with you can help you survive this crazy combination of motherhood and freelancing career.

Image courtesy of patrisyu for FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How To Manage Your Time As A Freelancer

woman holding a clock

Time management is an important aspect of a freelancer’s life – especially for stay at home mothers. You need to learn how to balance your time because when you are not working, you are not earning. At the same time, you need to take care of home-related responsibilities that were the very reason why you opted to work from home. If you try to obsess about it, you will realize that you will never have enough time to finish everything. In most cases, you might even overwork yourself.

That had been one of my struggles for the past few months.

Now I am not going to make excuses for my long hiatus but let me just give you a brief scenario of the reason why it took me 7 months to update this blog site..

My 3 year old son started going to school and the mother in me just couldn’t help but feel very excited for this new milestone in his life. We also enrolled him in summer school to see if he can skip one year and proceed to Junior Kinder. Well he passed (Yipee!) and all the hard work paid off. I am brimming with pride and joy and I just want to share what I have learned for the past couple of months.

Obviously, time management was a big issue for me while my son was in school. He is at an age wherein he cannot be left alone in school. That meant I had to stay with him and the waiting eats up my precious time. But since I’m committed to guide him and be a supportive mom, I am not complaining. But it does bring up some issues about how I can manage my time better as a mother and a freelance writer.

The thing is, when my son started to go to school, a lot of job offers suddenly poured in. If you work on oDesk, you should know that there is this new feature wherein you get invites for interviews. Well I got a couple and it became a struggle between the mom and freelancer in me as to whether I should accept them or not. I was tempted to decline and focus on my son’s schooling but I knew that my husband and I needed the extra income to save up for my son’s tuition.

This is where time management became a real savior in my freelancing life. I knew that I could not sacrifice the attention that my son needed but I also had to boost the freelancing jobs that I had to take on. So here are the things that I did to cope with what could have been a chaotic time in our household.

  1. I put everything on schedule. Before the start of every week, I wrote down all the projects and chores that I had to accomplish and plotted everything in my schedule sheet. That way, I knew what had to be done the moment I woke up, while my son was sleeping, etc. I was very detailed at first and I found myself consulting this sheet every now and then. I set at time limit for each project and task to make sure that I finished them on time.
  2. I built my schedule on my priorities. I had to weigh the important tasks and this time, it was my son’s schooling. I built my freelancing career and household chores around that time to make sure that the priorities will not be compromised.
  3. I took note of those that were not my priorities. I ranked my tasks to identify which of them can be given up. That way, when certain tasks took longer than planned, I knew what to give up or move to another day.
  4. I did not obsess about the changes. Now this did not happen immediately. I initially, became upset when things did not go according to my schedule. But I soon learned how to let go of the things that I could not control. I just made sure that my schedule have some free time that can be used for the tasks that I needed to move because some projects took longer to finish.

If you find yourself faced with a lot of things to do, planning really goes a long way. This is how time management helped me be there for my son and at the same time, allowed me to put in more time on my freelancing career to save up for his tuition fee.

How about you? Do you have time management issues in your work?

Image courtesy of stockimages for FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How to keep from overworking yourself

How to keep from overworking yourself

Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici for FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you are working as a freelancer, the chances of you overworking yourself can be quite high. Recently, I have worked myself up to a point where I am already feeling sick with fatigue for working long hours.

I used to have this thing about working overtime at home but I seem to have lost grasp of that. My husband and I set our minds to achieve a financial goal in a couple of years and I am obsessively driven to reach that target.

Admittedly, this is probably not a healthy arrangement for me. This compulsion to achieve our goal has the right intentions but I have to control it to keep from abusing myself. I have to keep my strength to take care of my son – which was and still is the reason why I started writing from home.

This is proving to be quite a difficult dilemma for me. But, like everything else, I need to know my limits. So here are a couple of things that I remind myself so I can keep me from being too overworked.

  1. I think about my priorities. Again, I need to touch base with my reason for staying at home – which as I mentioned, is my son. Oftentimes I find myself rushing my son so that I can go back to work – which is me being a bad mom. I usually have to reprimand myself when I am putting my work ahead of my son.
  2. I remind myself that I have an emergency fund. This is the benefit of having an emergency fund – you have the secure feeling that you are financially capable of providing for your family even if you are not earning. This is something that I have to keep on reminding myself from time to time.
  3. I lose more when I get sick. When I get sick, I can’t work and I need medication. If I take it slow, I get to lose a couple of hours of work. All in all, I lose more when I let myself get too sick to be able to work.

So far, these are the reminders that I use to make myself stop working. People who own their business can probably relate to this – you never really stop thinking about earning more because you are in control of your source of income. But then again, it defeats the purpose of me quitting the corporate rat race so I can slow down.

This is still an on-going process. I can’t say that I have mastered the art of not overworking myself. I’m sure I need to be thankful that I have a happy problem of having too many work coming my way. But then again, I have to think about what it is robbing from me – which is my personal well-being and time away from my son.

I need to re-assess my priorities. Wish me luck!

Managing Your Finances As A Freelancer

One of my clients is in the debt relief industry and I must say, it is one of the most interesting and educational projects that I had ever been involved in. Because of that, I thought that maybe I should write some money management lessons that I have learned so far.

The thing about freelancing is you are not guaranteed the same income every week. Sometimes the projects are overflowing and the income is more than what you really need. In some cases, you barely have enough to live on.

Managing Your Finances As A Freelancer

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles for FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I guess what I really want to send across is this: make sure you prepare for the lean moments when your cash flow is not as strong as you need it to be. Here are three tips that I believe can help you.

Learn how to budget.
Budgeting is something that I had been doing even before and I must say, the relevance of it has grown stronger for me. This can get quite tedious, especially when you are taking note of every expense. However, I noticed that it allowed me to identify how much money I need to target in order to have more than enough for our monthly needs. Although my husband has a day job that brings in income regularly, I still need to shoulder some of the expenses if we want to live conveniently and comfortably.

Spend only on what you need.
Through my budgeting efforts, I noticed one trend that I really think we should work on: whenever our household income increased, our expenses also grew. I think it is all but natural for us to want to reward ourselves when we bring in more money but I think it is not the healthiest of habits for your finances. When your income grows, I suggest that you make your savings grow – not your expenses. Sure, a reward may be in order but control it. Do not splurge because saving may prove to be more rewarding in the long run.

Save for the rainy day.
This is such a cliché I know. However, your savings will literally save you. For instance, when my father-in-law passed away early this year, my husband and I had to help with all the expenses. Our savings allowed us to do that without sacrificing our usual expenses. Not only that I could take the week off from work to be able to attend to the needs of my family. For others, it can be the car breaking down or an unexpected illness in the family. These can all be financed by your savings – you do not have to put yourself in debt for it. Also, during the lean times when projects are slow, I will not worry because I know that we have built a financial security net for our family.

All of these give me the peace of mind that even if I end up without clients for a couple of weeks, we will be alright. Now, my husband and I are working on a supplemental source of income since we are saving up to buy a home in the next few years – in cash. Anyway, wish us luck and in my end, I will wish that you can implement the right management skills that will keep you financially secure as you grow in your freelancing career.

Till the next article! :)