Dear fellow freelancers, do you remember the day back when you woke up, went to your job and then came home and magically on some scheduled time there was money in your bank account? Fortunately enough, I sort of remember this.
I’m going to tell you a story about my own finances and let you in on a secret.
Back when working in finance, one thing I was in charge of was setting up and working on the financial plans for the firm's clients. As an investment firm, and not a financial planning firm, it was something that we did gratis. Doing this however, gave me insight into the idea of retirement. These financial plans taught me so much about what I needed in order to go full time freelance. I'm not going to lie, I don't always stick to this- and don't always do the best job with following my plan, but there is one.
This is the secret I learned. Budgeting never goes away. Whether you have $1 to your name or $5million to your estate, keeping on top of your finances never goes away. In fact it gets more complicated the more you have. Now, I'm not saying we should all feel bad for those who have more complex high-end finances, just not think that having money is the solution to your number crunching mind being eased. I won't go into detail about all the complicated things, but I can tell you this after a while working for myself. If you can handle running your own business as an entrepreneur you can handle any financial shindig. And a tip/trick for those of you: SAVE, but not only save... PLAN. We used a high-end planning software, and getting to use it let me see my future finances if X happens.
The closest I have seen to something along those lines is HomeBudgetApp - which I use on my Mac, but there's also a version for Windows and phone. I just use the desktop one, since I import my bank statements via .otf files.
I would love to know if anyone has found any other future planning software apps, (based on a budget/debt/re-ocurring pay days + certain amounts going to savings account on a certain time-basis, what do you have in say six months? THAT is what is lacking in most and why I use this on a monthly basis alongside Mint.com
For those looking for another budgeting app, try YNAB - if you are willing to sticking to putting every expense you have into it, it can help you get BACK on track to your budget.
Making Overall Plans
First thing's first when it comes to planning for your business. What do you need to make POST-TAXES? This is key! Whether you are using Mint or another budgeting program, you need to know what you have to make to get by. Make sure you are including extra in that plan, because many times we forget to add in sales tax, or gifts for siblings birthdays, or take out pizza on Friday nights. Once you have that number you can start to figure out what you need to make PRE-TAX.
My planning methods are truly broad. I believe in the overall numbers and not down to the penny. Here's a secret about me: I am not completely against common core math because it's the way I do math in my head. Just think there wouldn't be those stupid apps for how to tip at a restaurant if we did overall math instead of complicated detailed math.
Just for a clue for those who say "I never know what to tip"- do two things. Find your total, and then find 10% of the total. Then round up to the nearest dollar and double it. That will be just over 20%. Do the same thing again, instead of doubling, this time take half of that and add it to the 10%. Your meal is 78.76 and you want to tip 17ish percent? 7.87 is your 10%, round up to the whole dollar you have $8. Double it to find 20%, which is $16. Then cut your 10% in half and add it to the 10% makes $12. So you need something in between 15% and 20% so tipping $14 getsyou that middle road. Round numbers folks.
Break down your goals.
First thing to make your goals not seem un-reachable, break down your goals into quarters. That's a three month or 90 day window for you to reach your monetary needs. It's much easier to see how many clients we need during that time period than in a full year.
Using an Income Planner
Project/Service Income Planning - Excel
I have three different suggestions for those who find themselves living with that fear you won’t make your next payments. The first one is my own financial tracker that I used for many years (link here). This excel sheet breaks it all down. Check out the little video intro on the product page. It’s a quick walk through of the excel sheet.
Project/Service Income Planning - App (HarpoonApp to be Exact!)
The second is if you want to consider a new invoicing system consider HarpoonApp. For me, I was looking for a new involving system anyway, so the added bonus that this adds in business budgeting and my income planner chart in one, it’s golden.
For those with more PRODUCT Based income, try Megan Minn's version, it's for course creators or those who have a select amount of product or course launches per year.
Things to Remember
The first thing to remember when you are worrying about things is to reach out to others around you, and you will most likely find out that other creatives struggle with these things as well. For those without friends/spouses who are budget-wizes, try reaching out to them ANYWAY and ask them to help you. Two heads are better than one, and a buddy in the world of numbers is always helpful. They can cheer you on, and help you get to the goals you want, or even do each others business taxes together (I would kill for someone in RI who would do this with me as a friend). You would be surprised, parents, siblings and friends are usually more willing to help in ways THEY might be better at helping (math vs. design) and might really love doing some budget/math work for you!