Tired of getting stuck in gridlocked traffic and clocking more than 8 hours a day at the office? Whether you're juggling both your career and family; or are simply someone who wants more time to themselves; working as a freelancer may seem like a feasible option, which gives more freedom and flexibility than the average workplace.
But opting to work from home isn't just about whether you want it. You also need to be financially ready for the leaner months in between jobs.
It's important to have a good store of back-up savings before embarking on a freelance career. This is to keep you going when you are in between projects and waiting for pay cheques. The recommended reserve sum is 6 months of your current salary but having more always helps.
If you haven't save enough; it's best to put off your freelancing dreams until you have.
Having the right set of skills in a chosen field isn't the only important skills to have. To have great money management skills are equally as important. No matter how much you earn; budgeting isn't something you can forego.
If you are working full-time, you can still get away with living paycheque to paycheque, but freelancers don't get that privilege as monthly income isn't guaranteed and you will never know when you will get paid next. Being able to budget and live within your means will go a long way. It also helps if you aren't saddled with large commitments like home and car loans - unless you're a highly paid, veteran freelancer.
With an unpredictable income flow in the beginning, adopting a frugal lifestyle is the best way to go about it. Cutting things down to the bare minimum will be required until you are comfortably on your feet. Allocating a maximum amount to spend each month while keeping track of your spending will allow you to make adjustments as you go along the way.
Are You Sale-able Yet?
Wanting to freelance and actually being wanted as a freelancer by a company are two very different things. Many young graduates assume freelancing is a valid career option the minute they graduate but this isn't so. A company wanting to trust a freelancer who is not within their control and supervision will need to be adequately sure they can trust the freelancer to produce work to the quality required. How are they to know this if you have not worked enough?
How sale-able you are will not only decide whether you get the job; it will also determine how much you are paid. Seasoned freelancers with quality track records are able to demand higher pay but not for a novice seeking to learn. Even if you are lucky enough to secure a first job; bad quality work will ensure you aren't called a second time.
Have a Plan B
Let's say you are ready to take on this venture; being your own boss and savouring the benefits of working from home and having your own leisure time. But that's just one side of a coin.
On the flipside, you risk not getting any jobs on certain months but could get a few the month after. Freelancing jobs are often seasonal so what will you do when the offers aren't pouring in?
Have a blog, and publish some of your works. Whether you are a writer, photographer or graphic artist; blogs are a great way to advertise your talents.
If you are an illustrator, you can showcase some of your artworks online along with an e-store that allows your audience to buy your illustrations. Never settle for one plan. Having a back-up plan to fall back on could save you in case there's no job coming your way.
Saving for Retirement
When you're a full-time employee, your EPF contribution will be paid automatically. As a freelancer, you can work without making any EPF contribution but you will risk having no financial support to fall back on when you retire. Instead of taking the risk, you can make your own personal contribution and deposit as much as you like.
Granted you may not have as much in your account as there isn't a contribution from employer; something is always better than nothing at all!
A freelance career sounds like a dream come true but it isn't without the right conditions and money managing skills. You can then brace yourself for the possibility of late payments; or for any unavailable projects. In other words, be financially ready.