How I'm navigating the world of freelancing

When I had a full time job I felt that I had structure, purpose, and meaning. Then I choose to freelance and pursue my other goals. I wish I could say I was prepared for the emotional and financial uphill that came with this decision. The first four years were a breeze. Then the economy took a turn and then job opportunities were scarce. I couldn't believe it. I have never experienced anything like it in my life. I had to readjust my vision and financial plans.

Don’t worry dear reader, this isn’t an essay on lamenting times past. I still wouldn't change this journey for anything... ok maybe a bit of tweaking here and there could have helped. But I'm grateful I had the courage to follow my vision.

Like many entrepreneurs and independent contractors, I enjoy the luxury of an open schedule, casual work attire, and income control.

Maybe the idea of “work from anywhere” aspect of a freelance career is alluring for you. Or maybe laptops on a beach? Still dreaming about that one... The great thing about the New Year is that it always brings new possibilities and new hope... you have a sense of renewal, like you can conqueror every mountain you face. Before you jump head first into the world of freelancing, it’s essential to be mindful of the various logistical and financial challenges in addition to the perks. Here is what I've learned...

Handling your emotions

You will have lean days, even months. Reach out to stay strong. Your natural reaction at this difficult time may be to withdraw from friends and family out of shame or embarrassment. But don’t underestimate the importance of other people when you’re faced with financial challenges. Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress. Nothing works better at calming your nervous system than talking face to face with a good listener. Involve your family for support. Your family’s support can help you survive and thrive, even during this difficult time.

You will have stress.. such is life. Take care of yourself by maintaining balance in your life. Don’t let your challenges consume you. Make time for fun, rest, and relaxation, whatever revitalizes you. Remember, you will be more effective if you are mentally, emotionally, and physically at your best.

Focus on what you can control. You can’t control how quickly a potential client calls you back or whether or not they decide to give you an opportunity. Rather than wasting your precious energy worrying about situations that are out of your hands, turn your attention to what you can control during this time, such as learning new skills and setting up meetings with your networking contacts.

Find activities that add meaning to your life. For many of us, our work gives our lives meaning and purpose. Find other ways to nourish your soul and spirit. Pick up a long-neglected hobby, try a new activity, get involved in your community by volunteering or attending local events, take a class, or join a club or sports team.

Handling Your Finances

Know your budget. This is the time to know exactly what your expenses are. That way, you can formulate a solid plan for how long your savings will last and this will also help you to manage your money appropriately. If you received a big payment, you can calculate how long the money will last and continue seeking other forms of income. Should you not have a lot of savings or an emergency fund to use, you can calculate precisely how much you’ll need to earn to keep your family afloat.
This is yet another reason why tracking your expenses is so important. 
Rent or Sell. Besides your grocery bill, your dwelling placing is going to be your biggest expense. If you’re renting, check if you can get out of your contract. Consider moving in with family members or finding a cheaper places to rent. Keep in mind transportation costs and also moving expenses.
If you own your own home, do everything you can to continue paying your home loan. If you think that might be difficult, plan to put your house on the market as soon as possible or even possibly renting it out. 

Food is expensive when you are your own boss. I'm not kidding. Since I have to stick to my budget, I've noticed how expensive food is. One of the simplest ways to cut your spending during those lean months and days is to eliminate eating out expenses. You can indulge here and there but you can't afford to spend that much on food. Best thing is to plan your meals and make a goal to finish all of the food in your house. Throwing away food is throwing away money you don’t have to spare.

Debt payments. If you’re currently paying off debt, you’ll need to drop back to making minimum payments. Remember, your priorities are food and shelter, and you must pay those first. Then your savings and emergencies. If you have car payments, you’ll need to continue making those or downsize to a smaller car. If you have two cars, and especially if you have two car payments, seriously consider selling one car. 

Cancel debit orders. Discontinue any direct payment of bills from your bank account. You'll need to meet your bills first. While this is normally a convenient service, discontinuing it at this time will allow you more flexibility in deciding which bills to pay at specific times and save on service charges.

Insource EVERYTHING. If you have a maid or gardener, let them go. Now that you are your own boss, you will have a lot of gaps to do the house work or garden yourself.  If you have older kids, give them house chores to do. 

Get a temp job or side hustle. Sign up with an agency for a temp job. Even though you may only get a temporary position. Otherwise, you can pursue that side hustle you've been meaning to start. Maybe you’ve dabbled in driving for Uber or making curtains for your friends? This is the time to focus on all those passions that you've been putting off because of your job. Make sure they don't drain your current financial resources but rather help you to grow financially. 

Above all, keep your eyes on the prize. You can be successful as a freelancer if you believe you can be. Trust me, I know.