Live It Up! How to Make the Freelance Lifestyle Work for You
You can work hard and earn a lot of money — or you can scale down your lifestyle and live on less. Or, you could do a little of each.
I do a combination of both. As I’ve mentioned here before, I earn around $70,000 per year working 20 hours per week on a combination of writing for magazines and corporate clients, teaching e-courses, and mentoring writers.
But when my husband and I (and later, our son) lived in New Hampshire for six years, even with my income and my husband’s freelance income, it felt like we were often living on the edge, making just enough to get by. All our bills were covered, but we didn’t have much of a cushion and we didn’t get to travel as much as we wanted.
I could have worked harder and earned more, because I was working only two days per week, with a few additional hours scattered here and there throughout the week. But I value my free time over everything else, and I didn’t want to bust my butt for 40 hours or more per week.
So we cut down on expenses.
Out went the cable, which we had only to watch Project Runway 16 weeks out of the year. Goodbye went the personal trainer. Sayonara, daycare!
We started feeling like we had more breathing room, though juggling a two-year-old at home and two writing careers was not easy.
Then we made the decision that really put us ahead: We moved to North Carolina.
I’d estimate our monthly expenses are around $1,500 less here than they were in New Hampshire.
That’s $18,000 savings per year.
For example, our health insurance is $600 less per month. Rent is $400 less than our mortgage was. Heat cost us $500 every month in the winter in New Hampshire, while here in North Carolina the amount is under $200.
We also homeschool and my mom helps out with childcare, which saves us the cost of preschool and, later, private school. Because we both work from home on part-time hours, we’re sure we can make it work.
That’s the great thing about freelancing: You can live pretty much anywhere, so you’re not stuck in a pricey area. And we freelancers tend to like our freedom and to make our own decisions, and we’re not afraid to make choices that others wouldn’t make, like homeschooling or pulling up stakes and moving.
Whatever you do, wherever you live, is your choice. Some people say they have no choice but to do X, Y, or Z, but that’s not true. You may not like your options, and you may be facing a risk, but you always have a choice.
And as a freelancer, you have more choices than most. You don’t have to go with the crowd. So why not use your freedom and independence to craft a lifestyle that works for you? [lf]