Tips for Saving Money While Self-Employed

• If you are leaving a regular wage or salaried job, make sure you have 6 months to a year of living expenses, including at least $1,000 for an emergency fund.

• Modify your monthly and yearly budgets. If you don’t currently have any income from your freelance or business jobs, you absolutely have to cut costs somewhere. If you have a partner or spouse, review your budget together and formulate personal and combined financial plans. If you live alone and can’t afford to live alone in your current residence, find a roommate or find a cheaper place to live and then create a new financial plan.

• If you are receiving any type of income during self-employment (inheritance, retirement pensions, disability payments, part-time work, etc.), prioritize mortgage/rent payments, utility bills, insurance, and food bills. Any leftover should be placed in your savings account so you don’t spend the rest.

• If possible, pay a year (or two) of rent or mortgage in advance. If finances become tight, at least you’ll have a roof over your head. Also, look for cheaper and smaller houses, townhouses or apartments, if necessary.

• If you are a renter, look for renter’s insurance. If you lose something due to fire, theft, or flood, your items can be replaced.

• If you haven’t already done so, cut out unnecessary expenses like cable/satellite TV, landline phone service, extra cell phones of any kind, and magazine subscriptions. However, if you need any of these services, weigh what you need versus what you want and shop for cheaper brands or cheaper packages.

• Don’t unnecessarily increase your costs for electricity/gas/oil and water/sewer. You want to show due diligence in how you use your home utilities.

• Sell your vehicle(s) if you can. Use public transportation, walk or bike to your destinations.

• If you must have a credit card, have one and only one with a low credit limit (less than $2,000, preferably less than $1,000). Use the credit card only for large expenses, such as reserving hotel/motel rooms. Always pay your balances in full and on time every month.

• Use cash (preferred) or debit cards for your grocery, entertainment and clothing purchases. You’ll know your items will be paid for in full with no interest (or other bills) accruing. Plus, buying items in bulk like toilet paper, paper towels, and non-perishable foods will save you money and travel time. When shopping for perishable foods, buy only what you need right now or freeze for future use.

• Don’t make impulse purchases. Shop with a list and budget for that day’s shopping trip. Avoid buying items like lottery and raffle tickets, vending machine items, fundraising group items, and fast food at gas stations or convenience stores (All of these items cost much more than you can earn at home or in regular grocery stores. Also, gambling is simply gambling, and since you usually have limited funds to start your self-employment, you don’t want to waste your money anyway).

• If you are married or living with a domestic partner, use a joint checking account to pay your utility bills and other household expenses. If you’re single and living alone, use a separate checking account to pay your bills and household expenses. Ideally, you want to keep these transactions separate so you know your invoices will be paid in full and on time.

• If you are married or living with a domestic partner, use separate personal checking and savings accounts for purchases. If you want to pool funds, in any way, whether for business expenses or to bequeath funds upon the death of a partner/spouse, get all the pertinent information with exact details in writing and with a lawyer to notarize. You want to make sure that in the event of a divorce/separation you receive what is yours.

• Avoid lending money to anyone unless you absolutely and positively know that the person(s) you are lending money to will pay you back. You need to be clear with people when you lend them money that a loan is not a gift.

• Collect the change you receive from purchases or find it lost on the street, at bus stops, under your sofa, etc… Put the coins in rolls and then cash them out or deposit them in your savings account.

• Collect small denomination bills like $1.00 or $5.00 and hoard them until you really need them or deposit them into your savings.

• If you have a substantial amount of savings (> $10,000) and are especially between the ages of 20 and 55, you may want to invest that money in mutual funds to develop a form of passive income to build your own retirement.

• Hold a garage or yard sale so people can buy items they no longer need from you. You will give people things they may need/want and you will earn extra money.

• Sell any souvenir or collectible item in person or online.

• Borrow library material instead of buying new material at bookstores. Also, search for blogs online to get the information you need.

• Be sure to maintain your health and attend annual physicals as much as possible. There are self-employed health insurance options available at reasonable prices.

• Limit eating and/or drinking outings to only 1-2 times a week or every other week. Preparing, cooking and baking your own meals and snacks costs a mere fraction of the services you pay people to provide meals for you.

• Challenge yourself. See how many days or weeks you can go without spending money on anything except the absolute essentials. Better yet, see if you can eliminate shopping at malls or online.

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