I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve done wrong this year and what I need to fix for 2015, especially when it comes to my finances, and I’ve been developing a sort of New Year’s financial resolutions list that I thought I would share with you.
We’ll start with the things I did wrong in 2014.
My 2014 Mistakes
The first domino of my financial downfall this year: my complacency. I quit my full-time job in October 2013 and had about 6 months of savings. Because I still had this savings, I wasn’t trying that hard to pick up writing gigs, researching publications, networking, etc.
My complacency fed into two more mistakes: eating into my emergency savings for monthly expenses (like rent, bills) and the thousands of credit card debt I put myself into because I thought I could still live my carefree lifestyle — eating out, buying books and music, etc.
It wasn’t until my savings ran out that I started to worry a bit and started cutting down my “fun” spending, but I was still running up credit card debt, this time with cell phone bills, gas & electric, and Internet.
My other mistake was not calculating earlier how much I needed to hustle to bring in income, but part of that came from inexperience. I didn’t realize when I started freelancing that my hustling now might not benefit me until next month. Sure, some publications (especially online ones) and businesses need things done LAST/THIS/NEXT WEEK, but most times, there are negotiations, consultations, approvals, etc. between me and the business or within the business itself. So I might not even hear back on a proposal for a couple of weeks.
Those are main mistakes I made. If I keep listing the other mistakes, I’ll just get depressed, so let’s skip to my goals (in order of importance) and what I plan on doing (and what I’ve already implemented) for the new year.
My 2015 Goals
- Double my freelance income… which sounds crazy but not really if you consider I made shit this year.
- Pay off as much of my $6000 in credit card debt as I can
- Start building my savings account
- Start contributing to retirement
- Start saving for business purchases
- Wishlist: AP Stylebook, Writer’s Market, Scratch Magazine subscription
- Start a club savings for holiday/birthday presents
How am I reaching my goals?
Using The Money Book as my guide — I wrote about that book here — I’ve implemented the most important step to reach my goals: my savings percentage spreadsheet. For each payment I receive, whether it’s from my part-time job or from freelancing, I take a pre-determined percentage and transfer it to different savings accounts. I take 25% of my freelance income and move it over to my tax fund, 3% to savings, 7% to credit cards, etc. I have different percentages for my part-time job income because they take out taxes already. The remaining money stays in my checking account and I use it for bills, groceries, rent.
When I pay 2014 taxes, I’ll adjust how much I save in my tax fund for 2015… and actually pay quarterly taxes. I didn’t this year because I wasn’t sure how much I was going to make. Next year, I plan on having a bigger income *crosses fingers* and don’t want to be penalized.
Which leads me to my plan on getting more gigs.
I need at least one big web content or copywriting job a month but I would like 2-3/month. In-between, I would like a pathetic bare minimum of one article a week. Ideally I would have at least one a day, if not more!
How am I getting there? I’m researching, pitching, and bidding every day… while still being selective. On Elance, oDesk, Reddit, and Craigslist, I’m only hitting up bigger web content/copy jobs with higher budgets. For articles, I’m always searching for new blogs and publications (online and print). I’m reading a lot more pubs that I never thought I’d ever read so I can get inspiration for possible articles.
And is it working so far? Kind of. I’m hoping for the snowball effect… once I get a project here and there, I start getting more and more projects.
And like I mentioned earlier… some of these bids I won’t hear from until next month.
What was your first year freelancing like? Did you fuck up as badly as I did?
Or are you thinking of quitting to become a freelancer? Because I can tell you all the things NOT to do when first starting off.