Monday, January 2, 2012

2012: A Freelancer's Fiscal Resolutions

The finished product
As I sat in the back bedroom on New Year's Eve, smoothing out tissue paper, folding it up, and piling it in a box for use during next year's holiday season, it seemed like a good time to make some fiscal resolutions for 2012.

Don't get me wrong, although I am the anal person who opens her presents by carefully lifting up each piece of tape on the package to minimize wrapping paper damage, things are not so tight around here that I iron wrapping paper for reuse. (I only do that if the paper's real cute.)

However, I am cheap enough to see no point in piling all the tissue paper into the recycling bin, when there's absolutely no reason why I can't use it again next year. It's just going to get all crumpled up again when it gets used: who cares about a few wrinkles?


Kind of like how Scarlett O'Hara shoves a dirty turnip into her mouth and melodramatically proclaims, "I'll never be hungry again" at the end of Gone with the Wind, I sat there smoothing out the tissue paper and thought, please 2012, allow me to smooth tissue paper not out of necessity but because I abhor unnecessary waste.

Here's how am I resolving to make it through 2012 without feeling like a poor person:

1) Christmas Fund 
Every December, I have that "reach for the paper bag and hyperventilate" moment when I realize I have extremely limited funds to figure out lovely, meaningful presents that don't look cheap. To prevent this horrifying experience from repeating itself in 2012, each week in 2012, I'm setting aside $10 into a Christmas fund. By December, I'll have nearly $500 saved up for Christmas presents and related expenses (i.e. tissue paper) - more than enough to cover everyone on my gift checklist. 

2) Freelance pay check percentages 
I've been making my way through Joseph D'Agnese and Denise Kiernan's  The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed. The book does a great job of charting out a system for freelancers to manage their sporadic payments. One of the key ideas pushed in the book is to take each incoming payment and immediately take out a set percent for taxes (taxed income does have its perks!), retirement and the emergency account. I'll be putting that method into practice for all of my freelance checks this year so those funds are used more effectively and thoughtfully, rather than just throwing the payments at whichever bill is most in need at the moment of receipt.

3) Invoice tardy clients 
I have a regular client who pays me whenever they feel like it. Whenever they feel like it is usually months after my work's been published - around the time when I've forgotten what I wrote and what I'm owed, actually. This method is stressful and also makes it difficult for me to catch discrepancies. Now that I have all my financials running through QuickBooks, this client's totally getting invoices. At least one of us can be on top of things that way. 

Do you have plans to make 2012 a less stressful financial year?

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like some great plans if you ask me! I also save tissue paper, not because I have to, but because I like it! I have a whole bin of different patterns and colors, it's fun :) Happy 2012 my friend!! Let me know if you need me to send a collection letter to your client who owes you, I used to work in finance collections, I was pretty hard core :)

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  2. as someone who avoids most confrontation, i give you major props for resolving to keep invoicing those tardy clients! that's awesome!

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  3. haha- my plans are "not to return to hospital for five day stay." that should help my finances :)

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  4. I like your $10/wk Christmas fund idea. It sounds so do-able. I'm going to adopt it, too! ;)

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  5. I like the Christmas fund idea. You can also keep in mind that I'll be back in MN next December... and I can buy turquoise earrings from the Tibetan shop for $1/pair. That was a lifesaver this year (that, and most of my friends are women).
    My mom forbade us to rip up wrapping paper and we always reused it; awkward when a boyfriend came to Xmas the first time.

    I'm curious about contracts and invoices for writing. As a performer, I always (well, apart from about 3 times, when I got stiffed as a result) email or mail a contract with all the details (character, age of audience, length of gig, time, etc). I needed that for my own information, but it was great to have it all on paper and SIGNED beforehand. At one point I started doing a $100 deposit to confirm a booking as a way to bring in some money during the slow months by marketing for the busy months. I didn't utilize that as much as I would in the future.
    My contracts also included late payment fee information (unless a later payment date was arranged ahead of time in writing).
    I'd love to see your invoice/contract if you're willing to email it to me; I always like to see what other people use. If you'd like to see what I've used, I can send that on.

    Kudos to not resolving 10 things but a doable and realistic 3.

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  6. This sounds like a smart list of reachable resolutions! I will hopefully spend smarter this year and make/use more than I buy. I don't count yarn of course. :P

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  7. I was freelancing last year, and it was a nightmare getting paid. I kept track of every story I wrote and how much I was owed and would constantly remind my editor about it. It was still incredibly slow, but I was able to catch when checks were missing.

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  8. As someone who dreams of making $$ freelancing, it's nice to know what lies ahead. Right now I have an editor who has mentioned putting me on the payroll but I'm too timid to ask about when my "audition period" is over and I can start seeing a check or two. Thanks for encouraging me to make a plan for 2012!

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