7 Ways to be a Frugal Freelancer
Photo by ^Vanessa^.
You’ve heard it before: “live within your means,” “a penny saved is a penny earned,” “don’t break the bank.” But do you actually put those ideas into practice? Or do you just pull out your plastic, figuring you can write it off at the end of the year anyway?
I used to roll my eyes when my parents lectured about money. But now that I’m writing full time, I consider my Yankee upbringing to be a blessing. With a recession looming in the United States, it’s time to get serious about saving money in your personal and professional life.
Heres’s how to get started…
- Cut unnecessary costs. Do you really need a cell phone and a landline if you’re spending most of the day at Starbucks? Or an all-inclusive membership to a gym you only see once a year? (Hint: some gyms will give you a discount if you agree to work out during the day when others are at work.) If you’re paying your web hosting service for twice as much storage as you’re actually using, then you might be able to negotiate for a cheaper plan that still meets your needs. You won’t miss what you don’t use.
- Say no to pricey software, unless it’s essential. Nowadays you don’t even need to buy Microsoft Office, because you can create PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents using Google documents. You can also export the files as PDFs. For free (and unlimited) document online storage, check out Scribd. The website also allows you to embed your documents in a blog or Facebook profile or keep your documents private if you prefer. For simple photo edits, PhotoShop Express gives you a free alternative to paying for the full edition.
- Pay ahead. Whether you’re renewing a membership or registering for a conference, you can often get a discount for paying in advance. Media Bistro gives a discount to Avant Guild members who pay for two years at once (by the way, Avant Guild rates go up on June 1), and many conferences offer a special rate for early registrants. Now, this only makes sense if you know that you’ll be happy with the membership or definitely want to attend the conference. But if you’ve been a member in the past or attended the conference the year before, you probably have a good idea of whether it’s a tradition you want to continue.
- Volunteer at events you want to attend. Many organizations will let you attend networking events for free if you volunteer to help out before, after, or sometimes during the event. If you get to interact with lots of people by checking them off the guest list or taking photos and writing down names for captions, even better. You’ll be able to put names with faces and have a reason to talk to a lot of different people. The event planners will appreciate your help and the next time someone asks them “know any good designers?” you’ll be at the top of their list.
- Swap your books and magazines. Obviously you want to stay current in your industry, but all those books and magazines add up. Quick. Some magazines offer free gift subscriptions to boost their numbers, so you and a friend could both subscribe and split the cost. Or you could swap books and magazines that you’ve already read. I swap my books on BookMooch and someone agreed to give me their used copy of The Chicago Manual of Style. Score!
- Barter instead. Say the restaurant around the corner needs a website, but they can’t afford your design fee. You just earned free Pad Thai for the next year. Maybe you can teach a course in copywriting and pick up a new hobby by taking another class for free. I even know a writer who swapped her editing services for a clean apartment. Having someone else scrub her floors was priceless, as she told me afterwards.
- Search for savings online. Before you complete your transaction, do a quick Google search and see if there are any coupon codes for that retailer. I once found a coupon code for Illinois AAA members that gave me a discount on transportation to the DC airport. I’m not a AAA member (at least not in Illinois), but the coupon code still worked! There are hundreds of coupon websites available, including CurrentCodes and RetailMeNot.
Any money-saving tips I’ve forgotten? Penny for your thoughts (figuratively speaking, of course).
Susan Johnston is a full time freelance writer who covers lifestyle and career articles for a number of print and online publications. She is a regular contributor to Brazen Careerist, and she enjoys being able to blast showtunes and eat Gold Fish crackers as she writes from her apartment in Cambridge, Mass. Susan’s blog can be found at http://www.UrbanMuseWriter.com.