The Frugal Freelancer: the connection between freelancing and personal finance

I’ve noticed a lot of overlap between freelance writers and personal finance gurus. Take the example of Leo Babauta, the blogger who runs Zen Habits. Babauta blogs about a number of things, including frugality tips that have helped him support his family on his salary and freelance writing income, while his wife stays home with their six children. I could probably list off twenty freelancers who could also be considered experts in personal finance and frugality.

I’ve got some theories about this overlap, and I don’t know that I like the ramifications of a lot of my thoughts. The first stems from the fact that the average freelance writer makes $12,000 a year. Considering that $10,712 is absolute minimum wage, we’re not talking about a wealthy group. Is it that writing as a career just doesn’t pay off unless you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling? Or are creative types less willing to push themselves to make an additional dollar?

All of this isn’t to say that freelancers don’t know how manage their money, or are doomed to be poor. Instead, I think that most freelance writers fit into one of two groups: either they consider their writing income supplemental (the second income in a two-income family, or something that happens after kicking off for the day from another job) or they are people who have decided to opt out of the rat race and all that goes with it — the people who have decided that they can do just fine without a brand new car or name brand products, as long as they can stay home with the kids, or handle some priority beyond money. It’s that second group who seem to pick up frugality as a second nature.

These are just my thoughts on the matter; I’d love to hear other opinions and points of view. I have a feeling this is a topic I’ll be coming back to again and again, and that my opinion generally needs to be refined.

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3 Comments

  1. Marilyn Braun   •  

    I’m nowhere near making anything with my writing – or even getting published for that matter! But this article is really a reality check that being a freelancer isn’t all about being as wealthy as J.K. Rowling. For people who have made the decision to become a freelancer, or are working as one, I take it that you really have to love what you do in order to make the sacrifices involved.

  2. Thursday   •  

    I’ve seen freelancers make 6 figure incomes, but they’re a rarity, and they’ve been at it for years. But just like success in any field, it takes dedication and sacrifice.

  3. Laurie   •  

    I opted out of the rat race. Partly accomplished while I was still in Canada, but the final stage was completed by moving to Sri Lanka. Competitive consumption is not a way of life here except perhaps with the very very rich – no one else can afford it. :) I find it to be a much calmer lifestyle, personally. :)

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