Do a Google search or hop on Facebook, and you’ll see a whole lot of blog posts by freelancers looking to save money. But here’s the dirty little secret: A lot of the tips on the internet take a lot of time to carry out, and don’t offer a lot in return.
That’s why it’s important to have a strategy about how you’re going to save money… and why you want to save money. Are you trying to save money because you don’t have a lot of business right now? Do you want to save money to grow your business, or for a goal like a vacation or a new home?
If so, your strategy is going to be different. Here are a few of the mistakes Almost Millions commonly sees… and what you should focus on instead.
Overrated Ways Freelancers Save Money #1: Clipping Printed Grocery Coupons
Opening up the Sunday newspaper and clipping coupons sounds like an easy way to save money on grocery bills each week, but here’s the dirty secret… It takes a lot of time that you could be spending on more important things.
There’s a thriving internet subculture of coupon clippers who trade tips on coupons, but it’s a time-consuming process that defeats the main purpose of freelancing: Maximizing the money you make with the hours you spend working.
Instead, either use a grocery store loyalty app (for instance, Kroger’s app regularly offers steep discounts within the app) or a big box store app like Target’s Cartwheel that let you collect coupons in seconds in exchange for you trading your customer info.
If you aren’t the rewards credit card type, an annual CostCo membership offers steep discounts on groceries as well.
Overrated Ways Freelancers Save Money #2: Scrounging Office Supplies
One of the major mistakes that freelancers make is not investing in good office supplies, and scrimping on pens, envelopes, printer cartridges, notebooks, and other essentials for running a business.
While it might seem smart financially to skip purchasing office supplies and borrow them from friends or find them as you need them, that creates a big problem: When you need something and you don’t have it, you have to spend time going to the store or waiting for an online retailer to deliver it. That lost productivity time costs you money.
Instead, consider making a run to a big box store, supporting a local office supplies store, or ordering an online kit like the Writing Essentials Kit: Sharpie Markers & Highlighters, Paper Mate Pens, EXPO Dry Erase & More, 20 Count or School Smart 081666 Teacher’s Desk Starter Kit.
Overrated Ways Freelancers Save Money #3: Working At Coffee Shops Daily
Leaving the house to work at a coffee shop sounds great. However, there’s one big problem with working at coffee shops on a daily basis: It costs a lot of money.
Even if you just buy a $3 coffee each day, that’s $15 per week and $60 a month you’re throwing away. That’s the cost even before you factor in things you will definitely purchase like meals or second or third drinks.
Instead, look for a low-cost coworking space in your area. Although coworking spaces are expensive in certain cities like New York and San Francisco, you can find a monthly coworking space for between $50-$150 a month in most American cities.
The extra cost of a coworking space pays for itself with perks like meeting space for clients, networking opportunities, the stability of a place to go each day outside the house, and, yes, coffee for coworking space members.
Overrated Ways Freelancers Save Money #4: Using An Old Computer Or Phone
I know some freelancers who are proud of how old their phones and computers are. They wear their five year old laptops and three year old smartphones as merit badges of thriftiness and anti-trendiness.
Don’t be those people.
When you’re a freelancer, your smartphone and laptop are more than the things you watch Netflix on: They’re the tools you use to work every day, and pretty much the most important things (besides you!) to your freelance business.
Buy a new smartphone every two years so you don’t run the risk of your phone suddenly dying or being unable to run a business-essential app. Amazon Cell Phones offers a great starting point.
Buy a new laptop at least every four years so you are able to run your business without having to worry about a new version of Office or Google Chrome slowing your computer to a crawl. Check out Amazon’s Computer & Tablets section for some great deals.
Overrated Ways Freelancers Save Money #5: Obsessing Over Frugality
This might seem like funny advice to hear from a personal finance site, but bad things happen when you pinch every penny.
Focusing exclusively on frugality and spending as little money as possible will hurt your freelance business in the long run, because it will limit your opportunities and make you unhappy in the process.
Instead, focus on being a mindful consumer and making sure your purchases matter. Every time you buy something for yourself or for your freelance work, ask yourself if the purchase will make your life better.
If it does, go for it!
Overrated Ways Freelancers Save Money: Other Resources
The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams―On Your Terms (Sara Horowitz, Toni Sciarra Poynter)
The Best Parts Of Freelancing (Almost Millions)
Pricing Structures For Freelancers (Almost Millions)