If you’re a freelancer, musician, artist, driver – anyone who undertakes contract work in exchange for money, you are part of what’s called the ‘gig economy’. A gig economy is an environment where temporary positions are common, and organisations contract independent workers on a short-term basis.
Contract work has become more and more popular due to digitisation. As technology has developed, it has become increasingly easier to work from home, remotely and on your own terms. It’s a valid work setup that has plenty of perks, however there is a flip-side to this and may leave you asking ‘How do you budget when you’re paid so infrequently?’, ‘How do you ensure job stability?’ and ‘How do you motivate yourself when you’re more or less your own boss?’
1. Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice
If you’re ever unsure of something, it’s best to seek the advice of someone who is, otherwise it could cost you. Have a chat to a financial planner, who could help with things like budgeting and what to do with anything you can save and put aside. A tax professional can also help you to find out all you need to know, what you need to plan for and what you need to pay before tax time ends.
It may also be worth talking to a marketing professional to discover the best way to get your name out there. Just because you’re working solo doesn’t mean you have to tackle this whole thing on your own. Find someone else that’s in the same shoes as you and have a chat to them. You might even find yourself a mentor.
2. Treat yourself like a business
In the gig economy, it’s important to approach your gig work the same way you would if you were the owner of a small business. Create an invoice template to send clients and order some business cards to get your name out there.
Be sure to network too. While the thought of networking may seem scary, it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as searching on social media to find some connections that do the same thing as you, or identify some potential clients. Contact them and ask them to go for a coffee to get information on the industry.
3. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it
The nature of contract work often means that you’re flying solo. This means there’s nobody around to ensure you’re being productive, or that you’re doing any work at all. It can be tempting to take lots of breaks, start late or finish early. So if you’re not the most motivated person, be sure to make yourself a schedule and stick to it. If you’re still struggling, ask a friend or family member to check in on you.
4. Don’t work for free
Unfortunately, granting favours doesn’t pay the bills, so try your hardest not to work for free.
You may be in the financial position where you can give out favours, however if it gets to the point where you’re struggling and still giving your services away for free, it’s time to stop.
5. Learn to budget
When you’re paid infrequently, in varying amounts and aren’t certain when your next job’s going to be, remaining financially secure can be a struggle. The best piece of advice is to take the time to sit down and set out a monthly budget. Look back at your transaction history to find out what you’re spending your money on, and then determine what changes you can make to boost your savings and reduce unnecessary spending.
While being a contractor in the gig economy may seem scary at times, there are ways that you can take control of your situation and thrive.
Fortress Financial Solutions founder Chris Black is an award-winning financial planner based in Toowoomba who specialises in superannuation, investing, business succession, cash flow management, retirement planning and personal insurances (including life insurance, income protection, total permanent disability and trauma insurance).
Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557.
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