September Meeting Recap: Functional Finance for Freelancers and Beyond

We all have different reasons for entering into the freelance world. Maybe you want to spend more time at home with your kids. Maybe you started a business to follow your passion. Perhaps you love working in your pajamas. Or you hate horrible bosses and uncomfortable office politics. Welcome to freedom!

On the flip side, the freelance life comes with financial concerns and questions. What do I do about inconsistent income? How do I organize my invoices, expenses, and records? How do I save money for tax time?

Angela Epley has been there, and she wants to help freelancers reduce their money anxiety. As Angela pointed out in her September Freelance Austin presentation, financial wellness is a form of self-care. Spending time to set up your business structure, your cash flow, and other financial processes goes a long way toward reducing stress and setting you on the path toward freelance success.

Angela is a certified financial planner with unique insight into freelance finance issues. She works as a full-time salaried employee and also freelances as an actor, financial planner, and co-author (with her father) of the Blue Jeans Millionaire series of e-books on Amazon. A philosophy major who never planned on following in her father’s footsteps, Angela fell into financial planning after getting into and then out of financial trouble in her twenties, then helping others work through similar financial concerns.

Angela’s talk was chock full of details and great tips, aimed at specific financial issues faced by freelancers such as:

  • Deciding on a business structure
  • Keeping personal and business bank accounts separate
  • Documenting everything
  • Setting rates
  • Giving yourself annual raises
  • Making saving a priority
  • Investing

As we all know, in the feast-or-famine freelance life, it’s important to spend wisely during the feast and put money away for the famine. She reminded us to track our expenses “for awareness, not anxiety,” that being mindful in spending would reduce stress, and that it’s OK to avoid lifestyle inflation and live below your means now in order to save for the future.

But how do we achieve that ideal? For Angela, personal finance is 80% behavioral and 20% cognitive. Meaning, most of us know, or can research, what we are supposed to do. The hard part is aligning our practices with our financial reality.

To that end, Angela offered plenty of shortcuts and self-hacks to make personal finance easier and less anxiety provoking.

Some of her favorite time-saving apps she shared with us include:

  • Paydirt, a free invoice generator
  • Debitize, a free app that helps curb spending by paying for credit card expenses like a debit card
  • Robo-advisors, automated portfolio management services

She also encouraged everyone to do “intelligent research” on financial issues. “It’s OK to not know everything,” she said. “You just need to know how to Google effectively.”

She recommends these helpful Google search terms:

  • Freelance hourly calculators
  • Freelancers Union ultimate tax deductions
  • John Oliver retirement plans

I appreciated Angela’s practical and non-judgmental approach, which applies to full-time freelancers as well as part-time. Whether you make a little or a lot of income at your freelance business, everyone can improve their financial wellness by incorporating even a few of these practical steps.

Margaret Stenz

Margaret Stenz

Communications Professional at Live Oak Consulting
Maggie Stenz is a freelance writer, copyeditor, and communications professional with a background in the arts, academia, and public administration.
Margaret Stenz

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