Having a freelance career can be great for people seeking work flexibility. Not only can you accept freelance assignments based on when you want to work, but you also get to choose which companies you want to work for, and (typically) whether you’ll freelance from the office or your home office. But freelancing can also come with its own unique set of circumstances that can make people a bit fearful. Here are three fears of freelancers—and how to address them so that you can have a successful freelance career.
1. Not having health insurance.
Depending on your age and current health, you might think that you can get away with not having health insurance—that is, until you get sick and have to pay for your medical bills out-of-pocket. As of this writing, the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) is still in effect, so it’s a legal requirement for every American to have health coverage (and also possible to attain separate from employment). Having health insurance can be a big weight lifted off of your shoulders and allow you to focus your efforts on finding your next freelance assignment, not worrying about how you’ll pay for an urgent care visit.
2. Not having a steady income.
When you have a traditional full-time or part-time job, you can count on having your paycheck, weekly or bi-weekly. But when you’re a freelancer, having a consistent income isn’t always feasible. You might have a long-term freelance job that does mimic a regular job, giving you a steady source of income. Or you might have finished a few freelance projects, and gotten paid a big chunk of cash.
Thing is, freelancing can sometimes be feast or famine, depending on the type of freelance jobs you have and, more importantly, the pay schedule of your employers. Some pay after projects are finished, while others may pay an initial fee and then pay upon completion. Knowing how you’ll be paid per project or gig can help you better calculate your money so that you’re not eating ramen until your next check.
3. Not having enough money for retirement.
Freelancing can be fun, picking and choosing projects that speak to you. Even though you can look for freelance jobs based on a wide criteria of factors (i.e. the job allows you to explore a career change, it gives you the time to go back to school, it fits in with your current schedule, etc), you should also keep an eye on how all of those freelance gigs will affect your retirement in the future. Thankfully, there are quite a few savings options for freelancers, such as opening an IRA, a Simplified Employee Pension plan (SEP IRA), a SIMPLE IRA, or a self-employed 401(k). You should speak to your financial advisor to find the pros and cons of each one, and which plan would make the best financial sense for you and your family—both now and in the future.
If you’re contemplating having a freelance career, there’s no better time than now. With an estimated half of the U.S. workforce going freelance by 2020, it’s important to understand the benefits of freelance and potential issues that you might experience as a freelancer. Of course, if you’re concerned about any of the above issues, you can always have a full- or part-time job and slowly start building your freelance career. That way, you’ll most likely have health insurance provided by your employer, have a steady source of income, and also have the potential to sock more away in savings until you’re ready to take your freelancing from a side gig to a full-time career.
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