The restrictions are lifted and so are our spirits – after the hard months of lockdowns it’s been so amazing to be enjoying a summer of BBQs, days out and time spent with friends and family.
But…ouch! We’d forgotten how expensive living in the real world can be. A few too many meals out, pub meet-ups, theme park visits, cinema trips and our bank balance is crying out for the days when we couldn’t leave the house again. If you’ve gone a bit spend-happy in the weeks since reopening, it might be time to think about reining it in and taking control of your finances. In this article, we look at how freelancers can save money, while still enjoying life post-lockdown.
Allocate your cash carefully
A bigger mistake than going over budget is not having a budget in the first place. Many freelancers have an income that fluctuates month-to-month, which can make it hard to plan your finances – but makes budgeting all that more crucial. In the times when you do have a bit more cash coming in, you need to think carefully about where you put it. One thing that can help is to have different accounts for different things, meaning that as soon as you receive your money, you can divide it up and put it where it’s needed. You might consider having:
- An account for bills;
- Short term savings account – for things like holidays or a new sofa;
- Emergency fund – in case the washing machine breaks or you have to take sick leave;
- Longer-term saving – for that next house move or your pension.
Separating your finances like this ensures that you don’t start spending chunks of your house deposit on a trip to Ibiza, and that if your car’s exhaust falls off, you don’t have to live off beans on toast for three months. If your income varies a lot, you can plan to fund the higher-priority accounts like bills first, then the rest when money allows.
Make coffee at home
You survived lockdown with home-brewed coffee, so if you’ve managed to kick the Starbucks habit, try not to let it creep back in as you get out and about more. That £3 a day soon adds up! Make takeout coffee an occasional treat (we’re already counting down the days until pumpkin spice latte season), rather than an everyday occurrence. Lockdown has hopefully given you the chance to maximise your coffee set-up at home, so there’s no reason to be throwing money away. It’s also much better for the environment – no more disposable cups, stirrers and plastic lids.
Prepare some meals at home
Food is a huge expense for most households. With the reopening of hospitality this summer, your eating out costs might have increased, which is understandable. But have you also kept your takeaway spends at lockdown levels too? Add them both together and you’re probably looking at a hefty sum, particularly if you also take into account all the uneaten veg just rotting in the fridge. Again, the trick here is not to deny yourself any kind of treat – it’s just to make sure they’re planned and budgeted for. Counteract the additional cost of pub grub by ditching or cutting down on the takeaways and batch cooking some delicious meals. If you keep them in the freezer ready to reheat they’ll be just as easy as Uber Eats. If you are going out, there are ways to keep costs down too. Many of the big chain restaurants have 2 for 1 or voucher deals, and local eateries often offer weekday deals, so keep an eye out for these offers if you fancy being cooked for.
Allow yourself treats
Any new financial routine needs to be sustainable for you. If you cut back everything you will be more likely to fail. The key is not to strip back all purchases, but to find treats that are affordable to you, or to reduce the frequency of things that you’re in the pattern of spending money on. Swap big treats for small treats (like new shoes for a lipstick or bath bomb), or save up for big splurges (like limited-edition trainers).
Make the most of sign-up offers
If there are things that you need to purchase, always have a look out for discount codes and offers. Many subscription services – like streaming platforms and cloud storage – have deals where you can get a month free when you sign-up. Gym memberships often have similar offers, where you get a free month on sign-up or a discount if you can pay in advance for the first year.
Dinghy has a refer a friend scheme where you get £25 in Amazon vouchers for each freelancer friend you introduce to our insurance services – ideal if you’re looking to save towards a big purchase. We’ll even give a £25 voucher to your friend too! You can refer a friend through your online account.
Another smart way to save cash as a freelancer is to make sure you have up-to-date business insurance. Dinghy’s business equipment insurance for freelancers will cover your vital work gear, so you won’t have to dip into your emergency fund for a new laptop if yours gets stolen or damaged. Dinghy’s professional indemnity and public liability cover are also flexible to suit the patterns of freelance life. If you’re looking for work, or on holiday, you can turn your cover down to save yourself money while you’re not working – because we know just how precious those pennies are.