One of the more difficult things to do as a freelance writer is to save for vacations. Because of the nature of your work, it’s unlikely you’ll have vacation time saved up as in a company environment. If you’re like me, there is no pay if you’re not writing. So, how can you go about saving up when it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself? That all depends on your own determination.
Saving Up for a Vacation
As a freelance writer, it’s very hard for me to enjoy myself when I’m away. Every moment I spend swimming or exploring is one that reduces my pay. However, there are ways you can enjoy yourself without worrying about bills and other expenses. Here are a few practices that I use to soften the blow of not working.
1. Creating the Budget
Try to create a budget of the things you need to pay on a weekly basis. This is a baseline of what you need as a freelancer in order to survive. Mine usually incorporates things like the Internet bill, water and groceries. I’m also a bit of a geek and have a spreadsheet I use to break down my daily expenses. Once you know what you need per day, you can start building a budget for your vacation.
I usually round everything up to the highest dollar. This way, there is always money left over for the fun stuff. This list will also help you determine if it’s practical to continue as a freelance writer. If your bills supersede what you make, it may be time to look at alternative income solutions. If this is the case, try diversifying the experience to boost your workload.
2. The Savings Account
This is the most difficult aspect to the budget. It can be real easy to tap into the savings account to pay for frivolous things or even important bills. After you have a strong budget plan, it can help you determine how much you need to squirrel away. Just make sure you’re not pulling money out for things you really don’t need. Before buying that new toy, ask yourself, “Is this worth more than my vacation plans?” The trick is to be honest with yourself at that point.
Separating Bank Accounts
When I need to save money, I transfer 10% of my weekly pay to my checking account. Because I use my PayPal Mastercard for everything, my bank account is hardly used. Over time, I wind up sticking a great deal of money in this account that I often forget about.
Online Saving Institutions
Another method we are implementing in the home is setting up goals in Smarty Pig. This is an online service that helps you save money and is sponsored by BBVA Compass bank. You can set this up for automatic deposits from your bank account while assigning multiple goals for different things. For example, I am setting up a goal for: a) a new TV, b) vacation expenses and c) Christmas shopping.
3. Increase the Workload
Usually, I will increase my workload for a few weeks prior to going on vacation. For instance, I’ll work more in the nights and during the weekend. This helps me pad the savings account with extra money to make sure that I can keep the bills paid when I’m away. One of the nice things about being a freelance writer who uses several systems to keep busy is that there is always work available. However, it’s usually writing articles that I don’t really have an interest in but have knowledge about.
Take the Work With You
Every winter we take a vacation to southern Denver and spend a weekend in a hotel. I’ll grab my laptop and write a few orders in the night or after breakfast just to make sure I get enough money to pay the bills when I go home. I know what you’re thinking, “Working on vacation?” Absolutely. Most of the orders I do don’t take a lot of time to complete, and I only write before or after the fun. You don’t have to do this as long as you made sure you have enough money before packing the bags.
4. Prepaid Credit Cards
Now, I haven’t done this yet – but I am going to in the very near future. Prepaid credit cards from your local bank are extremely useful for building your credit as well as enhancing the ability to go on vacation. Load these cards up with as much money as you can. Think of it as an investment to boost your credit score while making it more likely to enjoy your time off. Just be mindful about how much you’re spending. You don’t want to over-exert your credit card to the point where you can’t pay it back.
5. Paying Bills Ahead of Time
Sometimes I’ll pay certain bills in advance before a vacation. This means that I won’t have to worry about the loss of income because those bills are already paid in full. This also means you have more available “fun money” when you’re out and about. If you build up a credit with your debtors over the course of a year, you could have a great deal of money saved up in those bills before even deciding where to go for the vacation.
It is possible to take a vacation as a freelance writer as long as you take special precautions to do so without damaging your weekly income. Whether it’s hitting the beach in the summer or swooshing down the slopes in the winter, the potential is great when you’re determined. Find ways to save for time off. Even the self-employed need time to recharge their batteries once in a while.