Roisin* is a freelance graphic designer who has fallen between the cracks of the government’s financial aid schemes. This is her money month…
I work a lot in offices for long shifts of three to four months on big project work and then, typically I will supplement that with a few bits and pieces from home. But because of Covid-19 I have been out of the office work I would usually get, which makes up a substantial part of my income. Instead, I’ve been trying to hustle a lot for remote freelance work. But this has proven extremely tricky at this time as most companies – especially in the media industry, where I get most of my work – are tightening their commissioning budgets.
I’m so frustrated because I’m forced by many of the companies I do projects for, to go on their payroll rather than just invoicing and managing the tax myself. Because of this, I have too much PAYE (pay as you earn) taxed work to qualify for the grant money the government has offered for the self-employed – something that is actually meant to help people like me. Technically, my PAYE jobs could furlough me, but they won’t as I am not a full-time staff member.
Being denied self-employed assistance, despite the fact that I don’t actually have a full-time position at any of these companies, feels ridiculous. And therefore because of that I don’t qualify for the wage buffer money either. My only lifeline is universal credit or using my savings, which I really don’t want to do. It feels like a truly hopeless time.
Current account: -£700
Savings account: £10,000
Monthly wage: This is hard to say as I’m freelance. I received just over £2,000 for a job I did last month before the lockdown and £570 for two other freelance jobs, but this month so far my wage is a big fat zero because of Covid-19.
Monthly wage post Covid-19: NA
Any other incoming payments: £0
Bills: Roughly £100, this includes Netflix etc
Other: I pay a lot for my dog’s insurance as we used it a lot when he was younger as he got sick. I also pay £2 a month to the Dogs Trust. I also have iCloud Storage, Creative Cloud and my pension coming out.
Splurges: To be honest, I wouldn’t usually say I splurge a lot on clothes etc. I try to buy a decent quality item that lasts, so might pay a higher price once in a while but I don’t buy clothes every month. My vices are usually in the way of drinks with friends, that £3 latte I can’t live without or Pret where I sometimes walk away having spent a tenner on lunch and afternoon coffee!
Weekly budget: I have never lived by a budget (probably my problem)
What I spent this month: With lockdown I’d probably say I’m spending about £75-£100 on shopping for two people. I have bought nothing else.
What I was left with: NA
Credit card: It’s a few thousand and I actually feel a bit rubbish about it. When I had a full-time job, if I ever spent money on my credit card I could easily get it down as I was on a decent wage. Being freelance has forced me to rely on my credit card a lot more and with freelance rates being worse than ever in the industry at the moment, I’m not left with much to help me pay it off. I’ve moved the balance to an interest free card, which I’m hoping will help me clear it once everything picks back up again.
MY MONEY MOOD
What I want to save for: A house/general security
How I want to plan my money for the future: I’d just like to clear my credit card as fast as possible while building on my current savings and continue adding to my pension.
My worst money habit: Reverting to a YOLO attitude when it comes to buying things.
My biggest money worry: Because I’m freelance I don’t have a job where I get reviews, pay rises and bonuses, so I worry about getting better paid jobs each time. I want to constantly move upwards.
Current money mood: ???
WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS…
1. Redirect your hustle
I feel you. The natural response to income loss is to enter productivity mode. But first, review what’s working and what isn’t. If hustling for projects in one sector is getting you nowhere, think about how you can adapt your business. Do you have experience in sectors that are doing OK right now? Update your portfolio to reflect this and redirect your hustle.
2. Future-proof your income
We talk a lot about emergency funds but not about emergency income. You have a tangible skill that can easily be ‘productised’. Think about selling on websites such as Fiverr. Rather than offering a general graphic design service, offer specific services as individual ‘gigs’, which are in demand. Think social media, web and infographic design.
For another way to earn some extra cash, why not share your skills? You could use a site such as Skillshare or host and promote a webinar yourself and charge a fee. The School of Communication Arts is offering up its virtual studio to freelancers who are interested in running a paid-for webinar mentor class. You can sign uphere.
4. Work out a survival budget
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you do need a budget. Review your necessary spending, consider what can be cut for now and set yourself a weekly budget. While tapping into your savings might not be ideal, it should at least buy you peace of mind and a little extra time to pause and reset.
5. Use the 72-hour rule
We’re all tempted to hit the ‘F*** it button’ from time to time, but try applying the 72-hour rule. Feeling tempted? Add the item to a ‘wants’ list and tell yourself you can have it, but you have to wait another 72 hours before splashing the cash.