Essential Budgeting Tips for New Freelancers

Brad Bartlett
6 min readMar 2, 2024

Making ends meet when you’re just starting out doesn’t have to be hard.

Starting out as a freelancer can be thrilling — you’re your own boss, setting your own hours, choosing your own projects.

But it can also be terrifying when it comes to your finances.

I remember those early days of cobbling together client invoices, not knowing where my next payday would come from or if I was charging enough to cover my expenses.

Now, I know it’s tempting to say yes to every client and every project when you’re establishing yourself. But without some financial planning, you risk burning out and shutting down.

And from my experience, having a budget is essential to building a sustainable freelance life.

One of my favorite ways to think about budgeting is that it’s like building a framework or scaffolding — it supports you in standing tall instead of collapsing in a heap.

Here’s the reality — you CAN find financial stability as a freelancer with some dedicated effort on the budgeting front.

“Wait, you mean it’s not all profit?!”

I’ll never forget getting my first exciting freelance payment and thinking I was rich — until reality set in.

As a freelancer, every client check goes directly into your bank account rather than a portion being taken out for taxes like a conventional paycheck.

At first, seeing the full amount in your account is thrilling!

You may be tempted to splurge on some shopping therapy, eat at nicer restaurants, or finally buy that gadget you’ve been eyeing.

I’ll admit, I celebratory shopped a fair bit in those early hustling days because, wow — you really can make money doing what you love.

But here’s the essential truth to embrace if you want to last as a freelancer: that money is NOT all profit.

Before you spend a cent, you need to set aside a percentage for taxes — generally 30–40% of each payment. I know, I know, no fun. But getting slammed with a giant tax bill and late fees is even less fun.

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Brad Bartlett

Professional Freelance Copywriter. (www.bradleebartlett.co) Musings on #freelancing, #productivity, #self-development, and more!