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Making it in today’s gig economy requires financial savvy

Working as a freelancer in the gig economy

Working as a freelancer in the gig economy can mean unpredictable income, so experts recommend having six months worth of income saved. Photo Credit: iStock

The “gig” economy is no fad. According to the Intuit 2020 Report, by 2020 in the United States, contingent workers will exceed 40 percent of the workforce. Traditional, full-time, full-benefit jobs will be harder to find. Add to this the increase in micro and small businesses, and many more people are their own boss.

But, there are serious considerations when it comes to your finances when you’re the chief cook and bottle washer.

“Whether a new entrepreneur or experienced freelancer, uncertainty about income, fluctuations in cash flow, and insecurity in health care and retirement often define, at least at the beginning, the financial reality of being self-employed,” says John Falk, a vice president at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Milwaukee.

What should you remember as you venture out on your own?

  • Keep taxes top of mind. “Be sure to take advantage of potential savings,” says Falk. Know which day-to-day expenses can be written off. Get a good accountant. Be sure not to mix business and personal expenses, and you absolutely must maintain good records, he says. Also, without tax withholding by an employer, you may be required to pay estimated taxes on a quarterly basis during the year.
  • Stockpile savings. Before you do your own thing, anticipate that it could be many months before you are able to see money from your business. Coleen Pantalone, a business school professor at Northeastern University in Boston, advises having at least six months of income saved.

“Living frugally at the beginning is critical,” says Ryan Payne of Payne Capital Management in Manhattan.

  • Protect yourself. However, you don’t want to cut out essentials like health and disability insurance. Know, too, that liability insurance is necessary when you are independent. Stuff happens.


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