Bank Balance Confessions: The Freelancer with Four Income Streams
On the kitchen bench in my share house lies a best-selling book about personal finance. It was a gift a roommate was given by their encouraging parents three months ago. It is now covered in the nectar of an expired tangerine from a nearby fruit bowl. To me, that sums up share house budgeting.
I have never read financial self-help, but did study a Business/Commerce degree and have been practicing trial and error in the first 18 months of working for myself. As a freelancer my income streams are pretty diverse, with a combination of event management, stand up comedy and trivia hosting paying the bills. I also do a shift at my casual retail job every few weekends for a sweet penalty rate pay day. The nature of freelance work does mean that money comes in with no set pattern though. This week ends up being somewhere between average and lucrative as I take home $674.57.
Because I am a sole trader, I am responsible for paying my own tax at the end of the financial year. Though I have operated this business in previous financial years, I have never crossed the tax-free threshold ($18,000) until now. I haven’t budgeted for this so I am expecting that bill to sting. Fortunately I have a good safety net of savings in the bank and no debt. More good news is that I have earned under the HELP income repayment income threshold ($54,869 last financial year). I guess that’s only good news depending on who you ask.
$10 – Wi-Fi – Our area just got the NBN so we’re switching over. This is a preliminary service fee. My girlfriend and roommates will fix up their share when rent falls due but I spot them for now.
After an interstate trip and long weekend, tonight was the first time I had worked in 12 days so I hesitate to part with my money. Instead of a lunch date, my girlfriend and I have a picnic in the backyard and make toasted sandwiches with stuff from the fridge.
$20 – top up Officeworks card – I have a bunch of posters to print for upcoming shows so load up my card. After using $7.50 I realise I can print for even cheaper at home. Lesson learned.
$39.21 – groceries – I like to do grocery shopping in increments. I can never estimate what I will consume in a week so don’t even bother. When I was a kid and would go shopping with Mum we’d end up with tins of spaghetti in the pantry left untouched for 12 months. This is my plan for avoiding that. I don’t split the costs with my girlfriend for this because she bought the ingredients for dinner last night.
$21.24 – pens and a portable cash box – Officeworks is my second home. I needed one of these to sell tickets at shows. It’s a purchase I’d been putting off for weeks out of sheer laziness. (This is a habit of mine. I also need to get lightbulbs, a new iron and a backpack but meh…)
$75.30 – fuel – My car is a 1994 Ford Courier with a big, big tank. For almost 70L this is a pretty good price and the car is reasonably fuel efficient for its age and size. I will stretch this to last me three weeks.
$35 – haircut – got a beer and hot towels with it so it was money well spent. I also once performed a weird comedy show in this barbershop and the owner let me do it for free, so I feel oddly indebted to them.
$13.90 – stationery – A few last minute buys for a show I am producing tonight. My purchase history really does read like that of a primary school teacher.
$220 – rent – This is for the next fortnight. Cheap rent is very supportive of freelancers. If I lived in a more expensive city there is no way I’d be able to continue my lifestyle on this income.
$41.30 – groceries – I get dinner, snacks and those lightbulbs, finally.
$5 – batteries – Our microphones die an hour before show time, but it’s crisis averted.
$9.30 – beer – I perform at a charity show, but the modest performers tab runs out and I’m left to pick up the rest of a round.
$4.34 – groceries. We pick up some fruit on our way to dinner.
$25.80 – pizza, pasta and gelato – This week my girlfriend and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time together so when our schedules finally align we dress up and treat ourselves to dinner. We have a $50 voucher and bring our own wine to save a few bucks, so this ends up a steal for some fancy Italian.
Total weekly spend = $520.39
This week I managed to save $154.18, which isn’t bad, but was surprisingly less than I had expected. A few sporadic purchases like the haircut and fuel (plus next week’s rent) bumped up expenses a little bit, so I don’t feel too guilty.