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Break the Cycle of “Feast or Famine” Now!

Break the Cycle of “Feast or Famine” Now!

For many freelancers, the “feast or famine” cycle is a common one. For a while, you get a big job that takes up all your time. When the job is finished, however, you are back to where you started, searching for new work with zero income. Getting out of this cycle is one of the biggest challenges for freelance workers. For people who love working on their own however, the freedom of schedule, and the ability to build their own businesses, makes freelance work still an attractive alternative.

If you approach freelance work with the right attitude, you can avoid many of the problems associated with freelance work and maintain a healthy work/income balance that will keep you going throughout the year. As a freelancer, time is money, so it is important to manage your time and finances effectively to maximize your income. Follow these tips to avoid the feast or famine cycle in your own freelance endeavors.

I. Networking

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For many freelancers, networking is the part of the job they hate the most, but proper networking is what can save you from times of famine. Always keep in touch with past clients and attend as many networking events for your field as possible. Connect with anyone and everyone that you meet and spread the word about your freelance business. This will help people think of you when they need a service, and will lessen  the effort that  you need to put into cold calling by having potential clients approach you first.

II. Cold Calling

Cold calling is a part of any freelance business, whether you actually do it on the phone or not. Freelancers have to contact companies and actively try to find work. Many freelancers only look for new work when their current job has ended, but a focused search for new work even when fully employed will help prevent gaps between jobs. You can always hire a helper to take over some of your extra work if you get too much at once, but if you go without work for several weeks or months, that is potential income that you will never recover.

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III. Search for big clients

Bigger clients are typically willing to pay more. The bigger the client, the larger the project usually is and the higher the salary. Often, one job from a large client can pay the same as multiple jobs from smaller clients. Manage your time wisely and search for clients that will pay you the most for your efforts. Big clients like to see professional portfolios and past work, so make sure you have an impressive portfolio and resume that helps you stand out from other freelancers.

IV. Manage finances

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Financial management is one of the hardest parts of freelance work. Not only do you have to pay a high tax rate for working as a freelancer, but managing invoices and payments can also take up a large part of your time. Many freelancers hire a separate financial advisor to handle all of the invoices, billing, and accounting for the business. This helps you maximize your time by spending it on income-producing work, rather than the side of work that will not bring in any more money. You should be very careful about taking out any loan because your irregular income patterns make it really hard to plan long-term; a short-term payday loan is much more suited to your lifestyle.

V. When you get in a bind

If you follow the above steps, you will eliminate much of the dead time that many freelance workers see from time to time. However, even with outstanding effort, it is possible that you may experience a gap in income-producing work. When this happens, you don’t have to give up. There are many options that can help you sustain yourself during periods of low-income. Set aside some money from each check while you bring in money to help cover the expenses between jobs. If you fall far behind, a short-term loan is a great way to help sustain your business until you find paying work again.

All of these tips can help prevent the feast or famine lifestyle of the typical freelancer. Not only will you have a steadier income throughout the year, but you will also appear more professional to potential clients, which could lead to additional work. Follow these tips and you will stay on the path of steady work while increasing your income.

Featured photo credit: This time, we go on the count of one via Shutterstock

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Published on October 8, 2018

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

1. Choose a major category each month to attack

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

2. Only make major purchases in the morning

If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

4. Read one-star reviews for products

Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

9. Budget using cash and envelopes

As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

10. Join a like-minded group

Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

11. Reward Yourself

When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

12. Take the Buddhist approach

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

Conclusion

Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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