Monday, April 11, 2011

Freelance Budgeting - Where is the Money Coming From?

As a freelancer, there are ebbs and flows to available work. Holidays are usually the lean times. Knowing this, you'd think I'd prepare better, but it's also the time when the holidays want to empty my bank account! I've been in transition for a while and trying to better budget things so Christmas and my son's birthdays (6 months apart) don't do as much damage as they have in the past. Now that I have approximately seven income streams, from both writing and transcription, I had to find a better method. I was losing track of expenses to income and everything was everywhere.  

Enter the budget. Actually, re-enter the budget. I started using Mint.com a while ago and put in my budget numbers, as I thought they were. When those suckers go red, you notice!  But I realized I still wasn't able to track all my sources of income as they were just lumped in together. So I've had to go back to my low-tech methods of Excel. I was able to put all my income sources at the top of the page, put all my expenses at the bottom, and each week I update what came in and what went out. The first column is my estimate for the month and each week is subtracted from that. I have a weekly tally that shows me if I'm falling behind or getting ahead. It also rolls whatever money I have left over into the next month's worksheet to be added to the that monthly total. It's perfect for me while I'm completely slammed with work and trying to stay organized.  Things tend to get lost in the cracks if I'm not careful and this Excel sheet also reminds me which income sources need more attention than others if I see I haven't inputted anything for the week.

I really hope this works the way I'm hoping it will. I'm having trouble staying focussed on work when things get chaotic. I think a big part of the problem was that I thought I was making more in some areas than I really was. I wasn't able to see if I was or not because my previous tracking system was flawed. You'd think I would already have a better system in place after freelancing for the past 5 years, but nope. So, I'm going to see how it goes this month and make adjustments from there. It better work!

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