The past three years have been three transformative years for me.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be able to set up shop and go it alone, doing what I used to do full-time, but for myself. Unlike many other freelancers and business owners, I’d never actually planned to start my own business, it just… happened, and it just so happens that it’s my perfect fit right now.
I arrived home from Hong Kong fairly unexpectedly, suitcases badly packed and unpacked, in a jet-lagged and grief-stricken haze. It was early 2016 and I’d already been doing some freelance work for a client or two. And when I abruptly moved back to England, I didn’t have anything lined up.
Photos by Kaye Ford
Fast forward three years and my business is doing better than ever, and it’s sustained me the entire time. Of course it comes with its own perils and pitfalls, but for the most part, it’s enabled me to continue to live a financially independent life that I’m proud of and that I’d pretty much always envisioned for myself. I can afford a wholesome food shop, meals out with friends, the monthly insurance and pet care for Milo, savings for my home, rent to my parents and for my office space…
But, as I’ve touched upon previously, that isn’t always the case.
Unpaid invoices have become a mainstay in conversations about small business ownership, freelancing and blogging, and it doesn’t look like that’ll change. Sadly for many of us, late and unpaid invoices will continue to grace us with their presence and, for me certainly, it has a huge effect on my cash flow.
So right now, I’m not financially stable. Not on my terms anyway.
Whilst I’m fortunate enough to continue to be able to pay my essentials (rent, bills, groceries, pet expenses) because of the buffer I always have put aside — this is around 3 months of my ‘usual’ income so that I have something to fall back on and is my number one freelancing tips! — I’ve also had to fall back on others recently.
Right now, I commute in to London five times weekly for a long-term in-house booking. And it isn’t something I’d planned for; I didn’t pitch to the client but rather I was recommended for the contract. So I hadn’t factored in a new expense totalling £396 a month. In turn, when I’m not paid on time by one or more of my existing seven clients, I fall back on Harvey who always, always has my back.
It’s been odd.
I wanted to share my thoughts on financial independence. Because whilst I know many of you reading this post aren’t freelancers and might not be in the same position as me (believe you me, I know how fortunate I am!), going from being financially independent to sharing finances is something many of us will experience.
Later this year, Harvey and I will be moving in to our house together. And it’ll be a house that I’ve purchased and that Harvey will pay me a 50% contribution towards. From there on, we plan to split all of our home and living shared costs and it’s been eye-opening dealing with my own issues and mindset towards money and spending.
We’ve created a HUGE master spreadsheet to track our joint and individual income and outgoings, and it’s fascinating to really put things out on the line and figure out where our financial priorities lie. Then, we spent an afternoon documenting absolutely everything from our Monzo accounts. Train tickets, Tesco trips, phone bills… the lot.
It was a great opportunity to see what things might look like in the future and begin dealing with how each of us feels about where money goes. For instance, Harvey finds it insane that I put money towards my blog (hosting, photography, props) whilst I couldn’t believe how much he’d spent on snacks last month! So inevitably, these will be personal outgoings 😉 But also it was reassuring to know that we’re on the same page when it comes to money.