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Budgeting for the Gig Economy: Ways to Create Stability in Unstable Income

The gig economy turned extra hours, free space, and talent into money-making opportunities. Armed with an app or client, tracking tools, and gusto, one could depart from the 9-to-5 with enough hustle.

Unfortunately, the gig economy doesn’t provide your typical safety nets.

The Big Trade-Off

An independent trucker, for example, trades regular pay and benefits for greater choice and freedom. This can ultimately play favorably for those working gigs. More hours = more pay, and you’re working with fresh prospects and challenges.

But… the money issue.

The irregularity of independent work is the hard part.

It’s the trouble one gets when payments are irregular. Or, if a contract falls through.

This applies to most doing contract/freelance work in the gig economy. Talk with any veteran in the gig market and they’ll have stories of flaky clients to tell.

Stabilizing Income Sources: The All-Encompassing Ways

To say follow a budget is too simplistic with managing irregular income sources. They’re irregular for a reason whether the delay happens on your end or the client. Of course, budgeting will help through turbulent times. But, it’s not your only option.

Consider the following:

For Laborers

Independent truckers could find themselves dead-heading between jobs. This means gas and accommodation come out of their pockets until they secure new gigs. Worse, some companies pay Net 60 – 90 payments (60 – 90 days until payment). A way to lessen the load is using freight factoring programs which allow truckers to sell their invoices for cash on-the-spot.

For Technicals

A freelance developer, as another example, could see projects fall through. There are few safety nets with freelancing since contracts aren’t fully common outside of large projects. If the client does pay, there are numerous problems like delayed payment or problems with processors. Luckily, freelancers now have the option to pursue collections through professional services like ZenCash or And.co.

For Owners

Income property is an attractive money-making opportunity, tenants skipping town and leaving you with a gutted location notwithstanding. There are legal actions one can take to recoup costs. Or, one could tap into debt collections apps & services like Rocket Receivables or RentecDirect.

Stabilizing Income Sources: The Easy Ways

The tough collections and invoice factoring may not be for everyone. A lot of independent workers are non-confrontational. So, are there any easy ways to stabilize the income? You bet!

Consider:

New Verticals

A vertical is a new product or service built off existing efforts. This leverages your skills and market placement to create a new revenue stream. Often, the vertical comes at a premium.

Examples:

  • Using apps to connect with movers to transport cars vs deadheading
  • Upgrading freelance writing into script writing for video work
  • Renting apartments and homes via house sharing apps vs letting them go empty

Re-Networking

A client of yesteryear, still in business, most likely needs your services today. Maybe the connection fizzled because you failed to do upkeep. Or, maybe the project was finished. Either way, get back in touch to see if they could use your services.

  1. Keep a spreadsheet of every client and prospect you’ve worked with
  2. Send a friendly email explaining you’re free to do work
  3. Press the value of your work and try to convert returning clients

Raise Your Rates

Perhaps the easiest is realizing your worth and asking for a raise. Even a small, 5% bump in rates amounts to extra financial flexibility throughout the year. A small raise isn’t likely the breaking point if you’ve consistently delivered great work and service.

  1. Compare your rates to other professionals in your industry
  2. Truly refine and budget your finances to get a monthly projection
  3. Set tiers (5%, 10%, 25%) and see how much flexibility it would provide
  4. Apply this increase to all new clients and existing ones you’re comfortable with

Last But Not Least: Don’t Panic

It’s easy to panic when income sources dry up or there are major laps in payments. Panicking because you’re overly emotional can have you spending money stupidly. Take a breath, calm down, and revisit your budget to see the true damage — is everything okay? Are you doomed?

You’re a gig-type person. You’re accustomed to the hustle. You’ll weather this setback as you’ve always done! Know your options, of course, but keep at it and remain patient. You’ll get paid.

Comments

  1. Good article, everyone likes to talk about the positive.. I had a side hustle many years ago and was stiffed by clients a couple of times. I just had to eat it and make it work by more or less padding my fees to cover for when that happens. There are always Jack-holes so you have to account for them.

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