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Freelancers and consultants: Can you live on less than $100,000 per year?

I recently wrote about how each of us can determine our own financial goals; each of us has his own definition of success. While some experts may be stuck on $100K as an appropriate goal, this figure is not right for everyone.


I’m sure some of you guffawed at my advice. Someone commented on LinkedIn that a family can’t really get by on less than $100K, while other readers dream of achieving a mere quarter of that during the current year.


What they say about how to make more money


I have read lots of advice on the internet about how to improve your money mindset. If you set your sights higher, you can easily achieve more.


The specifics to achieving this include creating a list of how you would spend all the extra income, crafting better affirmations, clipping magazine pictures of what you want to construct a vision board, and investing in higher priced coaching so you have to earn more to meet your obligation.


How to thrive on less money


This article approaches the whole topic of money from the opposite perspective: When you are self-employed, you can easily forego many of the purchases and expenditures that seem to go hand in hand with employment in professional positions at large, prestige corporations and you can still have an adequate lifestyle.


This article focuses on supporting a family. My children are now self-supporting adults, but I faced these very same challenges when they were younger.


That’s because when you work for a company, your life belongs to them. Work hours and stress seem to multiply, and the best way to meet your family’s needs includes hiring others to provide household services and other support.


Here are some ways to cut back on your spending so you can support your family adequately—perhaps nicely—on less money. I’m not saying you should do them all—some or all of them may be wrong for you. Actually, you may reject all of them.


Here is a list for your consideration.

  1. Reduce your dependency on aid childcare. It depends on the ages of your children and the situation, but as a home-based solopro rather than a corporate employee, you may be able to get all your work done while saving plenty on these costs.

  2. Do more household chores yourself. The experts say that anything someone else can do cheaper than your hourly rate should be hired out. Good advice if you prefer to fill every hour with your freelance / consulting specialty. However, some people enjoy the change of pace of mowing their own lawn or shoveling their snow or cleaning house.

  3. Move to a cheaper house. You can live anywhere when you freelance / consult, while a corporate job requires that you live close enough to hit your desk by starting time every morning. There are many homes in the Midwest that are acceptable and priced below $100K, but they may be located miles from your current residence and perhaps in a more rural area. As long as FedEx delivers and the library provides interlibrary loan, your new location may work out just fine.

  4. Provide your own enrichment services for your children. When my children were younger, I often adjusted my schedule to be available to them from 3:30 to 9 pm. They didn’t get as much private tutoring and pricy extracurricular activities as some of the other kids, but I provided homework assistance and took them to the playground quite a lot. Also, they organized their own play time with neighborhood kids as was customary back when I was a kid. (This worked out well because I was at home to keep an eye on the kids and make snacks.)

  5. Don’t have pets. As healthcare, grooming, gourmet food, and other pet-related products and services escalate, dogs and cats in particular have become more expensive to care for. I’m sure many of you don’t agree with my advice. I’m not telling you what to do, simply making an observation . . .

  6. Buy fewer clothes. When you work at home, you don’t need to have more outfits or keep up with the times fashion-wise. Do the laundry as soon as you have a full load and you’ll be just fine with a few pairs of jeans and several tops.

  7. Eat out less. It’s easy to eat lunch at home when your office is in the same building. Make your own coffee instead of going out to Starbuck’s. Plan menus so you can let lower-cost choices simmer in the crock pot all day.

  8. Buy fewer books, magazines, CDs, and movies. See what your local library offers.

  9. Give less to charity. Some gurus recommend increasing your charitable obligations to give more meaning to the higher financial objectives you have set for yourself. I’m all for donating to worthwhile causes, but I’m not going to pressurize my life to fulfill lofty pledges. Anyway, if you work fewer hours, you may be able to donate time instead of money and have a more meaningful experience.

Originally posted 9-29-14

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