Freelance life. There’s fine line between enough and panic.

An older self-employed workforce

Almost one in five workers in the 50-64 age bracket are self-employed.

That’s more than any other age group. It’s also me.

At the grand age of 54, I’ve been running my own freelance copywriting business for nearly seven years. I love both the work and the lifestyle; especially now I’ve grown my outdoor writing portfolio.

But the pay fluctuations can sometimes be disconcerting.

Often my bank balance is smiling. Occasionally it’s not.

Freelance life

In October 2016 I switched (not entirely by choice) from a well-paid salaried job to an insecure self-employed one. To say I haven’t looked back would be a lie but I don’t have any regrets.

Apart maybe from the financial insecurity.

Over the years however, I’ve learned that the key to relaxing through those lower income months is being able to appreciate when I have enough.

Which is all we humans really need.

How much is income is enough?

The concept of how much money you need to live a comfortable lifestyle is a tricky but interesting one. It’s subjective and depends on factors like where you live, how many children you have and how many people are living in your household.

It also depends a lot on how you’re used to living.

Of course, my concept of enough isn’t the same as everybody else’s. It isn’t even the same as that of 1990s Fi. She had three young children to feed and lived on the brink of benefits in a single income household.

In those days a sack of potatoes and some cheese was enough.

Today I want a small buffer of savings and I like a bit of spare cash to spend on holidays. I love my somewhat needy campervan and I’m not impartial to the odd piece of outdoor gear.

But I could do without them if I had to.

And it’s that thought, which stops me from tipping, when the books aren’t looking good, into panic. When I have great months, I can have a little extra. When I don’t, I can’t.

There’s a lot to be said for occasional enforced frugality.

It’s helped me re-find the resilience I first built as a young mother. It’s helped me foster a use-again attitude and develop a problem-solving approach. Happily at the same time, it has also helped me reduce my impact on the planet.

But I did say ‘occasional’.

There’s not much to be said for continued financial struggle. My heart goes out to families who are currently experiencing that.

I can’t imagine how we would have coped in their situation.

I have no idea how the coming winter months of predicted country-wide hardship are going to affect my income but I do know that there are leeks growing happily in the garden.

I just need to earn the potatoes and cheese.

Vichyssoise anyone?


Leave a Reply