Freelancing Isn’t Always The Financially Risky Decision Many Think It Is
I’m often told I’m brave to rely on a freelance income. It’s seen as inherently risky to be a freelancer, and a job is generally seen as being synonymous with financial security. While I do understand the thinking behind these attitudes, I can’t say I wholly agree with the conclusion.
There are, or course, plenty of risks associated with being a freelancer, and it’s vital to mitigate them. But for the purposes of this article I’m looking at income security alone. Are you really more at risk of a sudden cut in income if you freelance?
The risks of freelancing
Yes, there are risks associated with freelancing. I could lose a client tomorrow, and a chunk of my future income would disappear. Depending on the client, it could be 1% of my income, or 35%.
A client can also simply decide not to pay. I can honestly say this is a rare occurrence, but when it happens there is often surprisingly little that can be done about it, given the legal costs involved in recovering what’s often a relatively small amount of money.
Freelancing also means I’m responsible for a lot of things my employer would be responsible for, or contributing to, were I employed. These include things like pension benefits and healthcare.
It’s time for a disclaimer. I live outside the USA. So as long as I pay my taxes I’m entitled to free universal healthcare. My country also provides a (limited) state pension for everyone who pays into the general tax system, and there’s good provision for private pensions aimed specifically at freelancers and sole traders.
The system where you live can impact just how risky freelance work is for you, so it’s vital to take that into account.
The risks of having a job
There are also risks associated with having a job. If I had one, and no other income, I could lose my job tomorrow, and 100% of my income with it. What’s more, that income would be quite difficult to replace quickly.
Whereas it’s possible to pick up a new freelance client from a job board with a…