Freelancing isn't as scary as I thought it would be
Before making the jump into freelancing, I made a milion pro and con lists. I always focused on the instability of freelance work and the possible pitfalls but now that I'm about 6 months into it, I realize that there are a lot of positive aspects I never considered, especially financially.
Time is money
One of my huge concerns about becoming a freelancer was having enough money to travel. I’ve always loved traveling and given my hatred of communal bathrooms, my idea of a good time abroad did not include a night on a lumpy bed in a hostel. For years, I put off freelancing because of the fear that I wouldn't be able to travel. It often came down to my concern that I would have enough time but not enough money to travel. One thing I wasn't taking into account when making my pro & con lists, I always scheduled trips around weekends to maximize time off from work. Traveling during peak times is expensive but when you freelance, time is on your side. You can easily take advantage of weird price dips. Flying out on a Wednesday is totally doable. One of the pleasant surprises has been how much less expensive it is to travel during off peak times. I've been able to travel even through dips in work because I can take advantage of last minute deals.
Dress however you want
As a freelancer, I need fewer work clothes. I no longer have to worry about maintaining a fashionable but appropriate wardrobe with enough variety to go a few weeks without repeating an outfit. Left to my own devices, I generally wear my favorite items over and over again. My dog doesn’t judge me when I decide to rock my favorite black jeans for the 6th day in a row. I somewhat expected this but I didn’t realize how much I would save on not having things wear out from use and not having to dry clean things all the time. These days when I go clothing shopping, I don’t have to think if it’ll be work appropriate. I shop for things I like and that’s surprisingly fun.
Also, one thing I realized was that I would often treat shopping as productive procrastinating. If I went to pick up a top for an event, then technically I was still sort of working even if it wasn’t working on the design I had been avoiding all day. As a freelancer, I don’t assign myself projects that I hate so I don’t go looking for productive procrastination.
These days my clothes last longer, I like everything I own a lot more and I almost never shop to deal with stress or annoying project.
Speaking of stress
I had days of stress free work as an office worker. Sometimes after a holiday, there would be a lull and these were nice times. Unfortunately, there were also fire drills, political shenanigans and plenty of shitty moments in my office work life. I didn't realize it until I started freelancing but I made tons of tiny purchases in moments of stress. From books to cute t-shirts that suddenly seemed like must have items, I bought tons of little things to ease my moments of work anxiety. These days, all the work pressure I feel is very clearly manufactured by me and I just take my dog out for a work when I feel my energy spinning out.
Commute woes no more
I’m not a commute hater so this has been mostly a financial benefit. Often Eli and I would take the train together. Having unstructured free time to chat and catch up was always a nice start to the day. Either way though, we each spent around $100 on public transportation every month. Plus in the evenings, if we decided to do something before heading home, we would often opt for an uber home, which would be around $20.
The other thing that always got me was wanting to grab a coffee before work. Sometimes I would go for the reasonable Starbucks black coffee but more often, I would give in to the siren song of a latte at Intelligentsia. Once there, I was rarely able to resist also grabbing some sort of pastry. While I knew that it would be wiser and financially more responsible to make my own coffee in the morning, I rarely did it. By the time I was able to roll out of bed and get dressed, I had to get out the door. As a freelancer, I structure my day so I give myself the time to make coffee and ease into the day. Every now and again, I'll stop by a coffee shop but now it feels like an actual treat instead of the last moment of freedom before heading into the office.
Eating out for fun, not necessity
Lunches and after work drinks disappeared from my spending when I started freelancing. At first, I thought that I would continue to occasionally eat out for lunch but if I’m not meeting someone for a meal, I eat at home. While working, I always wanted to be the sort of person that brought a brown bag to the office but it rarely happened. Aside from the time factor of putting together a lunch the night before, I think that food doesn’t taste better after sitting in a tupperware container for hours. Lunch at home is usually more enjoyable and I stick to healthier options.
I’ve worked at a number of jobs and one of the joys of office life was scampering out and hustling over to the bar to complain about bosses, pay or projects. Drinking for better or worse was one of the office bonding experiences. I still go out for drinks but far less often and it's usually a purely enjoyable experience instead of a stress reliever.
In the end
I'm still figuring freelance life out and occasionally, I'm tempted to jump back into a regular job but so far there have been a lot of perks that I hadn't concerned. Overall, I'm less stressed, happier, spending less and enjoying the work I do a lot more. Occasionally, the inconsistency of my schedule does get to me but I'm figuring things out and everything has been getting easier and better as I go.