After pounding out 500 words about the wisdom of investing in fancy colored diamonds, you don your parenting cap and return to the real world where colorful diamonds only exist in the Princess Dreams board game. As a freelance finance writer, you’re nothing if not versatile. You bought that game at the thrift store, of course. Technically, it’s missing four of the diamonds, but when you replaced them with the cheesy glass drawer pulls from the bathroom vanity, no one was any the wiser.
Starting over in a new career is rarely ever lucrative at the onset, and writing is no exception. Working your way up from 1.2 cents per word to that coveted .10 per word spot takes time, dedication and a commitment to excellence to which other jobs can only aspire. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, writers average about $55,420 per year — no small feat. Managing to hold onto it when you have kids? Priceless.
In fact, making money when starting out as a writer is more a matter of learning the most creative ways of cutting corners than it is anything else, especially when the bacon you’re bringing home has to feed the kids too.
If you’re a parent first and a freelancer second, it’s vital that you take steps to hang onto those hard-earned paychecks, but how?
The first rule of thumb? Rent nothing — not musical instruments, not laptops — nothing. Getting yourself entwined in costly rental agreements that the school steers you toward is not only a bad idea, it’s a dubious one as well. Do this, and you’ll be paying $27 a month for life for your 4th grader’s violin. Suddenly, an instrument that seemed like a good deal at the time ends up costing you $1400. Do yourself and your child a favor and haunt the local pawn shops until a nice violin shows up for sale used. You could wind up saving $1300 in the process — that’s a lot of written words. It’s perfectly allowable to buy your child’s instrument, his expensive calculator, or his required laptop outright. The school doesn’t tell you this because they benefit financially from steering you into costly rental agreements.
Buy Nothing Through the School
When it’s time for class rings and school jackets, take your aspirations somewhere other than the brochures the school sends home. Again, schools get kickbacks for selling these things through their choice of vendors. While it’s always nice to support your school — do it by participating in fundraisers and bake sales and not by giving away two months of hard-earned writer’s pay for a cheap jacket that doesn’t even keep your child warm in the parade.
Draw Upon Your Knowledge as a Finance Writer
You spend your days writing about investments and returns. Take advantage of the research you do daily by investing in a few of your better opportunities. While it’s okay to step away from your computer screen and leave it all behind for the evening, there’s no unwritten rule that says you can’t take your own advice. So when you lay down your writer’s pen at the end of the work day, pick up your investment portfolio and put your skills as a researcher to work to better your life and the lives of those little ones who depend upon you daily.
Anne G is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.