This guest post is courtesy of Kassondra Cloos.
Becoming a freelancer is the dream for a lot of writers, who love the idea of trying to make it as their own boss. I first started thinking about making the leap in 2014 when I was a newspaper reporter and not making very much money. I considered quitting to waitress, travel, and pursue creating writing. With tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, though, I needed guaranteed income.
But last year, while working as an editor for an outdoor industry news website—a dream job in itself—I became addicted to saving with the Qapital app, and I started thinking about it again as my savings grew. I had met lots of successful travel writers who told me going freelance was the best decision they’d ever made, and I started preparing to give it a shot.
In December, sick of throwing away all my spare cash on student loan bills, I cleared out my checking and savings accounts to pay off my highest-interest loans. There was a moment of intense freedom, then a few weeks of living paycheck-to-paycheck while I rebuilt my safety net.
I watched my spending closely, and I wanted to hold myself accountable for saving the money I’d no longer need for my loans.
I found Qapital while Googling new savings accounts just after Christmas, and I opened an account immediately. I set up goals for student loans, quitting my job, and vacation, and a bunch of rules, like rounding up to the nearest $1 on every purchase, the 52-week rule (which saves $1 the first week then $2, then $3, and so on), and a guilty pleasure rule for withdrawing money from an ATM.
At first, I saved maybe $20 or $30 a week while I recovered from clearing out my funds to triple digits. But it quickly became like a game, and I created more and more rules. Automatic transfers held me accountable to save the $250 a month I had been spending on the loan I’d paid off, putting it just out of my reach so I couldn’t spend it frivolously. I loved how quickly spare change added up, so I took it a step further and changed my $1 round-up rule to a $5 round-up rule.
Saving with Qapital became addicting, and I’d check my account obsessively, every day, to see if I could round up a goal to a milestone by manually transferring an extra $5 or $10. In the spring, I started freelancing on the side as much as possible to build up my clips, establish relationships with publications I’d want to write for long-term, and save enough to quit.
I created a new goal for taxes, for a third of what I made from assignments, and I put nearly all of the rest into other Qapital savings goals. Instead of spending my extra cash on eating out or new clothes, I funneled every extra penny into my Qapital savings.
Within just seven months, I saved over $9,000. A little more than half of that came from extra income outside of my regular job, and the rest was from filing away all the extra money I could. I used IFTTT, for example, to save $5 with one tap every time I avoided spending money on non-essential purchases.
With a safety net I finally felt comfortable with, I put in my notice in late July, and started freelancing full-time in mid-September. It’s a little early to know how successful I’ll be in the long term, but I do know that if every month is like this one, I’ll be just fine.
Kassondra Cloos is a freelance adventure travel and outdoor writer based in Boulder, Colorado. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @kassondracloos, and find more of her work at kassondracloos.com.
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