Last Updated 6 months by Emily Standley-Allard

Freelancers need to set goals if they’re going to be successful in the long-term. They are in charge of their leadership, marketing and accounting. As such, managing their income allows them to create the career of their dreams and secure their future. Here are some financial goals freelancers need and effective tips for doing so in the coming new year!

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Why Should Freelancers Set Financial Goals?

According to Finances Online, the average freelancer earns $39,000 annually before taxes, working about 36 hours weekly. In today’s economy with rising inflation, every penny counts toward affording the essentials.

However, accumulating wealth is only one aspect of setting financial goals as a freelancer. Long-term prosperity is about creating growth and stability for yourself. When you achieve your monetary aims, success and fulfillment from your career become second nature.

No one said gig work was easy. There are numerous reasons why freelancers should set long and short-term financial goals, including the following:

  • Pay for health insurance and retirement savings out of pocket
  • Cover periods of fluctuating income
  • Invest in resources and tools to develop professionally and expand your business
  • Reduce adverse mental health outcomes from financial stress
  • Prioritize care for yourself and your household
  • Have the financial freedom to work less, travel more and pursue other interests

Ultimately, setting goals for your finances boosts your clarity for completing the most lucrative projects, allocating your resources and staying positive when business slows. You also learn to make more informed financial decisions and plan for the unexpected.

7 Tips for Creating Financial Goals as a Freelancer

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Working as a freelancer gives you much freedom to generate success on your terms. However, you must make good monetary decisions and set financial goals to achieve long-term wealth. Here are seven tips for freelancers to create and achieve financial stability.

  1. Start Paying Off Debts

You might have debts from attending college, buying a home or car, or even starting your freelance business. If you want to achieve your financial goals, you should consider consolidating them into a single loan — this makes it much easier to pay them off at a lower interest rate.

Although a personal loan is your safest option, you could use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a balance transfer card.

A balance transfer card is a 0% introductory APR credit card for the first 12–18 months. Only use this method if you can quickly pay off your debts during the initial period or you might face higher interest rates.

Likewise, a HELOC puts your home up as collateral if you cannot pay off your debts within 10 years. These factors could set you back if you are not careful.

  1. Set SMART Goals

SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound, and help attain long-term and short-term financial outcomes. Short-term goals might be within the year, while long-term goals could pertain to five or 10 years later.

A solid SMART financial goal for freelancers is boosting income by 20% by the end of the year. How would you track or measure the increase in revenue, and what actions can you take to achieve this goal within 12 months?

You can set a similar financial goal by focusing on boosting your clientele. How can you increase business by 25% in 10 months by seeking new clients? The 10-month deadline gives you a set time you must achieve this goal. 

  1. Save for Retirement

Planning for retirement is critical, especially when working for yourself. As a freelancer, you do not have the luxury of a 401(k) retirement plan with a parent company, having to rely on your own means of saving up.

Fortunately, freelancers have options, including a Solo 401(k), traditional individual retirement account (IRA), Roth IRA, Simple IRA, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA or personal savings account.

You can contribute to a Solo 401(k) if you are self-employed, do not employ others or run a business with your spouse. You are also able to contribute as both employer and employee.

Otherwise, retirement savings accounts like the SEP IRA allow you to contribute a quarter of your earnings yearly.


  1. Know Your Worth

You never want to undersell or oversell your work as a freelancer — and doing any work for free is strictly prohibited. As such, you should review your current pricing and adjust it accordingly.

At a company, you would likely work 40 hours a week — 32 hours with an hour-long lunch break — and two weeks of vacation. You should factor in a similar workweek schedule to determine equitable earnings as a freelancer.

Suppose you are a freelance copywriter looking to make $35,000 annually. You will need to clear $700 weekly at $21.88 an hour to make those earnings — this accounts for 32 hours of client and a two-week vacation. Of course, those with ample experience should increase their hourly rate to earn more.

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  1. Explore Several Income Streams

Freelance work allows you the flexibility to pursue different streams of income to meet your financial goals. For instance, you might monetize a blog with sponsored posts and affiliate marketing — another way to showcase your work to potential clients.

Taking on other freelance jobs — e-commerce seller, virtual assistant or social media specialist — provides additional opportunities for diversifying revenue. Just be sure whatever you decide to do stays within your expertise.

Of course, working part-time in a brick-and-mortar business is the more obvious option to up your income as a freelancer. Many have also taken positions as food deliverers and Uber drivers during their time off.

  1. Invest in Your Professional Development

You must put in work to gain profits. Investing in professional development — such as continuing education, webinars, seminars and conferences — is conducive to optimizing your earning potential.

The more you hone your skills to match the latest industry trends and broaden your professional network, the better you will be at leveraging a competitive advantage among your peers.

Outreach is also crucial for building your client pool within your field.

As a freelancer, you cannot rely on an employer’s built-in marketing team and rolodex to make your way. You must have the most relevant skill set and sell yourself accordingly.

  1. Create an Emergency Fund

What happens when business is slow, and you must pay for rent and groceries? You might face unforeseen medical or auto repair costs, too.

As a freelancer, there may not always be a consistent flow of income like you would have as a full-time employee at a company.

Experts suggest setting aside at least three to six months of savings to cover emergency expenses. Automating these funds is also best to ensure you have enough assets to stay afloat.

Meeting Your Financial Goals as a Freelancer Takes Time

Be patient with yourself as you work toward achieving long-term prosperity as a freelancer. Earning and saving money for financial freedom is a time-consuming habit to build. With mindful spending, smart utilization of resources and a commitment to saving, you can succeed in reaching your monetary goals.

Author Bio

Eleanor Designerly

Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the director at a marketing agency prior to becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear.

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