Tag: Entrepreneurship


How Much Money Can You Really Make as a Freelancer?

By Gemma Hartley
November 5, 2017

If I tell you I work from home as a freelance writer, you may assume it’s a nice little side hustle to make me feel more productive as a stay-at-home parent. In reality, however, freelancing is my full-time job, and I earn a full-time salary. I’ve been at it for two and a half years and I consistently earn more than $5,000 a month.

What does my workload look like? I work about 15-20 highly focused hours per week (i.e. no checking Facebook while writing) and churn out about 30-40 articles per month on topics ranging from parenting to finance to emotional labor. I write exceptionally fast, which gives me the bandwidth to take on more work. When I’m not writing, I’m still working. I still have to account for the time spent brainstorming and pitching new story ideas, finding new outlets to write for, bookkeeping, and collecting payments for overdue invoices.

Of course, no two freelance writers do exactly the same thing. They also don’t necessarily earn the same hourly or project rates. Some freelancers hustle at it full-time, whereas others prefer to take on freelance projects on the side. To learn more, I decided to talk to a few writers to get their take on how they make money. Take a look.

Katherine Clover: Freelance rookie

Freelancing for two years with earnings of $12,000 to $18,000 per year

Schedule: I set aside three days per week, or about 25 hours, for freelance work. I want to push myself to earn more than my average of $1,000-$1,500 a month, but I want to do so without burning out.

Since I am my own boss, I think about how I’d want a boss to treat me. “That means allowing myself to take breaks, setting a reasonable schedule, and trying to work with my strengths. It also means creating systems to streamline things, and keeping track of the money without getting addicted to the money.”

Best part of the job: The work itself is something I love. I also like going after projects that excite me, like writing about dinosaurs for Salon. I was delighted to learn “the big secret” of freelancing is to simply ask to write about the things you love.

Worst part of the job: People do not realize how much of a hassle it can be to get paid for the work you’ve already done, how much bookkeeping is involved, and how much it really is like running a business. All of that time doing invoicing and paperwork is essentially unpaid labor. I think people imagine when I’m working, I’m writing. This is not always the case.

Advice: Just keep pitching. You won’t get work if you don’t ask for it.

Emily Monaco: Freelance go-getter

Freelancing for four years with earnings of about $48,000 per year

Schedule: I work weekdays between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, with very little time off for breaks. I’ll usually take off one afternoon per week, but I occasionally do a bit of work in the evenings or on the weekends to make up for it. The work is a mix of interviews and transcribing, pitching, story writing, and working on my novel.

Best part of the job: The freedom. I love being able to decide on a sunny Tuesday morning to go for a hike or to go back to New York to visit my family for several weeks with little or no disruption of my schedule. I also like that my work life is constantly changing and evolving, and I can work on projects that interest me.

Worst part of the job: Self-motivation is definitely a challenge and it’s important to come up with a system that works for you. I actually think the most difficult part of freelancing is getting other people to respect your work hours. Just because freelancers don’t go into an office doesn’t mean we don’t have to work.

Advice: Break down your income goals into manageable pieces. Look at your life and the money you need to make to maintain it. For example, if you want to earn $2,100 in a month, you can break this down into 21 working days, so $100 a day. “When you get up in the morning, work until you meet that goal. Then you can either take the rest of the day off, work ahead, or pitch for new projects.”

Chaunie Brusie: Freelance veteran

Freelancing for six years with earnings $100,000 to $120,000 per year

Schedule: I start work at 5:30 am and work 40 hours per week around the schedules of my four children. I work on and off all day, spending pretty much every free moment writing, and I try to dedicate at least one full day to work while I have a babysitter. I very rarely have “set” hours.

Best part of the job: I can make a significant income and still set my own schedule. I never miss field trips or school events, I go to the gym every day, and I have the freedom to go out to lunch with a friend or do whatever I want. I enjoy being my own boss and the backend of running my own business. I also genuinely love writing and find enormous satisfaction in being a storyteller. I also love how it encourages exploration. “I can write about going on a wine tour, for example, or take my kids to a new museum exhibit. It’s awesome when life overlaps with what works for me.”

Worst part of the job: How incredibly hard it can be to set boundaries for yourself. I only recently have started to cut back on work a bit after it started affecting me physically. I’ve literally been glued to my computer and phone for years and it’s not healthy! The isolation is also hard: I feel a lot like I am writing about life instead of actually living it.

Advice: Know what you’re willing to give up because freelancing comes with a price. Are you willing to give up leisure time and TV shows? You’ll have to carve the time out from somewhere. On the flipside, set some rules for yourself so you don’t wind up working 24/7.

Do you want to try freelancing?

Whether you’re interested in freelancing as a side hustle or a full-blown career, it helps to set reasonable, actionable goals for yourself. Figure out what you want – whether it’s a cool byline at a big publication or a set dollar amount each month. From there, come up with a plan to achieve your goal.

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Celebrating LGBT Pride with The Debt Free Guys

By Monchette Gonda
June 24, 2017

When they started dating, David Auten and John Schneider were 30-something professionals with 13 years of combined experience in financial services. They also had more than $50,000 of combined credit card debt.

Today, they’re married and debt-free. They’re also the only gay couple talking about money and the LGBT community.

LGBT individuals encounter some unique financial challenges compared to their heterosexual peers. For example, same-sex couples may have trouble accessing employer-sponsored health insurance benefits or tax deductions for shared expenses like mortgage payments. Indeed, many of these challenges were alleviated by the Supreme Court ruling in 2015. This historic ruling guaranteed same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry. Today, same-sex and heterosexual couples alike can take advantage of joint tax returns, shared health insurance and retirement benefits, and more. Yet, even with these strides forward, there’s still a lot to be done to ensure the financial future of the LGBT community.

These days, Auten and Schneider are forging the way for queer individuals and allies to become financially strong while fighting for LGBT equality. In addition to blogging at Debt Free Guys, the pair run a podcast and YouTube show focused on personal finance for the queer community.

We sat down with the Debt Free Guys to talk about pride, personal finance, and living debt-free.

Chime: What does financial wellness mean to you?

Debt Free Guys: To us, financial wellness means financial security. If money is a stressor in your life, it will affect your physical and mental health. If you’re distracted by too much student loan debt, a mortgage that takes more than 50% of your income or credit card debt that carries from month to month, you can’t be fully engaged in what’s most important to you and your family.

Chime: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned since starting Debt Free Guys?

Debt Free Guys: The most surprising thing we’ve learned since starting Debt Free Guys is how much information about money people crave. It’s widely accepted that we aren’t adequately taught about money in school and most adults know that financial knowledge is important for their success. We need more money experts of all stripes, from certified financial planners to money bloggers.

Chime: What are your favorite tricks for saving money?

Debt Free Guys: Know your ‘why.’ No tip or trick will help until you know what you want and why you want it. We’re often asked in interviews how we paid off $51,000 in credit card debt in two and a half years. The underlying question here is: What tips or tricks can you share? While tips and tricks are helpful, it wasn’t until we learned what was important to us that we had the motivation to implement the tips and tricks required for our financial success.

Chime: How are you celebrating Pride this year?

Debt Free Guys: We spoke at Prudential’s LGBT Financial Experience Symposium in Newark NJ and we’re attending the Stonewall Community Foundation Awards in New York City.

Chime: Any tips for our LGBT members?

Debt Free Guys: Contrary to popular belief, many in the LGBT community struggle with financial insecurity. We’re not all “fabulous” and upwardly mobile power couples. That said, it’s important for us to talk about money and to seek advice and help with our money whether we earn $10,000 a year or $1,000,000 a year. People who talk with peers and mentors about money tend to do better with money. Seek help because regardless of why you may be struggling financially, there is a way to improve your financial life. This helps you personally and our LGBT community broadly.

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5 Steps You Need to Take Before You Can Earn More Money

By Kim Galeta
March 30, 2017

Most of us wish we had more money. And, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to think about what you could do with an extra $3,000 per month or even $1,000. If my income doubled today, one of the first things I’d do is book a three-week trip to the Caribbean for some much needed R&R. I’d also pay down the remainder of my debt because one of my goals is 100% debt freedom.

The question then becomes: How do you get from wanting more money to actually making more money? The answer is not so simple as this takes much more than just sheer grit. Here are 5 steps to take before you can earn more money.

Make decisions based on where you want to be.

Are the career moves you’re making putting you one step closer to your goals, or one step further away? This is a pretty deep question. So, let’s break it down into some more manageable questions to ponder:

  • How important is a work-life balance to you? For example, do you mind working 80-100 hours a week? Or is 50 hours per week your limit?
  • What’s your end goal? For example, do you want to be a chief technology officer or do you want to be a solopreneur or a creative entrepreneur?
  • What do you need to do to get there? Do you need to switch careers, get some certifications under your belt or even go back to school for an advanced degree? Or, do you need to start networking like crazy and join a professional organization or two?

Remember, the way to make money by doing what you love is to, well, do what you love. Yup, you read that right. Find out what you’re most passionate about and turn that into your career.

Ask for what you want.

Most people are uncomfortable asking for a raise because they don’t want to come across as being too pushy. Or, perhaps being turned down is something you don’t want to face. But did you know that the odds of receiving a pay upgrade are actually in your favor? A 2015 study published in Time Magazine showed that 44% of people who asked for a raise got the amount they wanted while 31% got less than they asked for. Hey, those who fell into that 31% are still better off than if they hadn’t asked at all.

Keep in mind that if you just started your job or took on a new client, chances are you won’t get a raise until you have proven your worth. Think of it this way – when it’s the right time to ask for a raise, you don’t want your boss or client to think twice about whether or not you deserve it.

Write down all your accomplishments at your job for the past six months. Figure out what a reasonable increase would be based on researching your industry and the strengths you bring to the table. After you’ve done this, go for it!

Take on more responsibility.

Now that you’ve asked for more money and hopefully received it, you’ll probably be expected to take on more work. You could even be asked to take on a leadership role and manage other employees. However, make sure you can handle any extra tasks. If you say yes to every extra assignment, you may quickly find yourself on the brink of burnout.

Ensure that you’re agreeing to an extra workload for the right reasons and that you have the bandwidth to take them out on. Have an honest and open discussion with your supervisor or client about expectations and timelines. Then, get these expectations in writing if possible.

Scale back your lifestyle.

When was the last time you spring cleaned your finances and trimmed the fat from your budget? If you’re struggling to remember, then it’s probably time to take action. Challenge yourself to find some areas in your life where you can scale back. Chances are, there are many ways to pare down and “find” money in your budget. Here are three possible options:

  • Cancel that gym membership that you swore you’d start using at the beginning of the year.
  • Cook more meals at home instead of eating out. Millennials spend close to $3,000 a year on eating out according to a recent study in Forbes.
  • Find a cheaper place to live or if you have a spare room, consider renting it out on Airbnb.

Review your spending over the last 90 days and separate wants from needs. Figure out where you can scale back and start living below your means. The idea is to start developing healthy financial habits so that you can start building wealth for your future.

Create a solid plan to save more money. 

One big motivation for making more money is achieving financial freedom. However, making more money will not get you closer to this goal if you squander it away. Instead of spending it all on shoes or vacations, it’s time to get serious about your money and your future. That’s right, I’m talking about saving most, if not all, of your pay increase. Use this extra money to pay down debt, build an emergency fund or save for retirement.

With a Chime bank account, you can save when you get paid and automatically direct a percentage of every paycheck into your savings account. This way you can put your savings on autopilot and achieve financial goals faster. As a bonus, if you use your Chime card to make purchases, Chime will round up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar, and transfer the round-up from your Spending Account to your Savings Account. How awesome is that?

To recap, before you can start making more money, you need to remember these five strategies: Create a vision for the future, ask for what you want, understand the extra responsibilities, live below your means and start saving when you get paid. Now it’s time to go after your goals and make it happen!

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How a 28-Year-Old Entrepreneur Paid Off Her Debt in 18 Months

By Chris Terschluse
February 15, 2017
 Do you ever wish there was a silver bullet to paying off your student loans faster?

As millennials, we’re a generation hell-bent on pursuing our dreams with a YOLO mentality. Meanwhile, our paychecks disappear into monthly bills, loan payments, and rent–putting those dreams of financial freedom just out of reach. The struggle is certainly real and requires a combination of ingenuity and self-discipline to accelerate the process of getting out of debt.

Jesse Genet, the 28-year old founder of Lumi, literally found her silver bullet in the form of a vintage airstream and an “aggressive saving” strategy that enabled her to pay off her student debt in just 18 months. The best part? She did it without giving up on her dream of starting her own company which manufactures innovative packaging and branded supplies.

Being an entrepreneur, Jesse is no stranger to overcoming adversity. Not only has she found incredible success with her startup after a challenging Shark Tank appearance, she’s also paid off tens of thousands of dollars of debt in just 18 months. Here’s Jesse’s story:

Tells us about your financial journey.

People often assume that as an entrepreneur I have millions of dollars, but that’s definitely not the case. I bootstrapped my business, Lumi, for five years while also trying to pay down thousands of dollars in student debt. Entrepreneur finances can be rough. I often found myself taking financial hits for the sake of my company at the beginning. I was paying myself very little and I was in and out of credit card debt as a result. The little money I made here and there would usually go toward necessities. However, without a steady paycheck, the debt was persistent. For me, credit card debt was truly anxiety producing and it really started to affect me emotionally. That’s when I decided to become an aggressive saver.


What did you do to become an “aggressive saver?”

It really just means that I spent time finding unique solutions to cut down my living expenses. About 18 months ago, I decided to focus only on necessities. Two major expenses I eliminated immediately were rent and car payments. I moved into a 220 square foot airstream that’s parked behind my company’s office building. My partner and I bought the used airstream for $25K and put about $5K into remodeling it. It has queen size bed, full kitchen, and shower. It took a little bit of getting used to a smaller space, but it has everything I need and I no longer pay rent. I also opted to skip the lease and just go for a used car that gets me to get from point A to B. It’s a 1972 truck that I absolutely adore.

That’s a pretty amazing way to reduce your expenses.

Yeah. It might not work for everyone, but I think just focusing on eliminating a specific type expense can lead anyone to find some creative solutions. Case in point! But cutting back on my day-to-day spending also really helped.

What did you do to change your spending habits?

I cut way back on how many credit cards I regularly used and instead opted to simplify my spending with a debit card account. That’s actually when I started using Chime.There’s absolutely zero anxiety with a debit card. My Chime debit card and the Chime app really help me stay self-disciplined with my spending. The app makes it super easy to always know where I stand and it helps me figure how much I should spend in a given week.

I love the daily balance notifications and having a bank account that’s actually well designed makes staying on top of my spending actually enjoyable. I use Chime for all of my daily expenses and to pay my bills through the app because I know it will provide clarity on my finances. Chime has basically become the central hub for my spending. I also have all my other bank accounts linked into Chime as well so I can see all of my balances in one place. I feel way more in control now compared to the old habit of putting random purchases on random credit cards and then paying the price later.

What advice would you share with others who are struggling with debt? 

You can have radical financial change quickly. I was able to eliminate tens of thousands of dollars in debt in just 18 months, not 10 years. Of course, I took an aggressive approach, but a big part of what led to that transformation was simply changing how I thought about my money. Finances can be fun. Not onerous and scary. I think having financial goals is the key to thinking of saving money as fun. It becomes addictive when you start to see progress and it feels great to achieve what you set out to accomplish. I also think it’s important that people take the time to understand the math of compounded interest on student loans. I paid the absolute max I could on my on my student loan every month and ended up saving $18,000 over the life of the loan. 

What are your goals now that you’re debt-free?

My financial stability and freedom is all very new. Freedom and autonomy have always been life goals for me. It flows with entrepreneurship and always trying to build something. I feel like my first goal was to achieve freedom by no longer making financial decisions out of fear e.g. staying in a job because I needed the money. Now that I’m debt-free, the next bar is making the right choices in my new autonomy. I’m thinking that someday I’d love to build my own home. To have a space that I really feel like I own. I’m just now starting to think about how to save for that goal. There’s a gorgeous lake just 90 min from LA called Lake Arrowhead that’s been calling my name.

Are you a Chime member with a story to share? Please email us: contributors@chime.com


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