Millennial Families Can Help Pay For Their Energy Bills By Freelancing
Millennials or the generation born between 1980s and 1990s are best known for tech and internet savvy, for YOLO (You Only Live Once) living and pursuing their passions.
Unfortunately, since most millennials were inducted in the workforce post-recession, many millennials have come to suffer various financial difficulties.
Most millennial families would agree that compared to their predecessors (their parents or their grandparents), they're earning less or that they're in more debt compared to their parents when they were of the same age.
Because of the financial difficulties millennial families experience on a constant basis, most millennials find themselves struggling even when it comes to managing their utility bills (like energy bills and the like).
If you're a millennial, you are most likely familiar with the following financial issues that impair your ability to make more money:
- Crushing student debt. Perhaps one of the most crippling financial problems for millennials, student loans are something that millennials are quite familiar with. In the United States, national student debt is over a trillion dollars and counting.
Australia is also no stranger to student debt-the (Higher Education Loan Program) national student loan debt, according to the government, is $54.0 billion in 2017-2018. These student debts restrict millennials from saving money for their own home or their retirement.
- Underemployment. According to Forbes, underemployment is the bigger elephant in the room, perhaps bigger than the pressing unemployment issue.
Some millennials with masters and PhDs are forced to take lower paying extra jobs to pay off student debt or to somehow make their finances work.
- Rising mortgage. Millennials are often accusing of killing various industries, the housing industry included. Most millennials prefer renting (or building tiny, mobile houses) instead of investing in their own home primarily because the mortgage is far beyond what they can afford.
While the world has experienced all-time interest lows in the past years-in fact, the lowest in 5000 years-mortgage commitments are not something that millennials can afford to pursue.
- Expensive cost of living. While the cost of living generally depends on where you live, we can all agree that the cost of living has continued to rise.
Food, clothing, petrol and other necessities are more expensive than before and this hurts millennial families significantly.
- Expensive retirement costs. Retirement is a bleak topic for most millennials as most millennials do not have their retirement plans in place yet.
Given the high costs of living and everything else, retirement planning provisions remain elusive even for hardworking millennials.
- Rising costs of elderly care. Caring for ageing parents also come with a massive price tag and often, this is one burden that millennials have to bear.
Taking care of your parents (financially) can be incredibly hard especially if you’re depending on them for financial help.
- Dwindling savings. According to one survey, most millennials are stretched too thin to save for retirement and the remaining individuals admitted to not saving at all.
Those who are able to save, however, may find their savings with less spending power in 40 or so years, thanks to inflation and unprecendented wage stagnation globally according this OECD article here.
Is There Any Way For Millennials To Be Able To Break Free From Struggling Financially?
Millennial families may find it easy to feel overwhelmed by the bills and the increasing cost of almost everything from food to mortgage costs. If you think that this is you, there is hope-there are some ways to help you increase your income online. Freelancing is one of the best ways for millennials to earn income without even leaving the comfort of their own home.
If you can find the time to build your online profile on various online working platforms (like Upwork, Freelance, Guru and others) and also find time to look for work online and make your schedule work, you can effectively earn extra for energy bills and other utility expenses.
Freelancing And Earning Additional Income
First Of All, What Is Freelancing?
Online freelancers are self-employed individuals who are offering their services and specialisations across industries. Freelancers are not necessarily committed to a particular company/employer long-term, unlike traditional employment.
Freelancers have the freedom to work with various employers simultaneously and also have the freedom to work wherever they want, whenever they want.
How Can Freelancing Help Millennial Families Take Care Of Their Bills?
The most obvious case is that freelancing can help families earn extra income during their free time. If you're an individual who feels that you can do more things during your spare time, you might be able to make a good career out of freelancing.
If you work weekdays from 9 to 5, you can still work an extra 2 to 3 hours per day plus weekends as a freelancer-this can help your budget significantly, especially if you find your family living from paycheck to paycheck.
Ways To Do Freelancing
One of the most common misconceptions about freelancing is that it would take a huge chunk of your time. This is not true-freelancing is actually very flexible and freelancers can have the choice to work only part time or full time.
Here are some ways to do freelancing if you’re planning to earn more for your bills:
- As a part-time job that's related to your profession. In most cases, online freelancers have other day jobs apart from their online gigs.
Professionals working corporate jobs (for instance, accountants, analysts, etc.) may advertise their expertise in various online freelancing platforms and take brief jobs from companies or individuals who may need their help for special projects.
This arrangement would work for professionals who want to earn extra but don't want their freelancing gigs to interfere with their desk job commitments.
- As a part-time job that's not related to your profession. While most freelancers take what they do and advertise their expertise online, others take a different approach.
Instead of freelancing using their current profession, some do freelance work that's based on their other interests or hobbies. For instance, you can be a corporate banker but you can work as a freelance travel blogger/writer.
Or you can be a teacher who takes part-time graphics or video editing work. In most cases, clients won't be looking for certifications for your extra skills-they just need to see your portfolio/samples of your past work.
- Full-time. Individuals who are able to find long-term clients or are able to establish a good client base are eventually able to transition from their traditional job to a permanent online freelancing career.
You can also consider working freelance full-time if you can earn more through freelancing than your desk job.
Depending on your existing schedule and your ability to find work online, you can opt to work part-time or full time as an online freelancer.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Freelancing
According to Upwork, one of the leading online working platforms, in 2017, there are almost 60 million freelancers in America alone and at the rate this is going, the number of freelancers will exceed the number of traditionally employed individuals.
Why are people moving towards freelancing? Let's take a look at the following advantages of freelancing:
- Flexibility. One of the best things that freelancing has to offer is flexibility. When freelancing, you have the capacity to choose the jobs you'll work on and work according to your free time.
- Become your own boss. Although your clients are your bosses, most online clients give freelancers the freedom to accomplish the projects at their own pace.
While there are deadlines, there are no bosses who hover over you and micromanage you while you're working on a specific project.
- Additional income. Yes, as we've discussed in the previous sections, freelancing is an excellent way to supplement your existing income.
While beginners may tend to struggle with lower hourly and project rates, freelancers may increase their rates in time, as they are able to successfully complete projects and gain more expertise in their field.
- Ability to work wherever you want. Since freelancers aren't required to work in an office you will have the ability to work at home or wherever in the world you like when you do freelance work.
In some instances (depending on your industry), you may be required to have a home office or a space resembling a home office, but in most cases, you can work even without one.
- More work-life balance. Work arrangements as a freelancer vary depending on their clients, but most of the time, freelancers can work with much freedom when it comes to their time.
For millennial families, this could mean more time for other more important things like family time or self-improvement.
Freelancing could mean that a mother or a father can work and earn while being able to watch their children grow, or that a son or a daughter can work while taking care of their ageing parents.
Freelancing offers a good opportunity for families to earn more without having to travel to a distant workplace or lose quality family time.
- More work opportunities. There are a lot of clients and companies in need of what you have to offer-you just have to look for them and be in a place where they can find you.
Online marketplaces enable experts and skilled individuals like you to advertise your talents and allow clients in need of your skills to find you.
Since businesses are now moving their services and products on the web, freelancing is also a good way of ensuring that you'll be able to keep up with the shift of work from traditional employment to the web.
- Ability to earn more than your desk job. While it will take time and enormous self-investment to become truly financially successful as a freelancer, those who are able to develop a good client base and also those able to establish an impressive profile specific online marketplaces are able to eventually earn more than their traditional jobs.
- Better work hours. While there are great traditional companies able to give their employees very flexible time arrangements, freelancers get to have better time schedules than regularly employed individuals.
Freelancers can plan to work 10 hours or less per week or work 40 to 80 hours per week depending on their capacity for work.
- More savings. With freelancing, you don't have to worry about commute, lunch or petrol expenses since you'd get to work at home.
Although you may find yourself getting more energy expenses or investing in better hardware for your online work, you can save more money and effort by freelancing at home.
- Ability to work jobs in line with your real interests. If you feel like you're dying inside every day at work, working freelance may be your breath of fresh air. You can find work that's within your realm of interest and you can earn while doing what you love.
- Ability to travel and relocate for better savings. It's interesting that a lot of millennials (especially from native English speaking countries) are taking freelance online jobs as English teachers for Asian students.
A good number of these teacher/tutors have also opted to relocate to countries with lower costs of living so they can earn more and save more.
While doing freelance work part/full-time is a fulfilling experience, it is not without challenges. Here are potential disadvantages for individuals planning to do freelance work for an additional income stream:
- No contracts. Compared to traditional employment, freelancers are not given long-term contracts by their employers.
In most cases, employers have the right to terminate any given contract with freelancers at any given time, even without informing the freelancers why.
- No benefits. Freelancers have to pay their own insurance, health care and fund their retirement plan.
There are also no employer contributions when it comes to these plans, so retirement and health care may be more expensive for freelance workers.
- Difficulty in building a regular stream of income. Due to the uncertainty of work, it is difficult for freelancers to maintain a steady stream of income.
As a freelancer, you have to work hard to land regular clients or upgrade your skills so you can pitch more clients in the future.
- Taxes can be difficult. With regular employment, taxes are already deducted from your salary.
Freelancers, on the other hand, must do their own research when it comes to filing their taxes or consult a local accountant for help.
- Low beginner rates. Even if you're an expert in your field, when you’re a newbie on an online working platform, you may suffer beginner rates at first.
As you are able to complete more projects and upgrade your skills, you will be able to increase your freelancing rates.
How Do You Become A Freelancer?
Becoming a freelancer requires your commitment to advertising your skill set and your expertise in various online marketplaces or online working platforms. Here are a few steps you can take when aiming to become a freelancer:
- Identify the things you're good at. Know which skills you have-are you a writer, a graphic designer, a social media marketing expert or an SEO expert?
Make sure to identify what skills you're planning to offer on online marketplaces.
- Create profiles in various online working platforms. Research various online talent marketplaces to see which one is the best fit for whatever you have to offer.
Some of the famous online marketplaces you'd like to try are the following:
Make sure your profile is complete. Have your portfolio ready for your future clients' reference.
Apply to projects you know you can deliver. Make sure your cover letter is easy to understand and able to communicate what you can offer your client. Make sure to send a personalised cover letter to each of your potential clients.
When you're accepted for a project, make sure to complete it properly. Communicate well with your clients, take care of them and work with integrity.
Invest in online courses to get certifications relevant to your skill set so you can upgrade your rates in the future. There are various online learning platforms where you can learn for free or at a minimal fee per course with certifications. You can try Udemy, Lynda, HubSpot Academy, Coursera and many more.
Don't give up if you don't land clients you pitch 100% of the time. Sometimes, some clients are not a good fit for a number of reasons. Eventually, as you persevere, you'll be able to land great clients who would want to collaborate with you long-term.
Whether you're a millennial or not, freelancing can help you earn more for yourself and your family. Not only will you have enough for energy or utility bills-you will also be able to have more time for other more important things in life, like quality family time, self-investment (education and online training) or fun.
If you want more freelancing tips or if you want more help with freelance life-related issues, visit Freelance Work Guide's blog for updates or check out this book: How to be Self-Employed: A Freelance Work from Home Guide for more freelancer resources and tips on how to become a successful online freelance worker.