Struggling with student debt? You’re not alone! In fact, in Australia alone, the number of individuals with outstanding Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt in 2016-2017 is 2.7 million owing $54 billion – a number and amount that’s even likely to increase in the coming years. It is a similar situation in many OECD countries. More information for those who are interested in the OECD report on that subject is here.
Perhaps all of us can agree that this age is really a bad time to be a student given the rising inflation rates, economic volatility, expensive cost of living and costly university fees that can leave anyone in crippling debt.
While this may sound all gloom and doom, it is still possible for anyone to be able to pay off student debt or at least live in some form of financial freedom while studying.
Freelancing is one of the best ways to help students (and non-students) to gain extra income – in freelancing, you can take extra jobs that you can conveniently fit into your schedule and without leaving the comfort of your own home.
While freelancing is not a walk in the park, it certainly creates a blueprint for your extra income and will eventually help you pay your bills or loans and enable you to have more spending (or saving) power.
Amazon Prime Student helps students reduce their costs. You can read Top 12 Proven Ways That Students Can Save Using Amazon Prime Student here.
It’s just simple math – when you earn more, you’ll have more to spare for your living expenses, school fees, or student loans. Freelancing enables you to explore many ways for you to earn besides having a regular day (or night) job.
While it’s odd to say that taking on more online work would mean more time for you, it’s actually true. Since freelancing is super flexible – most projects you’re likely to take on are output-based – it means that you’ll be able to use for physical jobs if you can manage your time well.
Even if you’re still a student, there are plenty of opportunities for work related to your college degree – a lot of businesses or online clients are in need of what you can offer <em>(as a humanities, business, law or medical student, for instance)</em> – you just have to be available for work and find the people who are in need of your service.
Today is the best time to be a freelancer! There are literally tons of online working platforms (Upwork, Fiverr, Hubstaff, Freelancer, etc)where clients go to in order to find people who can help them with what they need. You won’t run out of opportunities for online work through freelancing, which translates to a (somewhat) constant stream of extra income for you.
One of the beauties of freelancing is that you can take work based on your hobbies and actual skill and not necessarily based on your degree. You can capitalize on your side talents – like for instance, data entry, research, or even social media management even if you’re not a professional. Clients are very much output-oriented and won’t stress over the qualifications of the freelancers taking the jobs, as long as you can deliver.
Since freelancing is super flexible, you can take as much work as you can and eventually earn as much income as you can for your bills or student loans. In most cases you don’t have to clock in for work, so you can work with several clients simultaneously – as long as you can fit them properly in your schedule.
Now you know why freelancing can help you pay your bills, here are some things you need to keep in mind when starting to do freelancing:
The best way freelancing can help your finances is to do it side by side with your regular job. Any extra income from side freelancing gigs can help you cover your living expenses and help you pay off student debt, so it’s best to consider freelancing as a supplement to your regular job and not necessarily an alternative.
Experiment, learn where you’re good at and don’t be afraid to fail. Take as many jobs as you can handle and fit into your schedule, but make sure to take ones that you’re realistically able to complete within the agreed timeframe. Also, try to explore your options – if you think you can do it, try it, so you can get more shots at earning for your fees and bills.
When freelancing, it’s also important to set up a business plan to formalize and professionalize your service. Think about your rate, your target market, your specific services, what makes you unique from everyone else, and even your strategy in retaining and generating more clients, and put these into writing.
Most freelancers start out as writers since there are tons of content that need to be written. You can do anything from online marketing and web design to creative and formal writing – plenty of brands, companies, and individual clients are constantly looking for people who can help them build their brands and audiences through content creation. You can charge clients per project, per article or per hour depending on your agreement.
If you love web design, coding or graphic design, then freelancing is for you! Besides writing, clients all over the world are also looking for individuals who can help them build and polish their websites through the code and web design and also help them in small projects like, say, a simple logo task or a holiday email campaign.
What better way to make use of your English skills than to teach online English classes! If you’re a native English speaker, you can take advantage of this by being an online English tutor and earning extra for your bills.
Are you organized and with keen attention to detail? If you are, you can be a virtual assistant! Plenty of businesses nowadays look for virtual online assistants – you don’t have to be available full-time to be one since there are people who are just looking for someone to help them at least 5 to 10 hours per week or help them with one-off projects.
If virtual assisting is not your thing or if you haven’t found your niche yet, you can always try data entry work, transcription, research-based assignments, or even simple app testing gigs.
If you’re strong willed and up for an adventure, you can consider taking a teaching job abroad, like for instance, in Asian countries. The salary may not be as high as Australia, US or UK jobs, but traveling freelancers marvel at the low costs of living there, which eventually enable them to pay for their loans and their bills and even make room for international travel.
While it is clear that doing freelancing simultaneously while studying (or with a regular day job) can help you increase your funds for school fees, student loans, and living expenses, there are specific strategies you can practice and that would usher you into financial freedom:
Make plans to pay your student debts as soon as you’re earning. Sit down and take time to evaluate how much to set apart each month for your student loans – the earlier you start paying them off, the better it is for you in the future.
Before you get tempted to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to the latest tech gadgets or luxury items and think that you deserve to splurge for a job well done – think again.
Don’t get too carried away when you’re earning a lot in freelancing – make sure to save as much as you can, build an emergency fund (6-12 months’ worth of expenses) and actively set aside funds for your student debt. Even freelancing has its lean seasons, so learn to save when on your earning streak.
There are income-dependent repayment plans available for you – these repayment plans range from 20-25 years and as their name implies, are dependent on and will be computed based on your income. These are ideal for freelancing students like you; however, it may be hard for you to qualify for these plans at first.
Do you have more than one loan? If so, you may need to refinance. Student loan refinancing means consolidating all of your loans into one loan mass to get a lower interest – this way, you’re able to cut thousands of dollars’ worth of interest. However, make sure to research rates and know the risks of refinancing.
The best time to refinance is when your income is high since lenders look at your debt to income ratio. If you think you’re earning enough in freelancing plus your day job, consider refinancing now.
When freelancing, don’t forget to pay your taxes! While it may sound counterintuitive to pay for something in order to save, paying your taxes may even qualify you for deductions on your student loan interests depending on where you are.
Student life may be difficult, but there are tools you can use to help you become more financially empowered, like freelancing. It may take you some time to process freelancing and integrate it into your lifestyle (especially if you already have a day job or if you’re still in school), but eventually, you’ll get the hang of it. If you’re not into freelancing yet, today is the best time to start!