Freelancers’ guide to good financial habits

Financial tips to make the most of the new year

The world is your oyster. Whether you’re a freelancer, an independent contractor, or working a side gig, it’s important to have goals. We want to help you cross off tasks, check boxes, and be your most productive self—all with financial stability. So think of this as a field guide to start the year off right.

Tip #1: Run the numbers.

The cool thing about being your own boss is that you set your income goals for the year. Approach this task strategically. How much do you need to earn each month to pay your bills, save a bit for retirement and a rainy day, and enjoy your life? This number is different for everyone, but don’t wing it. Take a few minutes to do some basic, back-of-the-napkin math, and your future self will thank you.

Tip #2: Don’t forget about taxes.

Taxes are not automatically withheld for many freelancers. If you receive a Form 1099 for your work, then chances are that you need to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax. SE tax includes Medicare and Social Security. Employers typically take care of these withholdings, but when you’re self-employed, the obligation is yours. Taxes can add up to ~25-35% of your income, so be sure to factor them into your bill calculations. Check out the IRS Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center to learn more.¹

Tip #3: Track your expenses.

Remember that one time at Target when you bought pens? We don’t either. That’s why it’s important to keep track of expenses in real time. If you purchased those pens for work, then you may be able to deduct them come tax time. Expense deductions can add up to big savings—even when items as small as ballpoints are on the list. Categorizing work expenses on the go and capturing receipts will help you maximize deductions and shave as much as you can off your tax bill. Plus, separating your work expenses from your personal finances is a key step toward organizational bliss.

Tip #4: Streamline to stay organized.

Separate doesn’t have to mean complex. You have enough going on. The easiest way to stay organized is to streamline your processes and tools. Maybe you have a couple fast-growing side gigs and a 9 to 5? (We applaud you.) Adopt tools that will help you manage your various income and expense streams without six accounts, three integrations, and ten spreadsheets. Keep it simple. Find your favorite tools. And use them every day to develop good habits.

Looking for the right tool?

Learn more about how indi can help you bank on the go, calculate and save toward your Tax Savings Goal, and track expenses—all in one app.²


1. This blog post is not a substitute for individual tax planning or for legal, financial, or tax advice.

2. indi is a prepaid account. Funds are held at PNC Bank, National Association and are eligible for FDIC insurance, subject to FDIC insurance coverage limits. The indi prepaid debit card is issued by PNC Bank, National Association. A supported mobile device is needed to use the indi mobile app. Standard message and data rates may apply. indi’s Tax Savings Goal feature is intended only as a tool to provide a basic sense of your potential tax savings needs. Using funds designated as Tax Savings for other spending may leave too little money to pay your taxes.