How My Highest Paying Freelancing Job Has Taught Me to Budget Better Than Ever

Funny story, when I received my final nursing paycheck, I received the most money I’ve ever been given at once in the form of a direct deposit into my checking account: $2,200. My typical two-week paycheck at this job was about $1,800 but this paycheck had my built-up PTO on it so that’s why it was higher than usual.

Since I quit working as a nurse in October of 2020, I’ve been working for myself as a freelance copywriter. I’ll be honest, I definitely haven’t been making anywhere near $1,800 every two weeks over these last 8 months, but I have been getting by. I’m paying my bills, paying for my daughter to go to daycare, affording groceries just fine, and filling my two weekly workdays with more writing work than I ever knew I’d be getting. I feel incredibly blessed.

Back when I was a nurse, I made more money than I knew what to do with. Now, I’m not trying to sound like I’m complaining about having too much money, that would be silly. But the benefit of making that much money was 100% outweighed by the drawbacks of being away from my young daughter for 40 hours a week, being completely drained on every day off, feeling like I could barely function, and being overcome by anxiety that felt completely out of my control.

On the contrary, my current drawback of not making a luxurious paycheck every two weeks, is completely outweighed by the benefits of making my own schedule, focusing on being a mom, having the freedom to rest when I need to, doing something that I love, and having a greater handle on my mental health than ever before. You seriously can’t put a price on your health.

The icing on the cake in this situation is that although my income is inconsistent at times, it isn’t very bad, and it’s only up from here. I recently made the most money that I ever have since I started freelancing, and here’s where it gets good. On the day when I received the direct deposit for my highest paying project yet, it actually trumped that final nursing paycheck, taking the place of the most money I’ve ever seen direct deposited into my account at one time: $2,750.

So, what’s the lesson to be learned here? I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t “go out and spend that paycheck on whatever you want, because you deserve it”. It’s a little more practical than that. Here’s how my biggest payday yet is teaching me to budget better than ever before.

Freelancing can feel like feast or famine.

I started writing this post towards the end of my most profitable month yet as a freelancer. Ironically, as I work on finishing this post now, I’m in the midst of one of my lowest paying months. It’s a little stressful but I’ve been here before, I’ve gotten through it, and I truly believe that months of consistent, higher pay are just around the corner. Because I’ve learned to be smart with my money when I have it, the times when money is tight don’t feel as grueling.

Although, I’d love to have spending money all the time (and soon I WILL), being a little tight on money every once in a while isn’t the end of the world and can actually be quite humbling. When I received that big payout last month, I knew I couldn’t just go blow it all. I put some towards paying off my credit card, added some to savings, and got ahead on my bills. So, now that money is tight again, I’m not feeling too worried because my finances are somewhat in order.

Times of low money are humbling

I’m honestly grateful for the times in my life when I’ve felt like my finances weren’t exactly as I wanted them to be because these moments have humbled me. These moments teach me to focus on what I do have, rather than to keep buying things that I think I need. That being said, I obviously want to have a secure income soon, but I know that worrying or feeling stressed about the present moment won’t help get me there. I’m building a whole new career from the ground up, and the fact that I’ve come as far as I have in less than a year is a huge cause for celebration. If I spend all of my energy fixating on the fact that my finances aren’t exactly where I want them to be right now, I’m going to miss out on how far I truly have come.

The future is bright

My highest paying freelancing gig taught me one very important lesson: this career path has serious potential (endless potential, actually). Although I’m not consistently making a ton of money yet, I see that a paycheck much higher than what I made as a nurse is definitely possible.

Patience, confidence, and perseverance are going to get me there. Success is about pushing past the challenging times and believing in your own ability. Once you know that you’re doing everything in your power, all that’s left is to have faith.


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