How I Keep Myself Accountable
What are some ways you’ve learned to keep yourself accountable to work and keep your schedule manageable?
As a Solopreneur I don’t have someone to report to every morning, so keeping myself accountable on a daily basis is something I have to strongly implement into my routine. Some of the ways I've learned to do this are by making myself a strict schedule everyday with a stop and start time, making sure that I always have a goal at the end of the day that I have to meet, and of course learning to say NO to events. Learning to say no is the hardest part of keeping myself accountable - even though I know that may sound crazy to some (I am a workaholic and love to network) When you work for yourself, you want to say yes to everything, whether it is an event, TV appearance, etc, but it is very important to learn to not overwork yourself, as I know from personal experience I will burnout.
What are some financial “no-no’s” you’ve learned since you started the business? Have there been any money mistakes you’ve made that you really learned from that shaped how you do things now?
I have had my fare share of financial "no no’s", however my biggest has been learning to pace myself and my spending. I’ve learned that just because I want to fix my website, hire the best photographer, work with the best freelancers in the business on illustrations, creative video content, etc,. it doesn’t mean I can do them all at once. My work is my passion, and I’m constantly inspired by the people around me and the new projects I have coming up, but I’ve had to learn the hard way to say no to things that I will have to invest money and time in. I can't put out all of my content out at once no matter how excited I am about it, or else my business won't succeed financially.
When you evaluate an offer, how do you weigh what you’ll make from the brand vs. what you’ll have to spend (time and money) to create the content?
At this point, I leave the negotiating up to my agent/savior. We have worked together to decide how much time I really need to create the content. There is so much time and energy that goes into the photo, especially when it is sponsored by a specific brand. I only work with brands I truly love and admire, so of course I want them to be happy with the outcome. I have to allocate a certain amount of money aside for photography, transportation, props (if it rains etc) and space to shoot. Then I look at my value for the company, what I can bring to the brand I am working with and visa versa. I also have to consider what my ROI will be for the brand and MOST IMPORTANTLY what my followers would be interested in.
Financial Questions: Answered by a Financial Expert
My income varies from month-to-month, do you have a suggestion how to manage this?
To get a feel for your annual expenditures, track 3 months worth of income and expenses. Fixed expenses and variable expenses. Fixed = rent, utilities, groceries, health insurance, business expenses etc… Variable = beauty, clothes, fun spending. The goal is to live on (fixed expenses) 50% of your income. The remaining 50% should be shared amongst variable expenses and savings, 30% and 20%, respectively.
Pro Tip! If you have additional discretionary money some months, try to put it into a vacation fund or to purchase that one item you’ve been dying to have, rather than spending it on extra small items. The more you can “train” yourself not to over(indulge)spend, the less likely you are to do it!
When I get a paycheck, how much should I be saving and what’s the best place to save or invest?
If and when possible, it’s recommended to save 20% of your income. This could go into a savings account or could go towards a retirement account or even to invest. A regular savings account at a bank is a great way to keep your savings separate from what you allow yourself to spend and safe from the simple swipe of a debit card! At a very minimum, a blogger could have an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) to which you could contribute a certain amount per year and actually save on taxes! This would be a fun topic for another Friday :) Lastly, if you already have savings and retirement in place (actively funding the two already) and you still have extra money, you could open an investment account so that your money can “work” for you as hard as you work for it! Probably another fun Friday topic.
Are there any good apps you recommend to keep track of spending?
Yes! Personally, I use Mint. It’s so easy to setup, connect your account and it automatically tracks your spending! It recognizes charges like gas, Uber, groceries, Amazon (sometimes I wish it wouldn’t!), etc… and produces an on-demand chart of where you money has gone for the month. Also, you can set a budget here. You can tell Mint how much you want to spend on cell phone, utilities, gas, restaurants, etc… and the app will notify you when you get close an when you exceed your allotted budget! This is REALLY helpful just to get an idea on how much you really spend and where you really spend it. I painfully had no idea how much we spend eating out each month until I got the notification. The first few months may be eye-opening and, honestly, maybe a little more honest than you were ready for, but having a hold on where you spend your money is SO important to proper budgeting and saving!
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