Simple Steps to Increase Your Cash This Year

Are you seeking a sorely needed income boost? We’ve got ideas to help you get those extra dollars in your account.

Working as an independent contractor comes with a lot of plusses, like flexibility, but sometimes freelancing or gig work can also feel like a constant hustle. You might thrive on that hustle, and it might be part of what excites you about the lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean being your own boss isn’t occasionally overwhelming. We all worry about paying bills and saving cash, and that’s why just getting the next gig or project lined up is often the top thing on our to-do list. But doing a brief check-in with our workflow and cash flow can be the task that helps put a little padding in our wallets. Here’s how.

Find your money-making niche.
Whether you’re a gig worker using gig-finding apps, a creative who juggles various projects, or any other type of independent contractor, you’ve likely got one area of work that brings in more cash than others. A driver might find that they make more money using a specific app. Likewise, a graphic designer might find that crafting business logos brings in more cash than designing wedding invites. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Instead of multitasking in so many avenues, find your winning area (or areas) of expertise and focus on securing more gigs or projects within.

Find your money-drainer.
Analyze what area of work either pays the least, involves too much scope creep, takes up way too much time, or cuts too much into your bottom line. Eliminate what’s dragging you down—or at least do it a lot less. A rideshare driver with a finicky car might find they prefer gigs in the retail or food service industry, where they are running around on their feet instead of on their wheels. Or a freelance writer might find that doing travel pieces involves too much in the way of unreimbursed expenses. These are just potential examples. The money-drainer you decide to cut will be unique to you and your industry.

Set a new goal.
Often, as indie workers, we get caught up in accepting whatever gigs or projects we can find, thinking that any cash is good cash. But without taking a look at our projected income and what we hope to earn, we might get stuck in a rut. Keep your goals small and achievable, like aiming for an extra $50 to 100 a month. You can always strive for another $50 to 100 if you start meeting that mark regularly.

Track your income.
Track your projected cash using a spreadsheet or an app. (See our example below.) With a picture of your total expected income for a month (or you can do it by week), you’ll have an idea of whether you need to secure another gig, work an extra day, or take on a small project to meet your goal. This type of projected income tracking can help you feel less anxiety about cash flow, especially if you know you’re on target. And if you’re experiencing a gap, you can often see an estimated amount and realize that it’s not as large as you might have imagined. Tracking can also help you better plan for days off. If you’re planning for a few personal days, but you’re worried about missing out on income, you can opt to fit in more work ahead of time to meet your income goal.

List your gigs or projects in this column January February March April May June
Example: event gig X include the amount you expect to earn for the month you expect to receive it, not the month you did the work (if the dates aren’t the same.)
Example: regular home healthcare shift Y $XXX
Example: freelance article Z  $XXX