full-time freelancer

The full-time freelancer

Hello friends! Lindsay McIntyre here.

Today I’m going to talk about how I financially prepared to go from working a full-time job and freelancing on the side to leaving my job and freelancing full-time. So, here we go!


The very first thing I did was create a minimalist budget. I’m pretty on-board for all things minimal, so when I stumbled across this idea on Pinterest, I had to know more. A minimalist budget does a few things – it really forces you to put a microscope on your expenses, and it simplifies and clarifies where your money is going. I recommend checking out Lydia Lois’ extremely minimal budget to get an idea of what I’m talking about. I really wanted as few categories as possible, so I ended up cutting down almost all of my subscriptions (except Netflix, of course!) and drastically reducing my cell phone bill. My budget used to have what felt like a billion categories. Now there are about 10 places my money goes, and I know exactly how much money I need to live.


The next thing I did was estimate the amount of monthly income I was going to bring in. I’m lucky enough to have a few contracts with professional ensembles that rehearse weekly, so I’ll never have a completely “dry” month. I made sure that month by month I’d have around the amount I would need to meet my budget – some months were more and some months less, but that’s to be expected. I truly believe that creating the space and time for new opportunity will allow more income to flow into my life eventually, but it’s great to know I have my bases covered, even if I don’t pick up any other work in the next while.


The amount of money in my emergency fund was a big struggle for me. Part of me wanted a big money cloud that I could fall back on just in case, but the other part of me really didn’t love the idea of a lump sum of money sitting in my account when it could be going towards debt payment. My ideas ranged from $1000 – $5000, and I eventually settled on $2000 to save. For months where I don’t make quite enough to match my budget, I can borrow funds from my emergency fund, and pay myself back when there are months where I make more.


This really has been a game changer for me in the last few months, which is funny because it’s something I had a ton of resistance towards originally. Over a year ago I attempted to save a month of income, and I just couldn’t get there. I also used it as a huge excuse not to pay off debt. Oh, I can’t make a big payment this month because I’m trying to save up a month of income! Anyway, preparing for freelancing was a huge motivator, and I’ve been going strong for about three months now.

Here’s how it works:

I have one chequing account and two savings accounts (one for my emergency fund, and one for my month of income.) On the first of every month, I transfer my month of income from savings into my chequing account. I also immediately send all the money that’s going out to where it needs to be – for example, Netflix and my phone bill come out of Visa, so I transfer those amounts to Visa right away. Throughout the month, I pay for everything through my chequing account. Whenever have income coming in, I immediately put the money into my “month of savings” account until I reach the amount set by my budget. Any additional funds go straight to debt payment. Easy, right?

And that’s that! These four steps really saved me a lot of panicking and have given me peace of mind transitioning into my new freelance life. Living without the additional income from my day job is definitely going to be a lifestyle change, but I can feel great about knowing that it’s possible.

Do you have any tips and tricks for living as a freelancer?

Would you make the transition to freelancing full time while you were still in debt?



Lindsay McIntyre is a MYOpera alumna who appeared with the company as Héro in Béatrice & Bénédict in 2015. In 2016, she left her non-music job to pursue a full-time career as a freelance musician. Lindsay is a previous contributor to Rags to Reasonable. Check out her 5-part series called “Lindsay vs. her debt” here.

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