When Last Did You Pay Yourself?

Pay yourself sometimes so you can enjoy a nice lunch. (Photo: conejoaureo/morguefile)
There’s nothing like the security of having a cheque arrive every month, but when you’re a freelancer, you just don’t have that security any more. Instead, like many work at home professionals, payment for your labour may be erratic and intermittent, and sometimes you even have to hunt down the money that should be yours by right.

One of the results of this is that you spend a lot of time juggling, with the result that when money comes in it may go straight into the household budget to handle any necessary expenses. You can feel good about making a contribution, but there are days when you might like to have some money to spend on yourself.

Just because your income is irregular, it doesn’t mean that you have to forego the treats you allowed yourself when payday rolled around. I remember that at the end of the month, my friends and I would go out for dinner and I would treat myself to a few new books. That was my way of reminding myself what I was working for – and I still need to do that now. I may not spend quite as lavishly as when I was a single woman without dependants, but I still need to pamper myself from time to time – and some of that pampering takes money.

Even if my income is irregular, I believe it’s essential to set aside a small percentage to pay for a couple of non-essentials – my gym membership (actually, that’s essential for health), lunch with the girls, the occasional massage and seeing a movie with my DH. Those things make life worth living. Sure, there will be months when you’ll be waiting for clients to pay up and may cut back on the treats, but when the payment comes in, pay yourself a small amount to do what YOU want to do.

About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been mentoring writers here at Get Paid To Write Online since 2005 to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Check me out on sharonhh.com. Feel free to connect with me online on Google+.


  1. Great post, Sharon, and you are so very right. It’s important to pay ourself. Otherwise, what’s the fun in freelancing? Why not just go out and get a job in the “real” world? :)

    Hope Wilbanks’s last blog post..Write In Bursts

  2. Those little treats (or rewards) are so very nice, aren’t they? 😉


    Michele’s last blog post..Freelance Writing: Behind the Scenes

  3. For me, an essential is making sure that my husband and I invest. It’s all set up automatically, I just need to make sure I make regular transfers.

    Katherine’s last blog post..Freelance Writing Career – What I’d Do Differently

  4. I love the reward part. :)

    Katherine, I think it’s essential to spend on your priorities, whatever they are. :)

  5. Monika Mundell says:

    Great post Sharon and a lovely reminder that we indeed have to spoil ourselves every now and then.

    As a matter of fact I have always done this, even when I was stuck in job hell. My husband and I often go for meals in town as a special treat for us. When we travel we always splurge, never count the pennies, therefore this too is a treat we saved for months in advance I guess. We see other travelers who can’t even go for a meal at the hotel and this makes us sad since we realize how fortunate we really are.

    I guess we save a lot in our daily life and don’t spend money on crap. In the end it is also a matter of priorities and buying those things that make you as an individual happy.

  6. So true, Sharon! It’s hard as a wahm who doesn’t need to buy pantyhose or business suits to imagine spending on myself and after over 2 years working at home and not regularly updating my wardrobe, I suddenly realise I have next to nothing to wear. Next month I’m allocating one extra project as money for me to buy a few nice new things to wear. They don’t have to be fancy but I also find if I feel good in what I’m wearing, I work with confidence too which is really important during writing persuasive sales copy :)

    Dana’s last blog post..Writers: Be Your Own Publicist

  7. I’m a fan of the Suze Orman show and one thing she recommends for married couples is that you have three bank accounts. One for you, one for him, and one for household expenses/kids/joint stuff. Each of you puts an equal percentage (not equal amount but equal percentage of earnings) into the household account, and then you (hopefully!) each have some independent money left over for your own needs and desires.

    It seems like a smart way to do it to make sure there’s a bit of you money that you don’t feel guilty about spending. :)


    Lindsay’s last blog post..What Every Writer Should Know About Making Money Online

  8. @ onika: We’ve tended to go for a few extra treats on holiday, too, though I also believe in having some enjoyment now rather than waiting for a mythical future.

    @Dana: Enjoy the shopping spree! I know you work very hard, so you deserve some new stuff. :)

    @ Lindsay: That is a smart way to operate and it’s worked well for me.

  9. I allocated mad money jars for dh & I out of our budget and it starts off with a small amount per week. I like the idea of a bank account as well.

    Dana’s last blog post..Writers: Be Your Own Publicist

  10. Mad money is good, Dana. One of my day to day luxuries are a cup of coffee with a friend after a gym session a couple of times a week.

  11. Hi,

    Your site is amazing! It is indeed a site that has all a potential writer like me needs to launch out.

    Thanks for opting to mentor writers and giving so much information free.

    I am about to have a blog and I was wondering if it is okay to have links to your site. Somehow I feel there is really no point asking. I think I can hear ‘Sure! Why not!

  12. Hi Didi

    Glad you like it. Of course you can link to my site. I look forward to checking out your blog once it’s live.

  13. Paying myself seems to be the least of my priorities. At this point all my business money goes back into the business. But in the long term I consider it a valuable investment in myself and my future happiness.

    Having said that, my non-business income is often splurged. I feel guilty for some of the things I buy myself. I don’t truly need these things and the money would be better saved of invested.

    When it comes to finance I think it helps most to have a plan. Consider your buckets. Share your income into three piles, me money (or dream money), investments (or savings), and bills (or household). Of course, it’s easy to know the ‘rules’ and quite another thing to follow them. 😉

    Rebecca Laffar-Smith’s last blog post..Dog Train Your Writing Skills: Beg, Fetch, and Shake

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