A Freelancer’s Guide To Making Sure You Don’t Retire With No Money


For the past seven years, I have been a journalist at some of the largest media companies in the country. So, when I decided that the next step in my career was to go freelance, the thought of having to do all my finances, find a regular income and support myself was not only petrifying but it almost seemed impossible.

While my support network has done simply that, support me, I realised that I was now on my own when it came to saving for my future. While I’ve been fortunate enough to get regular work since stepping out into this big imperfect world, it took a good couple of months to understand how income actually works and how to distribute it once I get a net pay.

Now, I’ve never been good with money, so what was already a steep learning curve was exacerbated by the fact that I now not only had to pay my bills but also put money away for retirement (which, if you’re asking me, is in one million years).

Usually, when working for a corporation, you send in your super fund details and away you go however, if you’re working via invoice, it’s a very different story. According to Advice First, 22% of sole traders have no superannuation by the time they wanted to retire — a scary thought since I want to live a life of luxury at 50.

So, what did I do to get on top of it? Here are my top tips to making sure you don’t retire with $5 in your super account.

What Is Superannuation and How Do I Know What to Put Away?

Superannuation is a savings system introduced by the Government to make sure you have enough money set aside for after finishing paid work and the amount you need depends on many things, from how long you live to how well you live.

As a guide, I used the superannuation planning calculator from CareSuper to not only know what I was working towards, but to scare the absolute bejeezus out of myself to get my bum into gear.

The Aussie Govt puts a cap just on how much you can contribute to super per financial year — which is up to $27,500 before-tax (including compulsory employer contributions and salary sacrifice amounts) and $110,000 per year after-tax. It is possible in some years to have more spare cashola to invest so if you find you can contribute more than the previous 365 days, you might be able to use what’s called the ‘carry-forward’ rule.

Know Where Your Money Is Going

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you hate a budget… learn to love it. Setting a budget shows you where your money is going and what you need to save and be honest with how much you’re spending, even on Uber Eats.

Seek Expert Advice

Having your own accountant sounds like something your 60-year-old dad would have, but for me, it has been a lifesaver. I use HNRY, which automatically pays & files taxes for the self-employed. Websites like these will often have the person you are contracting with pay into a nominated bank account, before your accountant automatically deducts the taxes and super for you. While there is usually a small fee associated, it’s well worth it. Plus, you have your own financial adviser! Winning!

Consolidate Your Super Funds

If you’re like me and have worked at quite a few different places, then you might have two or three super accounts. Make it easier for yourself and combine all of your super accounts into one. CareSuper can actually do this for you in three steps if it’s right for you.*

My biggest piece of advice when starting out is to take it one step at a time and know that the work will flow in, so you can invest in your future.

Learn more about how CareSuper can support your future here.

*Before combining your super into CareSuper you should consider whether this is right for you and check if you will be charged any fees. You should also check the impact on any insurance arrangements (such as loss of insurance) or other benefits.
The information provided in this article is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular financial needs, circumstances or objectives. You should consider your own investment objectives, financial situation and needs and read the appropriate product disclosure statement before making an investment decision. You may also wish to consult a licensed financial adviser.
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