Mapping out career and travel
Julie: By defining travel as a goal, it started to become the lens through which we made other financial decisions. We traded off taking career risks to get us to where we are now. Seeking greater flexibility, Brett went into business for himself as a front-end web developer. By the time I was ready to quit my job as a teacher and become a freelance copywriter, he already had an established business. As a result, we had the systems in place for writing proposals, invoicing, accounting and tracking workflow.
Making our own hours is a perk, but you buy into certain challenges. Uneven income is a reality as two independent contractors, so figuring out how to financially forecast and create consistent income is a must.
Brett: Our best defense against financial fluctuations was having a reasonably healthy personal savings account built up before we both went out on our own. It helped smooth out some of those undulations.
For work, I use a job tracking spreadsheet to help with financial forecasting — a simple but critical tool for running a durable business. It lets me know if I’m hitting monthly financial goals, gives me a sense of where things are trending for an upcoming quarter and also informs when I need to be more or less aggressive with seeking out new projects.
Julie: As for long-term planning, we work with a financial planner to help us map out things like retirement, since we don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. The biggest X factor is always health insurance. There have been years where we’ve had to be realistic and say, “If our health insurance costs double, that’s our sabbatical savings right there.”