Freelance work is booming during COVID, but most worry about saving enough money

NEW YORK — A summer of ups and downs in the pandemic economy have brought about a freelancer boom, but more money also means more problems. A new study finds the average American spends 104 hours a year sorting out their finances — including organizing expenses, paying bills, and checking their account balance.

The new survey of 2,000 Americans, half of whom are freelance workers, reveals that nearly one in three freelancers and one in five full-time employees spend at least 11 days a year just thinking about their money.

Those similarities may signal the end of the freelance stigma. However, while freelancers and full-timers both spend similar amounts of time worrying about their bills, freelancers are less likely to save for retirement (27% vs 41%) and worry more about not saving enough for emergencies (61% vs 52%).

Six in 10 freelancers worry about their finances when paying their bills, versus 52 percent of full-time workers.

Mismanaging money

freelancers financesThe survey, conducted by OnePoll in collaboration with Lili, also looked at the ways in which Americans manage — and mismanage — their hard-earned dollars.

While 35 percent make an effort to manage their money by setting up a strict budget each month, Americans admit they can never stick to it. The reason? Bad money habits, such as overspending, impulse purchases, buying things that they don’t really need, spending too much on gifts, and buying fast food. One person even admits to “spending so much on in-app purchases, it’s insane.”

It’s safe to say Americans are crying out for a financial guru to intervene in their lives. In fact, nearly one in three say their finances are the messiest area of their life. Being financially savvy in the present can also affect plans for the future — a concern for freelancers and full-timers alike.

While more than half the poll (53%) worries about not having enough savings if something happens, only 17 percent actually have an emergency fund. Taxes, too, can be a financial blind spot; 53 percent are not always sure what deductions they can claim on their tax returns.

That may be why two in five experience extreme anxiety when doing their taxes and 44 percent worry about not claiming things properly on their taxes.

freelancers finances“Taxes and expense management can be more complicated for freelancers, who also tend to juggle between their work and personal finances,” says a spokesperson for Lili in a statement. “These needs are often unmet, so there’s a real necessity for creating financial solutions designed for the freelancer community.”

Financial status: It’s complicated

When asked what they want to spend more money on, 43 percent of Americans say vacations top their lists, but the rest of the items are mainly essentials. Those items include clothing (34%), food (33%), and home/apartment repairs (30%).

While their current relationship with their finances may be “complicated,” more than half (53%) wish they got along better with their money.

“With freelancers becoming a growing force in the U.S. economy, it’s clear they are also seeking ways to save toward taxes and set aside for emergencies, among other things,” the Lili spokesperson adds.