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Living on a Writer’s Salary – 5 Money Tips for Writers

I’ve been living on a freelance writer’s salary for two years – and if I can do it, so can you! These money tips for writers can change the way you think about making money writing (and let’s not forget about blogging! But here I focus on freelance writing. Next week, blogging).

If you yearn to live on a writer’s salary yet, my friend, you have to believe you will be making money as a full-time writer within a year! It’s a cliche because it’s true: your beliefs become reality.

Before the tips, a quip:

“Never spend your money before you have it.” ~ Thomas Jefferson.

And of course that’s a priceless money tip for writers: don’t buy stuff with anything other than cold hard cash. Not cold hard credit cards, and not a cold hard financial loan from Ma and Pa. If you need to tweak your financial life, read Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a Fortune.

And, here are five money tips for writers…

Living on a Writer’s Salary – 5 Money Tips for Writers

Living on a freelance writer’s salary is about choosing a life you’re passionate about (writing, getting published, writing more!) instead of buying stuff you don’t really need (seriously, who needs a new pair of $100 jeans, an iPhone, or a 42″ flat screen TV? Advertising tells us we can’t live without that stuff….but the ads are wrong).

These tips aren’t just about living on a modest writer’s salary (say, $35,000 a year) — they’re about living your dreams and not reaching the end of your life wishing you’d given writing a try.

1. Activate two money saving tips a month. There are smart ways to save money everywhere – the internet, budget books, your rich old aunt, on placemats at funky restaurants. Don’t try to implement every money tip you find! Instead, pick two a month. Focus on making those two money tips a habit. In a month or so, find two more money saving tips to work on. This way, you’re not overwhelmed with a million ways to save money – and you’re steadily progressing towards your goal of supporting yourself as a writer. Delicious!

2.  Find meaning in experiences, not stuff. Research shows that material possessions don’t make you as happy as experiences do. Experiences can be revisited and enjoyed long after the allure of a new gadget wears off. In fact, spending money on stuff may one of the least satisfactory ways to be happy because it requires a constant outflow of money. If you’re an emotional spender (you shop to avoid stress or sadness), find ways to add meaning to your life without spending money. This tip won’t just help you live on a writer’s salary; it’ll help you get emotionally healthy!  

3. Turn price tags into words written or articles sold to magazines. This is a great money tip for writers from the founder of Mint.com: “So you don’t really need another pair of jeans, but you eyed one that costs just $40,” says Aaron Patzer. “Inexpensive, right?  That depends on how you think of it, Patzer said. Say you earn $7 an hour at your part-time job. You’d need to work almost 6 hours to pay for those jeans. If you work 10 hours a week, that’s 60% of your work time. Think of it this way, and that pair of jeans doesn’t look that cheap, after all.” Make it a habit to look at the things you want in terms of how many words you need to write or how many magazine articles you need to sell.

4. Combine these money tips for writers your own personality traits. Pay attention to your likes and dislikes, characteristics, and lifestyle. What’s your money personality – what are your money beliefs? Are you a saver or a spender? Do you associate with people who have good financial habits, or do you go on spending sprees every Saturday? To live on a writer’s salary, you need to “ride the horse in the direction its going” – which means not trying to change who you are. Instead, find ways to fit these money tips into your own lifestyle and personality.

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5. Set up a glass savings jar on your desk at work. If you’re a writer with a day job, you might appreciate this tip from a BHM Financial Group blog about money: “Write, ‘Teach Me How to Save Money’ on a glass saving jar on your desk, and have your friends and co-workers write down all the ways they see you throw away money,” writes Cassandra in Better Attitude, Bigger Income. “Stuff their money-saving suggestions into your jar. Set one up for your spouse and kids, too.” This is fantastic, because learning how other people save money and live frugally can help you live on a freelance writer’s salary.

To hike your writer’s salary up a notch, read 5 Ideas for Earning Money Writing – Tips From Experienced Writers.

And, if you have anything to add to these money tips for writers, you know what to do and where to do it! 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Living on a Writer’s Salary – 5 Money Tips for Writers”

  1. Hey Laurie,

    I’ve been on a “simplify my life” kick the last month or so. Cleared out a bunch of stuff I don’t need and I’m holding a garage sale at the end of the month. Got rid of local phone, cable TV and the internet. It’s all in the name of living frugal and I have to say I would recommend it highly to anyone. Living frugal also takes a lot of the pressure off of having to freak out about what freelance writing work I have or don’t have.


  2. Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for popping by and leaving your kind comment – it made my day – and advice to follow my heart, write what resonates and follow my gut.

    Re your post – it is true, the most beautiful things are the things money can’t buy eg a hot sunset, leaves swaying above you, the sound of a brook – appreciate your money tips for writers.

    You too – happy blogging and writing. See you around Laurie ; )

    Best wishes


    Responding to your comment:
    Hi Jessie,

    Thanks for including my blog posts about building a writer’s platform here! You’ve gathered an impressive list.

    I totally hear ya about not knowing what to add to the teeming mass of information (and misinformation) on the internet. There really is “nothing new under the sun” — and sometimes I feel that way about writing magazine articles or contemplating fiction plots or characters.

    So what’s a writer to do? Follow her heart and write about what resonates, regardless of whether it already exists. It doesn’t exist the way YOU will create it, and it doesn’t exist on your blog or in your writing portfolio….so I say tune in to your gut and what whatever you want to write about!

    Happy writing and blogging 🙂