How do you handle sickness when freelancing?

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This is a very now-inspired post for me. I’ve recently had surgery, which in itself isn’t a massive deal, but the problem with being a freelancer is the impact it has on my work.

A good plan for anyone who freelances is to have a so-called “emergency” fund of some kind for when accidents/surgeries/emergencies come up. Did the car break down? Use the fund. Did you need to get surgery? Use the fund.

I was fortunate enough to start one of these funds recently, and it was -quickly- dismembered. All the more reason to have one.

Here’s what I did to build mine up, even though I have a lot of outgoing costs and relatively little to work with.

  1. Each paycheck, I save $60-$100 in an envelope. This envelope is for vacations. Any cash I receive throughout the month goes to this envelope.
  2. When I send my taxes to savings, I add an additional $50-$100 once a month to the emergency fund. If I have extra money coming in digitally, (Ie: PayPal or to the bank account directly), it goes into that savings.

Now, you’re probably asking why I’ve done things this way, and it’s simple. I like to look at a physical buildup of cash that is in my hands if I need it. I also like to see a growing balance in my accounts. By earmarking each for a different purpose, I actually save more. I could, in theory, take the entirety of the vacation funds and use them in an emergency, which essentially doubles my emergency fund if or when necessary.

So, as I said, this was recently vital to my life. When I found out I needed to have surgery, I had three weeks to get myself in order. In that time, I had to rearrange my work schedule to make sure I wouldn’t lose out on any income. That means that I finished 5 days of writing work in 3, so I could have the Wednesday of my surgery through Sunday completely off. Freelancers don’t (in my experience) get paid time off, so rearranging work is the only method to not completely miss out on an income that week (or during whatever time period you need off). I did take off from VIPKID completely for 6 days. Prior to the surgery, I added 5 to 6 classes a week to help buffer that. This is the last week in the month, so I added another 8 classes or so to the mix to make up for what I missed that week.

In freelancing, we often get chances to alter our schedules in this kind of way. As long as we meet our deadlines, we can take whatever time off we need. As a bonus, having the savings meant that I could pay the initial surgical fees and deposit up front and had enough saved that I wouldn’t feel the sting of $50 to $100 less on the next paycheck.


Casual sick days are actually much easier to handle than the above. To take just one day off for illness, I could write to the person managing a project and ask to move the work’s deadline. Or, knowing I feel that I’m coming down with something, I can work ahead to make sure it’s in on time. Even in bed, I can generally make time for just a few blogs or articles to keep up with my job.


This post is generally saying one thing: Save. You need to be prepared for the worst, and you should have enough in your savings to miss work for at least a little while without feeling stressed. One day, my goal is to have at least six months of emergency funds saved up, so I can relax if I want to take more time off. It’s not very possible presently, but even slowly building a savings will make it a reality.



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