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Being a freelancer instead of an employee can be one of the most rewarding careers you’ll ever embark upon. You get to set your own business hours, you don’t have to answer to anyone but your clients, and you can work from home to spend time with your family. That being said, freelancing (as some of you likely know) can be extremely challenging, especially when it comes to the little things like paying bills on time, acquiring health insurance, etc. Here are a few basic necessities that you’ll need to consider as you begin your career as a freelancer:

1. Private health insurance.

Perhaps the biggest financial headache that goes hand-in-hand with a freelancing career is acquiring health insurance, since you don’t have the luxury of an employer-sponsored plan. Be sure that you shop around for the best policy that fits your needs. Consider plans offered by organizations like the Freelancer’s Union. And be sure to stay abreast of upcoming policy changes likely to transpire through the Affordable Care Act in the next couple of years.

2. A retirement savings plan.

Just like an employer-sponsored insurance plan, you’re unfortunately missing out on an employer-sponsored 401k plan. Of course, you have lots of different options for retirement savings accounts. The most popular are Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs. Other options include the Simplified Employee Pension-IRA (SEP-IRA) and the individual 401k plan. Each of these options has different advantages, different minimum contributions, and different restrictions. Speak with an accountant to see which option is best for you, and check out this U.S. News and World article for more detailed information.

3. A tax accountant who specializes in filing tax returns for freelancers.

If you thought filing taxes before you were self-employed was difficult, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Filing taxes as a freelancer can be quite a labyrinthine and tedious process, and doing it all alone may mean that you’ll miss out on many tax credits and deductions. It’s not impossible to do it alone, but it’s best to hire an accountant who specializes in freelance taxes. For more information, see here.

4. A business credit card.

It’s not necessarily a requirement to have a business credit card as a freelancer, but it can be extremely convenient. For one, it’s less paperwork to go through. What’s more, you can receive lots of business-related rewards through credit cards used for your business, like miles for airfare, discounts for business products, etc. The main reason that I have a business credit card is that it allows me to separate personal from business expenses, which means filing taxes are ten times easier for me and my accountant. For more information about maintaining a separate credit card for your freelance business expenses, check out this article.

Being a freelancer is not easy. But it’s requires determination, and a little bit of organization. Be sure you’ve got your necessities covered before diving into freelance, or you’re regret later.

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