When I worked my 9-5 as an Account Manager and Communications Officer I saw expenses as a perk of the job. Being out for a nice lunch with a client or a coffee on the train down to London were all little treats to be enjoyed when out of the office on business.
Now as a freelancer, expenses are… expensive! No longer a treat but a direct threat to my profitability (I exaggerate a little for effect). During a fourteen hour day shooting a wedding or eight hours of corporate photography I can easily work my way through £20 of pre-packed sandwiches and take away lattes without giving it much thought. These are, of course, genuine tax deductible expenses but when that expense is being paid for by me it is pretty clear that a little more organisation could save me a whole lot of money.
I’ve recently finished reading Michelle McGagh’s book, The No Spend Year, in which Michelle spent twelve months spending money on nothing more than her regular bills (mortgage and utilities) and a pretty basic weekly food budget. Her story is an inspiring one of on the one hand, long cycle rides and worn out clothes and on the other, new friends and experiences at zero cost.
McGagh doesn’t sugar coat it! Sitting in the pub with a pint of tap water while her mates enjoyed a beer was pretty shit. However, the challenge also led her to find new no-cost activities and her friends often appreciated saving a little cash themselves. At the end of the year she had overpaid her mortgage by £22,000!!
I’m not quite ready to attempt a whole year without spending, but I have been inspired to set myself my own little challenges. Armed with a packed lunch, a water bottle and a flask of coffee I’m currently attempting the ‘No Spend Corporate Photography Job’ and I’m enjoying healthier profit margins in the process.