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Financial Housekeeping 101: How will a financial planner help?
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 (All day)

As freelancers, we usually want to focus all our energy on our craft, whether it's writing articles on topics we enjoy or crafting creative copy for a client.

But no matter how passionate you are about what you do, you're now in a position where it's your responsibility to make sure the money continues to flow into your bank account. Client hasn't paid you after 60 days? It's on you to chase them for a cheque. (I'm sure we all have stories about this.) Keeping your financial books in order is an important step to let you continue what you're doing.

For many freelancers, numbers and money can make their heads spin. (It's why we went into writing in the first place!) But don't worry, the speakers at our Oct. 15 PWAC session on Financial Housekeeping 101 will demystify the topics of having a financial plan, strategies for tax planning and preparing for the unknown with insurance.

I chatted with President of Headspring Consulting Sandra Foster, a certified financial planner and author of several personal finance books, to get an inside scoop into some of the topics she'll cover on financial planning.

(This interview has been condensed and edited.)

How can a financial planner help?

When you go to a financial planner, have questions written down.

For example, if you ask, "How much do I need to retire?" that's just a number. If someone says, you need $300 a month, the next question is, "How do I find $300 a month?" or "Should I be saving for retirement now or paying down my debt?" Some of these questions should be answered before talking about investing.

Why do freelancers need a financial plan?

"Unfortunately, what many freelancers see is not a financial plan, but just a retirement projection, developed to encourage investing. But done correctly, a personalized financial plan can help you achieve your short-term and long-term financial goals."

What are some common finance issues freelancers face?

Cash flow issues - Clients might not pay within 30 days

I don't have a pension plan - Am I going to work forever scenarios

"If we have someone who's 25 and someone who's 45, they may be addressing the same questions, but the answers are slightly different based on the stage they're at in their business."

How should you choose a financial planner?

Financial planning is unregulated in all provinces, except Quebec. Word of mouth is one place to start, but don't feel you need to stick with the first financial planner you meet. Take time to interview them to learn more about their technical and personal skills since you need to feel comfortable with them.

"It takes some time and energy on your part to figure out what's best for you. Hopefully the planner will give you some direction and some options of what will happen if you go this route."

What are some good money habits freelancers should be practicing?

Dealing with money is not intuitive. And to make matters worse, financial skills are not taught in school: spend less than you make, pay off debts, recognize a need versus a want, build a budget (I prefer to call it a spending plan), create an emergency fund.

"You need to be responsible for your own money, you can't abdicate your finances to someone else. No one cares as much about your money as you do."

We hope to see you at our upcoming Financial Housekeeping 101 session on Oct. 15 at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ont.

Josephine Lim is a Toronto-based freelance writer who writes about personal finance and business topics for media and corporate clients. She also has experience crafting SEO-friendly website copy and creating social media and content marketing strategies.

- Josephine Lim

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