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In 2018, I hit my first six-figure year as a freelance writer on Fiverr, earning nearly $300,000 in revenue writing blogs, press releases and website content for clients.
Now, at 29, I have six streams of income — from freelance writing, influencer sponsorships, eBook sales, course sales, ad revenue and affiliate revenue. Last year, I brought in a little over $400,000 in net income.
Like any member of the gig economy, I know I can’t count on making this much money forever. So while I sometimes splurge on food, entertainment and travel, I otherwise save and invest aggressively to boost my net worth. I also own three properties in my home state of Florida. Combined, they’re worth close to $1.2 million.
To live my dream life and still save most of what I earn, here are five things I refuse to spend money on:
1. New designer clothes and handbags
I do all my fashion shopping at thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange and Pavement. So instead of buying new designer clothes or handbags for thousands of dollars at a time, I’m spending much less.
My rule is to spend no more than $2,500 a year on shopping. Not only do I save money this way, but I’m also helping the environment by donating all of my unused clothes to Goodwill.
My Chase Sapphire Rewards credit card accrues travel points when I spend on food and travel, and since I spend the most on those two categories, my card almost always covers my flights and rental cars.
Even though the card has a $300 annual fee, it saves me about $2,000 in flight and travel costs every year. I also have the JetBlue credit card that racks up enough points to cover a few flights per year.
I purchased my first property, which I currently live in, in March 2021 — then bought an investment property in Miami in October 2021, and another in March 2022.
I have long-term tenants in my rental properties whose rent covers my mortgage and homeowners association (HOA) fees.
In the house that I live in now, the amount I pay on my mortgage is, in some cases, less than what I would pay to rent the same house — except I own it.
I’m a morning person, so happy hour works perfectly with my schedule. I love to look up happy hour specials at local restaurants and bars, especially when I’m traveling.
Eating and drinking earlier in the day can cut the total cost of food and drinks down to one-third of what it would be if you dine at 8 p.m.
If a destination is within three miles, I will walk there for the exercise and to save on the $30 Uber rides there and back. When I travel, this rule lets me explore entire cities and towns on a budget.
I try to walk at least 12,000 steps per day, even when I’m home in Southwest Florida, so I plan my days around being able to walk to places. I check the map ahead of time to ensure there are sidewalks.
Walking easily saves me more than $300 per month on transportation when I am traveling without my Jeep Wrangler.
Alexandra Fasulo is an entrepreneur, freelance writer, and host of the podcast Freelance Fairytales, which covers everything freelancers need to know about navigating the gig economy. Follow her on Instagram @alexandrafasulo.