Is the New Freelance Economy Such a Bad Thing for You?

One of the trends becoming apparent following the recent global financial crisis and worldwide recession is that the “new economy” is likely to be a freelance economy. Since the economic troubles that swept much of the globe, there has been an increase in temp jobs, freelance jobs, and adjunct jobs.

I’ve seen this trend first hand. First of all, my client base has expanded dramatically as I’ve done more work for corporate clients. When companies hire me as a freelancer, they don’t have to pay overhead for my office space, and they don’t have to worry about payroll taxes and benefits. On top of that, my husband is seeing something similar in the academic world. There are a lot more openings for adjuncts, visiting professors, and lecturers. Not a lot of full-time professor jobs out there. He’s an adjunct at a local university, and often refers to himself as a “freelance teacher.”

But is the new freelance economy such a bad thing? It depends on what you make of it. I’ve found some silver linings to the new freelance economy — at least the way it’s affected my family where I live in the United States.

More Freedom and Flexibility

One of the things I love about freelancing is that it comes with a large degree of freedom and flexibility. I can choose to say no to gigs I don’t want, and I work on my own schedule. My husband has a similar arrangement. Since he’s not contractually obligated to teach a certain number of classes each semester or hold a minimal number of office hours, he can choose not to teach as many classes, and he can decide his own office schedule. Sometimes he even holds virtual office hours, since he’s not required to have office hours at all, and only offers them as a courtesy to students.

Our freelance lifestyle allows us more freedom and flexibility than a set job with an employment contract would allow.

Technology and The Rise of Work From Home

I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that the freelance economy is expanding as technology becomes more widespread. Thanks to technology, it’s possible to work remotely. Two of my husband’s classes aren’t even taught on campus; they are taught online.

The freelance economy has the potential to change the way many of us live and work. If you want to work from home, the rise of technology, as well as the fact that many companies are becoming accustomed to the idea of hiring freelancers and temps, this is an interesting time to be changing the way you view your work and your lifestyle.

What About Benefits?

The main downside to a freelance economy is the loss of benefits from employers. In the United States, our biggest difficult comes from affording health care. However, even in that area things are evolving to fit the new realities of the freelance economy. We’ve long had an insurance policy I found through an aggregator online as a result of my freelance work. There are other benefits that you can get as well. The United States and Canada both have ax-advantaged retirement accounts and education savings accounts are available to anyone.

While it means a little more work, it’s still possible to take care of your needs when working in a freelance economy. What do you think? Have you seen an increase in freelance-type work? Would you do it?

Paying for College in Canada

As every job seeker knows, having a fulfilling career starts with the right education. The job market is incredibly competitive, and it’s becoming more difficult than ever to find a good job without some form of post-secondary education. Depending on the type of education and program you choose, the cost of your education can really add up. The expenses start with tuition and textbooks, but can include special materials or tools, transportation, housing, food, those unexpected expenses that always seem to come up. So how can a would-be student pay for all these things? In Canada, you have several options.

RESPs

If your parents or family members were able to set up and contribute to a Registered Education Savings Plan, or RESP, you are already one step ahead. An RESP is a special savings account that can be set up on your behalf when you are still a baby! The Federal government, and some provinces, may contribute to the account as well. The best part of an RESP? You don’t have to pay it back! If you’re a parent saving for your child’s education, you can also benefit through tax breaks.

Student Loans

If you are applying to an approved education institution, you can apply for government student loans. These can be both federal and provincial, and are granted based on your income, your family’s income, and other factors. You must start to repay these loans 6 months after you leave school. Government loans may also allow you to apply for repayment assistance after you leave school, if you find that you are unable to make your minimum payments. Private student loans are also available from banks and credit unions, but these may have different rules about repayment, interest rates, and eligibility. It’s important to ask a lot of questions and understand what you are agreeing to when you apply for a private student loan.

Student Lines of Credit

Student lines of credit are another option available from banks and credit unions. Lines of credit are different from student loans. A line of credit gives you access to credit whenever you need it, rather than paying you a lump sum to be repaid later. One benefit of using a line of credit is that you generally only pay for what you have used. That means that if you keep your spending to a minimum, your monthly payments will be less and you will have less to pay back when you graduate. Again, each financial institution has its own rules, so it’s important to do your research and ask questions before opening a line of credit.

Grants, Bursaries, and Scholarships

Grants, bursaries, and scholarships are another way of funding all or part of your education. These are usually lump-sum payments, made to you, directly to your school, or applied against your government student loans. There are many different types of awards available, and they are awarded on many different types of criteria. Grants, bursaries, and scholarships might be awarded based on academic standing, financial need, or even as contest prizes. The best plan when it comes to finding this type of assistance is to do a lot of reading to find different awards, and apply for as many as you can. With awards like this, it is important to spend time applying for whatever you are eligible for. If you don’t ask (or in this case, apply), you can’t receive!

There are many options out there to pay for a post-secondary education in Canada. Some students might choose to work part-time while in school to keep their student debt as low as possible, or go to school part-time while working. Others might receive more assistance from their families, or be able to continue living at home during their studies. No matter what your personal situation, what is important is to do your research, and come up with a plan that best fits your financial needs and goals.