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Freelancers, what’s your largest business expense?

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freelancing expenses

It’s nearing the end of the year. Americans are out hunting turkeys and folks around the world are pinching pennies in preparation for the winter holiday season. So, I’m curious:

Where are you spending the most in your freelance business? Where do you think you could afford to save a bit? Should you cut back on a few subscriptions to magazines or web services? Buy year-old computer gear instead of the latest & greatest? Or hey, maybe business is booming and you could care less about expenses right now.

Whatever the case, cast your vote in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments!


*Update: Two categories were added late, and so are horribly unscientific: Insurance & Travel.

About the Author, Adam Wagner

I'm a marketer, designer, armchair singer/songwriter, wannabe theoretical physicist/philosopher and recent college grad trying to pack as much living as possible into each day. Working at Go Media makes this pretty easy. Catch me on Twitter!!
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We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • llaboo

    I think you forgot to add those other things that effect freelancers – Tax, Health Insurance, SSI. These actually ate up to 40% of what I would charge to the client. These are real and Large expenses that should be looked at before you think about software and subscriptions. Magazines can be delayed but the tax man is a mean mistress who does not have a safe word.

  • Geoff May

    Yeah, I'd say taxes are my biggest single expense!

  • Haley Saner

    yup; taxes and insurance are the biggest and then maybe software, hardware and utilities.

  • Adam_Wagner

    Awesome, thanks dude. I'll add those options ASAP!

  • Adam_Wagner

    Just added “Insurance” as a choice. Not very scientific, I know, but over time it should even out.

  • Tom Faraci

    So far my biggest expense has been my computer and hardware. I'm not exactly at the point where it's paid for itself yet…

  • jakestevens

    I would definitely say that hardware/software is my largest overhead. Shortly after that would be stock photos, but it's pretty far behind. Most images that I work with are either provided to me or created.

    I think that a lot of clients don't often think of the overhead that software and hardware create for designers. They only see time and effort. More time. Sometimes I feel like I can never move fast enough for a client. There's often the perception that because we use a computer that it should be almost instantaneous.

  • hoshimo

    YES taxes hands down. maybe it's not in the list because you don't exactly CHOOSE to spend money on it… but still…

  • Cao Nghia Hoang

    Used to be hardware and hardware, but since I get all what I need, I don't upgrade it often. (only Win, Office and Adobe pricey)

    If all phone calls ,faxes , tickets to go here and there to meet client count as Contract Labor, I vote for it.

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  • Geoff May

    Hardware is a large cost, but I usually only upgrade computers every 2 years (just ordered my Hackintosh parts on Friday), so it kinda evens out.

  • pairodime

    I used to spend most of my money on Hardware/Software – but now that we have that behind us – it became Resource material like Tutorial Mags – now we can get that online. Business has turned a fork for me now and we contract out or hire employees to perform daily creative/development work – I never thought it would happen – but now I guess we spend most of our money contract wages.

  • Anil Amrit

    Hardware & Software for me. As said already, it hasn't paid for itself yet. Clients do expect everything to be instantaneous and expect the computer to work almost as fast as their thoughts. I wont upgrade now for a couple of years.

  • Yogi – CMSTheme.NET

    I would say my internet bills. Broadband internet connection is a very expensive thing here in Indonesia.

  • JabbaJaw

    I think running a business this day it is a pretty big thing to do and cuting some expenses i don't think it is a right thing to do unless you are pushed from behind because of failure or something like that.Profit wont forget to come if your idea itis good and it is taken to its high potential.

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  • Adam_Wagner

    @srpsco just mentioned via twitter that I left out a category for “Travel”. Quite right! Way late, but I added it as an answer anyway.

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

  • Photoshop Clipping Path

    Great catch