The 1099 Life
Control. Freedom. Living To The Fullest.
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What Does REAL Freedom Look Like?
DISCLAIMER: For more information about 1099 forms, please visit the irs.gov's official website. This website is for entertainment purposes only. Always do your due diligence and research and talk it over with important people who will be affected when making important financial/career-changing decisions. If it makes financial sense, you should consult a certified financial planner or another qualified financial professional, along with a certified professional career coach. Again, please do your diligence and research when you're looking for advice.
What does real freedom look like? It looks like having control over your life. Where you go, when you go, how you go... When you're able to make choices about those decisions for yourself, you're living life to the fullest. One way of living this kind of life in the United States comes from what many people call "The 1099 Life."
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What The Heck Is "The 1099 Life?"
The 1099 tax form is what I have to fill out here in the United States because I earn money from microtasking, freelancing, and other business pursuits. In other words, I search out jobs online that I have the skills to do (rate websites, write blogs, etcetera) and "stack them up" to ensure I have steady work. Steady work equals steady pay. So one of the most important things to remember if you're going to be self-employed is that it's your responsibility to find work for yourself.
So freedom doesn't come with total relaxation and security in life? Depends on how you learn and navigate the world of self-employment. If you're a beginner, you're going to struggle. That's how it goes with anything you start doing for the first time. I know nothing in the real world that "falls into place."
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Being a 1099 worker means that you don't get paid traditionally from a traditional employer. If you're not on an employer's payroll, then when you do work for a company, you typically fill out a 1099 form if you make over $600 as of 2024.
I don't get paid traditionally because I'm doing freelance work on platforms like Upwork, for example. Or, I'm doing microtasking jobs whenever I can Or, I get paid royalties for books I've published. Or, I may get some money when someone buys some coffee from my coffee shop. All of those ways that I get paid require me to fill out a 1099 form. Of course, speak with a certified accountant or an equivalent professional who can answer your questions about Form 1099 because I'm not qualified to do so. And be sure to check out irs.gov if you need more information.
Beaches? Do Whatever You Want? Sure, But Later!
I get it. Working for someone else sucks sometimes. But let's stop trashing traditional work, yeah? A lot of us got to where we are in life because our parents grandparents and great-grandparents worked for someone else. Many of us weren't born rich, so we had to work for someone who had the money to pay us. I, for one, am eternally (well, as eternal as a mortal can be I suppose) grateful for my parents working to provide for me. Not only am I grateful for their work ethic, I'm grateful for my grandparents' work ethic as well. That got passed on to me as well. I do appreciate work because I come from a working-class background.
I say that not to suggest I'm better than anyone or anything like that. And I'm far from the best worker in the world. Definitely won't say that either. I'm just trying to show where I'm coming from when I say traditional work gets too bad of a rep on the Internet. I know it has its problems, but I wouldn't be able to sit here on my days off creating blogs and other content on the internet and pursuing non-traditional work. But didn't I say earlier that I'm self-employed? I am, but part-time. I'm "side hustling" some would say.
But when I'm not at my traditional job, I am searching out other jobs I can do in my free time. (Balancing time doing the work and lining up new work is more of what I'm doing. It can be a challenge if you're not careful.) The plan is to transition into being self-employed so I can have more control over my finances and my time. That means I have some work to do before I can set myself up to relax and chill whenever I feel like it. Many people I've spoken to don't understand that.
Some people I've spoken with get caught up in the allure of having the freedom to do whatever they want, but not the huge responsibility that amount of freedom carries with it. When you're self-employed, that means it's your responsibility to find work for yourself. Sometimes you'll find steady work for a few weeks to a few months. But many times, you'll have to plan out your workload in advance if you can. And sometimes you may not find work for a while. You'll have to save up some money to make sure you can last during those periods you may struggle to find work. But that can be overcome if you plan.
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Compare that to a traditional job. When you go to work, you work at your assigned station. Your employer provides work for you to do (unless they can't and then you get let go from your job). You don't go looking for work. You don't necessarily meet with the customers or sign agreements with the customers (unless that's a part of your job title's role) or any of that. Your employer deals with finding customers and making deals with them. You do your part, depending on your role, to help the employer fulfill their commitment to the customer. Then, the employer gets the money. Then you get paid for your contribution.
Or, I should say, that's my experience. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and I suppose how one works at their jobs definitely comes with a few exceptions and outliers to the general rules and norms.
While you have more freedom to work when you want and how you want as a self-employed person, it's also your responsibility to find work and ensure you have enough money to last you when you can't find work. Also, it may be tougher to get a good deal on benefits like health insurance. You might love your employer because they have an excellent benefits program. Is that worth giving up to be self-employed? I can't say because I'm not you. But that's one of many things you have to keep in mind. As I said before, when you're self-employed, you're the one who's responsible for all of that stuff, especially and specifically here in the United States. I can't comment on any other country as I've only lived and worked in the United States.
That may or may not be a lot of things to plan out and consider before you're able to relax on the beach or scroll through social media for ten hours straight. But it doesn't stay hard. Getting started is usually the hardest part of anything you do. There's a sharp learning curve, sure. But once you get over the initial challenges and stay on top of everything, you may find that being self-employed is the better option for you. But that initial struggle is real. It can break you and your finances if you're not prepared for it.
With that said, the beaches and the "do whatever I want" time I'm looking for come a little later. Now, I have to get used to finding work and adapting to an ever-changing working environment. Since I brought up that changing environment, let me elaborate a little more in the next section.
Things Aren't Always Steady!
Looking for something stable? Maybe something with more security and predictability? Then self-employment may not be for you. Maybe there's a way to make it more steady, but so far I haven't found that way. That's why I say if you want steady employment and steady work, you may be better off with the traditional job route. When you work for yourself, it's your job to make sure you have work to do. You have to go out, market yourself, and make sure your skills are best for whatever projects or jobs you want to work on.
And to add even more "controversy" to the traditional job versus working for yourself debate, I'll say you can get rich from a traditional job. It depends on your skillset, how you position yourself, and how much networking you have to do among other factors. But it can be done. An opportunity to make money gives you at least some of the basic building blocks you need to increase your wealth if you are willing to learn how to utilize the skills you have.
People have gone from flipping burgers and upselling fries at fast food restaurants for the minimum wage to management positions and even to franchise owners. The opportunities to build wealth are there, but are they right for you? That's something I can't decide for you. And I suggest for myself that the 1099 life is best for my life. It doesn't mean I think everyone else should do it. I know plenty of people who should not work for themselves or own a business. They're nowhere near ready for the responsibilities that come with setting yourself up with work.
So I don't hate traditional work or think it's bad. And I don't praise the 1099 life as though it's so great. It's great for me. It's probably not so great for you, but I don't know you well enough to make that guess. If I'm saying anything, I'm saying that nothing is guaranteed. Just because you have consistent work now doesn't mean it's going to last forever. So be prepared just in case things don't go the way you thought they would.
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Though things may seem a little unsteady, it doesn't automatically mean that being self-employed isn't a good choice, though. That unsteadiness and unpredictability can be worked with if you plan for it. Just make sure you have a few months to a year's worth of savings for your expenses. Though the word "savings" is used, don't mistake me for saying that you're going to save your way to financial freedom. Too many financial gurus out there talk about what you should cut back on and what will get you to financial freedom if you just stop spending money. They say that because it's easy to say that.
But you're not going to only save your way out of debt. That's my belief. And that's a huge reason why I'm creating other sources of income besides my traditional job. I'm not going to be able to save myself to wealth - unless I live to be into my 100s. I have to grow my income to get financial freedom. One of the ways to do that is to go out and work on my own time and in my way. But I don't want to get too far into the financial advice realm. I just want to say most of it is a bunch of bull to me and no, you won't save your way to wealth. You have to generate wealth by being of service to those who can pay you. Or, I should say, I don't believe I'm going to save my way to financial security. I doubt I have one hundred-plus years to wait until I save my way to financial freedom by scrounging and scavenging around for pennies and worrying about gas station purchases (like $4 snacks or little purchases that add up over time.).
I strongly believe that I'm better off focusing on using my energies now to build wealth. I'm not getting any younger and I imagine it'll be much harder to build wealth as an older man than as a younger man. I don't want to risk putting sixty-year-old me through financial struggles that could be taken care of by thirty-five-year-old me. Until I change my mind, I think my chances of building financial stability come through building income sources.
Now, saving is important. I won't sit here and say that it isn't. But saving alone isn't going to be enough, especially with wages not keeping up with inflation. That's the biggest reason why I say that I'm not going to save my way into wealth. I need to make more money. Sure, it's problematic that I overdraft. That's something that needs to be focused on. But saving is a temporary bandage on a wound that needs stitches in this case. Cutting back helps, but that's a temporary fix as well. The major issue is I'm not making enough money. I need to increase my income. And yes, the temporary bandage is a lifesaver in terms of controlling the financial bleeding. But it's not a permanent solution. It's temporary. Stitches and surgery are needed to close the financial bleeding. I have to increase my earning potential.
Stability comes with an increase in finances - not just saving and cutting back. But you'll find many millionaires and billionaires tell you how saving will make you rich. They'll say it's your spending habits that make you poor. I say it's more nuanced than that. I'll even say it's more of an earning problem in my specific case than a savings problem. Why? Because money is meant to be exchanged for pleasurable experiences in life. It's not meant to be hoarded or to make your life more miserable. Money is a tool to help us have great experiences in life. That's my philosophy on money, not financial advice. I came to that conclusion during my journey through life. Take whatever you hear about financial advice with a grain of salt.
I'm not going to be a rich miser sitting on a pile of money I'm afraid to spend. I'm going to focus on enjoying the unpredictable life that I have and making the most of it with the resources I have - including money. This goes to contributing to my emotional/mental stability in life. I'm not going to live for money. Money will work to make my life better. I won't work just to accumulate money. I'll work to accumulate the best experiences I can get from life. Money will be that tool to help me get there.
Anyway, that's enough of my rant. While self-employment may or may not be for you, it is the life I choose to live. It's the best chance I see at getting the control and freedom I crave. It's the best chance I have of experiencing the kind of life I want to live. And why shouldn't I pursue the kind of life I want to live? As far as I can tell, and as far as it's been demonstrated to me, we've only got this one life to live. Why not make the most out of our limited time here? That, to me, beats living a miserable life.