10 Work Perks You Can't Get as a Freelancer

By Dr Penny Pincher on 8 May 2017 0 comments

In some industries, the number of gig economy workers is growing faster than the number of payroll employees. Working as a freelancer certainly does have its advantages, the biggest of which are flexibility, freedom, and the ability to experience variety in your work.

But if you find yourself staring at the walls of your cubicle, daydreaming about escaping the 9-to-5 and finding freedom as a freelancer, don't overlook the perks you could be getting at your regular job, right now. It may not be so easy to leave these things behind.

1. Stable income

One of the biggest benefits of a regular 9-to-5 job is the steady paycheck. As a salaried employee, you can plan your budget based on a stable stream of income. As a freelancer, your income can vary significantly from one month to the next. A few slow weeks can throw your finances into disarray, so you'll need to shift your entire budgeting strategy to make sure this doesn't happen. (See also: The Smart Way to Budget on a Freelance Income)

2. 401(k) match

Many traditional employers offer matching contributions to 401(k) plans. In other words, when you make a contribution to your retirement fund out of each paycheck, your employer will also contribute something. This is free money, and can total thousands of dollars each year. In the gig economy, you won't get this kind of assistance building your retirement fund. You'll need to make efforts to save for retirement all on your own, such as with an IRA or solo 401(k). (See also: A Simple Guide to Retirement Plans for the Self-Employed)

3. Retirement counseling

Employers frequently offer training or educational programs to help workers plan their retirement investment strategy. Often, they'll even provide free access to financial planners to answer questions. Freelancers are on their own to figure out the road to retirement, and consulting with financial pros will have to come out of your own pocket.

4. Health Savings Account

A valuable benefit that many people miss out on is participating in a health savings account. Every paycheck, you can contribute pretax dollars to be used for health-related expenses. Some health savings accounts allow the funds to be placed in investments where the money can grow until it is needed. As a freelancer, you may be able to set up your own health savings account, but you will need to do a lot more research than someone who simply signs up for an established program through their 9-to-5. (See also: How an HSA Saves You Money)

5. Paid vacation and holidays

Paid time off is an undisputed benefit of a regular 9-to-5. As a freelancer, you don't earn a paycheck while on vacation or holiday. If you want time off, you take time off from earning any income, too. This can certainly put a damper on enjoying your down time.

6. Making connections

As a 9-to-5 employee, you'll have opportunity to build relationships with the coworkers and senior-level staff you see every day. These connections can give you a special level of access to approach and meet other influential people in your company. Plus, it never hurts to have a few people to chat with as you pass the day. Freelancers can still find plenty of opportunity to network, but they'll need to go out of their way to make it happen. It won't be as simple as showing up to work.

7. Tech support and replacement

I have thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment sitting on my desk. It gets supported, maintained, and upgraded by my employer. As a freelancer, you are on your own to buy and support your technology needs. Do you need a special monitor? You'll need to shell out for one. Is your computer too old to do the job? The replacement comes out of your pocket. If something breaks? The repairman will be billing you directly.

8. Training, certification, and professional development

Companies often invest in their employees by providing training or certification programs to help them be better workers. Staying up-to-date on skills, technology, and industry trends is incredibly useful to the employees as well, and makes them more valuable in the marketplace. Freelancers will need to find, purchase, and commit to their own training. It can be very easy to rest on your laurels and let your skills become outdated, especially with no boss insisting you keep learning.

9. Awards and recognition opportunities

It looks great on a resume to list awards and other work honors that you have received. Many employers have some form of "employee of the month" or similar recognition. You may not be able to stock your resume with such accolades if you go out on your own. At the very least, you'll have to seek out and apply for awards, where you'll likely be up against a much larger pool of talent.

10. Employee discount programs

Another perk that businesses offer their employees is discounts on products and services. These can range from cellphone plans, to personal computer purchases, to fitness club memberships — even discounts on concert and amusement park tickets. As a freelancer, you'll miss out on these discounts.

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