Inside: The Gig Economy has changed the way people work, and with those changes come new considerations when protecting yourself personally, professionally, and financially. Guest Post from Sara Carter from Enlightened-Digital.com
By the very definition of the word “gig economy,” individuals working multiple short-term contract positions have a number of things to balance every day. While juggling your daily schedule, there are other behind-the-scenes responsibilities to remember as well—and it’s the little things that can lead to success.
Whether you’re first starting out or have been doing gig work for years, the following sections outline the types of hurdles gig workers face every day and what to consider to protect yourself and your future goals. From personal safety to money management, there are a lot of parts to protecting yourself as a gig worker. Remember, unlike a traditional job set-up a lot of parts to being a gig worker need to be managed by yourself.
Most gig positions don’t offer any type of insurance for you or the tools you use for jobs. That means it’s your job to find coverage that will protect you and your valuables. If you’re married, look into becoming a member of your partner’s health insurance or, if you’re single, look at the insurance accepted by your doctors and select a plan that works best for your budget and needs.
It’s also important to have car insurance, especially if you use it for gig jobs. This type of insurance will protect you if you get into an accident or have car trouble on the job. If you don’t have a car, consider insurance for your computer or other tools. You never know when a piece of equipment will die or get stolen.
It’s become more common for gig workers to not receive their full payment for completed work. Various companies have been called out in the past for withholding money meant for workers. In addition, rising costs have sidelined many workers. Uber, for example, is facing a driver shortage due to the rising gas prices and fewer ride requests.
As an independent contractor, you can create your own documents for clients to sign. That way, when payment time arrives, you have something in writing to refer back to. It’s not a bad idea to have a lawyer on retainer either for such occasions.
Working by yourself can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially when you have no partner or coworkers to back you up.
Over the years, we’ve unfortunately heard countless stories about delivery drivers being robbed or having their cars stolen when making stops. While some companies have added additional safety features to their apps, those aren’t always enough. For instance, DoorDash updated the delivery drivers’ side of their app to include more resources for individuals in emergency situations. However, it doesn’t account for in-the-moment responses and how people react to different situations.
With that in mind, there are steps to take to ensure your safety. Partnering up with someone or having another person in the car can be a big help. Having other tools, such as pepper spray or a safety whistle, can act as the first line of defense. Also, staying aware of your surroundings and paying attention to your inner safety alarm is another way to avoid dangerous scenarios.
There are a variety of financial aspects to being a gig worker. First, there are your taxes. Since independent contractors don’t have taxes withheld from their paychecks, it’s helpful to make an account where you’ll deposit money throughout the year for taxes. That way, when tax season rolls around, it’s not a scramble to make your payment. It also may be worth it to work with an accountant to ensure you’re making the right deductions as an independent contractor.
You also should build an emergency fund. Life is full of surprises, from a broken car to medical ailments, and you should be ready for them. It’s advisable to have a savings account with enough money to last six to 12 months of living expenses. Setting aside just a little bit of money whenever you can make a big difference when the time comes.
Speaking of when the time comes, it’s important to think about your retirement too. While some gig jobs will allow you to work no matter your age, there will still come a time when you don’t want to work anymore. Similar to taxes and an emergency fund, saving for retirement will mean carving out a portion of each paycheck to put into a retirement savings account. You can also invest your money to make it work while you are working too.
As a gig worker, there are many moving parts to your everyday schedule. But something that shouldn’t be left to the wayside is your safety. From financial security to personal safety, there are a few aspects to protect yourself that you can contribute to or manage by yourself. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to be successful as a gig worker.