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Navigating Financial Emergencies: A Gig Worker's Personal Journey

Life as a freelancer or gig worker is marked by freedom and flexibility, but it can also bring financial uncertainty. This blog is more than just tips; it's a personal journey. I'd like to share how my partner and I faced a financial emergency and the steps we took as freelancers to handle it. This real-life experience can offer valuable insights to freelancers and gig workers facing similar challenges.

Life took an unexpected turn when my partner, Dean, was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. The standard treatments proved ineffective, and we were suddenly confronted with an emergency: the need for a substantial sum of money upfront to access integral cancer treatment. As freelancers, we had to find a way to raise around $120,000 in a matter of a couple months. Here's how our personal journey is unfolding:

First, we assessed the situation. Dean's diagnosis sent us on a frantic research spree. We consulted with doctors, spoke with other patients, and vetted and visited treatment centers across the country. We had to make an informed decision about where to go for treatment, keeping in mind both our financial constraints and the urgency of the situation, and without the guided hand of an oncologist willing to work with us for anything other than more chemo.

Thankfully, we had an emergency fund, which we immediately tapped into. It gave us a head start in dealing with the expenses, although we knew it wouldn't cover everything, but it was not starting out from square one. If you don't have one start it today. Even five bucks a week is a good start, and, in our case, it was crucial.

Next, we take inventory. I like spreadsheets and immediately I built a budget with potential expenses and potential income., where we can track in real time what's coming in and what's going out. This is a living document that is integral when speaking to potential donors about your goals as well as updating those on your progress. I keep mine as a pivot table with a running list of every donation by name and their amount to track thank you's and potential deeper commitments.

We then reached out to the people we knew were in our corner and would support us in a vital role—family and friends. We explained our situation to our network and discussed repayment terms with those we needed to, and we were clear when it was a gift.

We initiated a GoFundMe campaign and created a website to document Dean's treatment journey. We were transparent about how the funds would be used and shared our story on social media, reaching friends and strangers alike.

I took on additional work and am still taking it on, to boost our income. Even Dean has been busy conceptualizing and pitching new products. We've been creative and exploring all possible income sources--a few people are planning events across the US with raffle proceeds or the event income going to his care.

We got creative in our fundraising efforts, including a low-interest loan from a family friend, kept an internal fundraising team, and are tracking referred donations from each member in a playful manner. We even drafted a press release with our story about how I had just beaten stage IV cancer myself with a call to action regarding a change with the US standard of care.

What we did not do and haven't done yet is put anything on high-interest credit cards, which would only stress us out for years. The interest would be more than the principal if we took a while to pay it off. We did, however, take out a low-interest medical line of credit with CareCredit, which has no interest if you pay it every month on time.

Our personal journey through a financial emergency as freelancers has been both challenging and enlightening, and it's not over yet. Some people we thought would be there just didn't show up, and those we never thought would participate surprised us in a big way and totally delivered. So, if you are in dire straits, put yourself out there. We are still a long way from our stretch goal, and time is of the essence, but we're creative and diligent, and we haven't tapped all our resources yet. Stay tuned.

Your journey as a freelancer or gig worker may have its share of uncertainties, but your ability to adapt and persevere defines your success. Keep pushing forward with unwavering resolve when emergency financial situations arise and remember, you are not alone.


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