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7 Pinay Freelancers Open Up About Their Rakets And Irregular Incomes

No, they don't work in pajamas all day long.

People become freelancers for different reasons: needing to spend more time at home, figuring out what they want to do next, or simply wanting to control their own schedules. Seven Pinays let us in on the perks and disadvantages of freelancing for a living.



Name: Natalie

Age: 22

Occupation: Makeup Artist

Industry: Beauty

Monthly income range: P30,000 – P50,000

Is this your first job? Yes

How long have you been working? Almost two years!

Do you worry about money? Yes.

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
Yes, I would say so. No matter how little a job pays, always allocate a specific amount of your paycheck to your savings account. This is how I split my money: 50% expenditure, 25% tangible savings (travel and purchases that cost upwards of P5,000), and 25% investments or stocks. 

Do you live alone? No.

Do you contribute to household expenses?
Not really, but I do pay for the gas I consume when I use my family’s cars. 

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way? No. 

What are your financial goals?
I want to be able to pay for all of my necessities as well as have a little extra left for some luxuries. I also want to be able to give back to my parents in ways—I’m not sure how yet since they don’t really need money and probably won’t take that anyway. It’d also be nice to have the option to retire early, but I probably won't retire early anyway. 


What does financial independence mean to you?
Not having to ask for money from anyone else, even during emergencies. 

Why did you become a freelancer?
It kind of just happened. I tried applying for a full-time 9 to 5 gig, but no one wanted to hire me. Eventually, I started taking gigs here and there to tide me over until it took up all of my time. 

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What’s the best part of being a freelancer?
Having a different office everyday!

What are the challenges?
In the beginning, financial instability and the threat of not finding more work were major struggles. But now, the biggest challenge is trying to manage my schedule because of all the offers I’ve been getting! I gotta admit, it’s a nice problem to have.

What’s a typical day like for you?
Because I live in Quezon City and most of my jobs are in Makati or Fort, I spend at least two hours just trying to get to work. My shoots usually last around six to eight hours. I let the time pass and get drinks before I attempt to make my way back home.

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
The intriga or chismis culture!

Do you see yourself doing freelance work forever?
No. I'd like to be part of something bigger and greater than myself so that I can reach out to people on a much bigger scale.

Up Next: Tin, 29. Monthly income range: P10,000 – P30,000.

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Name: Tin

Age: 29

Occupation: Virtual Assistant, Transcriber, and Translation Scriptwriter

Industry: Clerical/Creative

Monthly income range: P10,000 – P30,000

Is this your first job? Nope.

How long have you been working? 10 years! Since I was 19.

Do you worry about money? ALWAYS.

Are you a good saver? What's your #1 saving tip? 
I'm a good saver when it comes to certain things. I commute as much as I can—bus, jeep, trike, or even walk! That way, I can have more money for other things, including shopping. (Tip: Ukay!) And if you choose to rent an apartment or condo, location is key. I've saved a lot of money because my place is so accessible.

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Do you live alone? I live with my boyfriend, independent from family, so yes.

Can you give us a breakdown of your expenses?
Rent is the biggest dent on my income and savings. Next come my utilities. After those, the rest of my money goes to restaurants.  

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way? 
Not really. At 29, I don't really care much about societal pressure. It's more of me just wanting to still be able to treat myself—eating out, going out, and spending on things I want and not always just what I need.

What are your financial goals? 
I want to actually own a place instead of just renting it.


What does financial independence mean to you? 
I'm living it now! I don't rely on anyone for money and get any financial support at all. It's all on me and it's both wonderful and hella stressful!

When did you become a freelancer? 
I’ve been working for a long time, but became a freelancer last December.

What's the best part of being a freelancer? 
The best part is actually also the worst part. The freedom and flexibility of my schedule are amazing, but you've got to double up on discipline.

What are the challenges? 
My income is from "rakets" and, if you're lucky enough, partly from semi-regular part-time gigs, so you literally cannot afford to be lazy or complacent. Cabin fever is also one of my weaknesses because I do the majority of my work at home.  

What's a typical day like for you? 
I wake up, have coffee and a smoke, then I walk to my table and do my thing. Once a week, I try to work at a café—somewhere outside so I don't go crazy.

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Name one thing you'd like to change about your job or in your industry? 
Support from government institutions—not financially, but just more guidance and clearer guidelines, information, and resources. For instance, I'm still figuring out how to get DTI receipts as some companies I work with, understandably so, are starting to require them.

Do you see yourself doing freelance work forever? 
I would like to! I'm going to give myself a year to decide if I could. I figure I'll be reassessing my work status and stability every year.

Up Next: Tanya, 23. Monthly income range: P60,000 – P100,000.

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Name: Tanya

Age: 23

Occupation: Photographer

Industry: Creative/Magazine/Production

Monthly income range: P60,000 – P100,000.

Is this your first job? No.

How long have you been working? Three years!

Do you worry about money? Sometimes, I do!

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
To be perfectly frank, yes, I am. My main saving tip is to not spend money you haven’t earned yet!

Do you live alone? Yes.

Can you give us a breakdown of your expenses?
40% of my money goes to household utilities, 30% goes to food, 20% goes to transportation, and 10% goes to miscellaneous expenses.  

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
Not really. I budget my money wisely.

What are your financial goals?
I want to have my own condo in 3 years!


What does financial independence mean to you?
Financial independence means budgeting your own money and not depending on your parents to keep you alive.

Why did you become a freelancer?
The freelance life just suits my personality. I'm very independent. I'm an only child. I live alone. My parents are both in the Middle East, so I'm really used to doing things on my own and at my own pace. Also, I like moving around. I can’t see myself with a desk job.

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What’s the best part of being a freelancer?
I can be my own boss. Being a freelancer helped me get to know myself more and it made me realize what my priorities are. 

What are the challenges?
Time management and dealing with difficult clients!

What’s a typical day like for you?
I usually wake up at around 8:00 am, check my phone for updates, and then shower before I have my breakfast. If I have a shoot, I get ready, check if my equipment's complete, and drive myself to my shoot. If I don't have a shoot, I edit photos, answer e-mails from clients, or do errands for the house. I try to squeeze in a workout at some point during the day as well. I also make time for a social life!

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
Photographers should be more respected. Some people think what we do is easy, that it can be done by anyone who owns a DSLR. They don't know how much effort photographers put into building a concept and executing it. I also want people to start respecting our rates more because we really invest in our equipment. 

Do you see yourself doing freelance work forever?
I do! I really love it. :)

Up Next: Angelica, 23. Monthly income range: P25,000 – P30,000.

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Name: Angelica

Age: 23

Occupation: Freelance writer, Full-time Communications Manager

Industry: Publishing

Monthly income range: For the freelance work, around P25,000 – P30,000.

Is this your first job?
I guess you could say that. My first full-time job was as the Editorial Assistant of Rogue magazine, but at the same time, I was also doing freelance work for other (non-competitor) magazines and websites. I also ghostwrote a book.

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How long have you been working? Two years!

Do you worry about money?
Of course. Who doesn’t? But I’m also aware of how fortunate I’ve been, considering I’ve landed good jobs both in freelance and full-time work.

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
I like to think so. My tip is to start learning about different kinds of investments as early as possible, because saving is just one component of a bigger financial plan. The Philippines isn’t great at teaching financial literacy, so you need to do your own research in order to capacitate yourself. (That said, I’ve been working for two years and I still feel like I don’t fully understand it!)

Do you live alone? No

Do you contribute to household expenses?
I pay for the dogs, which is a much bigger expense that some might think, and for gas! From the monthly pool of both my freelance and full-time finances, I spend only about 20%. The rest goes into investments. From that 20%, I pay for short-term monthly expenses (household and personal expenses).

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
Not really. I like to splurge every once in a while, but I grew up thrifty so I’m honestly more comfortable just not spending money if I don’t need to spend it.

What are your financial goals?
What a loaded question! I guess my long-term goal is to be able to retire (just from a financial perspective) before I turn 40. That age is subject for review though. Additionally, I want to work on putting up multiple streams of income so that I’m not fully dependent on the money from my freelance gigs or my salary forever.

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Short-term, my goals are to learn much more about investments. It’s important to know how to make your money work for you.


What does financial independence mean to you?
It means being able to afford, on one’s own, all the regular living expenses of yourself and of your immediate family, as well as to be able to handle lifecycle shocks (severe illness, loss of work of the breadwinner in the family, etc). I think an important thing to take into consideration is that financial independence and making a lot of money aren’t necessarily the same thing. The former is much more contingent on your lifestyle and how you spend your money rather than on how much you make.

Why did you become a freelancer?
I became a freelancer because I liked that it allowed me to work on projects that did not restrict me to what I was writing at my day job.

What’s the best part of being a freelancer?
It exposes me to more diverse projects than if I was just working for one office, because the latter necessarily has a focus. In freelance, you might be putting out soft-sell communications for a large corporate group one day, and the next day be writing an essay about climate change for a millennial audience.

What are the challenges?
The main challenge is that you have to deal with people who don’t take you or your time seriously. I believe very much in respecting work hours and personal time, and people seem to be under the impression that, because you “own your own time” and you don’t officially have to clock in and out of an office, they can expect you to work through the weekend and text you at all hours. Freelancers deserve that work-life balance, too. Financially, the greatest challenge is that you don’t know when your check is going to come. The longest I’ve had to wait was six months, but I know people who waited over a year to be paid for a project. For full-time freelancers, this is a huge challenge because there’s no regularity to your income. That makes it doubly hard to plan your savings and investments.

Continue reading below ↓

What’s a typical day like for you?
Because I have a day job, I clock in at 8:00 am and clock out at 5:00 pm, then I usually go home to finish up whatever freelance writing work I have to do (with a lot of interjections from my dogs).

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
I would change the way that freelancers are generally treated by their clients: When you’re given a deadline, it should only take into consideration working days; when you get a job, you should be made to sign a contract or a MOA; when you get asked for work, you must get paid in a timely fashion, and you must be paid what you deserve—not a smaller than usual amount because you’re “just” a freelancer.

Do you see yourself doing freelance work forever? No.

Up Next: Meg, 27. Monthly income range: P35,000 – P45,000.

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Name: Meg

Age: 27

Occupation: Writer, Social Media Coordinator

Industry: Travel, Digital Marketing

Monthly income range: P35,000 – P45,000

Is this your first job? No, I started as an ESL Teacher in a Korean English Academy.

How long have you been working? Six years!

Do you worry about money?
Sometimes, but typically, no.

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
At first, I was terrible at saving, but a little tweaking in my mindset allowed me to save for two international trips in the span of a few months. I suggest setting realistic goals and set up a bank account for each major goal.

Do you live alone? No, I live with my sister.

Do you contribute to household expenses?
No, but I try my best to pay for all of my personal expenses.

Continue reading below ↓

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
I feel pressure to live healthily and eat healthily, which doesn't always coincide with the things I want to save for. So it's really just weighing the pros and cons or deciding what's more important—like, buying food products that are expensive but will help me achieve my health goals versus putting that money into my travel fund.

What are your financial goals?
My goal is to have a diverse investment portfolio so that I can earn money passively and to save at least 40% of my income to use at my discretion or to put into savings for my future.


What does financial independence mean to you?
Financial independence means not having to rely on anyone else to supply for my needs and living expenses. More than that, it also means being financially capable of maintaining a satisfactory lifestyle without running into debt.

Why did you become a freelancer?
I became a freelancer because I didn't like the person that my full-time job was turning me into. I also needed a change of pace. It got to the point where I felt like my life revolved around work. I had no time to take care of myself, see my friends, or spend time with my family. I wanted to be in control of my time. I also knew the potential it had when it came to boosting my earnings per month.

What’s the best part of being a freelancer?
Being in control of your own time. I can pick and choose what projects appeal to me, as well as work on projects that mean something to me.

What are the challenges?
Paying my taxes and retaining government benefits. It's astonishing how much red tape there is and how many loopholes I have to jump through just to become a legitimate freelance tax payer. It feels like the requirements from the BIR change daily, and they can't seem to agree on what is necessary for a freelancer to pay when it comes to taxes. One officer will tell you that you need an OTR, another will tell you that you need a business permit. Some will even require you to register with the DTI, when in reality, you're a self-employed individual without a company. I know so many freelancers who want to be able to pay their taxes well and maintain their government benefits, but the sheer amount of hours and jumping through hoops it takes to get it done is a real turn off.

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What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me would be to wake up, watch a few of my favorite shows while enjoying breakfast, then starting on travel articles and other freelance contracts in the morning until lunch. Afterwards, I'll either head in to a part-time job that I'm currently contracted to, or I'll enjoy some lunch and then continue writing. It really depends. I'm blessed with a mixture of clients that are really flexible with time, and clients with a set schedule. Afterwards, if I have the time, I put effort into putting my travel blog together.

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
Honestly, it's really the requirements and the challenges with government offices. The desire to become a responsible tax paying citizen is there, but like I mentioned earlier, it's so hard to accomplish that.

Do you see yourself doing freelance work forever?
I wouldn't say forever, but it's definitely in my long-term plan. I want to enjoy the freelance life while I'm still relatively young and use that to supplement my dreams of traveling the world. When I start "winding down" after the traveling, I'd like to start a collective of creative people or a pool of freelancers to work on bigger and greater projects.

Up Next: Patty, 32. Monthly income range: P40,000 – P45,000.

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Name: Patty 

Age: 32

Occupation: Freelance Writer and PR/Marketing Consultant

Industry: Publishing, Public Relations, and Marketing

Monthly income range: P40,000 – P45,000

Is this your first job? No.

How long have you been working? 10 years!

Do you worry about money?
Yes, even more so because I'm a single mom. On top of worrying about sustaining myself financially, I worry if I’m bringing home enough to sustain my son not just now, but in the future.

Continue reading below ↓

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
I wouldn’t call myself a good saver because even when I save, I always end up dipping into my savings. (Right now, travel is my biggest indulgence, so yeah, that eats up a lot.) But as a freelancer, I limit trips out of the house to when it’s really necessary, like when I have meetings, events, or errands to run, or when I need a change of scenery to get myself out of a work rut—that way, I barely have to spend anything in a day. Being frugal when it comes to clothing—I’m a huge ukay-ukay fan—helps, too. I’m also not interested in shiny, pretty things; I wear out my gadgets before replacing them. At work, I conduct most of my conversations with clients online to keep phone expenses or actual meet-ups to a minimum.

Do you live alone?
No.

Do you contribute to household expenses?
I'm lucky to still live with my family because my parents pay for groceries, bills, and other household expenses. But I pay for all my son's needs and mine.

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
I don't feel any pressure to dress up or be in corporate attire each day, obviously. But I do make sure that when I’m out meeting people, even if it’s not for work, I look and talk like the kind of person you’d trust your communication requirements with. So I make sure that I still look stylish and confident even in my casual clothes, that I’ve tried the different places in my city and have opinions on them, and that I can chime in on conversations on popular topics that people are having.

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What are your financial goals?
I’ve been too busy trying to get by each day, juggling regular clients and minor rakets, to really sit down and plan out my financial future. But for sure I want to save enough to ensure my son’s education, and have money on hand so I can pursue a post-graduate degree later on.


What does financial independence mean to you?
Financial independence means being able to rely on myself for all of my and my son’s needs. I’m not there yet since I still live with my family, and when you’re a single mom, you need all the help you can get. But as long as I know I’m inching forward with my financial goals and becoming smarter with money each year, I’m good.

Why did you become a freelancer?
I used to work in publishing in Metro Manila, but I moved back to my hometown to be more hands-on in raising my son. Once I moved here though, I soon discovered that there was a dearth of jobs in the fields I was interested in. I tried running a business and later did PR and marketing full-time for a company, but neither of these felt like a fit for me; I sought the creative rush and fulfilling feeling I used to enjoy at my job as a writer in Metro Manila. Fortunately, my employer and colleagues at that job continued to give me freelance work even years after I left, and that’s where the bulk of my income comes from to this day. I also sought out opportunities in my hometown so I’d have more income streams to rely on in case one of these fell through.

Continue reading below ↓

What’s the best part of being a freelancer?
The freedom. I get to work wherever I want, work however I want, and choose clients I believe in. I also get to spend more time with my son and be available for his school needs.

What are the challenges?
I need to motivate myself to complete tasks each day because no one else will breathe down my neck for me. I need to never grow complacent and always look for new opportunities because one-time projects and short-term contracts aren’t forever. I need to always make myself indispensable because whatever work I put out will determine whether a client keeps me or drops me.

What’s a typical day like for you?
At 8:30am, I start my workday by reading magazines or scrolling through my social media feeds to gain ideas for articles and be updated on what everyone else is talking about—I consider this ~*research*~ and not a complete waste of time. I don’t start working in earnest until 10:00 am, after which I work straight through the day until 8:00 pm, with regular breaks each hour so my brain isn’t fried. Once or twice a week, I like to camp out at a coffee shop because I need the break in scenery. Plus, it minimizes distractions—no bed calling to me from the next room, no pile of books waiting to be read a few steps away.

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
I wish paying taxes as a freelancer were easier, because just thinking of all the red tape and paperwork drives me into an anxious fit.

Do you see yourself doing freelance work forever?
No. I got into it because of the lack of jobs that suited me in my hometown, and I’ve enjoyed it despite its setbacks. But eventually I’d like to take up post-graduate studies and teach, or if I had the chance to work full-time in publishing again, I’d do it.

Continue reading below ↓

Up Next: Maxine, 24. Monthly income range: P15,000 – P100,000.

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Name: Maxine

Age: 24

Occupation: Performer, Costume Designer, and Entrepreneur 

Industry: Entertainment

Monthly income range: P15,000 – P100,000. It really depends!

Is this your first job? Yes.

How long have you been working? Almost three years now.

Do you worry about money?
Yes, of course! Even though I don't live by myself yet, I worry about whether or not I'm saving enough to build a good future for myself and my loved ones. 

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
I’m a pretty decent saver. I enjoy shopping so the saving tip I always keep in mind is to protect my money from myself! That always encourages me to constantly update my investments.

Do you live alone? No.

Do you contribute to household expenses?
No, but I sustain myself completely.

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
Not really, but I do have a lot of hobbies that cause me to spend a certain way.

What are your financial goals?
To develop multiple income streams that would allow me to eventually afford my own place one day, provide for my future children (or my cats, we’ll see where life takes me), and retire comfortably. I also want to be able to build a life wherein I live well within my means, but also have a little extra for smaller luxuries, as well as enough to be able to give to those who need it and provide for something that can hopefully help the world.


What does financial independence mean to you?
It means not being dependent on outside sources. It means making enough on my own to provide for myself and my loved ones.

Continue reading below ↓

Why did you become a freelancer?
The industry I’m in is all about the freelance life.

What’s the best part of being a freelancer?
The best part is the ability to juggle several exciting projects at once, but also being able to control more of my personal time.

What are the challenges?
Trying not to get burned out! Income can also be a little unpredictable.

What’s a typical day like for you?
It varies. Some days, I respond to my emails, engage in discussions about my entrepreneurial ventures, and squeeze in a workout before I head to rehearsals. Other days, I finish errands for costuming work. When I’m not taking a break, my schedule has me running from morning until night.

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
The country could be more supportive of the arts. Artists, in general, could also be paid more for what we do.

Do you see yourself doing freelance work forever?
Yes, I do. I want to be able to create more of my own business ventures and become my own boss. 

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