Four ways freelancers can save for retirement


The gig economy has exploded over the last decade. Today, it’s no biggie to find our neighbors, family members and even co-workers padding their pockets by renting their homes on Airbnb, driving for Uber or doing assorted other jobs here and there.

Who says freelancers can’t make retirement plans? Here’s how to save

But the gig economy is not just for people looking for a side hustle. For an increasing number of people, it’s their only source of employment.

One of the downsides of the freelance economy is that many of its participants don’t believe they will have enough for retirement. Those sentiments are apparent in a new study that found 81% of gig economy workers say they can’t afford to make saving for retirement a priority.

The numbers come from the Betterment’s Gig Economy and the Future of Retirement report released Thursday.

“The emergence of the gig economy has changed the American workforce, and the way we save for retirement needs to change with it,” Jon Stein, CEO of Betterment, said in a press release.

RELATED: 10 ways other than Uber & Lyft to make money with your vehicle

Freelancers don’t have to feel hopeless over retirement, though. Here are four ways to save for that nest egg.

How freelancers can plan for retirement

  • Open an HSA: Many people think Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are only for the full-time employed, but most people with a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP) can open an HSA. HSAs can be an invaluable resources for self-employed workers looking to save not just for medical expenses, but retirement as well. An HSA also has a three-fold benefit: Not only can you contribute to it in pre-tax dollars but withdrawals can be done without a tax penalty for qualified medical expenses. If you don’t have any major health issues, you can save a nice amount from year to year — money that could come in handy later in life.
  • Open an IRA: A typical IRA (Individual Retirement Arrangement or Account) allows you to save more than $5,000 a year tax-deferred — even more if you’re over 50 or married. Money expert Clark Howard says, “You can open a Roth IRA at Charles Schwab or Vanguard for as little as $1,000. See my investment guide for more details.”
  • Open a rainy day fund: One way to force yourself to save is to open a direct-deposit account that sets aside a little bit of the money you earn automatically. Try your best to resist the urge to spend it needlessly. In fact, a modest “rainy day” fund can keep freelancers from eating into their retirement savings. When small expenses hit — such as fridge repair or car trouble — you’ll be able to absorb it without compromising your future.
  • Invest in real estate: Real estate is a proven, sound investment that can reap big rewards for patient investors.  Many people rent out their homes or rooms in their home while they live cheaper somewhere else. Here’s how to invest in rental property.

It is possible for freelancers to plan for their financial futures in a way that puts them on par with full-time workers. Another way to get there is to get adequate health insurance. Here are some health care tools available to freelancers.

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