Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past decade or so pointing out the personal finance challenges raised by the gig economy, which is a euphemism for temporary or freelance work. That means no benefits, no job security and no pension or group RRSP to help with retirement saving.

But whether by necessity or preference, a lot of young adults in particular work in the gig economy and do fine. One of them is Sachi Lovatt, a Toronto-based actress whose recent work includes a role in the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale and narrating the Penguin Random House audiobook Speak, Okinawa.

Ms. Lovatt got in touch recently to say she’s enjoying the Stress Test podcast I’m doing with Globe personal finance editor Roma Luciw, and to suggest some topics related to gig work. I decided to ask her to tell us more about managing your finances as a gig worker. Here’s a Q&A we did by e-mail:

Story continues below advertisement

Q: What can you tell us about the stresses and benefits of being a freelancer with an income that varies month by month and year by year?

A: The stresses – it is challenging to make a budget, stick to it and meet savings goals without ever knowing how much I will earn. Although I now always earn enough to pay my bills, that wasn’t always the case in the beginning of my freelancing career, which was stressful. I seldom take vacations because if I don’t work I don’t get paid.

The benefits – there is no income cap; sometimes I earn three times as much as a normal month. Some months I earn more than my spouse, who has a full-time salaried job. I can work as much or as little as I’d like. If I take time off, I can easily earn money again when I return; there is no job hunting required, just reconnecting with old clients. I make my job work around my life, not the other way around, which for me is priceless.

Q: How much is in your Plan B fund for emergencies such as a lengthy period between gigs, and how long did it take to get there?

A: I have the security of a spouse who has a full-time job, and our emergency fund is $3,500. We used to have $15,000 in savings, but recently put $11,500 of that toward our debt. I never have lengthy periods between gigs because I have diversified: I have multiple freelance jobs in addition to my main profession as an actor. The pandemic made it evident to me that there is actually quite a bit of financial security by being a diversified freelancer. I earned more money during the pandemic than before it.

Q: How often do you find yourself drawing down on your Plan B fund?

A: A few years ago I drew upon it every few months, as we had just moved countries and had no jobs. Since being more settled, I rarely touch the Plan B fund. The last time I did was when we moved about a year ago. I borrowed from our savings to pay for the first and last month’s rent, but was able to pay myself back (i.e., replenish the fund) quickly.

Story continues below advertisement

Q: How do you balance keeping your Plan B fund topped up and saving for retirement?

A: I recently read Dave Ramsay’s book, The Total Money Makeover, and have started following his step-by-step guide. As a result, I am aggressively paying off debt, then will be saving three to six months’ worth for an emergency fund, then saving/investing for retirement. My eventual goal is to live off half my income and to invest the other half.

Q: What’s your system for making sure you can pay the income taxes you owe?

A: For every paycheque that is not taxed at source, I immediately put 15 to 20 per cent of it into a TFSA. I only use it to pay off my tax bill once a year, and anything left over I add into my savings. I keep track of all my income, expenses and money set aside for taxes in a spreadsheet.


Subscribe to Carrick on Money

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.


Rob’s personal finance reading list

Forgive, but not forget

Accident forgiveness is a worthwhile vehicle insurance feature because it protects you from a premium increase if you have an at-fault accident. Here’s a useful primer on how accident forgiveness works, with Ontario used as an example, and here’s some information on how much your insurance premium could rise if you have an at-fault accident.

Story continues below advertisement

Pandemic puppy budgeting alert

I was out for a walk with my wife the other day and we saw a way cute, big-eared beagle puppy in a neighbour’s window. In summer 2021, the pandemic puppy trend is still going strong. Here’s some guidance on the cost of dog and cat ownership from a debt counselling agency, including thoughts on the value of pet insurance.

Hot credit card offers

Stephen Weyman of CreditcardGenius says these credit card new client bonus offers are the best he’s seen.

Tax traps for real estate investors

A tax and estate planning experts looks at two cases where real estate investors mistakenly conclude interest paid on their mortgage is tax-deductible.


Today’s financial tool

Bond yields – the interest rates paid by government and corporate bonds – have been on the rise this year. The Bank of Canada website is a handy place to track what’s happening with bond yields.


The money-free zone

I’ve been enjoying the new album by the British band Wolf Alice – it’s titled Blue Weekend. Here’s the song that got me interested in the band – Planet Hunter, from 2017. Planet-size hooks.


ICYMI: What I’ve been writing about

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

Subscribe to Stress Test on Apple podcasts or Spotify. For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

Story continues below advertisement

Even more coverage from Rob Carrick:

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies