Be it taking up projects as a side income, wanting more flexibility and job satisfaction, or the increased demand for specialised individual skills, the gig economy is expected to grow significantly. The fast-changing landscape of the gig economy belies the financial struggles of its beneficiaries, such as cash-flow management and personal liability.

In this webinar, Benjamin Loh shares his experience working part-time when he was schooling, his switch from a corporate sales role to a freelancer, and his eventual transition to a business owner. He reveals some of his money management struggles and the lessons that he has learned from his freelancing days, and some of the common challenges he has observed amongst his peers.

0:31 Benjamin's introduction

12:52 Moonlighting for additional income

14:15 Legal considerations around moonlighting

33:04 Money tips for freelancers

53:02 Should freelancers use CPF?

59:31 Final message from Benjamin

Excerpts from the presentation

How do you aim to get income stability with a family of two freelancers? (31:30)

Benjamin Loh: Without proper financial forecasting and planning, working as a freelancer with our variable income is like stepping on eggshells. For myself, even if my business does poorly, my wife still has her day job income and at worst I can cut down on expenses (eat economic rice) everyday. But if I do succeed there is higher upside.

Trade-offs have to happen in the case of any business setbacks. It’s a function of having to watch your downsides and upsides, asking yourself how much emergency funds you have in your pocket, with children what kind of lifestyle you want to afford etc.

How did you build your credibility when you first started out in the industry? (36:24)

Benjamin Loh: I would compare freelancing to dating – the first date is usually disastrous, but after your first successful date, that emboldens you. Even with repeated failures, I can build on one good experience, to allow me to refer my potential clients to what my past clients’ had to say of me.

The biggest barrier I often see is getting started, even though it is difficult throughout. As long as you are consistently working on the same thing, it should become easier to be credible.

Should I top-up my CPF as a freelancer? (53:02)

Sheng Shi: In my opinion, it is not a matter of whether you should top up or not, but how much. Freelancers have full flexibility of the frequency of top-ups, the amount of top-ups for their CPF. Taking into account the higher interest rates, credit protection, and tax relief from CPF top-up, freelancers should take a look at their own financial plans, and see how CPF can complement it.