As a freelance designer I look at the end of the month with a love/hate relationship.
Love because I get to send out invoices in order to get paid.
Hate because I have to send out invoices in order to get paid.
The nature of my work and agreements I have with my clients allows me to do all invoicing at one time, so the end of the month can be daunting when you are counting up hours, figuring out the cost of projects, and sending out emails to clients. It’s a lot of work to do at the end of every month and I try to avoid it as long as possible most months. It’s necessary, but that doesn’t make it fun.
What is fun, I have found, is tracking my finances. I’ve kept a spreadsheet for 4 years of all my earnings broken up by month and client. So at any point I can glance and see how much I’ve made at any given point from any given client. It allows me to look at trends (i.e. I made more money during the summer while I was in school because I had more hours I could work) and forecast projections for next year. For not being a “numbers guy,” I actually find these numbers extremely fascinating and get lost in them every month.
The more I look at them over time, the more I see a bigger trend: generosity.
Before you take that as a humble brag, I want to explain what I mean.
I see all my finances as an act of stewardship. Yes, I work hard for my money; yes, I like to spend it on things I love to do. But, in the end, it’s not mine. I view it as a gift from God. He didn’t have to give me the skills to work with the clients I work with, but He did. He didn’t have to equip me with the ability to create and design, but He did. He doesn’t have to reward me with paying clients who are a joy to work with, but He does.
What I do and what I have been given are unbelievably unequal. I have been blessed with more than I deserve—it’s called grace. The most simple definition of grace is getting what you don’t deserve.
And I’ve learned the only response to grace is generosity.
Someone who has been given so much does not clench their fists and hold on tightly for fear of losing it. No, they hold it loosely with a grateful disposition, humbled to be given the opportunity to steward the resources they have been entrusted. Then, they look for opportunities to do the same to others because the precedent has been before them to give.
So when I look at my finances on my spreadsheet every month, I try not to look at it as “This is how much I’ve earned this month” but rather “This is how much I’ve been given this month.” It shifts your perspective from a selfish consumer to a grateful giver. It is a subtle reminder that you have been given the greatest gift of grace that can never be out-given.
It is a reminder to give because you have been graciously given.