1.3 How Much to Budget When Getting Started


Putting a budget plan together for your beginning as a freelance translator will help you secure the basics you need to get started with the right foot. In this chapter you will learn the main first investments and the usual monthly expenses as well. At the end of the chapter you will find a link to download a free budget spreadsheet you can user as a start point for your own budget.

First Investments:

Commercial-grade computer $1,000

  • Desktop computers are great computers for translators. They are trustworthy, affordable and come with many of the features a freelance translator will need. Laptops should be considered as a second option. As you evolve your career, you should be able to purchase multiple computers (e.g.: a desktop for your home-office and a laptop when you decide to take a trip while still working on a project)
  • The brands we recommend: Lenovo, Dell and HP. Try to select a commercial line whenever you can (e.g.: “Thinkpad” is the commercial line from Lenovo)

Software $ 1,000

  • Main software for a translator would be MS Windows, MS Office, a CAT tool (translator support software), backup software and an accounting software.
  • Some vendors are now offering an option for a monthly rental instead of a purchase. For MS Office, for instance, you can pay a monthly fee around $ 10.00 a month instead of making a single upfront payment of $ 200.00

Commercial-grade Laser printer $350

  • You will end up printing large quantities of documents, even when you are concerned with the nature. Settle for a laser and you will save time and money in ink cartridges. The toner and drum for a laser printer is costlier than ink cartridge, but the cost per printed page is much lower.

Backup hardware $200

  • External drives with 1TB and up are recommended. A well-known option for external backup is OneTouch Maxtor
  • An alternative for external drives is using a cloud-based backup. The main ones today are: Google Drive, Skydrive and Dropbox

Professional desk $500

  • The larger and heavier the better. Some translation jobs will involve several hardcopy dictionaries, hardcopies of the text, etc. You should be able to accommodate everything you need in your reach, so you don’t need to waste time and energy leaving your post every 5 minutes

File cabinets $120

  • Although you should keep a digital copy of everything you do, the old paper may be your savior when computers and hardware do not work the way they were supposed to

Bookcase $350

  • A few dictionaries, translation theory books and other materials will easily occupy an entire bookcase

Printer table $100

  • A separate table for printing will help you keep things organized

Office Equipment $250

  • Stapler, organizers, etc. There is an infinitude of accessories that may make your profession easier.

Mail Box $120

  • It is good to keep a separation of your home and business addresses.

Miscellaneous $500

Total: $4,490

Many people will start with some existing equipment, postponing part of this first investment. It may not be possible to start with a professional grade computer, but once the translator has reached the conditions for that they should immediately buy one.

The quality and processing speed of a computer has a great impact in the production of a translator. In the long run, most investments in Information technology will bring a high return in production and income. It is worthy to remember that a single crash may cause a lost of a full day of work.

Monthly Translation Expenses

Taking the US cost of living as standard. Translators living in lower cost of living countries may pay a fraction of theses costs.

  • Room dedicated for business $ 300 to $ 800 a month
  • A new computer every other year $ 500 a year or $ 41.67/month
  • Software upgrading every other year $ 500 a year or $ 41.67/month
  • Telephone / Internet / FAX bundle $ 120 a month
  • Accounting $ 150 a month
  • Mailing $ 100 a month
  • Association fees distributed $ 20 a month
  • Paper, toner, etc.distributed $ 30 a month
  • Others $ 100

Total: $ 903.34 to 1,403.34

Instructions to Follow

Or see index for the Ultimate Guide for Becoming a Freelance Translator

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