**This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Intuit. All opinions are my own.
After four years of side hustling, I finally decided to become a full-time freelancer this year. I wish I could say it was easy, but honestly, freelancing is hard work! I work harder than I ever did before, but it’s worth it. I love what I do and more importantly, I get to spend more time with my family.
I know plenty of you out there have likely wondered if going full-time freelance is the right thing for you, but you’ve probably stopped yourself for a variety of reasons. I’m willing to bet that most of the time it’s for financial reasons. I totally get why that’s holding you back which is why I’ve got five financial tips for new full-time freelancers.
Build an emergency fund
The purpose of an emergency fund is to ensure you have 3 – 6 months’ worth of expenses set aside in case of an emergency such as a job loss, unexpected expenses, or health issues. When you’re freelancing full-time, I would suggest that you save closer to 6 months’ worth since your income can fluctuate pretty significantly month-to-month, especially at the beginning. Some people suggest that a line of credit is a good solution for emergencies, but I never understood why you would want to go into debt when you’re already dealing with major issues. Put some money aside and you’ll have peace of mind.
Manage your cash flow
It doesn’t matter if you’re a full-time employee or a freelancer, managing your cash flow is paramount. What makes things tricky for freelancers is the fact that your income will be up and down every month. The most important thing to know is your breakeven point since the last thing you want to do is end up in the red. Obviously, you want to turn a profit, but knowing how much you need to break even will allow you to plan accordingly. If your income does change quite a bit, consider using a previous month’s budget to help you stay on course.
Know your deductions
One thing you’ll want to research right away is your deductions. The Canada Revenue Agency has a full list of business expenses that you can deduct, but generally speaking, if it’s related to your business making money, then you can deduct it up to a certain amount. Remember to save all receipts for seven years since you’ll need to provide them in case you’re ever audited by the CRA. I know it sounds annoying, but you need to keep a paper trail.
Fortunately, there’s QuickBooks Self-Employed (QBSE) – a seamless mobile app for Android and iOS which helps self-employed professionals stay on top of their finances and prepare for tax time while on the go. The app connects directly to your bank, so you can determine if expenses are personal or for business by simply swiping on your phone. In addition, you can track your mileage directly within the app, take pictures of your receipts, and categorize all your expenses based on the T2125 form from the CRA so when it comes time to do your taxes, you’ll have everything ready.
For Canadian freelance workers who earn more than $30,000 per year, understanding how much you owe can be a particular challenge. Thankfully, QuickBooks Self-Employed empowers users to calculate their total GST paid and collected for each tax year and holistically manage all aspects of your business.
Only scale up when you’re ready
Growing your business is important, but you need to do it at a pace that makes sense for you. I personally only take on additional clients if I have the time to provide them with the same amount of service that all my current clients get. I understand that it’s hard to say no to new clients, but if you stretch yourself thin, quality suffers which can compromise relationships with existing clients so it’s simply not worth it.
When you’re ready to scale up, consider all the options available to you. It could be investing in new software what makes your accounting or social media easier to manage or it could even mean hiring an employee. Sometimes you need to spend money to make money, but only do it when it makes sense.
Go for it!
There will never be a right time to go full-time freelance. You can prepare yourself as much as possible with the tips above, but there will always be a reason to not follow your dreams. Someone may tell you that it’s too risky or you might convince yourself that giving up a secure full-time job is a bad idea. Listen, I’ve been there, but you might just have to go for it. I still have my doubts, but I’ve never been happier about my career. Even if things don’t work out, I can say I went for it. I’ll never look back and say what if?