End-of-Year Financial Planning for Freelancers
Here are our favorite end-of-year financial planning tips for freelancers.
Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels
While freelancing is largely touted as offering you freedom, flexibility, and unlimited earning potential, it also comes with many added responsibilities. For one, no HR manager or accounting department is handling your finances. You're tasked with your financial housekeeping, from making sure you have enough stashed away to pay Uncle Sam.
And as if the end-of-year isn't busy enough, it's also an opportune time for financial planning. That way, you'll have your money ducks in a row and be well-prepared for the new year. Here, we walk you through some essential end-of-year tasks to check off your list:
Reassess your business budget
Even if you side hustle part-time or moonlight on top of your day job, you'll want to maintain a business budget. Depending on the nature of your business, expenses you'll need to factor into your budget include:
- Subscription fees
- Online tools and software (e.g., accounting software, cloud storage software, productivity software)
- Commercial auto insurance
- Rideshare insurance
- Materials, supplies, equipment
- Paying subcontractors
- Business-related travel
- Advertising and promotion expenses
- Health and dental insurance premiums
Determine how much you spend in a month or quarter and determine what you need to account for, moneywise. This will help you steer clear from spending more than you have.
If needed, make tweaks as necessary. For instance, if you rarely use that productivity software, consider dropping the subscription. Or, see if there are less expensive or free versions you can try.
Organize business-related expenses
A common financial housekeeping mistake is not keeping proper track of business expenses that qualify for a tax write-off. At the end of the year, one often discovers that their business expenses are mixed with their personal ones. Separating your business expenses from your personal ones is a time-consuming, hair-pulling affair.
The end of the year is a good time to separate out personal expenses from business expenses. Business expenses can include:
- Vehicle expenses (if you use your vehicle for work)
- Meals and entertainment
- Business travel
- Business tools, equipment, supplies
- Online software and tools
- Health insurance premiums
- Training programs and education
- Home office expenses (if you have a home office)
- Bank fees
- Advertising and marketing-related expenses (e.g., website hosting, social media ads)
- Professional services (e.g., hiring an accountant, attorney)
- Memberships to professional organizations
Keeping track of income that fluctuates and comes from different sources is also no easy feat. To keep things simple, consider opening a separate business checking account to track expenses as well as income from you freelancing business.
You can also consider a credit card designated for your business-related expenses to help you keep better track. Plus, you can take advantage of credit card perks, such as travel rewards, or earning extra points for certain business spending categories.
Save for taxes
Tax prepping is a must if you freelance. For starters, you're responsible for paying your own income and self-employment taxes. Plus, you are usually required to pay quarterly estimated taxes, so it's important to have enough liquidity to pay Uncle Sam when these deadlines roll around.
To start, save a portion of all the pay from your side hustles– a general rule is to set aside anywhere from 20% to 50% of your freelance earnings. It's a wide range, so it's best to talk to a tax professional who can offer guidance based on your unique situation.
And a big change for 2023: If you use payment platforms such as Venmo for your business, you'll be responsible for paying taxes on those earnings if you earn more than $600.
Keep your business emergency fund in the black
Just like you need a rainy-day fund for your expenses, you'll also want to have a bit of a cushion for your business.
You never know when you might need some cash to tide you over until the next influx of client payments comes through. Or should a tire go flat while you're gigging as a rideshare driver, you can tap into your business emergency fund to cover unplanned expense.
While keeping at least three to six months of emergency funds in your personal savings is recommended, it's up to you how much you want to save for your business.
Ensuring you stay on top of your financial housekeeping as a freelancer will help prevent hassles, headaches, and costly mistakes. In turn, it'll ensure you're well-prepared for the new year.
Get your FICO® Score from FICO, for free. No credit card required.
Estimate your FICO Score range
Answer 10 easy questions to get a free estimate of your FICO Score range
Instant Access to Your FICO® Score
90% of Top Lenders Use FICO® Scores. Do you know yours?Get Access Now!
Get your FICO® Score for free
The score lenders use®
No credit card required