Four Months Of Being Self-Employed

Four Months Of Being Self-EmployedI left my day job in the beginning of October (I gave them my notice way before that though), and self-employment has been treating me right so far.

Here is my update after being self-employed for four months. I have learned a lot, but I know that I am still a youngin’ in the self-employment world.

I don’t mind working independently.

One thing that nearly every single person I talk to about my self-employment is how lonely I must be working from home. I almost have to laugh every single time because I definitely talked to even fewer people when I worked at my day job.

At my day job, I worked in an office, but I still worked independently. I worked in an industry filled with older men (everyone was at least twice my age, but most were three times my age), so it’s not like I was being swarmed with office friends every day.

Working from home is great, and I don’t mind being by myself. I see my friends often, Wes more than ever, and I get to see other people more as well.

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Yup, I still wear my pajamas all the time.

Occasionally, I will change into “real” clothes, but usually that is only to change into workout clothes. Or when I need to go somewhere.

However, if I’m going to just be at home all day I see no reason to wear anything else besides yoga pants and a sweatshirt. I still put on makeup and do my hair though.

EDIT: I just showed Wes that image and he thought it was funny, but he thinks I should change out of my pajamas by noon each day. LOL like that’s going to happen…

It is actually great to wake up in the morning.

I look forward to waking up in the morning and working. I also look forward to the workweek. Before, I would absolutely dread Saturdays (just because it meant the next day was Sunday), and Sunday was always the worst day ever.

My schedule is getting better. 

Before, I was doing horrible with keeping a schedule. I didn’t have one and I was pretty much on my laptop at all hours of the day.

Now, I dedicate each day and certain time slots towards different things that I need to do. Because of this, I also feel more motivated to complete work on time instead of procrastinating.

I’m cooking and eating at home a lot more.

When I first made the switch, I still wasn’t doing the greatest with eating at home. However, now it’s pretty much all we do. Eating out just doesn’t even taste good anymore, and sometimes it seems like a waste of my time.

St. Louis isn’t exactly known for great food though (except for BBQ and toasted ravioli 🙂 ), so maybe if we lived somewhere else, it would be different?

I have a regular workout schedule as well. 

I have been doing awesome with working out. I am doing the T25 workout schedule, running on the treadmill, going for walks outside, lifting, and more. I am working out 4 to 5 days a week and it has left me feeling awesome each and every day.

People are starting to take me seriously, I think…

When I first told people I left my day job to work from home, most people thought I was making a bad/crazy decision. They thought I was just quitting my job to do nothing all day.

I have been asked numerous times what it is I do all day, and how boring it must be to do nothing all day.

Now, I have given myself an actual title (I use various titles/names – website manager, online freelancer, my marketing business), and for some reason just giving myself a title has led to people taking me more seriously. And, that is fine by me!

Lastly, I can’t wait for warmer weather.

Starting my self-employment when it was cold outside wasn’t the greatest. And it’s still cold…  Being stuck inside all day is no fun. Last week, we had some fairly nice weather and it was nice to break up my workday by going outside.

I can’t wait for the warmer weather when I can go outside in the middle of the day and go for an awesome bike ride. It’s the little things in life that make life good!

What else do you want to know about my four months being self-employed?

How is self-employment treating you?

 

Finding A Job That Suits The Lifestyle You Want

Finding A Job That Suits The Lifestyle You WantWhat job do you currently have? Is this your dream job?

Many people seem to be searching for the perfect job for them because they think having their dream job will also equal overall happiness. Yes, this sounds nice, but I don’t think it always works out that way.

I think what’s important is finding a job that suits the lifestyle you want. This doesn’t always mean that you must have your dream job. Lets be honest, your dream job may not mean that you will have the lifestyle that you want.

I love what I currently do. However, what I really love about it is that I am able to do what I want to do in my free time as well.

I enjoy my time working, I enjoy my free time, I enjoy my flexible schedule, the location independence and everything else.

My business allows me to have a great work-life balance and I love everything about it.

Here are my tips to find a job that suits the lifestyle you want.

What do you love to do?

This applies to both your job and what you like doing in your free time. You don’t have to love your job, but I do think that you should at least somewhat like it.

If you really hate your job, then it would be hard to have the lifestyle that you want outside of work because you would probably be really stressed. A healthy medium is important here.

Okay, let’s get back on point. What do you love to do in your free time?

The job that you look for should be a job that allows for this. If you love to spend time with your family and friends and really value that, then getting a job that means you will be traveling 99% of the time probably won’t be for you (at least not for the long-term).

Also, you might have a great job, but what if it requires you to work 80 hours per week? If your dream lifestyle is to have a good work-life balance, then an 80 hour per week job probably won’t provide that.

Try to come up with an action plan to reach your dream lifestyle. 

If you really want to land a job that will suit the lifestyle you want, I think you need a well-thought out plan with steps to reach it.

If you want a certain job that will allow for you to have a great work-life balance, what jobs interest you that actually allow for that? How can you get that job? Are you sure that it actually provides for the lifestyle that you want? What will happen if you were wrong?

You might want to start by upgrading your education, especially if your dream job requires an advanced degree. Even if you do not necessarily need a master’s degree to receive consideration for a particular job, it certainly does not hurt to have one. Luckily, it is easier than ever before to upgrade your education because you can enroll in online courses. Through these courses, you can complete your assignments in your spare time and earn the degree that will help you achieve your goals without ever having to set foot in a classroom.

Test out your plan.

I don’t recommend job hopping to hundreds of different jobs to figure out what will work for you. That would take too long and you would be wasting your time and the time of others. It also wouldn’t look good on your resume most likely if you job hopped every month. You might want to look to your network, ask others about their jobs, shadow someone, or contact a recruitment agency to try to find the best fit for you.

If you have the time, then you may want to test out your dream lifestyle job in order to see if it actually works. An example would be to start this job in your free time (maybe over the weekend or over a long vacation?) and really see if this job leads to your desired lifestyle.

It is also wise to also remember that starting out in a job may mean that you don’t like it, however, with promotions it may lead to your dream job with your dream lifestyle. You may have to sacrifice your dream lifestyle in the beginning.

Do you know what your perfect job is? What must a job allow for you to do?

Are you searching for your dream job or a job that will fit your dream lifestyle?

The Blogging Business and Taxes

The Blogging Business and TaxesOne question that I receive nearly every week from readers is what I do about taxes since I am now a full-time freelancer/blogger. This is a topic that I have been promising for quite some time now, so I’m glad I can finally publish it!

Tax tips for bloggers isn’t exactly the most exciting topic in the world, but it is something that needs to be discussed. As a blogger/freelancer, I have noticed that there are not many articles out there about the subject.

Why is that though? As a blogger, taxes can be a scary thing to think about, especially if you are new to the area or if you haven’t been saving for taxes as you go.

Here are my tips to have a successful blogging/freelancing business while doing your taxes correctly.

 

Remember to keep an accurate record of everything.

One thing that I am really guilty of is being extremely disorganized, and lets just say that this is really hitting me hard right now.

I have receipts and papers all over the place, and I already know that I have lost many receipts. This is probably my number one tax tip for new bloggers. For my 2014 taxes, I have been working on staying organized as I go and I have separate folders for everything.

However, for 2013 I am not so lucky. I am still organizing everything so that I can do my taxes, and it is not a pleasant experience.

Always try to keep everything organized and keep a receipt for everything that is related to your business. Also, it is wise to keep a detailed note of what you spent and why you spent that (such as in an Excel sheet). It may seem overboard to some, but the IRS doesn’t like rounded numbers and guesses. They want the exact figure.

 

Remember to pay estimated taxes.

If you are new to blogging or freelancing, then your tax bill once the year is over may surprise you. As a blogger or freelancer, usually taxes are not taken out when you are paid.

With every payment that you receive, you should be setting aside a certain percentage for your taxes. You should not be touching this money, and it may be best to completely push this tax money out of your head so that you don’t consider it “yours.”

Paying your taxes is something that you will probably underestimate the amount you have to pay if you haven’t contacted an accountant or done any research. Estimated taxes are due every quarter. You should try to figure out what you should be paying, because if you don’t pay them at the correct time and the correct way, then you may have to pay a penalty.

Below is when estimated taxes are due.

  • April 15th
  • June 15th
  • September 15th
  • January 15th

 

Don’t forget that you also have to pay self-employment taxes.

You will most likely have to pay self-employment taxes, so do not forget to account for that as well (if you used to work for someone else, your employer used to help cover this).

There are ways to help lower this by forming different types of entities, but this is something that you should contact a lawyer or accountant about if you do not know what you are doing. Articles to read about this include:

 

What if I just blog in my free time and work for someone else full-time? – You will still have to pay self-employment tax on your blogging income.

You can read further about this on the IRS website.

 

The Blogging Business and Taxes

There are things that you can do to lower your tax bill as well.

In order to lower your tax bill by claiming deductions, you need to prove to the IRS that your blogging business is an actual business and not just a hobby.

If the IRS believes your blogging business is just a hobby, then they may not approve of your deductions. According to the IRS, you can prove this to them by showing them that you have earned a profit, the time that you put into your blogging business, and so on.

Anyway, after you have determined that you have a true blogging business, you can then deduct certain expenses as long as they are legitimate and necessary for you to run your business. I wouldn’t advise deducting every expense that you can find or imagine up, as some will trigger an audit.

Always be wise with what you chose to deduct and make sure that you have good reasoning and proof to back up your claim.

Different items that you may be able to deduct include:

  • Your home office. Always be careful with this though as a home office can trigger an audit since many people fake this.
  • Household expenses if your office is in a room in your home. This could include a share of the business’ amount of rent (be realistic with this – if your mortgage is $1,000 and you are claiming that rent on the room is $1,500, that will most likely not work), electricity, gas, trash, sewer, etc.
  • Office supplies and furniture.
  • Internet expenses.
  • Applicable phone costs.
  • Meals. You can only deduct 50% and there has to be a legitimate reason for this. Keep good record of who was there, when it was, and what was discussed.
  • Advertising and business cards.
  • Certain car expenses.
  • Conference fees related to your blog. An example would be if you attended FinCon.
  • Website related expenses such as for hosting, design, and so on.

 

Note: Please keep in mind that I am not a tax professional and I never was. I complied all of the above information by doing research and contacting some accountant friends. When I tell others that I used to be a financial analyst they tend to bombard me with tax questions and I am not sure why 🙂 The above post is meant more as a guide but you should always contact an accountant or a lawyer if you have any questions. Each case does vary with each company/person, so everything does not apply to everyone. 

 

Are you a blogger? How do you handle tax time?

What tips do you have for a new blogger trying to manage their taxes?