I know. Who wants to talk about taxes, or accounting, or budgeting - or any of it? Especially this time of year? I’m not sure, but something strange has happened to me in the past year. I’ve become more adult-like. There is no better term for it.
Ever since I’ve been on my own (and we’re going way back here my friends … I left the “nest” at a very young 14 years of age), I was horrible at finances, budgeting, getting my taxes done on time…all of it. One could say I wasn’t taught such necessary life tools to begin with, but I’m not one to continue to do things that I know are wrong and blame them on the past. At least not for a long time now.
As fate would have it, these mandatory life responsibilities, never just went away and only grew with their impending doom the more I ignored them. I’m going to go ahead and admit that it was only when entered my late twenties that I snapped out of several stages of self-professed
badassery self-destruction and financial ignorance. Sort of. It was only until I became a mother and a entrepreneur/freelancer that I really stepped up my game. I realized that doing as such was empowering. A great weight has lifted from me regarding my future as an independent and successful woman. I want to lead by example to my children and teach them the things that perhaps I didn’t receive.
We don’t talk much in the parenting world, on the importance of teaching our children financial responsibility. I’m here to profess that it is INDEED important. Just as important as teaching them how to brush their teeth, use the potty and treat others with kindness and respect. Even during the early years of toddler-hood.
All of this doesn’t mean I don’t slip-up. It’s been a learning process with marginal room for error. Below are just few tips that I’ve crafted out of my own system. It by no means is the holy grail of financial independence, but it’s a start and seems to work quite well for me…
1. Create a System
Before things get out of control, establish your office routine. Organize and file papers and receipts on a weekly basis. We have a filing cabinet that I picked up at a thrift store (and spray painted fresh, clean white) and didn’t use it very well in my first year of being a WAHM. Oy did I learn my lesson come tax season. What a mess! Now I have a drop down envelope filing system above my desk (you can get that at any office supply store), that I use month by month. Each divider is labelled by receipt category and I stuff the corresponding receipts into each category. At the end of the month I put the envelopes in my filing cabinet, one file per month to hold all of the envelopes. The cabinet is necessary as both the mister and I work from home and there’s all that other stuff to keep organized too (house, health, insurance, etc). If I didn’t have an accountant, I would tally each envelope up at the end of each month to make things that much easier come tax season. But I do have an accountant, because I DESPISE numbers and all things having to do with book-keeping.
2. Enlist Help
When you start making a decent income, consider hiring an accountant. They help you make sure you’re taking advantage of all your tax savings available, get things done properly with way less headache/stress for you and are basically a godsend. There are 3 things in life that a smart business woman should value like none other. A good lawyer, a great accountant and an excellent child-care provider. Being a work-at-home mom doesn’t mean you have to DO IT ALL, all by yourself. Having even part-time childcare, or hiring a cleaner will help bring more balance to your life and home. Becoming depressed and overwhelmed as a WHAM can happen too easily without valuing the importance of striking a good level of work/life balance.
3. Know The Basics
For a long time, I was completely ignorant of our finances. I know, WHAT?! I sucked at it, I avoided it and it all probably had a lot to do with childhood issues of some sort. Becoming a mother and an entrepreneur/freelancer has snapped me out of that dis-empowering state of being pretty fast. Invoice for E V E R Y T H I N G and pop them and all electronic receipts into subdivided email folders as they come in. Keep all of your receipts for all purchases you make retaining to the business that you run, materials purchased, etc. Working from home means that some of your household bills (like internet, phone, heating/hydro) count as work-place costs. Travel costs, meals with clients? Those too. Keep all of those bills and organize them monthly as suggested in #1, rather than having to deal with a cluster-you-know-what at the end of the tax year. (Waving hello, this was me up until this year). Know how much your bills are, who owes you what and what you owe to whom plus when they have to be paid. Make a track-sheet of all of this that you can refer to at random.
4. Budget & Plan Ahead
Freelance work of any sort can be touch and go if you don’t have a regular contract and/or regular clients. (This is something you want to work towards if you aren’t there yet). As painful as it might be, sit down with your partner and create a home/work budget. ESPECIALLY if you you are both freelancers. Evaluate your expenses on both fronts over the next few months (depending on what you do there might be a lot of overhead and material costs, or next to none – I’ve been in both worlds). Compare all of this with your estimated revenue. Doing as such helps you stay on top of bills and set realistic goals for the future. Both on the home-front (hello new couch or home improvement) and with your business.
5. Get the Goods
Technology is your friend. Enlist the help of a virtual assistant, auto-responders, (but not too much, you still want to remain authentic), create email templates and get the book-keeping software (if you can’t hire an accountant, or actually don’t mind book-keeping) and other tools that you need to stay on top of your game and continue to grow.
6. Mile High Club
Reward yourself regularly for being so diligent, so grown-up. Whether it’s a swanky dinner out, a sexy new outfit, or even just a day off, rewarding yourself will motivate you to keep organized and perhaps even set goals for growth, rather than constantly being overwhelmed. The sweetest reward comes tax time. I promise. Plus? Whether you are a work-at-home-mom, a stay-at-home-mom or a work-out-of-the-home-mom, you are AWESOME. And you deserve rewards.
More Babbles From Selena…
- On Making Magic For Your Toddlers This Season: (you get to make up the ‘rules’ as you go!)
- Give Your Plastic a Rest: Surprise Your Toddler (and Yourself) With a Handmade Holiday Gift
- Your Holiday Shopping? It’s Done >>> The Ultimate Toddler Gift Guide.
Elsewhere on the internets…
Via my humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve.