For some reason, being self-employed means you take on many of the financial burdens of a business – all by yourself. This can be tough, especially when you first start out. When we’re employed by someone else we don’t even have to think about tax (except maybe tax refunds, and even those aren’t always straightforward). But once you have a grasp on how it all works, you can get it under control.
The key is automation.
What am I dealing with and how do I automate all this financial stuff?
There are many different options for the varying costs, I’ll stick to the basics.
Tax is a percentage of what you earn that you pay to the government, the Inland Revenue Department specifically. The percentage itself depends on how much you earn, but we all gotta pay it. You can file returns every tax year (plus make provisional tax payments) alone, or you can hire some help.
I haven’t come across a free automatic way to file your own tax returns (please share if you’re in the know). However, you can pay to have this sorted for you. You can use a tax agent, such as an accountant. They will guide you through the whole process and, if you find the right one, handle it all for you. There’s one particularly appealing paid option I’ll talk about below. If you want to go the free way, you can do it yourself on MyIR. Once you’ve got the hang of it once or twice, it’s not too tricky. Avoid calling IRD at the end/start of the tax year if you can help it – they get very busy!
While Kiwisaver is optional, it is generally recommended to take advantage of it. When you’re self-employed you don’t receive mandatory employer contributions, since you are your employer! You can still receive government bonuses though, as long as you contribute enough.
So how do you automate this? It can be as simple as setting up a recurring payment from your bank account to your Kiwisaver provider. How much you decide to pay and how often depends on your preferences. I started out with a monthly auto-payment – no manual admin required! To choose my monthly amount, I decided to take the annual minimum to receive the maximum government bonus and divide that over 12 months. You can do what’s right for you and seek advice suitable for your situation.
Student Loan Repayments
If you’ve set out to make a career out of your passion, chances are you have a student loan from studying it! For those fortunate souls who attended the school of life, even better, you don’t have to read the next paragraph (or spend years paying off your uni debt).
When it comes to automating your student loan repayments, it is similar to Kiwisaver. You can set up an auto-payment – set it and forget it. However, you do need to meet obligations for your student loan. The amounts you need to pay and when depend on your loan. The best thing to do is to give StudyLink a call. Explain your situation and ask how much you are required to pay per year. Set up your auto-payment based on the info they give you.
Is there any way to have this all taken care of for me at once?
You’re in luck! A kiwi business called Hnry offers a full service for we self-employed folk. They take care of your tax, student loan repayments, Kiwisaver, ACC, and anything else you need to pay. You just make sure your clients or customers pay you to your Hnry account number, Hnry deducts your payments and their fee, then you get paid the rest. There’s plenty more info on their website, but if you’re interested sign up for free and take a peek around here. Be sure to use my promo code if you do sign up to receive $25 credit: ASHLEIGH4368
Hopefully this gives you a starting point in managing your self-employed finances. I would love to hear your questions or any tips you may have that I’ve missed.
Note: the above information is aimed toward self-employed people in New Zealand.