Be Your Own Boss – But Beware

I love it when people make a good job of being their own boss. There’s no commute, no office distractions, no uniforms and no strict time scale. Not to mention nobody telling you what to do. I love the benefits of being self employed.

However, I’ve also read a lot about the downside.No pension, no redundancy package, no PAYE and no national insurance payments made on your behalf – you’re responsible for these yourself. Too many self employed people ignore all this, either because they think it’s not that important or because they’re too busy with other ‘more important’ things. But if you ignore them, you’re flirting with disaster.

Nearly half of people who are self employed have no pension savings at all. Because you’re not getting any pension contributions from an employer, saving for a pension can seem like a tall order and maybe you hope that you’ll have a flourishing business to sell to provide for your retirement. That’s not financial planning though, that’s wishful thinking.

Start with a low-cost stakeholder pension. You can claim tax relief at 20% on your personal pension contributions using a Taxcaster calculator. You can’t touch these funds until you’re 55, which could be a positive or a negative depending on your views.

ISA’s are more flexible because you can dip into your savings. You won’t get tax relief, but the growth and income is tax free.

You will still get state pension of course – in today’s prices a single tier pension is £144. This isn’t enough to live comfortably – so save in your own name as well.

Being self employed can be tax hell – sorting out your own tax affairs. Hire an accountant – it’s too difficult to sort out the nitty gritty stuff if you’re not experienced in accounting. It’s worth paying for their services and their bill is tax deductable.

Tax is payable twice a year on 31st January and 31st July in two big chunks. Make sure you have the money to hand because late payments incur charges.

National insurance is also payable twice. If you’re likely to earn more than £77,000 a year, you need to register for VAT within 30 days. There are strict penalties for failing to do so.

Keep every single receipt as a lot can be deducted from your tax bill including stationary, furniture and even coffee providing they are ‘solely for business purpose’.

The other vital insurance is income protection, which will cover your income should you fall ill and be unable to work. This will kick in after 6 months of illness – so it’s not an immediate solution but it will keep paying out until you’re well enough to work again, or until you’re 60 if you can’t work anymore.

Bear all this in mind before you take the plunge, but definitely don’t let it put you off it you have the dream to do it!

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