Give Me Back My Five Bucks

The first few days on the job

Daffodils were handed out at work

flowers

The days leading up to my first day at the new job were full of anxiety. Sure, I was excited to be starting, but at the same time I’ve been putting an incredible amount of pressure on myself. I want to do well at my job, and I want to succeed. I want to save money, and retire comfortably. I want to travel, and live stress-free with that special someone. Turning 32 later this year has really scared me. I’m nowhere near where I thought I would be at this age, and while I know that the chances of settling down and retiring somewhat comfortable are pretty good, I still can’t help but stress out about where my career will be in 5 years, if my retirement accounts will be where I want them to be, and how I’ll know when I’m ready to do all the adult things all my friends seem to be up to.

I think we’ve all felt like this at some point before. It’s normal. And when I get those feelings, I just need to take a step back and evaluate all the positives I have in my life. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we don’t have, or what we want to have… instead of what we do have. :)

As for the first few days at the job? Well they’ve been great so far. It’s weird to be working within a marketing team – I’ve been so used to working by myself over the last few years, and I missed this team atmosphere we have going on. I imagine the next few weeks will be filled with trying to remember the names of people around the office, getting comfortable with the different tasks I’m given, and figuring out how I can best contribute based on my skill set.

I was unemployed just long enough to receive one EI payment, and that actually happened yesterday. So that means I went 40 days between when I lost my job, and when I got my first payment. I was worried it would take a lot longer than that – the first time I applied for EI it took 11 weeks! The $408 I received isn’t a lot, but it’s definitely welcomed. And I’m actually pretty pleased that I got through my entire unemployment without having to touch my Emergency Fund! Granted, I likely won’t get paid until mid-April, so there’s still a chance I might have to use that cash if I can’t make up the difference with my freelancing.

Speaking of freelancing, I’ve had a pretty good few days. I received a $750 payment, and have billed out for an additional $1,450 just this week. I likely won’t receive those payments by the end of March, but at least it’s putting me on the right track for a decent April. :)

Anyway, that’s the update in my world!

Spending Recap: March 10-16, 2014

Monday 10th
$50.28 gas

Tuesday 11th
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 12th
$27.74 groceries

Thursday 13th – Puyallup, WA
$13.89 lunch
$34.90 dinner (for 2)

Friday 14th – Portland, OR
$3.50 ice cream
$7 dinner

Saturday 15th – Portland, OR
$8.50 breakfast (for 2)
$2.20 VooDoo Donuts
$4.50 drinks
$17 movie (for 2)

Sunday 16th – Portland, OR
$3.53 breakfast
$5.48 lunch
$67.87 gas

Freelance Income: $0
Expenses- $246.39

TOTAL: - $246.39

Well, by now you’ve seen my Portland recap, so there’s no point in talking more about this trip! :) Although I do have to say that I was less frugal than I would have been had I not just signed a job offer.

Other than Portland, it was a pretty quiet week of spending for me. I bought gas for the first time in 3 weeks, which was awesome. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep some of my gas costs down by commuting from BF’s house to my new job (10 minutes), instead of from my place (40-45 minutes).

Tax tips for freelancers

As someone who has had a side business as a freelance writer/blogger/graphic designer for almost 10 years, I’ve realized there are plenty of advantages to working for yourself. You get to set your own hours, work from anywhere, take on as much or as little as you want, and the decision is up to you to decide who to work with. Freelancing has supplemented my income, and allowed me to travel the world! But honestly, tax season is the time of year that I always dread. There are so many receipts and paperwork to get through, so if you’re anything like me, you’ll try to push the filing deadline to the back of your mind.

But I’ve learned the hard way that waiting until the last possible moment to start on your tax paperwork will leave you stressed out. If you haven’t already done so, start organizing your receipts and invoices now – the last thing you want to do is stress yourself out and make mistakes to try and hit your filing deadline (which is April 30th).

Here are some tips to help you get all of the deductions that you qualify for:

Keep track of all receipts and invoices.

No matter how small or insignificant you think it is, make sure you’re saving every receipt and invoice. If you purchase something online – print the receipt and file it away. If you bill out for 15 minutes of work – make sure you keep a record of it, even if the invoice is only for $10.

Knowing exactly what receipts to keep can be important. For example, you might not think to keep receipts or records for furniture, postage, travel expenses for conferences, or interest on business related loans and bank charges – but portions of those expenses can all be deducted at the end of the year. Make sure to check out the Canada Revenue Agency website for a full list of what can be deducted.

Taking the effort to save all receipts and invoices will save you from headaches when you file your taxes, but it will also ensure that you have everything you need should you ever get audited.

Save for your taxes

It is extremely important that you set aside a portion of all the income you receive. It will save you from scrambling to come up with the money to pay your taxes when they come due. Based on the province that you live in, and the amount of deductions you will end up making, it’s hard to estimate how much of your income you should be saving for your taxes. A safe amount to put aside would be 30% of your gross income. You might end up paying a little more, or a little less, but at least you will have a starting point that you can adjust on an annual basis.

If your income exceeds $30,000 over the past four consecutive calendar quarters, you will need to register for a GST/HST account and start saving for that as well. GST/HST amounts vary by province, so make sure you know how much you should be saving.

Set up an RRSP

You won’t have a company pension plan to rely on, so you will have to save for retirement on your own. Contributing to an RRSP will lower your personal income amount, and you will end up paying less income tax because of it.

Here are 3 little things you can do right now in order to ensure next year’s tax season is easier on you:

  1. File your paperwork. If you have a shoebox full of receipts, take an hour each month to file and input the receipts into a spreadsheet. Staying on top of your receipts and invoices will keep your finances organized throughout the year, and will be easier to handle come tax time.
  2. Keep separate business bank accounts. It is significantly easier to figure out how much you’re actually spending on business-related expense if you hold a credit card and bank accounts specifically set up for your business expenses.
  3. Automatic RRSP contributions. RRSPs will lower your personal income amount, so have your bank automatically deduct a set amount of money out of your chequing account each month. You will end up paying less tax each year as a result.

Using an online tax program like UFile will make your life much easier. The software automates calculations, including child care expenses, tuition transfers, pension amounts (and pension splitting), as well as medical expenses and donations. This will ensure that your tax return is filed correctly and in your best interest – so you can spend more time working on projects or seeking out new clients. :)

What tax tips do you have for freelancers?

Note: this post has been sponsored by UFile, but all of the words are my own. 

About UFile Tax Software
UFile is the consumer tax program from Thomson Reuters, located in Montreal, Quebec.  It is a leading provider of tax preparation products and has served the professional tax community with personal and corporate tax products for more than 20 years. UFile products include UFile ONLINE (online tax software), UFile for Windows (UFile 4 and 12) and UFile PRO.  For more information, please visit www.ufile.ca, or you can follow them on Twitter @ufile.

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