It’s that time of year again! As every contractor and freelancer knows, January is the time to get those accounts straight, file your return and pay any outstanding tax. While we’re all familiar with the nuts and bolts of the self-assessment process, we thought we’d take a closer look at the bigger picture. So here are 10 things that you might not know about self-assessment. Hopefully you’re in the 52% of people who have already filed their self-assessment with HMRC – if so you can sit back and read the rest of this blog in a self-satisfied state of calm.
Price hikes and poor service have seen the UK’s troubled rail transport system hitting the headlines again over the last month or two. But until we master the power of teleportation, commuting by train is a necessary evil for many contractors and freelancers who need to visit sites or meet with clients. This blog offers some tips to make commuting less expensive and more productive.
Split tickets are quite possibly our favourite “life hack” ever. A quirk of the ticketing system in the UK means that splitting your journey in half and buying two separate tickets can work out far, far cheaper than buying one ticket for the whole journey. For example, if you need to travel from Birmingham to Reading and back, splitting your ticket at Banbury can save you nearly £60. There are helpful online tools such as Trainsplit to help you find the best ticket combos for your journey. You don’t have to get off at the intermediate station, though the train you travel on does have to stop there.
Another year, and here we are ready to be oh-so-well-intentioned and make those obligatory New Year’s Resolutions. I’m giving up sugar! I’m going vegan! I’m going to read a book a week for the whole year! Inevitably, by the third week of January we’re sat back in the pub, tucking into a mixed grill and a sticky toffee pudding, only up to page 53 of Great Expectations.
That said, a new year can be a useful waymarker on your self-employed journey. It can be a time to take stock, reflect on past achievements and look at the ways forward for your business. The key to New Year’s Resolutions that stick is to make them achievable, impactful and beneficial. Here are some ideas for resolutions for contractors and freelancers that might make 2019 less stressful and more profitable.
Christmas as a contractor or freelancer can be a time of mixed emotions. Yes, it’s a relief to have some downtime and spend a few days with loved ones. But as clients go quiet on us, paid jobs dry up until January and offices and sites across the UK close for the Christmas period, it can also provoke anxiety. Perhaps you’ve been canny this year and scheduled in some ongoing work to tide you over the quiet spell. Or perhaps you are planning on switching off the computer, sending the phone to voicemail and taking some well-deserved time off to scoff mince pies and wear novelty jumpers. But if not, how can contractors and freelancers make the Christmas period a productive one? Here we take a look at some jobs you can do to make best use of this time.
Dear Father Christmas,
We contractors and freelancers have been very good this year. We’ve finished all our jobs to the highest standard, completed our tax returns on time and still managed to see the kids and keep on top of the housework.
So, this year, all we really want for Christmas is…
Why getting insurance is a bit like getting your flu jab
Flu season is upon us, and once again the NHS is hard at work convincing us to get our flu jab. The flu jab is offered for free to over 65s, people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women and children aged 2-10, and people outside these groups can pay to have the jab privately to get protected. As newspaper after newspaper publishes articles urging us to get vaccinated, we started to think about how getting your flu jab is a bit like organising insurance for your business: in your head, it seems like a big, scary, unnecessary expense and a pain to organise, but in reality, it is over quickly, easy to arrange, cheaper than you imagine and protects you from a far worse alternative.
65 is the new 35, and many of us are finding that we’re not quite ready to stop working when we hit retirement age. There are, of course, valid financial reasons for deciding to work longer. Many of us are expecting to live longer, and so being able to keep ourselves in a comfortable lifestyle for longer is an attractive prospect.
But more than that, work is a source of fulfilment to many people. It keeps us social and active both mentally and physically.
Having worked hard all our lives, when we hit retirement, most of us aren’t exactly aching to keep doing full-time, 9-5 hours in stressful jobs. A survey by Merrill Lynch found that only 5% of those at retirement age wanted to work full time, while 33% said they wanted to balance work and leisure.
November can be a dark and miserable month, but it’s also the month of Diwali, the festival of light celebrated by more than a billion Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the globe. Alongside the beautiful lanterns, the teachings of Diwali hold all sorts of wisdom for contractors and freelancers.
Another year, another Budget. In recent times, contractors and the self-employed have become used to watching the Chancellor’s pronouncements from behind the sofa. It would be an understatement to say that the last few announcements weren’t particularly kind to the contracting community, so it was understandable if many approached this October’s Budget with trepidation.
Amid much rumour and speculation, there was uncertainty as to how the self-employed would fare this time around. Although many in the community were hoping that proposed private sector IR35 reform would be abandoned, in truth it was never likely to be an option.
Despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary, in recent months the government has gone to some lengths to praise the success of IR35 reform in the public sector. The real question was a simpler one: would similar reforms apply to the private sector from April 2019 or April 2020?
It’s the spookiest time of the year: ghosts and ghouls around every corner; jack o’ lanterns glowing; annoying children ringing the doorbell every 10 minutes asking for sweets. But it’s not zombies and witches that we’re afraid of. Here are the top 5 things that give contractors nightmares this Halloween…
1. Non-paying clients
You sent the invoice straightaway. You clearly outlined your payment period. You sent a polite chaser email. And yet, somehow, still, no money has appeared in your account. The dwindling balance sends a shiver down your spine! Yes, the non-paying client is the most terrifying spectre a contractor can encounter. They look just like normal clients…until the full moon comes out and the balance is due, then they show their true colours.