There are many desirable aspects of being self-employed, including setting your own schedule, being your own boss, hiring your own team, and only answering to yourself. This sounds like a dream to many people, and for good reason—the majority of people are unhappy in their 9-5 jobs.
A nonprofit research group in New York called The Conference Board has been conducting job satisfaction surveys annually since 1987. According to results, job satisfaction has been declining since they began their survey. In a recent survey, 59% of people said the biggest factor that determines job satisfaction is having an interest in the work performed.
The survey results point to one of the biggest reasons people become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses. When you work for yourself, you can choose to start a business that you have an active passion for.
Mistake 1: Don’t forget your taxes
While there are clear benefits to being self-employed, there also benefits to the corporate structure a 9-5 job that many self-employed people easily forget. One of those benefits is the deduction of taxes directly from your paycheck.
When you are hired for a job, you’re usually given a W2 form to fill out so your employer can make automatic tax deductions from your paychecks. When you’re self-employed, it’s your responsibility to set aside a portion of your income for taxes. Although it sounds easy, there is more to it than just saving money for tax time. As a self-employed business owner, you need to know how the corporate structure of your business affects your taxes. For your convenience, Turbotax has published a great guide for self-employed people with a detailed checklist for you to use.
Mistake 2: Not buying health insurance
Health insurance has always been one of the biggest reasons people accept or reject jobs. With premiums that can cost hundreds of dollars per month, it makes sense that some people choose their jobs based on what healthcare plans they offer.
If you’re self-employed, however, you don’t have the luxury of selecting a plan and having the premiums automatically deducted from your paycheck. You have to go out into the marketplace and find your own plan. And, because businesses with many employees get discounts on health insurance, you may not be able to get the plan you want for the same price it would cost through an employer.
Just because health insurance a little more expensive on your own doesn’t mean you should skip it. If you don’t have coverage, you’ll face a fee at tax time called the “individual shared responsibility payment.” If you ignore your responsibility to get health coverage, you’re short-changing your own retirement. The money you donated to the IRS in the form of fines could have been contributed to your retirement savings plan.
Mistake 3: Not contributing to an IRA or 401(k)
Two large benefits to working in a 9-5 corporate job structure are the ability to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan, and 401(k) matching. Generally speaking, when you want to participate in these employer-sponsored programs, all you need to do is sign a few forms and agree to have a portion of your paycheck deposited into your retirement plan or 401(k). The company handles the rest. When you’re self-employed, it’s not so easy. Being self-employed means if you are going to contribute to a retirement savings plan or a 401(k), you have to do all the work.
A 2015 survey conducted by TD Ameritrade discovered that six out of ten self-employed people aren’t regularly contributing to their retirement savings. It’s possible this is due to the complexity of options, and some business owners may not know what to do.
According to Savant Capital, self-employed individuals have more options for retirement and tax savings. For example, if you’re self-employed, you can make two contributions to your plan—one as the owner of the business, and the second contribution can be made as an employee.
There are also big benefits to contributing to an IRA. Although limiting, IRAs are easy and inexpensive to start. For the newly self-employed, an IRA retirement savings plan would be the best place to begin.
Additionally, there are solo 401(k) plans for sole proprietors who have no employees. Contributions can be made up to $18,000 per year (in 2016) with an additional yearly contribution of $6,000 for people age 50 and older.
More options for the self-employed
With more options available to the self-employed, it makes sense to thoroughly explore all of your options before making a decision. While the 9-5 corporate structure provides an easy way for you to contribute to your retirement savings plan and obtain health insurance, your options are limited to what your employer has already chosen to make available. With a little hard work and perseverance, as a self-employed individual, you may discover the benefits to starting your own retirement and 401(k) plans outweigh the learning curve you have to go through to get started.