With the holiday season upon us, 2019 is almost officially behind us. Eek. How does the time fly by so quickly? However, that means that now is the perfect time to complete year-end to dos even for us RV entrepreneurs.
Time to take the pesky record keeping and financial decision-making tasks off your plate, so you can enjoy a more relaxed holiday season and be ready for the year ahead!
Here are several things to consider to complete year end to-dos as an RV entrepreneur.
Year end to-dos
1. Business expenses & deductions
While managing your finances and record keeping is important throughout the year, it’s even more important at year end. Now’s the time to get everything cleaned up and ready for the new year. Organize what you have, make updates to incorrect number and add in any missed expenses.
Missed deductions can include travel expenses, business insurance, training or conferences, utility bills (phone & internet), software expenses, etc. Now is the time to make sure your mileage log is accurate. You’ll need a written (electronic is fine) record of any business mileage in order to take this deduction for your business. This is extremely important should you ever get an IRS audit.
It’s also good to go through your expense log to make sure there isn’t anything uncategorized. This is the time to reimburse yourself for any business expenses you paid for personally. This can include mileage reimbursement, phone expenses, internet costs, etc. Get it on the books now so you don’t need to remember later.
It’s also the perfect time to scan in any paper receipts. Let’s face it. We live in tiny homes, so why waste space and weight with paper?!?
Year end to-dos should also include assessing if you need new equipment, tools, etc. for your business. If you’re considering a new laptop, you might want to buy it before January 1 to help lower your 2019 business income. This can even include some continuing education if that’s necessary for your work. Obviously, you don’t want to spend all your hard earned money on unnecessary expenses. But if you’ve been thinking about buying something for a few months, end of year is a good time. Maybe you can even take advantage of a holiday sale?!?!
2. Retirement contributions
Many people overlook setting aside money for retirement and this can add up to large tax savings. If you don’t already have one, now’s the time to get that retirement plan started.
This isn’t just for small business owners though. If you aren’t offered a retirement plan at work, you can make tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. The maximum contribution for 2019 is $6,000. If you’re over 50, then that increases to $7,000.
If you’re running the show all on your own, you can choose from a few different types of plans geared toward small businesses, including a tax-deferred solo 401(k) and a SEP IRA. These plans allow a solopreneur, as both employer and employee, to put away thousands of dollars a year for retirement while saving on taxes now.
The deadline to open a SEP IRA is the tax filing deadline (April 15th) while the deadline for a 401k is December 31. So, if you plan on utilizing a solo 401k, now’s the time to get that started!
With a solo 401k you can contribute up to the filing deadline (April 15th). However, it MUST be opened by year-end (December 31).
As a self-employed individual, you can contribute 20% of your net business income up to $56,000 (2019 limit) to a SEP IRA. That’s a pretty nice savings opportunity for you, right? It offers tax savings now and is helping you save for your retirement. You are limited by your business income but something is better than nothing.
If it’s you and possibly a spouse, you can have a solo 401k. This plan allows you to contribute $19,000 ($25,000 if over age 50) as elective contributions and the remainder in non-elective or business contributions. The total limit for 2019 is $56,000! That offers a major savings opportunity if you can afford it and your business is higher income.
Even with a lower income, you can still put away for retirement and save on your taxes now. I’d say that’s a win-win.
3. Review Your Business Plan
Many of you might not have any business plan. Well, now’s a good time to get one in place. If you do have one, now’s the time to review and update it. This means setting goals, creating a strategy for your business growth, take a look at marketing, etc.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers resources to help you develop a business plan, including a detailed traditional plan or a “lean startup” version.
“A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business,” the SBA notes. It’s also “the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.”
4. Update and Keep Good Records
Finally, if you haven’t done it yet, assess your finances and nail down your 2019 budget. Your business plan might sound great, but it can quickly fall off the tracks if you don’t have the cash to support your operations.
It’s really important to avoid starting the new year with disorganized financials. Organized paperwork and record keeping will help keep you on track with tax payments. It will also let you see how your business is growing year over year. This is a really important tool to assess what’s working and maybe what isn’t.
If you see numbers that are off from year to year, then it’s time to make a change. Now’s the time to catch up on any missed record keeping.
Also, if you don’t have an accounting system yet, consider making that move now to ease your record keeping in the new year and improve efficiency. Now’s the time to try out some bookkeeping software such as FreshBooks, Wave or Quickbooks. I offer a list of these and other helpful tools on my resources page. If you feel overwhelmed by bookkeeping, it might also be time to outsource that task. There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing so you can focus on your business and your goals.
Now that you have some specific year end to-dos to complete, what’s holding you back?