Your Accountant is Here to Help: Just Ask!

Your Accountant is Here to Help: Just Ask!

How often do you speak to your accountant?

For some people, their accountant is this borderline-mysterious figure that appears once a year to help with their taxes. You rarely have face-to-face or even telephone contact with them. You simply send off your financial documents and, poof, taxes are done. They’re like a reclusive math wizard that you met on the internet!

As flattering as it is being considered a “wizard,” at The Number Works, we have a slightly different idea about what an accountant and bookkeeper should be to your business. We are a resource that can do much more for you than just your taxes—

although that’s super important.

With our help, you can launch a new business, reduce costs and expenses, set up your accounting software, and get a ton of busywork off your plate. All you need to do is ask!

Startup a Startup!

If you’re an entrepreneur who is looking to build a brand new business from the ground up, getting your financials in order can be one of the most daunting things on your to-do list.

You need much more than just a good idea to start a business. You need to identify your startup costs, plan your operating costs, figure out your business’ legal structure (sole proprietorship, LLC. etc.), and work out the fine details of your business plan.

One of the best things about bringing your accountant into the earliest stages of your business planning is that they’ll be there from the very beginning. As your business grows, your accountant will already know everything about the company. In times of financial difficulty, they’ll be able to help guide you with expert advice. Plus, in the event of an audit or other financial challenges, you can rest assured that your accountant will already have detailed records on hand from the very start.

Set Up Accounting Software

As accountants, we have a love-hate relationship with spreadsheets. It’s just part of the job! But if you’re keeping all of your finances in Microsoft Excel, then you need to get with the times.

Setting you up with online accounting software is another service that accountants can offer in the earliest days of entrepreneurship. It’s also a valuable service at any stage in the life of a business. With cloud-based accounting software, you and your accountant can access your finances from anywhere at any time. With professional features ranging from customized reporting and analysis to rock-solid security, setting your business up with a cloud-based system like QuickBooks Online, Xero, or Wave can be more than a worthwhile investment.

The trick is finding an accountant who can recommend the best platform for your business or one who is already familiar with the program you want to use. That way, they can rapidly import all of your current financial information into the system. All that work could take days if you’re doing it yourself. But if you hire a professional accountant to do it, everything will be ready in no time at all!

Reduce Costs and Expenses

Running a growing business is complicated. There are so many moving pieces that even the business’ owner might not be fully aware of how everything works.

An accountant can help you get a grip on the financial workings of your business, including your incoming cash flow, expenses, and costs. As a professional accountant, they can also identify places where you aren’t spending money optimally, offering you advice as to where you can trim the fat, so to speak.

Get Stuff Off Your Plate

One of the busiest livelihoods out there is that of a small business owner.

While demands can vary depending on the size and type of the company, a small business owner is typically overwhelmed by the amount of work on their plate. Everything, from marketing decisions to customer service to product development, needs to be run through them. It isn’t unusual to have upwards of two dozen non-negotiable items on your to-do list every single day.

That’s why asking your accountant to help with the daily financial headaches of your business can be a massive relief. Rather than having to pour over the numbers, you can instead focus your energies on the things that only you can do as the owner of the business. By outsourcing your financial planning and management to a professional accountant and bookkeeper (like us here at The Number Works), you can strike off dozens of those to-do list entries in one fell swoop.

Get the Help You Need

Accountants might be “math wizards,” but we aren’t mindreaders! There are so many other ways that we can help your business grow in addition to your yearly taxes. All you need to do is ask! At The Number Works, we want to do whatever we can to help your business grow. If you have any questions about your business’ finances or how an accountant can help, please feel free to contact us today! Sometimes, all it takes is one question to change everything about your business’ future!

Bookkeeping New Year's Resolutions

Bookkeeping New Year’s Resolutions

Do you always keep your New Year’s Resolutions?

Unfortunately, studies have shown that most new year’s resolutions simply don’t work. We enter into the new year with the best of intentions, planning on making significant changes to our lives, but before we know it… it’s February, and we haven’t taken any steps towards our resolutions.

One of the reasons for this is because most resolutions resemble wishes rather than actual goals. They are too general, e.g. “I want to lose weight,” or overly ambitious, e.g. “I want to be able to run a marathon by February.” If you want to make a new year’s resolution that you’ll keep, it needs to be both realistic and actionable.

This year, why not make your new year’s resolution about your small business’ bookkeeping? There are a ton of concrete steps you can take to make your bookkeeping habits and practices even better for the upcoming year. Take on any of the following resolutions, and you’ll not only be able to keep them, but you’ll also see some major positive changes to the way you handle your personal and small business accounting!

Resolve to: Digitize Everything

The days of keeping your receipts and invoices in a series of shoeboxes are long gone. Nowadays, thanks to digital technology, you can make sure that everything is optimally organized so that you can find any document in a matter of minutes (if not seconds).

While you do need to keep paper copies of all your receipts, you should be creating digital copies that are correctly named and organized on your computer. It isn’t as difficult as you might think, as there are dozens of high-quality apps that allow you to simply take a photo of a paper receipt with your phone. These apps will then automatically name and file that record into the proper place in your bookkeeping system.

Creating a system like this can have countless benefits. First, searching for a necessary receipt is going to be easy as pie. Just type the name into the search, and the corresponding document will pop up. If you’re using accounting software, it will help you keep track of all your receipts, organizing them for you by date and type.

It’s also going to be easier to work with a bookkeeper or accountant when your financial documents and records are already “filed” and organized on your network!

Resolve to: Hire a Bookkeeper

One of the biggest time sucks for small business owners is doing their own bookkeeping.

Bookkeeping is something that needs to be constantly updated and maintained. If you’re a super busy small business owner, that can result in updating your financial records being put on the backburner. Over time, this ends up becoming a huge backlog of work that you MUST do to keep your business happily humming along.

When you hire a professional bookkeeper, you’ll have the time to focus on the job of growing your business rather than having to monitor and update the books every day. The cost of hiring a bookkeeper is often more than covered by your increased productivity, and that’s not even mentioning the levels of stress that you’ll be avoiding!

If you don’t currently have a bookkeeper, you’re probably dreading going over all of your year-end financial records. By hiring a bookkeeper, you can instead rest easy and enjoy the start of the new year!

Resolve to: Modernize Your Bookkeeping Software

Do you keep all of your financial records in an Excel spreadsheet? Now, there is nothing wrong with that—Excel is a fantastic program! But wouldn’t it be better if you could use a program designed specifically for bookkeeping and accounting, rather than continually having to customize spreadsheets to your desired specifications?

By using online cloud-based accounting services like Xero or Quickbooks Online, you’ll be streamlining the way you input your financial information and records. You’ll also be ensuring that everything will be safely backed up to the cloud. If the unthinkable were ever to happen, all of your financial information would be secure.

At the start of this blog, we told you that most people don’t keep their new year’s resolutions. Why not be an exception to that rule this upcoming year by making your resolutions into actionable plans and strategies that will simplify your life? At The Number Works, it’s our goal to help you keep all of your finances in order with exceptional bookkeeping services. If you want to get the new year started right, please feel free to contact us today! We can’t wait to make 2020 the year that you get all of your bookkeeping under control!

Year-End Bookkeeping Checklist

Year-End Bookkeeping Checklist

Are you ready for the winter rush?

The temperature is dropping, there’s snow on the ground, and there are countless items on your to-do list. Once again, the most wonderful time of year has arrived and, boy, can it be stressful!

This time of year, you have to deal with everything from shopping to dropping the kids off for their school holiday concert practice. There’s so much on your plate that it can be difficult to know where to get started. This is one of the reasons why we want to make it as easy as possible for you to take care of your year-end bookkeeping with this simple checklist. By getting these things out of the way in the next few weeks, you’ll be ensuring that you’re positioned for a fantastic year ahead!

Update Your Bookkeeping Records

Throughout the course of a year, your bookkeeping can get a bit disorganized. If you aren’t working with a professional bookkeeper who will keep everything tidy and up-to-date, then it’s important for you to check your records at the end of the year to confirm everything is in order.

First, make sure that you’ve reconciled every bank and credit card statement with what is in your bookkeeping records. This will tell you if you’ve missed (or even double charged) a transaction.

Next, review your last few months of financial statements to confirm that the numbers are correct and that transactions weren’t improperly labeled. Make sure that your physical inventory, assets, and supplies match up with the numbers you have on paper.

Finally, don’t forget to double-check your accounts payable and accounts receivable (if you use the cash accounting method, you may want to wait to send invoices until January to keep your taxable income lower)!

We admit, updating your bookkeeping records is not the most enjoyable task, but it’s going to be invaluable when you need to do your taxes next year. If you simply can’t find the time to do it, we’d be happy to get everything ready for you!

Budgeting

We understand why you might dread going through your books at the end of the year. So many numbers, so little time! But one way that you can help keep everything on track for the following year is to set up a detailed budget.

By using the knowledge you gained from updating your bookkeeping records, you can project a reasonably accurate yearly budget for your business. By knowing your likely future income and expenses, goals can then be set that will help you grow your business next year.

Your yearly budget should be broken down into periods, monthly or quarterly (or both). This will also help you focus on goal setting for smaller sections of the year.

It can also be helpful to get some additional eyes on your projected budget to make sure that everything is in line with expectations. This is another area where we can help!

Set Goals for the Year Ahead

To be clear, we aren’t talking about a New Year’s Resolution here.

New Year’s Resolutions rarely work because they aren’t goals; they’re more like wishes. You need SMART goals that you can genuinely achieve in the upcoming year. SMART stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

It can be helpful to break up your desired goals for the year, allowing you to regularly check-in and see how things are developing. We recommend setting up monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. If you really want to get into the thick of it, you can also set up daily and weekly goals to improve smaller aspects of your business like daily reporting or customer management.

Reflect On Your Last Year

For small business owners, it’s almost always about “what’s next?” You’re focused on growth and on making your company a success. But it can pay to take some time at the end of the year to reflect on everything that happened to you over the last 12 months.

So much can happen that whizzes by in the moment. By taking a close look at your yearly successes, failures, and struggles, you can know where to focus your energy next year. On top of that, remembering successes can give you a feeling of accomplishment to give you a nice boost! And remember all of those headaches and problems you were dealing with earlier in the year? You’re now past them! Rejoice!

Tax Planning

By doing all of this bookkeeping work at the end of the year, you’re going to be setting yourself up for a much easier tax time in a few months.

Effective tax planning is key to a business’ success. If you aren’t sure of where to find relevant tax credits and rebates that will help you keep more of your money in your pocket, The Number Works would be happy to help!

By starting early, we can put together a plan that will you save big money on your taxes. At The Number Works, we’ll position your finances to maximize your year-end expenses and lower your taxable income. We can also assist with setting up a personal budget! If you’d like some help getting your year-end bookkeeping out of the way so that you can enjoy the holidays, please feel free to contact us today!

Make Better Financial Decisions By Better Understanding Your Income Statement

Make Better Financial Decisions By Better Understanding Your Income Statement

How often do you check your business’ income statement?

When you run a small business, information is your best friend. The more information that you have at your fingertips, the better the decisions you can make for your future. Being able to review your numbers and pull out key data at a moment’s notice is essential when you’re a small business owner.

One of the best ways to measure the health of your company is to check your income statements periodically. This is one of your company’s primary financial reports, sometimes referred to as the Profit & Loss Statement. This document is generated monthly, quarterly, or annually to provide an “in progress” snapshot of the current performance of your business.

What Is Its Main Use?

The primary use of the income statement is right there in the name. It’s a document that you can use to measure whether or not you’re bringing in money. “Bringing in money” doesn’t necessarily mean that you are saving money in the bank, however; to do that, you need to check your Cash Flow Statement.

The information contained in your income statement describes your net profit. In other words, your revenue minus your expenses will equal your net income.

Let’s Look at Revenue

When you generate income through your business operations, that’s your revenue. You might have a number of different revenue sources, depending on your business, which should appear at the end of each section of your income statement. This division can help you analyze which of your departments is performing best and where you might want to put your resources in the future.

This kind of information can be very useful for streamlining operations as it can help you focus in on the most profitable aspects of your business.

Let’s Look at the Cost of Sold Goods

If you’re an inventory-based business (as opposed to service-oriented), then the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the key to understanding your income statement. Your COGS is the cost of your inventory sold within a given time frame. For example, if you buy approximately $10,000 worth of inventory and only sell 20% of it, then your COGS will be equal to $2,000. The rest ($8,000) can only be expensed once sold. Otherwise, it will be considered an inventory asset of your business.

Before purchasing inventory, it’s important to know what you already have in stock. That’s where your balance sheet can come in handy.

Let’s Look at Gross Profit

Gross profit can be boiled down to a simple equation:

Revenue – COGS = Gross Profit

This is a subtotal within your income statement and represents the revenue that you can disperse on your other expenses after you purchase your inventory. When this is expressed as a percentage, it’s called a gross margin. It can come in handy when you want to make decisions regarding your business taking on more expenses. It’s expressed through this equation:

(Revenue – COGS) / Revenue = Gross Margin

The Gross Margin will, of course, be different for various industries. You should do some research (or ask an accountant) to determine if your Gross Margin is comparable to your competitors’ as a metric of the health of your business. If it’s too low, it means that you are spending too much on inventory, or your sales prices are too low. This could indicate that you should be looking for more competitive prices for inventory or that you should increase your sales price.

Let’s Look at Fixed Costs

Fixed costs are the expenses that are easy to predict. They occur monthly, regardless of your overall sales or other costs. They can include your monthly rent, hydro, water, business and inventory insurance, marketing, and employee salaries.

This is another place where you might want to look at industry benchmarks to determine if you are overspending. For example, if your rent accounts for more than 50% of your fixed costs every month, you are likely paying too much. It could save you money in the long run to start looking for another location for your business and/or try to re-negotiate with your landlord. You could also consider cutting down on the space used for your business and sublease the rest. Always be sure to calculate the percentage of each fixed costs against your overall revenue.

Let’s Look at Variable Costs

These are the costs that vary month to month, depending on your sales and other occasional expenses. For example, if you start to sell more of your products, then the cost of packaging is likely to go up.

Your variable costs will likely fluctuate, depending on whether you are experiencing an increase or decrease in your sales numbers. If you are experiencing a temporary downturn of 20% in sales, but your variable costs remain constant, then you might need to explore some ways to cut down on that overspending.

Variable costs can vary wildly depending on if you are in a slow or rush season. You should constantly be tracking these costs through these seasons to make sure that you are slowing your spending during the slow season to save yourself money.

Basically, your income statement all comes down to this: to figure out your bottom line, you need to subtract your expenses from your gross profit. If you discover that you’re in the black, that’s great news—it means your revenue exceeds your expenses! Yay, profit! If you’re in the red, that unfortunately means you’re going to have to figure out how to shuffle things around financially to get yourself in the black. This can happen periodically, depending on variable costs during slow and rush seasons, so you always need to be on top of your income statement.

If you’re having trouble figuring out the areas where you are overspending and underperforming, we can help. At The Number Works, we can give you a more complete understanding of your income statements and show you places where you might be able to streamline your business. So, feel free to contact us today! We can’t wait to help you better understand all of your financial statements!

Better Understand Your Business' Finances By Breaking Down the Balance Sheet & Key Ratios

Better Understand Your Business’ Finances By Breaking Down the Balance Sheet & Key Ratios

Do you know what your company is really worth?

Whether or not you use a professional bookkeeper and/or accountant, knowing how your business is doing at any given time is an essential part of success. While income statements and cash flow statements can give you a view of your business over a period of time, a balance statement (BS) can give you a snapshot view of your business as it exists at this moment. Add to that an understanding of financial ratios, and you’re well on your way to having a firm grasp of the financial underpinnings of your business!

What Is a Balance Sheet?

Simply put, a balance sheet is based on an equation:

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

In this context, your assets are what you own, your liabilities are what your company owes, and your equity is the net worth of your company.

Your assets can be either current, fixed, or long-term. Your current assets are the ones that you will be using in the near future. Your fixed and long-term assets are those held beyond one year and often depreciate in value (unless the asset is land, which tends to mature rather than depreciate). You can also include your long-term investments as part of your long-term assets. Your assets can also include intangible things like your brand, trademarks, and patents.

You can think of your liabilities similar to the opposite of your assets. Similarly, there are both current and long-term liabilities. Current liabilities are generally payables and short-term debt that can be paid within a year. Long-term liabilities can include debt to the bank or to your investors.

Finally, equity can be different depending on the structure of your company. If you operate as a sole proprietor or partnership, you’ll likely have an owner’s equity. If your company is a corporation, then you’ll probably have shareholder’s equity. On your balance sheet, equity is usually made up of your retained earnings over the years; the value of what is left of the assets after all liabilities are cleared. This can also be where your capital stock is listed.

Let’s Look at Ratios

But how does any of this information help you? To take advantage of the data in your balance sheet, you need to look at financial ratios. The three most common kinds are:

  • Current ratio
  • Quick ratio
  • Debt-to-equity ratio

Your current ratio should lay out the liquidity of your company and its ability to pay current liabilities with your current assets. In this case, you want a ratio of 2:1 or higher, as you want to be able to cover the current liabilities you owe completely.

Your quick ratio is a more detailed version of your current ratio, removing your inventory from consideration. Much like current ratio, you want this to be 2:1 or higher. That being said, you don’t want it to be too high, as this would mean you aren’t reinvesting your cash back into your company.

Finally, your debt-to-equity ratio is the level of debt you hold against your equity. You want no more than a 2:1 ratio here, as anything above that means your company is taking on more debt than it can handle versus your level of equity.

Having accurate metrics of how your business is doing is vital to your overall success. You can’t rely on luck alone when it comes to growth. Knowing all about balance statements and the financial ratios that can be derived from that data can be invaluable. If all of this sounds pretty complicated, don’t worry because we can help!

At The Number Works, we’ve helped countless small businesses thrive, taking care of their complicated finances. If you want to ensure that everything at your business is kept in financial balance, contact us today! We can’t wait to help you better understand all of your financial statements!

Taking the Leap Towards Self-Employment

Taking the Leap Towards Self-Employment

Are you ready to strike out on your own?

Being self-employed is the dream of countless Canadians. They fantasize about the freedom that comes with being the master of their own destiny…

But of course there’s another side to being self-employed. The rewards of being self-employed can be huge, but so are the risks and strains. Yes, you’re your own boss, but that means all of the responsibilities and risks are yours as well. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to provide your own motivation, pushing yourself every day towards success.

To be clear, we are not trying to talk you out of starting your own business! However, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what’s involved. With that in mind, here are some of the things you need to consider before making the leap to being self-employed.

What Do Your Current Finances Look Like?

Whether you’re considering going freelance or you’ve decided to start your own business, you cannot count on your endeavour becoming profitable right away. In fact, for the first year or so, you might be losing money.

Jumping from a reliable paycheque to invoicing clients and hoping they pay on time can be nerve-wracking—not to mention finding those clients and getting through the start up expenses. You must have detailed knowledge of your finances and your risk resilience before you make the full leap to being self-employed.

Not sure where to start when it comes to your numbers? Luckily, this is an area where The Number Works can help. We can walk you through all of your current financial data, showing you exactly where your profits and expenses are and what you can do to shape things up before you go into business for yourself.

Do Your Research

Before starting your own business, you should probably ask yourself the tough question, “Do I have any idea how to start my own business?”

There can be a real “look-before-you-leap” mentality when it comes to becoming self-employed. It isn’t just about the state of your finances; it’s also about learning the ins and outs of creating your own business and managing it effectively.

The first thing you might want to do is talk to some of your entrepreneurial friends. Getting a first-hand account of what it’s like to be self-employed can be invaluable, enabling you to bypass some of the mistakes they made in the early days of creating their businesses.

You’ll probably also want to read some books about entrepreneurship. While countless books have been written on the subject, you should be selective about which you pick up. There are significant differences between the Canadian and U.S. markets, so be sure your book is focusing on Canadians laws and guidelines. You also need to make sure it was written (or at least updated) within the last four to five years. Technology moves so fast that anything before 2015 will be borderline useless, omitting vast chunks of what it means to be self-employed today.

Ongoing management of finances can be another big hurdle for those who want to jump into the self-employed arena. If you’ve never had to manage anything larger than a personal budget, you might need a hand getting started. That’s another thing we can help you with at The Number Works. Right from the first minute of your business, we can be there to support your financial position and ensure you’re optimized and running things as smoothly as possible.

Start Slowly

Have you ever heard of a “side hustle?” It’s essentially part-time self-employment. A side hustle could be as simple as setting yourself up with an an Etsy store to sell things that you’ve created in your spare time, or taking on a single freelance client to get your feet wet in your desired industry.

Having a side hustle can be a great way to get a small business started. If you’re feeling nervous about jumping into self-employment with both feet, this can be an excellent starting point, building muscles that will come in handy when you decide to quit and go into business for yourself full-time.

Keep in mind that it can require building some serious discipline to force yourself to work even after you get home from your job, but the result can be more than worth it. And you’ll need all that discipline when you’re a full-time entrepreneur who has to continuously self-motivated.

Do Not Forget About Your Taxes

One of the biggest shocks that a self-employed person can go through is their first tax season.

When you’re working for a company, taxes are automatically taken off your paycheques. Now that you’re self-employed, you’re collecting the entire amount you’ve earned… until tax time that is. When tax season rolls around and you need to calculate your taxes, you might be in for a shock! Yes, you knew that your tax bill would be higher than usual because you’re now self-employed but… Surely there must be some kind of mistake, right? Don’t be one of those people who realizes they owe thousands of dollars to the government that they’ve already spent!

While, yes, there is a chance that you made a mistake, it’s much more likely that your numbers are correct and you need to give the government a sum of money that you hadn’t planned for. It’s shocking, but there are several ways you can mitigate this situation.

One thing you should definitely have is an accountant experienced in working with self-employed entrepreneurs in your province. At The Number Works, we know all of the deductions and legal tricks for Ontario that could save you big bucks, especially come tax time. With our help, we might be able to get your taxes down to a slightly less jaw-dropping amount. And we’ll certainly help you prepare so that you aren’t caught off guard when you see the amount you’ll owe.

We also recommend that, rather than just dump every paycheque you have into your Chequing account, you take off about 25% off and put it into a separate savings account that you use for taxes. That way, you’ll have a reserve of money ready for you come tax time, reducing any sense of “sticker shock” when you figure out precisely what you owe.

Take Care of Yourself

For new entrepreneurs and freelancers, self-care can become an afterthought in the pursuit of making your business a success. This is a massive mistake!

If you’ve been putting off going to the gym, heading to yoga, buying healthy groceries, or spending quality time with family or friends, be sure to start scheduling it in your calendar like you would a business meeting or other important event. Same with making sure that you take appropriate breaks for lunch and for stretching if you’re sitting down for long hours. If you don’t take care of yourself physically, you’re going to start getting worn down by the job. Manageable things could start to feel overwhelmingly stressful, all because you aren’t caring for your personal needs.

There is also a mental self-care component of being self-employed. Some people start feeling like every minute they aren’t working is a minute they’re losing money; an unhealthy mindset that can lead to self-esteem issues and self-abusive thoughts of “laziness”.

Even though you’re self-employed and can technically get up at any time of day (including well after 9am), try setting “business hours” where you do your work throughout the day. Working 9 to 5, even if you’re doing so from home, can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. If you prefer unorthodox hours, that’s ok too but make sure that you schedule your on- vs. off-time. It can keep you from feeling guilty that you aren’t working at 9pm on a Saturday rather than spending time with friends.

It takes a great deal of bravery to be self-employed, either by starting a new business or by going freelance. No matter which path you choose, you can bet that at The Number Works we’ll do whatever we can to help. We work with freelancers and entrepreneurs every single day, helping them balance their finances and making sure they’re fully prepared come tax season. If you want to simplify your financial life while moving towards self-employment, get in touch with us today. We’d love to help your entrepreneurial dreams come to life!

All About Tax-Free Savings Accounts

All About Tax-Free Savings Accounts

Did you know that a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) isn’t really a savings account? Instead, a Tax-Free Savings Account is more like a basket that holds many financial options. In your TFSA, you can choose to include exchange-traded funds (ETFs), guaranteed investment certificates (GICs), stocks, bonds, and of course, actual savings. The best part is that any money you make from the investments in your TFSA is tax-free!

In 2009, the Canadian government introduced TFSAs to encourage people to save money for retirement. Since you pay tax on the money you put into your TFSA, you won’t have to pay anything when you take that money out.

TFSAs are great tools for growing your finances and setting up a cushion for retirement, but they do come with specific rules and limitations. So here’s everything you need to know about TFSAs:

What is the Contribution Limit?

You’re only allowed to open a TFSA or contribute to one when you turn 18 (in some provinces and territories you cannot contribute to a TFSA until you’re 19). Once you turn 18, you’re allowed to contribute $6,000 per year (as of 2019). However, if you don’t contribute the full $6,000 per year, you can carry forward the unused contribution amount and add it to the TFSA contribution limit for the following year. In 2018, the contribution limit was $5,500, so if you didn’t put any money into your TFSA in 2018 or 2019, then in 2020, you can contribute $11,500.

What’s more, if you withdraw money from your TFSA in one calendar year, it’ll create additional contribution room for the following year. For example, if you put in $6,000 in 2019, but then you withdraw $1,000 in 2019, you can contribute $7,000 in 2020.

What If I Exceed the Contribution Limit?

If you overcontribute to your TFSA, then the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) imposes a tax of 1% per month for each month or partial month that the excess amount stays in your TFSA.

The 1% tax applies until:

  • You withdraw the entire excess amount; or
  • For those who are eligible, the entire excess amount is absorbed by additions to their unused TFSA contribution room in the following years.

For more information, you can visit the CRA website.

What Are the Benefits of a TFSA?

The main benefit of a TFSA is right in its name: you don’t have to pay any taxes on the money you make on it. For instance, if you invest $5,000 in your TFSA, and it grows to be $15,000 by the time you retire, the extra $10,000 of income is 100% tax-free.

Another advantage to using a TFSA is that unlike your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), you can quickly and easily withdraw money at any time. There is no penalty when you take money out of your TFSA. Plus, withdrawing cash allows you to contribute more the following year, as mentioned above.

Lastly, since the TFSA was designed to help build income for retirees, once you retire, you can withdraw your money from your TFSA, and it won’t affect your retirement benefits such as Old Age Security, which decreases when you have a higher income.

How Can I Open a TFSA?

If you’d like to open a TFSA, you must be a resident of Canada with a valid social insurance number (SIN) and be at least 18 years of age. There are four types of TFSAs available:

  • A deposit
  • An annuity contract
  • An arrangement in trust
  • A self-directed TFSA

You can have more than one TFSA at a time, but the total amount you contribute to all your TFSAs can’t exceed your available TFSA contribution room for that year.

To open a TFSA, get in touch with your bank, credit union, or insurance company (issuer) and present the issuer with your SIN and your date of birth. This way the issuer can register your qualifying arrangement as a TFSA.

Can TFSAs Benefit Business Owners?

As a business owner, you might opt to leave extra funds in your corporation for investing. However, according to a report by CIBC, if you decide to take those additional funds out of your corporation and invest them in a TFSA, you’ll generally end up with more after-tax cash, especially if you have a long time horizon for the investment.

How Can the Number Works Help?

It’s a good idea to discuss the above with a professional accountant. So if you’re looking for an affordable virtual accounting firm, look no further than The Number Works! We partner with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs who are looking to grow their businesses and profits.

We offer a wide range of services such as cloud-based bookkeeping, full cycle accounting, financial statement analysis, strategic planning, and tax planning. So if you have a question about TFSAs and how they can work for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. We love helping you tell your financial story.

The Benefits of Creating a Personal Budget

The Benefits of Creating a Personal Budget

Do you wish you had more money? Who doesn’t!

Although you might dream of winning the lottery or investing in the next Apple computers, chances are that you won’t be the next Bill Gates (Sorry!)

But that’s no reason to despair. Creating a personal budget is one of the best ways to maximize the money you do have and create a plan that prioritizes your spending for the future.

Many people think that budgeting means giving up stuff you enjoy doing, but it’s actually the opposite! When you create a personal budget, you’re clearly allocating your money for the things you want to do – based on your financial limitations.

By creating a personal budget, you can save yourself tons of headaches that come with overspending and ending up in debt. This, in turn, frees up more of your money to spend on things you enjoy rather than being surprised by unknown expenses in the future.

Although budgeting does require a little bit of extra work, it’s really worth the time and effort! Here are some of the most significant benefits of creating a personal budget:

Budgeting Gives You Control

When you sit down and create a personal budget, you’re taking control of your money and not letting your money control you. However, it’s important to note that any sound financial plan should be flexible so you’re able to adapt in case of emergencies, such as a medical expense or an urgent vehicle repair. In fact, that’s precisely what budgeting is for! By creating a personal budget, you’ll save yourself the stress of suddenly needing to adjust to a lack of funds because you failed to plan how to spend appropriately.

A personal budget will also give you control over deciding if you’d like to sacrifice short term spending, such as visiting Starbucks every day, in exchange for a long term goal, like going on a cruise or buying a new TV.

Budgeting Keeps You Organized

When budgeting, we recommend using a template or an online app to keep your finances organized. By writing out all your monthly expenses including cable, internet, mortgage/rent, insurance, groceries, gym memberships, etc., you’ll make it easy to see exactly how much you need to spend on individual services. Not only does this help you stay organized in terms of monthly expenses, but if one of your bills goes up, it makes it much easier to spot it. For example, if you’ve budgeted $40 a month for insurance and your next bill is $53, you’ll be able to quickly notice the change because you have everything clearly written out.

Creating a personal budget that’s plainly written down will also help you be proactive. For instance, because you saw that $13 increase in your insurance bill, you would be able to call your insurance company ASAP to try and haggle a better rate.

Budgeting Builds Better Habits

Once you’ve created your personal budget, you’ll need to stick to it! By working hard to make sure you’re spending your money according to your budget, you’ll build new and better spending habits. Over time, you will find that these habits become easier and easier to maintain.

Part of working within your budget means shifting your expenses from unnecessary categories to the most essential household categories. This will free up your money for the most necessary expenses, as well as for debt reduction. By creating a personal budget and building better habits, you’ll begin to see real financial progress.

Budgeting Manages Debt

Here’s a surprising statement: Not all debt is bad!

Taking out a mortgage or having a student loan can be constructive forms of debt that could improve your financial standing in the future. However, it’s imperative to fully understand your debt in order to keep in control of it. This means knowing your interest rates, terms, and the length of your loan.

Budgeting not only provides a clear picture of what you need to pay down your debt, but it also helps you understand how much debt you can afford. By creating a personal budget, you’ll be able to determine how much of a debt load you can take on without getting stressed. It can even help you figure out if taking on debt is worth it at all.

If you already have debt, a personal budget will help you find which areas you can reduce your expenses so that you can afford to start making extra payments towards that debt.

Budgeting Gives You a Better Life

These just scratch the surface of the many advantages to creating a personal budget. From being in control of your finances to staying on top of your bills to managing and paying off debt, budgeting always “pays” off. When you create and stick to a personal budget, you’ll find you have much less stress in your life, be able to save some extra cash, and move towards your financial goals faster.

Creating a personal budget does require you to sit down and take a little time, especially in the early months, but once you’ve become accustomed to living within your budget, you’ll see results that you never even imagined.

Of course, creating your monthly budget is just the beginning. Remember to schedule monthly budget reviews and stick to them if you want to see your financial health increase in line with your goals.

The Number Works Can Help Your Business Budget

We’re big fans of creating a personal budget for your everyday finances, but we also understand the importance of budgeting when it comes to your business too! If you’re a small business owner or a creative entrepreneur, we can help you grow your profits and budget all your expenses.

So, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Number Works for services including cloud-based bookkeeping, full cycle accounting, financial statement analysis, and strategic tax planning. Let’s work together to take the pain away from managing your business’ finances.

How to Leverage Technology to Improve Your Company’s Bottom Line

How to Leverage Technology to Improve Your Company’s Bottom Line

Times are changing and fast! If you want your business to succeed, it’s imperative to adapt and keep up with trends in technology. By leveraging technology in your business, you can create a positive, productive, and, most importantly, profitable environment.

Investing in technology for your business can actually make you money, more than covering the cost of upgrades. For instance, are you a sales-based business? Then you’ll want to invest in sales management software. If you’re a manufacturing company, then you’ll want to look for programs that will help you manage your inventory and distribution.

To properly leverage technology in a way that will improve your company’s bottom line, ask yourself (or your team):

  • Will this technology help generate more revenue?
  • Will this technology help my business become more efficient or productive?
  • Will this technology minimize risk?

With that in mind, here are three ways to leverage technology that can benefit any company.

Leverage Cybersecurity Technology

Did you know that 4.5 billion records were stolen worldwide in the first half of 2018 alone? What’s more, Statistics Canada found that approximately 20% of cyberattacks that happened in 2017 were aimed at small businesses with 10 to 49 employees.

A successful cyberattack is not only bad for your business’ reputation, but it can quickly become a major expense. In fact, the Ponemon Institute found that Canadian companies spent $6.1 million on breach-related expenses, and approximately 50% of Canadian businesses felt employee productivity was impacted due to a cyber-security incident, according to Statistics Canada.

The lesson is that you can’t let a cyber attack affect your company’s growth. You need to invest in proper cybersecurity technology. Almost every company can benefit from investing in advanced detection and protection tools. For example, some technologies use defensive deception techniques to identify attacks early on and move critical data before it is accessed or damaged. This is a great way to minimize risk and improve your bottom line. You might also consider investing in the use of decoys, web application firewalls, IPS, and web-based deception solutions.

Leverage Digital Marketing Technology

Every business needs to generate leads and go after potential customers if they want to keep growing and scaling. One of the best ways to do this is by leveraging digital marketing technology.

For example, Facebook isn’t only great for connecting with friends or watching cute cat videos; it’s also one of the best advertising platforms around. By investing in paid Facebook ads, you can reach scores of new leads. And the best part? Facebook makes it easy to target your exact audience, so the money you spend on advertising has a higher chance of reaching the people who are actually interested in buying your product or service.

Another fantastic way to reach potential customers is through email marketing. In fact, email generates $38 for every $1 spent, which is a whopping 3,800% ROI!

Investing in technology such as MailChimp can be a great way to automate your email marketing, allowing you to focus on the strategy behind your email campaigns. MailChimp also features reports that make it easy to see how successful an email campaign is at engaging your target audience. This truly is one area where leveraging technology can make your bottom line soar.

Leverage Cloud-based Accounting Software

Do you find managing your invoices, bills, and receipts a hassle? As an entrepreneur, you probably love what you do, but what you probably don’t love is spending hours and hours managing your books. You can’t let it fall by the wayside though as failure to properly manage your books can result in financial disaster for your business.

Fortunately, there’s an ever-growing suite of organizational tools and technologies that will help you reduce the headaches of managing your books while also giving you more free time to do what you love – grow your business!

Cloud-based accounting software, also known as software as a service (SaaS), provides you with access to technology on a subscription basis. This allows you to access your business data anytime and anywhere with an internet connection (sometimes on almost any device).

You can grant access to your cloud-based accounting software to anyone on your team. That means your staff can quickly and easily do their work regardless of their physical location. For instance, if your sales rep needs to add an expense receipt or your project manager needs to verify an invoice from a supplier, cloud-based accounting software will streamline the process. It also helps keep all your invoices and receipts organized, so tax time is a breeze.

If you’re looking to boost your bottom line, then you’ll definitely want to leverage the power of cloud-based accounting technology.

The Number Works Can Help

We specialize in launching cloud-based accounting systems! We also provide bookkeeping, cash flow strategy, and business plan management because we want to help you turn your passions into profits.

So, if you’re looking to make better informed business decisions and get a stronger understanding of your business’ finances, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today and find out how we can help you tell your financial story and boost your company’s bottom line.

Financial Tips for Freelancers: How to Keep Up with Quarterly Taxes

Financial Tips for Freelancers: How to Keep Up with Quarterly Taxes

Being a freelancer comes with so many benefits. You’re in charge of your own schedule, you can work from home, choose your clients, and you’re even in charge of paying your own taxes!

Ok, so that last one isn’t the most fun. But it’s important!

When you’re a freelancer, taxes are a bit more complicated as most freelancers pay their taxes throughout the year instead of just in April.

So, should you pay your taxes quarterly, or once a year?

The answer is… both!

If you’re a freelancer who owes $3,000 or more to the CRA in the current and previous two tax years, you must pay quarterly-estimated tax payments. In general, payments are due on March 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15. Phew, that’s exhausting!

At The Number Works, we understand how hectic it can be to file your taxes once a year, let alone making payments four times, so here are our best tips for freelancers to help you pay your quarterly taxes without any headaches:

1. Put Money Aside for Taxes

The best way to stay stress-free come tax time is to budget for it.

Unlike salaried employees, income tax and payroll deductions, such as the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance, are not withheld at the source. This means that, as a freelancer, you’re responsible for paying all of your income taxes while simultaneously contributing to the employee portion and the employer portion of CPP and EI.

It’s a lot to keep track of. That’s why it’s essential for you to set aside money each time you get paid to cover your quarterly income taxes. For example, if your marginal tax rate is 30%, you should set aside 30% of your earnings from each invoice.

We recommend taking 30% of each payment you receive and putting it in a separate bank account. This way, you’ll have enough money saved to cover those quarterly instalments every time tax time rolls around.

2. Keep Your Payment Options Simple

Did you know the CRA gives you three options to calculate the amount of your quarterly tax instalment? The first two options base your instalments on your 2018 taxes or an estimate of your 2019 taxes. But, be careful! If you underestimate your 2019 taxes, the CRA will charge you interest based on a higher instalment than was needed.

That’s why the third option is our favourite. With this option, the CRA calculates the amount of your instalment and sends you that calculation as a reminder. The total for the year will equal your previous year’s instalment base. By paying the amounts shown on the CRA notice, you won’t be charged any instalment interest, so long as you pay on time.

The CRA should send you two reminders. One in February for the March and June instalments, and one in August for the September and December instalments. Keep in mind that even if you don’t receive a reminder, you still have to pay. In this case, call the CRA and confirm the amount you owe.

The CRA also has a calculation chart for the current year that will help you determine your taxes, credits, Canada Pension Plan contributions, and Employment Insurance premiums, so you can figure out how much you owe.

3. Opt for Automatic Deductions

Did you know that if you fail to pay your quarterly taxes in full, the CRA charges interest on the deficient amounts as if you owed the money? Yikes! And if this interest charge adds up to more than $1,000, the CRA will add an extra fee on top of that. Bottom line: Always pay your quarterly taxes on time!

And the best way to make sure you don’t forget to pay your quarterly taxes is to set up automatic payments from your bank account directly to the CRA.

If you’ve followed our first tip and put 30% of your earnings into a separate account, you can grant the CRA permission to debit this account automatically. It’s the best way to have a stress-free tax time.

4. Hire a Professional Accountant

Sure, freelancing comes with its fair share of perks, but it also takes a lot of work. You have to find your clients, market your services, and plan everything in between. So, it’s probably safe to say that accounting isn’t at the top of your to-do list.

In fact, 23% of small businesses fail because they don’t have the right team behind their business and 29% fail because they ran out of cash.

It’s clear to see why having a professional accountant on your team is the key to success. Not only can a professional accountant help you by properly managing your cash flow, but they can also stay on top of your quarterly taxes for you.

Plus, investing in a professional accountant can save you money in the long run by maximizing all your tax deductions and avoiding late fees. A professional accountant will ensure that your quarterly payments are noted on your annual tax return so you get credit for them and don’t accidentally pay them twice. It’s well worth the cost.

If you’re looking to hire a professional accountant or need help reviewing your quarterly taxes, contact The Number Works today! We love helping freelancers build a thriving business and giving peace of mind to all our clients. Knowing a professional accountant is in charge of your books is priceless, if not tax deductible!