10 self-employed tips for cutting costs in 2018

It’s more than a month post-Christmas, but many people are still feeling the pinch, and none more so than small business owners.

Running your own business can be financially difficult at times, and even when you’re sitting pretty, it’s always a good idea to think about how you can save money in case things go wrong in the future.

We’ve looked into easy ways you can scale back your spending without making too many big changes. Here are 10 of the best.

1. Make sure you know what expenses you can claim for

You might have already completed your Self Assessment, but in order to get as many deductions from future tax bills as possible, you should be thinking about it all year round.

It pays to keep a detailed record of all your allowable expenses so that nothing slips through the net when you fill in your next tax return.

Not sure what you you’re allowed to claim for? No problem, here’s a list of the expenses the self-employed are allowed to claim for.

2. Be careful with credit cards

Credit cards can be a tempting option, especially if you’re in a bit of a financial squeeze, but using your personal card for business purposes can quickly lead to costly fines.

If you need a credit card for business expenses, look into getting one specifically for that purpose. And if you need financial help to launch your business, consider researching available business loans.

If you’re thinking about making changes to your business finances, check out our comparison of the best business loans available from the past year, the best business credit cards, and the best business bank accounts. Be sure to speak with an expert before you make any important decisions.

3. Check your phone and internet plan

This goes for both business and personal use, but it’s worth seeing if there are better deals available, especially if you’ve been with the same provider for a long time.

It’s also worth re-evaluating whether the type of package you have is right for your needs. If you find you’re often going over your call or data allowance, but rarely get through all your texts, for example, you could be costing yourself more in the long run than if you went for a plan with fewer texts but more data and minutes.

4. Make use of refer a friend schemes

Many companies these days will offer you benefits if you refer other customers to them, whether it’s money off your next order, free giveaways or simply some cashback to say thank you. It’s a great way to get extra out of something you’re already using and enjoying.

If you’ve found a product or service that you like, spreading the word can work out for you both. We do have our own refer a friend scheme, if you want to test out how one works!

5. Plan your travel

Whether you’re driving or taking public transport, travel can quickly get expensive, both for business and leisure.

If you take the train, look into whether a season ticket is best for your needs, or whether you’re eligible for a railcard. They’re available for both younger and older business owners, as well as those with disabilities.

If you don’t take the train that often, planning far in advance will allow you to book advance tickets, which often work out far more cost effective than buying on the day.

And if you drive a lot, and your car or van guzzles petrol or is always in need of a service, it might be time to invest in a new one. You should also keep track of your mileage, as this can be claimed back against your tax return.

6. Keep your insurance up to date

For many, insurance is a key part of running a business, and the costs of operating without it can be severe. If you employ any staff, even on a casual basis, you’re legally obliged to have employers’ liability insurance, and there are a range of other types of business insurance that can help cover the costs of mistakes, accidents, loss, theft, and damage.

Even if you already have insurance, it’s important you check you have the right cover in place. You might have made some changes to your business since you last renewed, and going over your policy wording to ensure it still covers everything you expect it to is a good idea.

And remember, with Simply Business you can compare quotes from a range of leading insurers all in one place, to save you the time and money of having to speak to lots of different providers.

7. Audit your direct debits

We’ve all done it – signed up for a service that we’ve stopped using and forgotten we’re still paying for. Take the opportunity to check all your direct debits and see if there’s anything there you no longer need.

And if you use subscription services like Spotify or Netflix, consider whether the ad-free experience is worth the extra money, or whether you still need to be able to watch on four screens simultaneously. Downgrading to a package with fewer features, while still keeping the service, can save you a lot in the long run.

8. Take advantage of cashback deals

There are a number of sites out there that allow you to take advantage of cashback, TopCashback and Quidco being two of the most prominent. If you browse deals using their sites, then use the links provided to purchase goods and services online, they’ll give you a cash bonus.

It’s worth being a little cautious when using these sites, as you may find better deals elsewhere, even with the cashback factored in. There are still great deals to be had, though, so if you’re looking to buy online, these can be a great way to cut your costs back.

9. Use services that offer you more

Many companies have customer rewards or loyalty schemes, from the giants like Nectar to even the smallest of small businesses. Opting for retailers and service providers who give you that little bit extra can help make a difference over time.

And this works both ways. Setting up your own loyalty scheme can help retain customers and bring more money into your business. Read our article on customer loyalty strategies to find out more.

10. Kick the habit

Maybe you’re a smoker, or maybe caffeine’s your drug of choice. Whatever your vice, trying to cut it out – or at least cut it down – could save you a lot in the long run.

And this goes beyond just cigarettes and coffee. Maybe you always buy prepackaged sandwiches, or can’t resist an eBay bargain? There are plenty of apps that can help you monitor your spending and work out where you can make savings.

How do you take care of the pennies? Share your best money saving tips in the comments.

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