Photo by Adam Yosef

I really like this photo of me at Birmingham Social Media Cafe and wanted a chance to use it somewhere – my friend, Adam, kindly took some photos for me as I had to submit one to the website of an event I’ve been invited to, and he got this one too. Me, in Libro colours, pouring tea.

Anyway – I’ve reached the end of a big, ongoing project transcribing conference sessions, a project that comes up fairly regularly and is great fun to do, but takes a lot of my time and energy. And I’ve come to the end of my financial year, which coincides with the UK financial year. So a time for reflecting and taking stock of things.

Peaks and troughs in work life

I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more relaxed about the quieter times in my business life. I used to get nervy, thinking it had all somehow, miraculously, “gone away” and I was going to end up destitute in a gutter. Now I know it goes in peaks and troughs. I know that most of my clients are regulars, that it would be rather odd if they all stopped sending me work at the same time, and that I will be as busy as anything really soon.

So I’m using this time to chill out a bit. I had a massive reading in bed session after breakfast today (and finished a book I’d been reading for AGES – watch out for reviews coming soon) and plan to do a lot more of that. Matthew is off for the University General Holidays and the rest of next week, and hopefully I’ll get some time to spend with him, even if we’re just lolling around the house watching telly. We are going to the park this afternoon (mainly to have a cuppa out).

Tax time … and Payment on Account time

It’s nearly Tax Self-Assessment time: hooray! I might post a bit more about this at some point (should I? What do you think?) but basically I discovered early on that you don’t have to do your tax return in a frenzy at the end of January, just before the deadline. You can do it as soon as you have all your stuff together. I used to have to wait for my P60 from the day job, but I have my P45 from December all ready and waiting. I’ve done my accounts, because I keep them up to date all year round and then just make sure I include everything I’ve invoiced up to the end of the year (this may change next year: I hope it does!) even if it hasn’t been paid yet. I just have to get my Statements of Interest from the banks (this makes me laugh: my two banks combined a year or so ago. They use the same computer systems; even their online systems are almost identical. But Lloyds TSB will print out your Statements of Interest there and then, whereas Halifax insist on posting them to you. One for each account) and then I’m ready to go.

I don’t do my Self-Assessment in April, just after the end of the financial year that it’s for, to be smug and feel clever. I do it because then I  know what I will have to pay the tax man by the end of January! I’d just far rather know what it involves. Then I can put that money away in a safe place, take the bit that’s left over and put it into my personal account (to, y’know, live on and all that) and start afresh.

This coming year I will start Paying On Account, which is a bit of a pain but all explained over on the main Libro blog. I don’t mind paying my taxes, but this does seem a bit mean, as I will basically have to give the tax man 30% of my income (income tax and national insurance) on all of my Libro income (I earned exactly the threshold in my day job), twice (because of the Payment on Account thing). So, although I’ve done better than I thought I would this year, I will only get to play with about 40% of it.

I am so glad that I saved up enough money to live on for a year while I was working full time, in anticipation of running the business and eventually needing to support myself. It is possible, even on a smallish wage, but it did mean that I had to be careful in 2009 and 2010 when I started the business and worked full time, saving up living money, 2011 when I was managing to live on my part time wages and not touch my Libro income, and now this year while I am just able to add a little bit to the living-on-money pot. It’s just about doable, but it’s a bit annoying, and doubly so for Matthew, who probably thought I’d be able to justify the odd holiday by now!

Looking on the bright side …

Anyway, I’ve got some time off, I have Matthew with me, will be seeing various friends and doing some good old rest, relaxation … and reading. Happy Easter, everyone!