Managing budgets and expenses as a real estate agent
One of the challenges (and, perhaps equally, one of the joys) of working as a real estate agent is the unpredictability of the industry. It can be tempting to splurge with every hard-earned commission cheque, but the key to long-term success as a real estate agent is maintaining financial responsibility with a smart budget and tracking of expenses. Here are some tips to help you manage a personal and business budget as a real estate agent.
Create a business bank account and credit card
Purchasing a new pair of shoes and paying fees from a home stager from the same account can get complicated quickly. By designating a separate bank account for business funds you can create a clear divide between your personal and work finances. Applying for a designated business credit card can also create this division and make it easy to identify and calculate work expenses, especially when it comes time to file your taxes.
Separate and save for taxes
Speaking of taxes, that business bank account is also an excellent way to help put money aside for tax season. While it’s tempting to deposit that commission cheque and splurge, diligent real estate agents set aside funds from each commission to account for estimated income tax payments. If you don’t have previous years of income to gauge how much tax you should be setting aside, use the government’s tax scale which ranges from 15 percent to 33 percent, depending on your estimated annual income. Any HST or GST collected should also be set aside from personal funds.
Pay yourself a monthly “income”
If you struggle with the irregularity of a real estate agent’s earnings, consider paying yourself a monthly “income” based off of your average or estimated annual earnings. This way, you won’t be tempted to overspend on higher income months or feel like you’re struggling during slower seasons. With this tactic, it’s better to err on the side of underpaying yourself and treating any surplus income as a “bonus” as opposed to coming up short at the end of the year.
Use budgeting apps
Tech-savvy agents might consider taking advantage of budgeting programs and apps to help organize expenses. Programs like QuickBooks Self-Employed are designed for independent contractors like real estate agents and allow you to categorize transactions easily and discover more tax deductions.