Window cleaning can be one of those feast or famine businesses. There is either gobs of work, just waiting for you to grab it or there is nothing. You are either making money hand over fist or you are wondering what to sell on eBay. We’ve all been there. The trick, of course, is to get your business to stretch out equally over all twelve months, which is more easier said than done.
I cannot even tell you how many times our business had well into the five figures in Accounts Receivable and no way to pay both payroll AND our mortgage. Fun times, but we’ve all been there. So, if it takes time (and many lessons learned) to stretch your business out, what do you do in the meantime? Here’s a couple of tips for the newbies.
1. Taxes. Yes, you have to pay them. It is so easy when the checks start rolling in early in the season to say that you’ll worry about taxes later. Don’t. Get in the habit of stashing a percentage in your savings account every week. If you can’t trust yourself and are worried about having money for quarterly payments, there is even a way to transfer the money to the IRS over the phone as often as you like. Talk to your accountant. If you don’t have one, get one. Best money ever spent.
2. Winter bills. You know what your basic, fixed winter bills are. Your mortgage, car payment, utilities. Set that money aside … now, when you have it. Sure, it hurts a little but that’s better than it hurting alot in January. Make double payments every month in the busy season. Stick it in a savings account. Whatever works for you.
3. Saving for Retirement. Again, it’s easy to put this on the backburner. You are young and have a lifetime of cleaning windows in front of you. I am not going to give you a lecture on what compounding interest is. Just know that no one is putting money into a pension for you when you are self-employed. There is no match program for you to join. It’s all on you. Ask a financial planner about a Solo 401(k), a SEP IRA or even a Keogh. It is so much easier to put away $50, $100 or even $500 a month now than it will be to play catch up years from now. And, FYI, you have until April 14th to set aside money for the previous year, which may reduce your tax liability. Talk to a professional.