Yes, realtors and financial advisors aren't typically grouped together, other than the filled "seats" at a BNI charter group, but I am grouping realtors and financial advisors together on this one for several reasons:
Both are often on the go to meet clients on their turf.
Both are independent contractors.
Both have similar expenses for marketing, gifts, networking, and traveling.
Often independent contractors don't switch to operating like business owners, out of the employee-like mode when it comes to finances and I am hoping to help you change that. You are a business, all in yourself, and when it comes to your bottom line, you really want to treat it that way for the best results. Here are some things you should make sure you are doing:
Separate your $$$
I, personally, like a separate bank account that you can easily transfer in and out of to your personal checking/savings account that you can spend all things related to your business out of to prevent missed expenses. You think you will remember, but often it becomes difficult like the task of sifting the sugar out of the sand. However, if you don't want to do this, there is still an easy enough way to use the bank feeds in QBO self-employed and check if it is personal or business as well as categorizing it which brings me to the next one.
Get an Accounting Software
Both Quickbooks Online and Wave Accounting Software have programs particularly with the independent contractor in mind.
QBO's self-employed is very different from a typical business account but includes things like mileage tracking fully integrated into your software, assistance with filing quarterly taxes, and even sending very simple invoices if needed. Right now you can try it for 50% off for 3 months at $7.50 per month, or if you find a QBO pro they may be willing to offer you a permanent discount option for working with them regularly. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/self-employed/pricing/
Wave Accounting is free. Yes, free and now you have no excuses! I do not think it is quite as comprehensive and all-encompassing (you do get what you "pay" for). However, it is better than nothing, and if you are scraping pennies, something you can work with.
Track the Mileage
You are driving around visiting clients on their turf, taking them to houses, or going to networking meetings to get more future clients all in your personal vehicle. Don't continue putting wear on your vehicle and pumping gas for business expenses without properly tracking your mileage. It doesn't matter if you are going to deduct actual expenses for vehicle repair/maintenance/etc. or if you are going to take the standard mileage deduction rate. You need to know your mileage to take either because actual expenses should be a percentage of actual business use (versus personal use). So, one of those mileage trackers that records every time you are driving, letting you later pick business use or personal use is the ideal way to go. FYI, this is what is included in the QBO Self Employed subscription when you download the app.
Be Ready for Quarterly Taxes
Hooray, you are starting to make a profit. Not income that still hasn't covered the initial investment and other expenses to get some money flowing in, but you are past that now and actually surpassing expenses with the revenue coming in. So, when do you pay quarterly taxes and how do you know how much? Generally, the rule is, once you are turning a profit and the amount of taxes you will be paying for the year reaches $1000 or more, you will need to pay into quarterly taxes an estimated tax amount 4 times a year: April 15, June 15, September 15, & January 15 of the following year. To really know when, how much, etc., you need good accounting software that can keep track of where you are at in terms of profit and estimate what you will owe. Often, it will even remind you when to pay the next quarterly tax payment.
Know Your Numbers
Financial Advisors, you probably first sit down and discuss a client's current circumstances financially long before you decide what the plans are for investing money. Realtors, you probably take the time to know your client's budget before showing them all of the luxurious homes in the area that they may or may not be able to afford. So, now you need to treat yourself the same and know exactly what you have, how you have been spending your money, and what is financially paying off or not. If you are spending blindly and hoping for profit to come out of the wash, you are likely spending more than necessary. You are also hurting your longevity and growth potential. So, rip that bandaid off and start examining it like you would for your clients. Better yet, get an outside perspective that offers proactive guidance with someone like me, at Upkeep LLC, even if it is just quarterly assistance to keep you between the lines and moving towards your goals.
I'll bet you are already striving to set yourself apart from the masses and market yourself as the special person you are, but now you can take the steps to set apart your finances the same way. You are working hard for your income and I will work hard to help you keep it!