Welcome to The Money Diaries with Sage, where we dive into the finances of business owners and discover how they deal with money matters on a daily basis.
We’re asking entrepreneurs how they’re managing their finances over a seven-day period, to give you a picture of what incomes and outgoings really look like from their perspective.
Today is the turn of an accountant who finds clients through Facebook and does the finances for 13 youth football teams.
Here’s what we cover in this article:
Meet our entrepreneur and check out their Money Diary
Industry: Accountancy. Started my own practice in June 2020 after working in practice for more than 17 years.
Location: County Durham, North East England.
Salary: Approximately £30K per annum (working around 22 hours per week).
Household: Husband, daughter aged 11, son aged nine, family pet (a Miniature Schnauzer).
Day 1 – Monday
Every morning, after dropping my son off at school—a five-minute walk from home—the first thing I do is hop in the car and drive to the nearest garage to grab my morning Costa Coffee from the machine there.
It’s a routine that I’ve developed over the past 18 months working from home, which is where my business is based.
It was a conscious decision to work from home rather than take on office space but not a decision motivated by money.
Yes, I save on the cost of an office and the commute, but the most important factor in the decision was the freedom and flexibility that working from home offers.
I have a lovely, dedicated office space with everything I need to service my clients.
I wanted to build a digital practice utilising all the technology available, which means that having a physical office space that clients can visit is not a necessity.
After coffee, work!
This Monday was not a usual Monday. It was a personal development day at my daughter’s school, so she was home.
My diary was free of appointments since I’d blocked out my calendar to be around for her.
Work consisted of:
- Checking in with our payroll department to see if we had received agent authorisation for a number of new clients we have taken on recently.
- Reviewing a client’s Sage to ensure they are getting to grips with the bookkeeping. I have recently migrated this client from spreadsheets to Sage after they registered for VAT and needed to be Making Tax Digital compliant.
- Following up with a client who had been sent accounts and tax return for approval.
- Calling ACCA to check on the progress of the renewal of my practising certificate.
- Running a monthly payroll for a client.
At around lunchtime I downed tools to drop my daughter and her friends off at the cinema in the local shopping centre.
While there, I popped into Costa and bought myself a toastie for lunch, which I ate in the car on the drive home. I also got two coffees, which I used my loyalty points to pay for.
My friend and I drank the coffees on our daily dog walk. We try to get together every day, work/life permitting, to get our steps in, get some fresh air, and have a good old moan—it’s very cathartic!
I usually do another hour or so of work before I pick my son up from school.
The next couple of hours are spent making tea, chatting to the kids, sorting washing and homework and so on for the following day.
I had given my daughter £20 to go to the cinema plus another £10 for emergencies. She returned victorious with the £10 emergency money AND another £10.
She made me laugh when she told me she’d gone to local supermarket to buy her sweets because it was cheaper than buying them in the cinema.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Money spent: £8.41
Money earned: £60.00
Day 2 – Tuesday
The business has reached the stage of growth where I can no longer do everything myself.
I already outsource payroll but have recently taken on some additional help in the form of a subcontracted bookkeeper.
The hours and work are on an ad-hoc basis. These costs are for the month of November (the start date of my Money Diary was 29 Nov).
Giving over control and trusting someone else was a big challenge for me, and to be honest it’s something I’m still struggling with.
But the instant relief I felt knowing that I had some help tells me I’ve made the right decision. Hopefully, this will free up some of my time and headspace so I can continue to grow the business.
The majority of my clients pay their annual fee in fixed monthly instalments, which are collected automatically by direct debit via GoCardless.
This helps both the client’s and my cash flow, while reducing the admin burden on me and leaving more time for client work.
The £320 was a fee for a one-off piece of work that involved me migrating the client from their desktop accounting system to a cloud-based package—both Sage.
As well as saving them more than £100 per month in subscription fees, it means that I can provide remote bookkeeping services.
Their previous bookkeeper worked 16 hours per week in the office.
I have been able to implement systems that mean I can offer a higher level of service remotely and reduce the time it takes to do the work to around 16 hours per month.
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Anyway, I started work late today because I had some life admin to take care of.
After the school run, I made a trip to the local sports shop in search of a tracksuit for my football-mad daughter. It’s one of her Christmas presents, so that’s another item ticked off the list (£50).
I had to have my Costa en route (£2.80) and decided I couldn’t pass up a Christmas Yule Log to go with it (£1).
After, I headed to my local Asda for the big shop. £160 later, we had food to eat and four pairs of matching Christmas pyjamas for all the family.
In between putting away the shopping, walking the dog, another school run, feeding the kids, and a freezing cold football training session, I managed to get my head down and do some work.
I spent my time responding to client emails, registering a client for the Construction Industry Scheme, entering agent authorisation codes, processing supplier invoices in AutoEntry, processing bank transactions from the bank feed in Sage Accounting, and taking care of some of my own bookkeeping and admin.
I worked late today but that’s OK. Days like these remind me why I wanted to start my own business and highlights the benefits of being able to work from home.
The day wasn’t a write off just because I had things on that needed my attention.
I still had a busy and productive day without dropping any work/life balls–result!
Money spent: £322.50
Money earned: £517.36
Day 3 – Wednesday
Beyond a couple of coffees today, there were no expenses from my account and this is not unusual.
Most of my business expenses are collected monthly via direct debit, so by this point in the month most of my bills have already been paid.
I like doing things this way because it means that I know exactly what is going out each month and don’t have the hassle of remembering when to make payment or having to log into my banking app to make payment.
My business overheads are relatively low. Software and subscriptions are by far my largest costs.
The fee I received today is from my first ever client.
They’d posted on Facebook that they were looking for a new bookkeeper and a friend of mine tagged me in the post. I messaged them, arranged an initial meeting, and the rest is history.
I migrated them from Sage desktop to Sage Accounting, implemented AutoEntry, connected bank feeds and set up systems and processes to enable the accounting function to run much more smoothly.
I keep in contact with the client several times a week, and as well as keeping their bookkeeping up to date and submitting quarterly VAT returns, I also provide monthly management information which is presented to the board of directors.
Today was the first of the month which means it’s bill day.
This is for the handful of clients who either pay a variable fee or don’t pay their monthly fixed fee via GoCardless.
The recurring invoices are already created and saved as drafts.
My job is to review them, make any necessary changes, and then issue the invoice via my accounting software.
Money spent: £5.60
Money earned: £410.00
Day 4 – Thursday
Some personal expenses today: coffee £2.80, petrol £40, and another £3.80 on coffee and chocolate.
Again, nothing was paid out of my account today. It’s nice to see the balance getting bigger each day.
I’ve mentioned that along with software, my other largest costs are subscriptions. This is primarily made up of payments to ACCA for my annual membership and practising certificate renewal.
I am very proud to be a qualified accountant and member of the ACCA. I worked extremely hard to achieve my qualification and obtaining a practising certificate is no mean feat either.
What this means for my clients is that they have peace of mind that when they engage me, they are in the hands of someone qualified, committed, and accountable.
This also means that I have to complete at least 40 hours of CPD or continuing professional development every year to keep my skills and knowledge current.
As a sole practitioner I don’t have colleagues whose experience and knowledge I can draw on, so I have to find alternative resources.
As well as this subscription I’m a member of some online communities with are invaluable and a great support to me.
The income from GoCardless (£415 less fees of £5.46) is for two one-off pieces of work:
- £250 for a Self Assessment tax return for a client with employment income and income from property.
- £165 from a client for a two-hour training session on how to use Sage Accounting and AutoEntry.
The other income is from an interesting client.
Both of my kids are keen footballers and play for local youth teams. The treasurer was retiring, and I was asked if I would take up the role.
It’s rewarding but challenging. I charge a nominal fee (which doesn’t begin to cover the costs) and look after the finances of 13 youth teams.
It is like have 13 clients rolled into one, but I’m doing my bit for the community.
I had planned on starting work mid-morning today because I had an appointment at the local beauty salon. I have a standing three-weekly appointment, which I really look forward to, usually costing £30.
However, Storm Arwen scuppered those plans having left lots of homes and businesses in our village without power. So instead, I got straight into it after the school run.
Today’s to-do list contained the following:
- Schedule Facebook posts. I usually set aside half a day to do this every couple of months
- Watch a webinar about VAT/Brexit—boring but essential
- Bookkeeping for two clients
- Pay some invoices for a client whose finance function I manage
- Book a hotel for my mam’s birthday, a gift from my dad
- Order some perfume for my mam from us for her birthday–cost £30
- Take B, our dog, to the vet for her injections. No costs here as it’s covered by our monthly payment plan.
Money spent: £46.60
Money earned: £539.54
Day 5 – Friday
Personal: coffee, £2.80, Top up my daughter’s Scopay (app for school-related costs) account, £40.
The only activity on the business account today was a payment of £4.40 for bank charges. I bank with Tide, which is one of the online challenger banks.
It integrates with my accounting software and GoCardless, which makes my life so much easier.
I had to login to my daughter’s Scopay account to top up her cafeteria account. £40 should be more than enough to keep her going until the Christmas holidays.
Scopay is an online payments facility for parents and is used to pay for school dinners, trips, event, etc. It’s another online tool that saves time and stress, and so it’s right up my street.
Money spent: £4.40
Money earned: £0
Days 6 and 7 – Saturday/Sunday
Saturday mornings usually centre around football, but this weekend is different.
I’m off to York for a girly overnighter with 10 of my friends to celebrate a birthday.
It feels like there is a military level of planning required to organise the logistics of a night away leaving behind two kids and a dog; my husband works offshore so is not around to pick up the slack this weekend.
But with the help and support of friends and family we have everything covered.
First stop for me is the hairdressers where I have my hair curled, which was £10 plus tip. Next, a local pub where the minibus collects us to take us to the train station.
We are travelling first class today as a treat. The cost is £37 for a return journey.
York includes lots of drinks, laughs and dancing, costing roughly £100. And the hotel for the night came to £80. But overall, the weekend was priceless.
Money spent: £227.00
Money earned: £0
Total money earned this week: £614.51
Total money spent this week: £1,526
And to wrap up… what are Carl Reader’s thoughts on the financial habits of our entrepreneurial accountant?
Check out the video below to find out…
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