Are You Making These Dog Walking Financial Blunders?
I wrote this post several months ago, pre-COVID. While many walkers have had to shut down services completely (myself included) or continue below normal capacity, I still wanted to share some common financial mistakes dog walkers make. This situation has demonstrated just how important it is to financially prepare for the unexpected. If you're not in a position to take these steps now, that's OK. Prioritize them as soon as you can.
#1 Not Having an Emergency Fund
As a business owner, you need to be able to handle ups and downs with your income. Even when you have a steady client base with consistent income, you can be hit with unexpected:
- Loss of clients
- Natural disasters
Having an emergency fund acts as a cushion should any of these, or other unplanned expenses or drops of income happen. Make sure you have at minimum, a 6 month emergency fund, and work toward a 9+ month emergency fund.
#2 Not Putting Aside Money for Estimated Tax Payments
This may different if you're not in the U.S., but most small businesses in the states should be putting aside about 25% of your income for estimated taxes, and making quarterly payments. Not doing this might mean added penalties, and being stuck with a huge amount of taxes due at the end of the year. An accountant can tell you if you need to pay, and how much to pay each quarter.
#3 Not Planning for Retirement
If dog walking is your career, you've got to think long term and save for retirement. The sooner you can start saving, the better. My accountant recommends setting up an IRA for retirement savings (check into ROTH and SEP IRA's, both are commonly used by dog walkers saving for retirement).