A support worker’s guide to Mable

Seven steps to managing your income when working for yourself

Last updated 19 January 2023

If you choose to become a self-employed support worker, your income will probably not be consistent from month to month.

When you manage your money well – especially if your income is not consistent – you’ll feel more confident, and be more prepared to negotiate rates with new clients and grow your client base.

Here are some easy, doable steps for managing the unpredictable income of a self-employed support worker like you.

Step 1: Know your expenses

How much do you need each and every month just to live your life and earn a living? That’s one number you need to know.

As a support worker, you will need to factor in costs for training courses, conferences & seminars, travel costs (public transport, taxis, parking, petrol, rego, insurance etc), computers and tablets, phone costs, subscriptions, book and more.  Remember though, these expenses are all tax deductible!

Keeping track of your expenses will mean that you are ready to claim all the deductions you are owed at the end of the year.

The simplest way to keep track is to write it in a book or buy a Ledger / Cash Book from your local newsagent to make a daily/weekly record all your income and expenses. Keep all receipts together (a shoe box will do!) in case the ATO asks for them.

Check out MoneySmart’s online budget planner or download their budget spreadsheet.

Step 2: Understand what income you need

If you don’t know what’s the minimum you need to cover your expenses, you’re not going to know how much to charge your clients.  More than likely, you will under-price your services below market value because you ‘need the work’.

Read more at set your support worker rates on Mable.

Step 3 – Set aside money for tax

A common pitfall for the newly self-employed is failing to set aside money to pay for income tax. Unless you plan ahead for tax, it can be difficult to pay your annual tax bills. A bookkeeper can advise how much tax you should be putting aside.

Step 4 – Set aside money for those ‘rainy days’

As a self-employed person, you will not get paid when you are sick. So putting aside money for times when you might be unable to work makes sense.

There are also those times when you are ‘in between’ jobs, because a client dies or goes into hospital. A ‘rainy day’ savings account can keep you afloat until you get a new client.

Step 5 – Stay on top of taxes

Working for yourself means that you will need to work out how much your employers paid you, how much your private clients paid you, what your expenses were, and how much tax needs to be paid. We’ve joined forces with award-winning tax and accounting firm YOUtax to build the Mable Tax Benefits Program for independent support workers. The Program gives you access to resources and tools to help manage your tax requirements.

Step 6: Don’t forget to plan for your retirement

As a self-employed contractor, you need to think about superannuation more than anyone else. If you don’t, you might not have enough money to live on when you retire.

Contributing to your superannuation fund is worth it.

As a self-employed person, you can receive bonus contributions from the government. If you earn less than $49,488 per year, the government will co-contribute to your superannuation contributions. And if you earn less than $37,000 the government will further contribute $500 to your super.

Also, as self-employed person you can claim a tax deduction on your super contributions.

Step 7 – Register for an ABN

As you are operating as an independent worker on Mable, you will be required to have an ABN for tax purposes. In addition to this, an ABN is usually required on invoices we issue for any clients you work with who have government funding.

It doesn’t cost anything to get an ABN.

Having an ABN will allow you to can claim back the GST (goods and services tax) on all your purchases from the tax office.

Note – you won’t need to charge GST until you earn over $75,000 per year.

You can apply easily and for free for an ABN or GST through the Australian Business Register website directly.

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