Let’s all take a deep breath, because it’s time to talk about taxes.
Taxes can be scary, but the best way to avoid tax doom is to be informed. When you have a full-time job, your company will automatically deduct tax from your paycheque. This is called PAYE. But if you’re freelance or self-employed in any capacity (even if you do freelance work on the side), you need to register as self-employed (via gov.uk for the UK, usa.gov for the US, or your country’s equivalent) so that you can pay tax on your earnings.
When it comes to the end of the tax year you’ll need to fill in your tax return, which will determine how much you have to pay. This may also be in addition to any other contributions, such as student loan repayments or pension contributions, dependent on your country. In the UK, the tax year runs from April 6th to April 5th, and you’ll need to send in and pay your tax return before January 31st, so it’s a good idea to save some cash in advance to be able to pay for your taxes.
Often, freelancers will hire an accountant to help them with their tax return or managing money in general. So if the thought of this all makes you anxious, having a professional on hand might help.
If you’re stuck, help is available
Leaving university can be a difficult time for your wallet, for a myriad of reasons. There are, however, options out there. These range from grants and funding, to self-employment assistance and jobseekers allowance. The state (depending on what country you reside in) can assist you, and it will only be helpful to your future self to stay informed on what resources will be available to you once you graduate.
This however can differ for international students, who may have different funding that they’re eligible for, or may not qualify for state benefits. Plus, the industry is saturated with mentoring schemes and resources to help recent graduates, so reach out if you’re struggling, and often you’ll be met with a helping hand.