Get Your Budget on Track. You're not going to get ahead financially until you develop a reasonable budget _ one that allows for both some indulgences and for emergencies _ and then stick to that budget. Budgeting your money is the cornerstone of a sound financial plan. You might scoff at the idea of creating a budget _ after all, you pretty much know what you spend every month, especially on big_ticket items like rent/mortgage or car payment.
If you're self_employed, your after_tax income equals your gross income less your business expenses, such as the cost of your laptop or airfare to conferences, as well as the amount you set aside for taxes. You're responsible for remitting your own quarterly estimated tax payments to the government because you don't have an employer to take care of it for you.