It’s Friday night and you are on the way home after a great week running your own business. You stop by the store to pick up a few provisions to make it through the weekend (chips, beer, diapers, it depends on your situation). You rush to the teller and start fumbling through your wallet and the first credit card you get to is your trusty business card. You think, I’ll just put this on the company card and fix it later. It happens. But you shouldn’t make it a habit.

Putting personal expenses on your business accounts can give the impression that the two are not separate. If your business was audited, this would likely cause a lot of extra complexity because you may have to start providing proof that the expenses you have deducted are genuinely business and not personal. This can be extremely difficult several years after the transaction took place.

So how will you get the goodies at the store if all the money is in the business account? Well, luckily there are a couple ways of paying yourself out of the business account but both require planning ahead and prioritizing being a responsible business owner. If your business is set up as a corporation you can pay yourself a salary and get a pay check! (Talk to your accountant first). If you are not set up as a corporation (most folks aren’t) you will get a distribution from the business. I like to see nice round numbers out of the bank account to the owner. It shows that the business owner has put themselves on a budget (usually). You can always give yourself a bonus at the end of the quarter or year if there is extra money in the bank account. But, don’t forget to have at least six weeks of operating capital for those slow weeks and money to pay taxes.

Budgeting payments to yourself shows that you have discipline and are on your way to becoming a successful business owner. You want your business to look, smell, and feel like a business. Steve Jobs never paid his child care through the business; at least I hope he didn’t. Keeping your business and personal transactions separate is a sign of a mature business owner who has developed the habits to succeed.