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Finance: Organize Your Receipts Before Tax Time
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Hopefully you’re not keeping receipts in a shoebox and have to scrounge around at tax time to get everything in order. And I hope you won’t have to pay your accountant for the extra hours it’ll take to get everything organized.

When I started my business almost 11 years ago, as part of the Accounting section of my filing system, I had a folder for each vendor I spent money with regularly (e.g., gas, light, Office Depot, etc.). When I found myself sticking receipts in a To Be Filed folder, I knew my system was too tedious. Because I was procrastinating about filing everything, I knew I needed to simplify my system.

Here is a simple solution that works for me.

  • Create a home for all receipts for the current month. This can be a file folder, tray, basket, or whatever works for you.
  • Create a home for all pay stubs from clients. For all checks you receive for the month, keep these pay stubs separately and near your receipts.
  • Keep everything with that month’s bank statement. When the bank statement arrives, use a jumbo paper clip to keep all receipts and pay stubs for that month behind it.

This system is simple so it’s easy to maintain.

One thing though, I had to figure out a way to quickly find receipts for higher-priced products in case I needed repair, etc. I created a contact in Outlook called “Big Ticket Items.” In the text area of the contact I have a 2-column table that is similar to the one below. If I ever need to find a receipt, I’ll know which month/year bank statement to pull. (To create the table: if you use Outlook as your email editor, create the table in Word and paste it into the text area of the contact. Once it’s there, you can click inside the cells and type as you normally would. When you need a new row, click inside the last cell of the table and tab. Once this table fills up, you can quickly find what you need by using Find. Open the Big Ticket Items contact, click anywhere in the body, then press F4. Type whatever you’re looking for in the resulting Find what box and press Enter.)

Date Purchased Description
5/15/2008 HP Laptop, Best Buy
5/29/2008 Office Telephone, Office Depot – ATT
8/6/2008 Luggage at TJ Maxx
8/23/2008 Headset for ATT phone, Office Depot
8/29/2008 Took iPhone back and got BlackBerry, AT&T

 

What system have you developed that works for you? Let us know.

-Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta
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I'm a productivity and technology speaker, trainer, author, and consultant. I own The Digital Breakthroughs Institute in Atlanta GA.

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Managing: Tune Out Bad News & Tune Up Your Biz
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It’s time for a hard look at your sales, expenses and net profit so far in 2008. With Less than 60 days until the end of the year–really think about what next year could bring.

Okay, everyone has maybe had enough of the general gloom and doom in the news. If you’ve tuned it out, then tune in to some of your own research. Is your industry growing or shrinking? What does that mean to your sales projects.

Act Now to Manage for Success in 2009

1. Call SCORE to find an office near you for a Small Business Check-up. Schedule a personal mentoring session. Get a free and confidential review of your business in 2008. Call 1-800/634-0245 or Find SCORE Online.

2. Do Some Research. Use Google search to find out general industry trends. If you’re in retail, how much is retail down right now? What sectors are doing better or worse. This is the news you need–specific to your industry with an impact on your business. If you see an industry holding steady, growing or contracting, your plans for 2009 should take that into account.

3. Tune up your business plan. Really take a hard look at sales projections and expenses. You can break the plan into quarters, this way you may plan revenue and expense based on slower sales earlier in the year and a pick-up in volume a little later in the year. It’s too late after the fact. Now, you have the chance to set budgets based on expectations–and that is the management tool that helps you in 2009.

-Christine Banning, SCORE
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SCORE
For 50 years, SCORE has helped aspiring and current small business owners achieve their dreams. Through a network of over 11,000 volunteer business mentors in 340+ chapters across the country, SCORE connects decades of business experience and knowledge with those who can best use it.
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