Shoe Boxes and Statements and Receipts…OH MY!!
I think one of the biggest reasons I am both an entrepreneur and work with my husband is because my parents were business owners who worked with each other until my father passed away. My mother continued to run the business until she retired. But that’s not what this blog is about.
Mr. Shea (no, Shea Stadium was not named after him, even though he told me it was) and later Richard Sullivan were the accountants for my parents. Richard continued to be the accountant for my mother’s estate and currently for a trust I have with my siblings.
I can clearly remember a shoe box in my parent’s room. And any receipts they got for buying stock for the store (funny enough, a shoe store, so we had plenty of boxes for filing) went into the box. And Mr. Shea or Richard would sit in the dining room and go through the receipts and magically the taxes were done.
So when Barry and I each went into our own business, I at least knew the importance of saving receipts. Plus my father-in-law, Larry Cohen is a CPA. So I was quickly schooled in all kinds of other things like tracking mileage and separating out expenses. It was a job and a half to do. But faithfully each February my in-laws would come visit and mom (Isabel) and dad would sit at the kitchen table and do our taxes. It was like magic. Until dad started hinting he wanted to do less work and they would rather visit for Thanksgiving. Plus, Barry and I had 2 successful businesses plus our personal taxes. (The businesses were in the same industry and vertical. We practice what we preach) We were sort of being let go. So we had to get a CPA that did things electronically and needed better record keeping.
So we went out and bought Quickbooks and banks went online, making our lives easier. We would stay organized a few months at the beginning of the year, drop the ball and then everything happened (read as “poop hit the fan”) at the end of the year. Faster with Quickbooks, but still those darn papers!!
I hate papers. I hate pack-ratting activities and papers. And while I hate filing, I do it because it puts the papers away in year order until we can throw them away. Which is 3 years from date of filing or 6 years if you committed fraud or 7 years by some states. Keep the papers 8 years. But I digress. About 6 years ago, Barry bought me a NEAT Receipts machine. We never figured out how to use it. One year we hired someone who also did not know how to use it, so she just scanned all the documents and we have electronic copies in no particular order. Which means we were able to shred the papers.
But that only worked the one time and we still have the problem of a NEAT Receipts machine sitting idle and lonely on my desk. Until I mentioned it to our friend, Lora, who works for her wife, Gina, as her admin and does some Virtual Assistant stuff. Maybe she knew of this NEAT Receipts thing and how it worked? YES – Lora is familiar.
Once again I made the promise to separate out into piles the bills, receipts, certificates…really any piece of mail or emailed anything for us or the business. I downloaded the bank statements and reconciled each month…until about September. I must say I am pretty proud of myself!
So as you get ready for April 15, be sure to at least catch up with January – today. Then you can keep the good times going by putting a few things in place to make your life easier.
- On January 1, go outside, after you sober up, and write down you mileage. On December 31, before you start drinking, do the same. At least you will have some idea of how many miles you did total for the year.
- If you can remember to use it every time, get a mileage tracker app. They are amazing.
- Set up a mail opening station. Have a shredder, an inbox for personal and for business, and open, sort, and shred your mail daily. Separate your receipts as well. On a weekly basis, scan in bills, receipts, everything. Or hire someone to come in and do it. Then shred the stuff you don’t need.
- BACK UP – now that you are doing things electronically, get an amazing backup program for your computer.
- Download your statements from the bank monthly. If you can’t, change banks. Enter it right into Quickbooks or whatever bookkeeping program you use.
These simple steps will make your life so much easier. It took me a few years of doing a little more each year and finally hiring some help. But it’s so much better than when we started our first company.
Of course this whole Virtual Assistant concept…it is amazing. You need one of your very own!
When it’s all done, here’s how we like to reward ourselves.