Cut Your Tax by Being Organized and Educated
I’ve always considered myself a pretty middle-class / average type of person. I’ve had the office job, the mortgage, the cars, and the kid. I was never super high on any one totem pole yet I did choose to be homeless after losing that corporate job. So, I know for sure that what I’m about to tell you is something you already know and is something that can help any ‘tax bracket”.
Quite simply, with so much technology at our finger tips these days, it’s so easy to be organized even if that is not your specialty. Being organized with your finances is half the battle in figuring out what you can and cannot claim on your taxes. So if you are just leaving money on the table, send it to me – if you want some of that money back, you have to be organized and it’s easy.
Here are some suggestions that may help make your organization and preparation a lot easier during the year.
- I absolutely love Quickbooks Online. Their secure servers and protection make me feel good about my experience and I can do everything I need for my personal and small business finances from anywhere, anytime. From here, I use other options…
- I have linked my bank accounts to my Quickbooks so all my transactions load when I update my QB. This makes life so much easier than ever before. Now, I merely have to categorize these transactions however, over time if you repeat the same vendor and category, QB will pre-fill this, getting even easier as you go.
- From QB or my bank account, I can setup automatic bill payments so nothing is ever late. Regardless which way I setup the payment, the are linked so the info will transfer to the other with little effort on my part.
- I have an app on my iPhone called BizXpenseTracker. Now for me, I don’t generally use the app for recording receipts that I acquired using my debit card because that will show on my bank statement which feeds to QB. I do use it a lot for cash receipts because I can snap an image of the receipt and trash the paper. I can also categorize those receipts. Further to this, and I like this best personally, I can record time I spend on each client in this app and download my report at the end of each week. It’s like a touch button time-clock. In my dream of 2013 and pending re-start in 2014, mileage is my life but I dare not try to calculate it and it is not “really” required for my work – but if I wanted to record mileage per client, I could do it in this app; just sayin’.
The Dreaded Tax Envelope
I realize that everybody isn’t going to suddenly switch their whole life around to this extreme, though I think it’s a smart process. I can’t tell you how many people (men) I have been around that have an old tattered and torn up envelope that they brutally shove every receipt into whenever they return from the gas pump, restaurant, or Home Depot.
There are some more simplified ways you can help yourself and I know this from growing in my own processes.
First of all, no matter what process you use and what you do with your smart phone I highly suggest that everybody subscribe to some type of cloud based storage for your contacts and photos plus all the other goodies on your phone.
That being said, I used to have photo albums in my old iPhone called: Biz Receipts, Medical Receipts, Bike Receipts, etc… you get the ‘picture’. In these albums I saved images of receipts for just those things that I thought would be beneficial come tax time or something I may need for warranty purposes (so clearly I didn’t save receipts for water and cigarettes at Citgo). Every so often I would download those images into folder in my DropBox and record them in a spreadsheet with categories.
This article is intended to put your mind around the organization and preparation that you will need to make tax time easier each year, because face it; we have to do it – how can we make it a little less painful?
Back in those days I didn’t think I had much to claim if I itemized, but after the past two years, I have learned many valuable lessons and have been able to claim things I didn’t know I could and I correct some mistakes I had made in the past. I can easily keep tabs on all my expenses during the year easily and so can you. Don’t forget, a lot of these types of tasks can be managed in partnership with a great virtual assistant. I know one; just sayin’…
The Write Hand