Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The enemy of an organized life: Little Pieces of Paper.

Little pieces of paper. They (used to) fill up my purse, my counter, my dining room table, various envelopes -- all because: TAXES.

It's January 13, which means two days until you make that big decision: pay your 4th quarter estimate taxes or buy a plane ticket to Paris. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you are not self-employed. Which is a good thing because you likely also get benefits like, say, health insurance options, a regular paycheck (a paycheck with taxes already taken out!), a schedule, paid vacation and maternity leave.

But you also have to ask someone else permission to take a day off. For me, that is the trump card of self-employment.

If I do decide to go to Paris on Friday, that's on me.

Today's blog is for you self-employed folks who aren't quite profitable enough to afford a bookkeeper. Or for you regular folk, who are just tired of saving receipts.

I've been using an app on my iPhone called OneReceipt for the past 9 months. It isn't perfect, but it's the software I've been waiting for for 15 years. For me, it's been life-changing.

The most annoying part of tax preparation is organizing all my receipts into categories that fit neatly into the Schedule C. If it were just a matter of calculate-total-expenses, that would be easy enough. But keeping my advertising receipts separate from my supplies, separate from my travel, separate from my parking, separate from my business meals, etc., well, it's just been a headache, no matter what my system. I've done everything from shoeboxes, to accordion files, to envelopes, to QuickBooks, to an Excel spreadsheet. It's hard to be consistent when the enemy is, truly, little pieces of paper. 

I wish the Schedule C categories were pre-programmed into the app, but I can't have it all, I suppose. I have just been creating tags as I need them, snapping a photo of the receipt within the app, throwing that stupid little piece of paper away, and trusting in the cloud. (I know, I hear your hesitancy, but I'm full-in with the technology.) The wonderful thing is that right now, I just need to go to the website, sign in, check the box that says "Advertising" and I get a sum total of all the advertising receipts, without having had to keep up with a spreadsheet all year.

Anyway, I meant to have this piece of advice for you self-employed folks at the end of December. But it's still only 2 weeks into the New Year. Rid your lives of little pieces of paper! 

And, no, I'm not getting anything for endorsing this product. I just happen to really love it.

Also, I still have two days to decide between taxes or this:

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