I’m probably a bit on the odd side, but I really like numbers. For one, numbers do not lie. There is so much ambiguity in our work as a counselor, coach, or consultant that numbers can be a welcomed relief of solid ground. The unfortunate part of this is most graduate schools don’t really train their graduates on how to run a business. We generally have to learn the hard way, and that’s not usually a great recipe for mental health practitioners.
Before opening up my private practice, I was in charge of business development at an internet services company. This provided me a great learning opportunity that I now employ in my own practice. That was my school of hard knocks in accounting, and trust me, I failed a bunch. That experience has been monumental for me in my practice. One of the best things I learned there was a system for keeping up with receipts.
There are two approaches you can take to these various paper trails. Firstly, you can use your smartphone as a way to catalogue and store your receipts so there isn’t a paper trail. There are dozes of apps to accomplish this, but here is how I’ve used technology in this manner. I use the Geniuscan app and sync it with Evernote (If you want to know more about Evernote, I wrote this article about this last week). This system provides a seamless way to capture an image of a receipt, and store it for later access. If you’re tech-savvy, this is a fantastic way of keeping up with things.
However, technology sometimes fails, thus keeping a paper record is a pretty failsafe way of accounting. So if you’re not all that in to technology and want a method for keep a paper trail, the following method works for me. At the end of each week, I tape my receipts to a page of copier paper and write the reason for my purchase at the top of the page. This makes my receipt file folder uniform via the copier paper, as well as easily accessible come tax time. It also gives a regular place for me to write the reason for the business expense at the top of the page.
Once I’ve taken care of all the receipts, I keep them in a file folder that is filed quarterly. I do this quarterly because I typically don’t have enough receipts to warrant a monthly file folder, and because I pay taxes on a quarterly system.
Because it’s done quarterly, it makes preparing for your annual tax filing and prep a lot easier. Most of the work has already been done. Utilize these methods with your receipts, you’ll make tax season a little less stressful and you’ll not have random receipts floating around everywhere.