April 18, 2011

keeping track of expenses

I don't know about you, but with the best of intentions, I pledge to keep up with the dreaded business paperwork each year. And without fail, each year I'm left scrambling when tax time rolls around. Know what I mean?

This year, after a particularly grueling episode of mileage issues, I decided to use my personal, old fashioned foolproof technique for business. Today, I pass this invaluable knowledge on to you, my wonderfully kind friends. It's guaranteed, fail safe, and organized. You will thank me later - or now is good, too.

studio waterstone tutorials

What You'll Need:

Binder - Preferably 2+ inches
12 Pocketed Dividers
2 Zippered Pouches
Index Cards
Scotch Tape
Label Stickers

What You'll Do:

The zippered pouches go in the front to hold a calculator, pen, etc. in one and
credit card receipts in the other.

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I label each tabbed divider with the month.

studio waterstone tutorials

Inside each monthly pocket, I add statements, bills paid, paperwork. As the monthly credit card statement comes in, I check each receipt, staple it to the statement, and add it to the pocket.


For personal use: I'll use two pouches as well. In one I'll put stamps and return address labels. In the other I'll stash credit card receipts until the credit card bill comes. Then I'll check off the receipts each month. Toss the ones I don't need and keep the others, stapled to the statement.

I attach an index card to the front bottom of each divider. As I pay a bill, I will list the date, how the bill was paid, who I paid, and the amount to the card. A couple of times a month I'll go to my card and add the bills paid to my checkbook register. Then I'll check off each item on the list to know that it's been added.

At the end of the year I simply remove the index card, toss any statements that do not need to be kept and staple anything else to the index card.

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For Business Use: I add one page per month each for mileage, gas, and auto maintenance, one for sales, fees, cash purchases, etc. As with personal, check off your credit card receipts each month and then staple them to your monthly statement and file away.

At the end of the year, you should have all of your totals close at hand for tax time. At least that's the plan.

I'm curious...What's your method?
See all of my tutorials here.


  1. My method is all expenses in one box, sales with documentation in another box, 12 months of checking account statements in a folder and on the day before taxes are due I scramble like an idiot. Guess what I was doing yesterday?

    Your method looks logical and very orderly. I start out that way and then just end up with the "boxes" method. Hopefully with opening an Etsy site I will be forced to be more methodical. (Hard to believe I was a business major with a concentration in accounting!)

  2. My method you ask?
    An old diaper box, ya know the big one? Filled to the brim with receipts and stubs falling out all over the place. A quick panic attack in Feb to get it all together. Thankfully I don't have to actually look at the receipts as I use my cc and debit card for everything :-)
    Shannon C

  3. Lori, that's very similar to my method, which usually lasts till around May or June every year, when I get tired of it. Each year I vow to do better!

  4. Wait til I show this to my hubs! He'll flip! He would love for me to be this organized. :) We just have a file cabinet with folders. works great, unless you don't get last year's stuff out, then you have to go thru each folder and find the dates. Ugh! Is it too late to start this?? Hmmm.....

  5. Brilliant. This is so tidy. My method is to stuff all receipts into a 12 pocket expanding file and then cry when it comes time to organize every thing.

  6. My method, for which I am extremely grateful, is to give all receipts to my husband, who is a quicken and turbo tax savant and the CFO of all things Auld. Who knew 15 years ago I would marry one of my most valuable business assets. Note to self: Extra smooches to CFO.

  7. I need this, I suck at keeping up with this stuff. I usually just write my miles on my receipts and call it a day. It's a hot mess at tax time.


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