Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Taming Your Receipts

When I first began child care I didn't know what I was doing when it came to taxes.  Because of this, I started bad habits with my receipt system, making it a yearly chore.  

It took years, but I have finally perfected a system that I keep up on a daily or weekly basis.

1.  I have a little basket on my desk where every receipt goes.  My whole family puts all receipts in the basket as they get them.

2.  Daily or at least once a week (usually Tuesday at nap time), I go through the basket and enter the receipts and mileage into Minute Menu Kids Pro.  I LOVE this program!  All the records are kept online, so I can easily switch computers or if my computer ever crashes, my info is still stored safe at their website.  In the years I've been using it, I've never had any problems.

For mileage, I look up how many miles it is from my house to the store on Google Maps and enter it right when I enter the amount for the receipt or bill.

3.  I then scan all the receipts that I've entered with this scanner.  Yes, it was pricey at about $120, but it is tax deductible with your time/space percentage and EXACTLY what I wanted.  You can use it WITHOUT your computer....I scan the receipts, then put the SD card into my computer and save all the receipts in a file.

Side Notes:  I also used the scanner to scan all our old photos to the computer so I could share them.  We use the scanner all the time to make digital copies of documents, photos, etc.

I tried Neat Receipts (twice) that everyone raves about.  I could not make it work with my computer and it's very software heavy and dependent.  I wanted a scanner I could use anywhere.

4.  I then file the receipts by month into an accordion "check file" and I'm done.

For the last 3 years or so, I kept up on receipts daily or at least weekly.  It has made life so much easier (at least the tax portion of life).  

When I decided to get things on track, what I did to start to get caught up was break down the job into smaller goals:
  • sort receipts into months
  • work on one month at a time, entering receipts and mileage
  • scan each month's receipts and back up on my computer
  • enter all utility bills and rent for each month
  • double check all income entries and meal counts
After I got caught up, I stayed on top of it and it was so much easier.  Even if I enter weekly, it takes less than a half hour at nap to enter, scan and file everything.  Every now and then I spend 45 minutes or an hour, but so worth it to say on top of things.

As your 2011 tax season comes to a close, make a commitment to make your 2012 taxes a top priority.



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