lost in the paper shuffle at tax time?

“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”
– Harvey MacKay

I’ll add something to this… For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned, as well as a new level of awareness.

Let’s just apply this to the question of bookkeeping. Picture this… It’s tax time, and you’re surrounded with manila folders of bank statements and a shoebox of receipts, trying to shuffle through them all to determine what your deductible expenses are for the past year. Nothing is clear, and you spend hours sorting through the papers.

Even if you are very neat about keeping your statements in categorized folders, you still need to take the time to go through each statement and / or receipt and total them up to get your nice, organized list of numbers.

There are alternatives to the time-intensive paper shuffle.

A couple of examples… As you run to the store for some needed office supplies, you pop out your smartphone app and enter the charge along with the category. Or you snap a photo of the receipt and email it to your bookkeeper. What has just taken a few seconds will cumulatively save you hours come tax time. With a few mouse clicks, there’s a single report with all of your totals by category in the exact time period you need. Begone, tax craziness.

And in between tax seasons, you’ll have reports and numbers at your fingertips that give you greater awareness of how and where your money comes from and is going to. And with greater awareness comes greater possibility to set your intentions exactly how you want them. You can find where you can save some money, start delegating part of your budget for something you really want, all sorts of things. It’s really awesome to make your money work for you with a simple bit of awareness rather than just being worried about what the bank says your balance is.

So if numbers are fun for you, or easy, or even just ok… If you’re not doing it already, consider getting some bookkeeping software and setting yourself up. (My favorites are YNAB and Xero — full disclosure, I’m a partner with the latter.)

If numbers are not really your thing, consider hiring a bookkeeper to do it for you. With this route, make sure he / she helps you with the awareness part, whether it’s emailed reports or regular conference calls or some other communication. That’s just as important as simply tidying the numbers.

Either way, you end up saving time and raising your awareness. Two massive pluses.