It’s never too late to prepare for the new year. It’s also never too early to start prepping either. Many major companies and successful businesses start thinking of the next year in January. It doesn’t matter when you start, but you have to start. If you keep track of your records, which means receipts, transactions, and all that tedious stuff, it will make a difference. Not only will this help you stay more organized, but it can help get you more money back come tax season. Here are a few tips to get you started to help you get in the organization and record-keeping mindset.
Although it might seem like an obvious notion, but start now. The more you put things off and procrastinate, the bigger mess you’ll have later on. It doesn’t matter if you start by taking out these documents to get organized, make folders to begin prepping, just start! A little bit of organization can go a long way. Setting aside 10 minutes a day, or maybe even just an hour a week, will start placing you on the right track. Think about what’s better for you, digital or physical papers. Either way, take action now to begin developing your new habit.
Paper Trail Record-Keeping
A simple paper trail can consist of all your expenses and invoices over the course of the year. We recommend keeping track of these in month-to-month folders to stay organized easily. Having them separated by categories will be even better when it comes to having to search for a particular thing. If you have daily transitions to worry about, weekly folders and keeping receipts and invoices numbered will make things easier down the line.
You can always ask for advice on what daily records to keep track of for your business. Although paper trials have slowly faded away, if this is what works for you, then do it. You can always learn new ways as time passes, but it might work best to get started.
One of the best and easiest ways to keep track of your records is by using a digital format. Excel worksheets have proven to make things easier for not just you but your bookkeeper as well. There’s also software such as Quickbooks, Neatdesk, Quicken, and other websites to make this a bit more efficient. Of course, the price ranges can vary from $9-$100, so get used to one method before you start dealing out extra cash for what you can do for free. Using software like this can also make it easier to manage your bills that you pay online. For any of your physical documents, you can always scan them with a printer or your phone and transfer them.
Consistency With Record-Keeping
No matter which way you lean towards, stay consistent with it. You don’t want to walk into your bookkeeper’s office with a couple of shoeboxes filled with paperwork and your laptop. Keep all your records in one place, no matter which route you choose. This will also help you keep track of any due dates and payments. Knowing how, where, and when to make payments can turn into a mess is if you’re half digital and half physical.
If staying organized doesn’t convince you, then also remember keeping information like this together helps your personal security. Many of these documents contain sensitive material that shouldn’t reach other people’s hands. If you don’t feel comfortable keeping these documents at home, then find somewhere secure—your office, or even a safe or fireproof place.
Consolidate Your Records
A great practice to start once you get organized is to start consolidating your information. A lot of these transactions and receipts can all get imputed in a more straightforward way to declutter things. This step can wait after your first year so that you know what’s essential and what can get tossed. You will start to find more manageable and more efficient ways to keep track of your records as time goes on. Remember, the first year always feels the hardest, and it gets much more comfortable after that.
Look Forward To Next Year
Once you take care of these steps, you can start looking forward to next year’s record-keeping habits. That’s the ultimate goal of everything that we’ve mentioned—just making sure that each year gets easier and more manageable. Look at what worked and what didn’t. You don’t have to wait a year to do this either. Look at your system every 3-6 months and see what can get worked on and become more efficient. If you don’t like something, find a better way, and don’t get scared of trying new things.