3 Easy-Peasy Steps to Tracking Business Expenses Like a Pro

man tracking business expenses

Tracking business expenses can be thrilling.

Not quite Michael Jackson in werewolf attire kind of thrilling, but if growing your small business does, then yes. If this connects with you on a spiritual level, you are one of the chosen few. *glowing with enlightenment* As business owners, so many of us find that we live with a limited mindset when it comes to business expenses. It’s a detailed process that might have you spending all your time on it, like Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. Your running costs need to be tracked with accuracy, or your profits can dip big time.

There are no surprises here, friend. You prioritize and track business expenses according to when the amount is deducted. You’ll have to get used to waving money goodbye in various amounts and keeping track of every cent!

Residual costs, or running costs, are never-ending account bills for essential business expenses your company simply can’t function without. These must be paid on time the same way Facebook needs to keep their servers up and running at all times – the show MUST go on.

You must closely monitor and track small business expenses. These are costs like your monthly rental, employment costs, and paying your suppliers. Other important and regularly deductible business expenses are your annual tax payments and the fee your bookkeeper or accountant charges for this service. *umm, hello?* These smooth operational costs should be like music to your ears. They all add up, depending on the size of your business.

The other type of business expenses you need to be on the lookout for are once-off situational costs. A startup will have registration fees or the cost of asset and equipment acquisitions. These costs reoccur as your business levels up and reaches new heights.

The difference in the impact these costs have on your company is crucial to understand: Taking care of the running costs keeps the lights on, but the once-off costs allow for continuous growth. Having a system to track business expenses becomes more critical than ever because it helps you plan your moves accordingly to ensure your company thrives rather than survives.

The solution you can apply to your business with immediate results is the daily management of your expenses. This is the Monopoly board view of your business, so try to have fun! With a clear view, there are no surprises on the month-end balance sheet. This constant overview makes you far more financially equipped as a business owner, and over time this becomes an instinctual part of your management process.

Your ability to track small business expenses can reduce your spending and give you the flexibility and confidence to reinvest the cash into different areas such as recruitment or marketing.

How to Track Small Business Expenses

 We’ve covered the know-how, but keeping track of your business expenses also requires specific tools and the proper techniques behind them. You can easily do this yourself or designate the task to your financial manager, accountant, or bookkeeper. The point is, a working system must be in place! Track business expenses accurately so that your tax write-offs are more comprehensive. This means you capitalize on deductions and reduce your overall tax bill.

1. Business Banking

Applying for business financial services is foreign to freelance workers or small business owners. You are sometimes made to feel like a child reaching for the top shelf. Be sure that you do your research on which packages suit the needs of your business. Read the fine print! Enquire about the benefits and fees of the different accounts before you sign up.

To make use of all the benefits that business finance services have to offer, you will need two business accounts: one for savings, one for transactions, and a business credit card. A credit card offers rewards, points, and cashback on purchases, so there are plenty of benefits to using your credit card strategically for business expenses.

Never use cash for business expenses! Tracing purchases for tax purposes can become a nightmare. There isn’t much to work with, a lonely receipt, and no transactional record.

2. Managing Receipts

Keeping receipts is so beneficial. Like when you need to call out your sibling for evading Thanksgiving, and you need to be the favorite for once (btw, you’re our fave). Why is making money called a paper chase? We’ll let you in on a little secret. It Is!

Keep your paper receipts separate and dedicate time to filing them regularly and effectively so they can be easily captured at a later stage. Use a foolproof filing system and easy to understand and be sure to add all the necessary details like what each receipt was for. Ask your accountant or bookkeeper what the easiest solution is. Tax filing is vital, so you want this process to be as smooth as butter.

Every statement counts! A cent declared is a cent saved. Be thorough because you can be penalized for sloppy bookkeeping. You are obligated to keep all paper receipts, bank statements, and any other supporting documents for a minimum of three years for IRS compliance. Keeping a detailed calendar will also help track any purchases throughout the financial year. Get an app to track business expenses. There is software available that makes the process of capturing or digitizing your receipts hassle-free by scanning or uploading pics from your phone to iCloud and then committing the data to your records. Vehicle mileage tracking apps are also beneficial for claiming tax returns on mileage for business traveling.

 3. Cloud-based Accounting Software

Alrighty, so if you aren’t familiar with the “cloud” in this context, we aren’t talking about the fluffy marshmallow sky pillow. When it comes to tech, accessibility and convenience are the reasons this is the most widely used solution to track small business expenses. Mobile compatibility allows you to access and enter data from handheld devices like tablets and phones. So, no excuse for not keeping current records of your business expenses. An accounting system will link directly to your accounts and credit card to track business expenses each day as they accumulate. Not only is it tax-deductible to have a subscription to a cloud-based app to track business expenses, but your financial records are in completely safe hands.

Top 5 Apps to Track Business Expenses

 Can we all take a moment to give props to the real brains behind Inspector Gadget? Although he had the tools, Penny was the one who navigated them away from imminent peril. *raises the roof* She was successful because she knows how to utilize the right tools at the right time. In the same way, you can be the Penny/Inspector Gadget of small business success. There are a bunch of business expenses tracker apps to choose from. We have chosen five. See where they fit into your world.

Expensify

It will not make your car, clothes, or wallpaper look more expensive, as the name suggests. It is a simple but effective app for expense reporting. It’s a mobile app to track business expenses that automatically logs the photos you take of your receipts. It has a $5/month subscription fee for a group license and is free for single users. There are different categories for your expenses to make it easy to track business expenses.

QuickBooks Self-Employed

As your bookkeeper can surely vouch, QuickBooks is one of the true OG’s of accounting software. A $12 monthly subscription gives you access to some great features. You can track different businesses or revenue streams simultaneously. It allows easy creation of invoices on the go, hassle-free quarterly tax estimates, and many other valuable features. This business expenses tracker app is aimed at self-run enterprises and self-employed entrepreneurs.

FreshBooks

At last. A one-with-everything accounting solution. Subscription starts at $9.95 for a single license with five clients. However, the $29.95 per month plan provides the means to do project management and offer a limitless number of clients. FreshBooks is a highly effective app to track business expenses available on iOS and Android while also giving you desktop access.

Mint

Intuit, the well-known accounting software company, offers this free business expenses tracker app for managing your personal finances. With support for a range of banks and financiers, it allows you to track business expenses and monitor your credit functions on both Android and iOS.

Concur

This is an extensive app to track small business expenses. It has a comprehensive feature list and allows you to customize your package and upgrade the functionality as your demands increase. It’s available free on Android and iOS. Overall, it provides an impressive tracking solution for small to midsize companies.

Each of these will provide a solution to track business expenses, so find one that speaks to your needs and get to know them like your new best friend. There is a range of options, so you will need to cover the most important functions like monitoring and reporting on not only your expenses but your cash flow situation too. Capturing and categorizing receipts is essential, along with the ability to enter and manage invoices. The extraordinary business expenses tracker apps will also be geared toward tax deductions in their various areas, saving you time, money, and effort in the long run.

Your chosen app to track business expenses can also monitor sales, linking to the e-commerce platform on your company’s website. It may also be helpful, depending on the industry you’re in, to record and manage the suppliers and contractors you work with regularly. Many of us struggle with correctly documenting project management. This is an area some business expenses tracker apps offer very effective solutions for monitoring progress and creating inventory lists, and more.

Overall, a cloud-based mobile app consolidates the various financial aspects of your business, giving you a handheld system that you can access securely day or night. Reminders and notifications from clients will assist you in automating the workflow of your business. At the same time, the reports generated give you access to your analytics for marketing purposes, making budgeting a breeze in the future.

Now, we know what you’re thinking… A sample platter of appetizers would be a better idea than settling for just the Awesome Blossom. Let us throw this out there though, at least you know you’ll get one amaze appetizer. We’ll follow up later on this. Anyways, all this information may take a while to sink in and digest (about small business expenses, not appetizers). You might be just starting out and considering the benefits of cloud-based accounting solutions. Or, perhaps you’ve been in business for years and simply have never needed to look at a more technological way of doing things.

It’s always important to consult those with experience. Any decent bookkeeper or accountant *oh, hey, now that’s us* will tell you the Post-It system of financial management never helped anyone (although great for mantras and affirmations). Perhaps get some expert advice and perspective on which solution will suit your business. Alchemy Accounting (that’s us) has experience across various industries, from badass breweries to corporate tycoons. We’ll help you find the easiest way to track small business expenses. But seriously, though, Awesome Blossom and the sampler. Done, done.

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Michelle Cooper

Michelle Cooper is a powerhouse entrepreneur, CEO of Alchemy Accounting & Bookkeeping, author of Confessions of a Money Rock Star, Your MoneyDate Journal, and co-author of the collaborative book, Women Rising. She has helped many business owners climb out of entrepreneurial poverty into the land of profit.