How to Organize Business Receipts Digitally - Cindi Parker

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How to Organize Business Receipts Digitally

Ahhh the end of January: the completion of the first month of the new year, and the smell of tax season.

 

When I first started my business, my bookkeeping system for saving receipts and tracking expenses looked a lot like this:

Nonexistent.

🤣

I mean, I knew it was an important task to handle, but I honestly didn’t have a clue how to do it in an organized way. It seemed so complicated. 😅

So, as hard as I tried to be organized and set up physical folders, label them with what I thought my expenses should be categorized as, and throw a few receipts in there once in a while, by the end of the year I’d get anxious because I knew tax season was around the corner and my invoices were basically just floating around in internet-land waiting to be rescued (aka my Amazon “view orders” link might as well have been bookmarked under “most visited pages” this time of year…among several other websites). Yikes.

This year, I switched up the game. 😏

I’ve finally got this whole shiz simplified for both of us.

And by shiz, I mean this whole “saving business receipts” thing – the easy way.

Also, this is an important step to cover before we get to tracking your expenses the easy way (hello tax season and the new happy face on your accountant)…coming to a blog post near you very soon. (;

By the end of this post, you’ll be crystal clear on:

  • where to keep your receipts (hint: all in one place!)
  • how to get them to sort themselves (like magic!)
  • step by step guide to getting your expenses out of your inbox and into a neat little file

…and get 10+ hours of your life back, keep those pesky gray hairs at bay, and snuggle up with a few more glasses of wine – sans stress – because if Mr Tax Auditor comes a-knocking, you know you’ve got your buns covered. #BOOM

 

Ya ready sista girl?

Let’s do this. 😎

By the way, I’m not a tax professional, I’m simply sharing what helps me stay organized and I think you’ll find it incredibly helpful. Research requirements for what you need to keep on file for your business and consult with a tax and/or legal professional. 

 

How to store your receipts/expenses 

Digitally? Physically? In multiple places? And what about in-store paper receipts?

In a quick nutshell: store them all in one place. 

All my business receipts/expenses now get stored digitally and I like to store them this way for three reasons:

  1. Having some stuff digital and some stuff physical and not all in one place was too confusing for me to track of. I wasn’t sure which receipts had been filed or not, checking multiple places during my admin days was too inconvenient (meaning, that activity basically didn’t happen), and I couldn’t get a quick overall view. 
  2. I can access them from anywhere: at home, in the store, anytime I’m on the go – critical for when I have a few free minutes to work in my biz (this is super important when you have a million and one things going on in your life: you’re working your 9-5, running a side biz, squeezing in workouts, dashing to appointments, grabbing groceries for meal prepping, snuggling with the dogs…trust me, I get having #allthethings to do.)
  3. I like backups…and lots of them. Hopefully I never need to get audited, but in case I do and they want files from 7 years back, I want to make sure I can find them with ease. I keep several locations of digital files (including on an external hard drive). Having it all digitally makes it SO much easier to find in just a few minutes.

 

Where to keep your receipts

I save PDFs of receipts to my Google Drive and store them in an expense folder for the year.

This is where Google Drive becomes your business bestie. If you aren’t using this free tool to organize your biz, this one tip alone will take your business from overwhelmed to overjoyed. 

Google drive is an amazing file organization tool and it houses anything I write when it comes to my business…which is pretty much my entire business. It helps me stay organized, productive, and efficient. I can access (and edit) my files from any device at any time, anywhere. I can also share files with someone, who can view/edit/comment on them, and I can see the changes in real time (meaning, we could both be in a document at the same time and I can see what they’re typing as they’re typing it…even if they’re across the country).

Kind of a perfect solution for an online entrepreneur who’s constantly on the go, yes?

All you need to use Google Drive is a Google account (which is free) and you don’t necessarily have to create a Gmail account if you don’t want to.

 

How to organize your receipts

You know that feeling when you search for your fav pen and you look in 7 different bags, 5 different drawers, 20 different times and you still can’t find it?

That feeling is the WORST.

That’s how I felt looking for a file I saved and, 20 minutes later, still couldn’t find it.

And now?

It takes 2 seconds. Okay, maybe not, but it only takes a minute or so. That’s because of the little system I’ve built. Let’s walk through it together.

  1. Create your Folder Structure.

    • Create a folder called “Business Docs”. Inside that folder, create another folder called “01. Expenses/Receipts by year”. Inside that folder, create a folder called “2019 Expenses/Receipts”
    • Might as well create a “2020 Expenses/Receipts” folder inside your “01. Expenses/Receipts by year” folder while you’re in there (;
  2. Print receipts/invoices as PDFs – right into your Google Drive.

    • Locate those invoices! Track ’em down in your inbox, log in to your accounts (hello Amazon) and find the invoices under your “orders” – wherever your invoices/receipts are hiding online, track them all down.
    • Print the page as a PDF. This is even better inside Google Chrome because you have have it print right into your Google Drive:
      • inside the print dialog, change the printer to “Save to Google Drive”. A PDF will automatically be created and land inside your main Google Drive folder. From there, move it to the “2019 Expenses/Receipts” folder you just created. (Seriously, could this get ANY easier?!)
      • PS. Make sure you’re logged in to your Google Chrome browser under the account that you want the files to be saved under.
  3. Rename your files so they automatically sort themselves into chronological order for you

    • Name them as follows: YEAR_MM_DD_Vendor_Item(s)
      • Sometimes I’ll add the expense category if I’m not convinced I’ll remember how I categorized it (because I’ve forgotten in the past).
      • Here’s a screenshot of what a few of my December expenses look like in action:

THAT’S IT.

For 2020, I committed to saving every invoice as a PDF when the transaction occurs. No more scrambling and stressing the heck out at the and of the year (or possibly missing expenses that could have been deducted). You’ll be SO grateful you did! Make it a habit to make it a part of your routine, so you won’t even have to think twice about it anymore. Hope you found this helpful!

 

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