Thursday, February 11, 2010 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

My "CrockPot" Version of Managing Monthly Financial Receipts....

Photography by Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Don't let $$$ give you the chills...=)

“Argh! How do I keep all these receipts organized??” My friend said to me during a phone conversation. I could sense her frustration and concern. She owns her own business and has all the paperwork for her family as well. She was getting overwhelmed preparing for tax season. Although I couldn’t help her in anyway for last year’s paperwork, I could certainly help her this year and in the future to make things easier.

Before I share with you my technique for managing our paperwork within our home and our businesses, these are the items you will need:

12 – 10x13” Envelopes with clasps
Excel Software (which if you have Microsoft, you have Excel on your computer…you don’t need to even know how to use it either)
Printer
Scissors or a paper shredder
Online access to your bank account (everyone should have this already…paperless is not only secure but you are saving trees)
Pencil

Directions to begin…
***Schedule a day each week to do this. I do mine the last day of the month because I have been doing this type of organization for a while.
1) Before you panic, let me say that Excel isn’t hard to use at all. There are many YouTube videos on using this tool and if needed, I will be happy to do a tutorial on using it for this specific task. (Just leave me a comment requesting a visual.)
2) Organize your receipts – for gas, utilities, groceries, etc – into months. Since we are only into the second month of the year, this shouldn’t be very hard to do. Then organize them by date.
3) In the top left corner, write the month on each of the 12 envelopes, January through December, and the year, 2010.
4) Working with one receipt at a time, write it into your checkbook register, put it on Excel Spreadsheet (which I will explain in a moment), and check your online bank account to make sure the amount was correctly was posted. Some receipts may not have cleared if you had just spent that money this morning.
5) Using an online Excel Spreadsheet is wonderful when organizing lists or receipts. I am not an expert with Excel, but I know it works well. At the top, beginning with the first block to the left and each block across, add these headings: Date, To, Amount, Reasoning, & Miles. With “Date” put in the date of each receipt. “To” is where your spent the money. “Amount” is the total cost of the receipt (if you have 2 items out of 10 that you need for taxes, then take those 2 items, add them together plus the amount of tax for the area you made that purchase and put that amount into this space). “Reasoning” can be a definition for the amount or that it was a prescription, whatever will help you remember where this amount needs to be applied for taxes. “Miles” is how far you had to drive to do this item because mileage can be a tax deduction. (****I have just decided to do a video of this…so check out YouTube in the next few days!****)
6) On the receipt, once it is entered, place a check at the top indicating that you have put this in your check book. Then add an “E” to indicate you have entered it into Excel.
7) Place the receipts and bill stubs into the envelope for that month.
8) At the end of the month, simply print the Excel sheet for that month and place it inside the large envelope with your receipts and you are done.

Now some tips that work for me. If I stop and get gas, then I take that receipt, verify that amount on my online banking statement, then I shred it or if you don't have a shredder, cut them into tiny strips before throwing away. I do the same thing for snack recipes and eating out that do not apply to our businesses. NOW sometimes, I meet clients at restaurants or for coffee; I take that receipt and treat it as I would business supply purchases. I enter it into my Excel sheet all the way to placing it in my envelope.

This takes about an hour once you have the Excel sheet set up. Just imagine the piece of mind at the end of the year! I keep a basket for the receipts and my family knows where to put them. I make deposits immediately rather than keeping any cash around the house or on my person. Balancing is done as you go along. It is amazing how much time this saves you in the end. ALSO, pay your bills the night before your paycheck goes into the bank. This way, they are paid and you know how much is left for groceries, going out to eat or before having a fun filled weekend. Btw, start a Christmas club account at your bank and put a few dollars into each week for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays come the same time each year. There isn’t any reason to not be prepared for them.

Hope these tips help make your life simpler. This is my CrockPot version of managing our finances. I know it makes my life easier and it will yours too.

Happy Love Month,
Love, blessings, and {{{Hugs}}}
Rita

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