As professional Brighton bookkeepers we know exactly how to organise ourselves before the fact, so the actual accounts bit goes as smoothly as possible. Here are our eight best tips for doing the sensible thing and staying ahead of the expenses curve.
If these are still too much for you, throw in the towel and hand it all over to us lock, stock and barrel. We’ll do it all for you.
- Keep all your receipts – It sounds obvious but it’s essential. It makes much more sense to keep the evidence than try to ague the toss with HMRC without any evidence of what you’ve spent. If, like many of us, the majority of your receipts are emailed because you buy stuff online, file them logically.
- Make notes on your receipts – You know what it’s for right now but will you still remember in a few months’ time? Write the business purpose on all your paper receipts, and re-name emailed receipts so it makes sense further down the line.
- Keep records going back seven years – With luck and judgement you won;t find yourself subjected to an HMRc review. If you are, you need a full seven years’ records to hand. Don’t tempt fate! And make sure you back up your computer regularly so you don’t lose emailed and electronic records.
- Work that smartphone – For a belt and braces approach to record keeping, you can always scan paper receipts with your smartphone and stash the files with your emailed receipts.
- Keep a diary or calendar – When, exactly, did you buy that new keyboard / tablet / stand-up desk? When did you visit that client? Don’t leave it to chance – you might need to tie up your expenses with events and dates, and a calendar or diary is the simplest way to record your activities.
- Don’t rely on credit-card statements – It’s tempting to forget record keeping and just rely on debit and credit card records. But while it’ll show you the amounts you spent, it won’t reveal what you bought… and tying them up could prove a nightmare.
- Steer clear of hard cash – Using cash for expenses is sometimes more convenient than cards. But it’s notoriously difficult to track and makes keeping top quality bookkeeping records more or less impossible. Try reconciling cash spending with receipts and it’s far too easy to get into a pickle. Use debit and credit cards instead.
- Reconcile things on the trot – Don’t leave reconciliation to the end of the month or, even worse, the end of the financial year. Set aside time every week to get it done or better still, tie everything up and file it safely as you go. It ends up much faster task when you’re fresh and can remember what you’ve been doing, where and why.
Once you’ve got to grips with staying up to speed, you’ll be in an excellent position. When you hand everything over to your accountant – or settle down to do your own tax return – the entire job will be a whole lot quicker and easier.