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There’s money in the bank, so I must be doing well!

Step 4: Reconciling the accounts

Congratulations! You’re on top of all of the steps. You log in to your bank account and there’s plenty of money. You do a happy dance and congratulate yourself – I’m killin’ it! – Not so fast….

Have all the checks been cashed? Did your deposits clear? What? You don’t know? Without that knowledge, you really don’t know what money is left over. And that’s when checks start bouncing. And your vendors get angry. And your credit score goes down.

The accounts need to be reconciled every month. Every. Month. Credit card statements, too.

Reviewing what went out is a pretty simple process:

1. Pay attention to what checks weren’t cashed yet – if it’s been more than a couple of weeks, contact the payee and make sure they received it. If they didn’t, stop the missing check and issue a new one. If they did, ask them to deposit it. More than 90 days have passed after the date of the check? Some banks will consider it “stale” and won’t cash it.

2. Are all the credit card charges and withdrawals from the bank account accurate? If you never look at your statements carefully, I’ll bet you there are incorrect or double charges. Happens all the time. Don’t give your money away!! You work too hard for it!

These are just the basics of tracking your numbers. Having a system established will put you on the right path to making knowledgeable decisions about the future – for your business and for your life.

Need some guidance? Let’s talk about your money management needs. Schedule your free appointment below. Stop struggling and make 2017 an easier year!

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When Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t a business expense

Step 2: Break out personal and business expenses

In the previous post, I made the point about the importance of separating funds with business and personal accounts. Now that you’ve done that, you should be categorizing your expenses. But there is often confusion or misinterpretation about what are “business expenses”. Let’s play a quick game of True or False:

True or False? On the way to a client meeting, you stop for breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts. Business Expense? How about if you buy breakfast for the client also?

True or False? The fee for attending a networking event. And the parking. And the new outfit and shoes you bought for the event.

Did you choose F, T, T, T, F?

Tricky, right? Here’s the general rule – a deductible expense is one that is required for the operation of your business, and is considered both ordinary and necessary. Rent, office supplies, printing business cards, website design, networking events – you get the idea – that’s just a few. Here’s what not considered a business expense:
New clothes – unless you have to purchase a uniform for work that is ONLY worn for that job
Coffee, lunch, pizza, etc. when you’re out and about, even if you are in transit to a meeting with a client.
New tires for your car – unless the car is owned by the business and is only used for business reasons.

What about meals? If you are traveling for business – to a conference, for example, yes – they’re categorized as travel meals. Bought lunch for the office? Maybe but probably not a true expense. Bought dinner for the office because everyone stayed late to finish a project? Yes, business expense. Took a client to lunch? Yes – but make sure to keep the receipt and write the name of the client on it. It should also match a date in your calendar for that lunch meeting.

Speaking of receipts – keep them! Yes, all of them! Scan them and keep digital copies if you don’t want the clutter. There are a number of mobile apps that let you take a photo and store it right away.

Sorting through this topic can be overwhelming. Here’s a link to the IRS guidelines for business expenses to give you some more guidance:

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/deducting-business-expenses#personal

So now that you’re keeping business and personal funds and expenses separate, how do you track the information? Where does it all go?

Next time, Now where do I put all of this stuff?

1099 Misc

Avoiding the Tax-Extension Blues

Are you breathing easier now that October 15th has come and gone? Finally got that extension filed and now you can get back to focusing on your business? What would it feel like to not sweat it when tax time comes around? How great would it be to easily provide your accountant with all the info they request, without feeling panicked or a sense of dread? How much time would you get back if you had a system that prevented chaos?

Good news! There is a way to build a simple system and stay on track. Over the next few weeks, I’ll lay out the steps to build a strong, basic foundation of a money management system.

First order of business – get an accountant if you don’t already have one. If you have one, great. If not, keep in mind that tax laws change all the time, and your accountant will be a priceless resource in navigating those laws. It’s also wise to have a professional to reach out to about some of the trickier or vague areas of business accounting.

Now we can dive into the “steps” –

Step 1: Separate your business and personal funds into different bank accounts. Even if you are a sole practitioner, open a separate checking account and credit card to be used only for business. If you don’t want to open a new credit card, and have more than one personal card, you can dedicate one to the business. If you don’t have an extra credit card, use the debit card that comes with the new checking account. But at some point, you will need a separate business credit card to cover expenses if there isn’t enough cash in the bank.

Now that you have separate accounts, use them! Do it! Business income and expenses are the only transactions that should appear on those monthly statements. If there’s still some cross-over while you are establishing this new habit, never fear. There are ways to straighten that out. But for now, start treating the accounts independently.

Next time, When Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t a business expense…