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After hobby blogging for several years, last year was my first year earning income. It was thrilling to see a hobby and a hope bring in extra money to help support my family. But, making money surprised me, and I had no plan for keeping record of blog income and expenses. My sophisticated record system involved tossing receipts and paid bill stubs into my top dresser drawer and flagging emails.
I’m paying for that system now, spending hours recording, organizing, and printing before filing my taxes.
As I get my paperwork organized, I’m thinking ahead to next year’s taxes and setting up a system to avoid this mess! Just a few minutes a week is all I need or organize my small business finances for an easier tax time next year. I came up with a simple system that keeps all my important papers and financial information organized. All it takes is a file box, file folders, a DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Pack, and several free printables which I’ll share below.
Every minute I spend fighting to organize my receipts, invoices, bills, and payments is less time I can spend on blogging- the thing that ACTUALLY makes money.
The DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Pack, will customize and print address, file folder and barcode labels, plus name badges and more straight from my computer with its own DYMO Label™ software. Its simple system and easy to use features saves my time and keeps me organized. Let me show you how I’m organizing my blog finances to prepare for an easier tax time next year.
First, choose a small file box. This box needs to be accessible. Keep it on your desk, or at least beside it. Wherever you tend to toss important papers to pile up, that’s where your file box should live! Staples has so many options for small file boxes, from a simple plastic box, to pretty boxes that will match your desk decor. I chose a slim, pretty turquoise box that matches the decor in my bedroom where I blog most often. I also picked up a DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Pack, extended capacity hanging file folders, and regular size file folders. Don’t forget that the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Pack is now free when you purchase 4 LabelWriter label rolls!
Next, I labeled extended capacity hanging file folders using the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Pack. I have folders for income, expenses, car & mileage, and to file & record. The DYMO’s thermal printing technology eliminates the need for expensive ink or toner, so I don’t hesitate to use the LabelWriter for all my organization tasks. With the LabelWriter I can create custom labels with over 60 layouts and styles.It also eliminates the hassle of printing sheet labels on a desktop printer, which is especially nice since my desktop printer lives across the house in the school room.
For last year’s income, I’ve had to sift through all the flagged emails in my inbox, which include anything and everything I thought important for the past year. It’s not even all blog related! I’m wasting so much time that could have been saved with a better system.
Using the DYMO LabelWriter® I labeled a regular size file folder for each source of income. I keep separate folders for sponsored posts, affiliate income, review products, and ad networks. Other sources of income filed here might include freelance writing, physical or digital products sold on your website, or guest post income.
Each folder has an income printable paper attached to the front flap, where I record income before filing the paid invoice or check stub in the folder. Download the free income printable here.
My yellow folder organizes all business expenses. This is the folder with the potential to really get out of hand. Breaking my expenses down into smaller categories (and folders) helps keep everything organized. Just use the LabelWriter to label each folder with your expense categories. Categories in this section might include:
- website maintenance – hosting and domain costs, blog template and design, etc
- education- classes, conferences, books on business topics
- utilities- internet, household bills for a dedicated office space
- photography- stock photos, editing software and subscriptions, photography equipment, props
- post supplies
- office- computer related costs, envelopes, stamps
Attach a printable expense sheet to the front of each folder. Download the free expenses printable here.
My purple folder keeps mileage forms and qualifying car expenses. I just use a regular size hanging folder for this section, as I don’t have much to file for this category. I keep a mileage printable in my car, and fill it out each time I drive for business purposes. Once I fill a printable I transfer it to the hanging folder in my file box. Download a free mileage printable here.
In the front of the file box I keep a hanging folder labeled To File & Record. It’s easy to forget what I’ve recorded or not recorded when I file receipts, invoices, and bills. To avoid that, I decided to always record each item on the correct printable before filing it in the correct folder. But, often when I come in from the store, or receive a payment it’s not a good time to record and organize. I quickly found myself with a pile of papers getting shuffled around on my desk. Adding a to record/file folder to the front of my file box ensures nothing gets lost or forgotten. I keep a color coded folder for each category in this file, red for income and yellow for expenses. As soon as I come home from the store, or print a receipt it goes in the yellow folder. And any income documents I receive go straight into the red folder.
Speaking of office day- one of the most important changes to my organization this year is adding two office days a month to my calendar. I am committing to two days a month as ‘office’ days. Look at least two weeks ahead at the calendar and chose a clear day as close to the 1st and 15th of each month and mark it ‘office’ day. Having time clearly marked on my calendar means I don’t suddenly realize its been months since I took care of the necessary financial organization. During my office day I work through my ‘to file and record’ folder, reconcile my bank statement and take care of all paperwork related to the blog.
With my new filing and organization system, office day doesn’t take very long!
Office day is also a perfect time to send inquiry emails, apply to blog networks and campaigns, network, and send prizes to giveaway winners. I’m loving my DYMO LabelWriter for so many things on office day. With several size labels I can send mail and packages to giveaway winners. The DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Pack includes a roll of LW Appointment Card Labels, LW Shipping Labels, LW File Folder Labels and LW Multi-Purpose Labels. Since I rarely send out mass quantities of letters or packages the DYMO LabelWriter eliminates the waste and hassle of printing sheet labels since it prints precise quantities without difficulty. I can even print my postage straight from the DYMO LabelWriter!
Are you ready for tax time this year? Check out other great ideas for tax season here.