How to manage your finances without disappearing for a week

I disappeared for a week.

Seriously. People wondered where I was. Emails didn’t get answered as quickly. Voicemail messages took longer to return. And everynight I ended up in the place I spent most of my day.

Where did I go? Nowhere exotic. The truth is I was right here in my office, sitting in front of my computer … cursing.

Here’s what happened

I was going along in my business, happily working with my clients and developing great new programs. From the outside everything looked great. But inside I had a secret: I was avoiding a big folder that was sitting on my desk. It was the one labelled Finances. I knew it was there. I couldn’t miss it. It kept staring at me, reminding me it needed attention. But I just kept ignoring it, hoping it would go away. It didn’t.

That’s when the call came

It was my accountant. She was reminding me that July 31 was my year end and they needed my financial documents to start preparing my tax return. I was busted. The time had come to face my worst nightmare.

So I opened the dreaded folder and I disappeared for a week. It seems like I do this every year. I start the dance with my finances … it goes something like this:

The scolding: “Why do you do this to yourself every year?”

The guilt: “If you just did this every month you wouldn’t have to go through this hell.”

The realization: “This isn’t so difficult. Why do I hate it so much?”

The promise: “I’m starting over. From now on I’m going to keep up with my financial homework.”

You may be wondering why I don’t hire a bookkeeper. The answer is this, I’m not at a point where I can outsource this task. Besides, there are so many tools available that make invoicing a snap and bookkeeping a breeze. It doesn’t have to be difficult. I just make it that way by procrastinating.

My new financial system

Finally the light came at the end of this long and painful tunnel. I gathered everything up, stuck it in an envelope and delivered it to my accountant.

The good news is I now have a system in place that makes my finances flow effortlessly.

I want to share this system with you, in case you can relate to my disappearing act. You may have to tweak it to make it fit into your business and workstyle, but here’s how it goes:

Weekly

  • Track my mileage (I use an app called Milog to help with this task).
  • File my receipts.
  • Pay my bills.

Monthly

  • Reconcile my bank account.
  • Reconcile my credit card statement.
  • Log my receipts into my accounting software.

Quarterly

  • Export my mileage report and file it on my computer.
  • Reimburse myself for any expenses I incurred for the quarter.
  • Submit my HST return.

When it’s broken down into three manageable tasks, it’s easier to stay on track. Alone, each one doesn’t take a lot of effort but leaving them all to the end of the year wastes my time, raises my stress level and prevents me from doing the things I love in my business.

The other plus is the amazing calm I’ve felt since I handed that envelope to my accountant. It’s the same feeling I get when I organize a drawer or clear the clutter off my desk. I feel totally in control of my business.

Trust me, I know it’s difficult to change old habits, but when you find out how awesome it is on the other side, you’ll never disappear again.

How do you handle your finances? Do you outsource it or do you manage it yourself? Share your comments below and continue the conversation.

Comments

  1. I’ve outsourced my bookkeeping since the year I made a big mistake on my tax return, and I’ve never looked back!

    • Hi Janet. Outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounting makes a lot of sense. I’ve never met an entrepreneur who loves doing this task! I definitely outsource my tax returns, that’s way beyond my skill and patience. Everyone needs an accountant as a best friend!

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