Four Ways Tech Can Help Writers With Financial Stuff

Disclaimer: I’m in Australia so that’s the context of my comments. But up to a point, numbers are numbers and taxes are taxes and it all has to be recorded and counted.

For most writers, the business side and particularly the financial side, is a real headache. But there’s no avoiding the fact that if you’re making any money from writing and promoting your writing (how else would you make any money), it’s not a hobby, it’s counted towards total taxable income. And in that case you want to make sure you want to ‘never let an expense go by’. Here are a few ways technology can help make that easier:

Spreadsheet Stuff
I have a background in financial systems analysis and I use MYOB for my author business accounting. I know other authors who are equally happy with Xero and QuickBooks but all these solutions cost so that unless you’re using them in other paid work (like me) or making a substantial income from writing (in that case, get someone else to do it), they’re not worth the expense. I’ve tried GnuCash and MoneyManagerEx that consistently poll in the top 3 Best Free Software reviews and with one I ended up with a problem that couldn’t be fixed and with the other, it seemed like a lot of effort for poor reporting.

A simple spreadsheet  to track income and expenditure is most likely all you need. You might like to use this one this one which has tabs for each month and suggests expenditure categories.

The best advice is to update it regularly. Every Thursday after lunch, or something like that. Empty out your wallet, your drawer and check your bank accounts online. It won’t be such a chore if you keep it up to date and you won’t forget a deduction. Not even the ream of paper you bought with the weekly shopping at Woolworths.

Scan & Store Stuff
You don’t need to keep original receipts unless it’s a legal document. The ATO and ASIC are happy with scans. Everyone has access to a scanner now. If you don’t already have one, I use ClearScanner on my phone. Or if you have an iPhone or iPad you could use Evernote Scannable, which I use on my iPad because it interfaces to Evernote which is where I store stuff. If I had an iPhone, I’d use Scannable there, too.

The best free place to store stuff is Evernote, not just for receipts and business paperwork but for anything you might file for future reference from recipes to screenshots of interesting blog posts and audio recordings. Notes (files) are stored in a familiar folder structure. Evernote makes this easy so I wouldn’t consider looking anywhere else for a Store Stuff solution.

Organise and Ditch Stuff
Very little needs to be kept forever. Grandma’s wedding ring, yes, but not much in the way of paperwork. Even a company only needs to keep tax stuff for seven years. When you Store Stuff in Evernote you can tag it with a Ditch By date to make it easy to houseclean financial records.

Tags can also be used for categorising and Evernote has an excellent search function.

Collect Money (Best Financial Stuff)
I highly recommend purchasing a Square Reader for taking card payments when you’re out and about. It won’t take long to recover the AUD $59 outlay in sales that are lost through only being able to handle cash.

More information about how to use Square to take payments and Evernote to file receipts can be found in the current issue of my newsletter. If you sign up this month, you won’t miss out.

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