I just finished working with my accountant to finish our 2016 taxes (yes, I am usually a late filer).
I was double-checking our returns before we sent them in and discovered there were some donations I had forgotten about that would help reduce our tax liability. Karen and I are on the advisory board for a non-profit and our travel expenses to the meetings can be deducted.
Fortunately, I use an online expense management platform called Expensify.
Before using Expensify, my system included a physical envelope where I would place receipts for every trip. Once back at my office I would scan those receipts, create an expense report using a desktop application, print the report as a PDF document and, if reimbursable, forward that along with an invoice to the client for payment.
That system worked well for a long time. Expensify has significantly reduced the amount of time I spend managing all my expenses – personal and business.
If you do not have an organization-mandated expense management system, then Expensify may help you, too.
How Expensify Works
There are multiple ways to add receipts and expense information to the platform and a report:
- Manually on the Expensify website. The site is mobile responsive, so it works quite well on a tablet device. You can also drag a scanned image of the receipt onto the website to have it automatically uploaded.
- Using the free mobile app (for iOS and Android platforms), you can take a picture of the receipt and manually add information about the merchant, amount, and the particular report it should be assigned.
- SmartScan provides the ultimate hands-free experience. When you take a picture of the receipt or upload the receipt to the website, the SmartScan process reads the receipt and automatically enters the merchant’s name, transaction date, and the transaction amount. Using this information, SmartScan will create a new expense item automatically. It works quite well.
- Directly from bank and credit card accounts. Expensify offers eReceipts for expenses imported directly from a bank or credit card account. These are full digital replacements of their paper equivalents for purchases under $75 and, as a plus, are accepted by the IRS.
- You can also manually add an expense including mileage and time billing expenses on the website and the mobile app and assign them to a particular report.
I organize my expenses by a particular trip or event. I also organize general receipts by month. Once completed, with a single click a PDF file is created and saved. The report has an excellent format that includes all receipt images. I then attach this report to an email and forward it to the client for reimbursement. For general monthly expenses, I save the report into Evernote.
The Individual version of the platform is free. This version is a great way for you to test the platform to see how well it will work for you.
The Team version is $5 per month per active user (an active user is someone who submits at least one expense in that month). This version also includes an expense payment approval process.
I now keep track of all my expenses — business and personal — on the Expensify platform.
What have you found to be an effective way for you to managing expenses and receipts? Let me know.