Even though Tax Day is the same every year, it seems like it sneaks up on me even though I try to be as organized as I can during the year with my receipts. Running two business can make tax prep a little bit hectic.
There are a lot of ways to keep track of your business expenses through out the year and stay on top of your tax preparations.
The important thing isn’t what software or system you use, the important thing is that you do it.
I’ve created two Excel spreadsheets with multiple tabs on them. One for piano expenses, one for eBay expenses. I try to enter my receipts in at least twice a month.
I have a friend who’s husband is a CPA and he’s been a HUGE help to me with knowing what to keep track of and he even told me a few things to deduct that I didn’t know I should be deducting. So, when in doubt, talk to your CPA.
Here are some ideas for you on what you can keep track of through out the year for your taxes:
- Bubble wrap
- Tissue paper
- Poly Mailers
- Bubble Mailers
- Brown Paper
- Mailing labels
- Printer paper
- Digital camera
- Printer Ink
- SD Memory Card
- Office equipment purchased this year. (Postal scale, printer, computer, desk, etc)
- Postage (I run a report at the end of the year on paypal)
- Postage stamps
- Mileage to the Post Office, Mileage to yardsales, thrift stores, etc (Make sure you have a mileage log)
- Selling fees (eBay, Etsy, Addoway, Bonanza, Amazon, etc)
- Paypal fees
- Internet service
- Portion of rent and utilities based on the percentage of your home that is used for business.
This list is not exhaustive, there are other business expenses that can be deducted based how you run your business. Hopefully, this gives you a starting point of ideas to start your spread sheets and get a head start on next year’s tax prep. The best source for an exhaustive list is your CPA.
In the 10+ years that I’ve been selling online, I’ve found the one thing that always helps me stay organized is to stay on top of my shipping.
I try to package and print labels for everything that needs to ship out each night before I go to bed.
You never know when you’ll wake up late one morning, wake up with a headache, sick child, flat tire, or any other crisis that throws a curve in your day. Many, many times I have been very thankful that I had my shipping done the night before and just had to put the bin out for my Mail Carrier in the morning.
During the day, I tend to work on my online store and take some breaks to fold laundry, bake muffins,or go for a walk so that I don’t get bored and don’t sit in one position too long.
I try to have everything that I need done right away accomplished before my daughter comes home from school. Some days, I reach my goal and other days I fall short and those tasks get pushed to the next day. I usually work until about 4 PM and then stop so I can start getting dinner ready, and help her with her piano practice and homework.
One thing that I like to do that has made my life a whole lot easier is once my little one is settled in bed for the night I get any items that were paid for in the afternoon or evening packaged and labels printed so that they’re in my bin and waiting by the front door to be put on the porch in the morning.
I used to leave it and ship in the morning, but a lot times, there would be sales over night or payments made over night and pretty soon what was 4 or 5 packages last night is now 8 or 10 in the morning. This way, I have the ones that are paid for that evening ready to go and in the morning I just have a few to ship out and I can get right to work on my agenda for the day. I find that it makes the next morning a whole lot smoother, and I go to bed knowing that all of my shipping is done for now.
Here’s something else that has made my life a whole lot easier.
A few weekends ago, I was at Lizzie’s house and we were working on eBay listings together while the kiddos were out playing. We decided to make nachos for dinner. I was busy listing and Lizzie told me that she was going to make the meat and use her own seasoning, not a taco seasoning packet.
We built our nachos and I started eating mine. ”I thought you weren’t going to use a seasoning packet.” I commented. ”I didn’t.” said Lizzie……I looked at her (It sure tasted like she had)…….you could have fooled me.
First of all, I had no idea that you could make nachos or tacos and have them taste like you had used a seasoning packet without using one. Second of all……….what have I been doing wasting money on seasoning packets all these years. Third and best of all, Lizzie’s seasoning has NO MSG in it. We love tacos and have used this several times since my enlightenment. It’s good with either chicken or beef. What would I do without my sister?
Lizzie’s Taco Seasoning:
Brown your meat and then add
2 Tb chili pd
1 Tb onion pd
1 fresh garlic clove–or 2 (I used minced garlic and it tasted just fine.)
1 Tb cumin
Lizzie says that she usually doesn’t need to add any water but you can if it looks too dry.
Stir is all up and…………..YUM! Super easy, super cheap, and super fast.
Make sure you take time to update your store once in awhile. Now is a great time if it’s been awhile since you’ve checked your listings.
I’ve been updating categories and listings as well as making sure that everything in my bins is actually listed. I’m not sure what happened but I had some items that were in my “listed” bins that weren’t currently listed.
Listings expire on Etsy and on eBay if you forgot to click “good til cancelled” they end in 30 days.
Do you have items that haven’t sold in a looooooong time? Maybe it’s time to update keywords, check the description and photos, and consider changing the price or even sending it to the thrift store.
Perhaps you suddenly have several items that are the same brand or type–if so make a store category for them and make sure customers can find them!
What about you? Time to update or are you already super organized?
Certain times of the year it seems like there are a lot more items to ship out. It’s important to be as efficient and accurate as possible when packing and shipping your packages, especially during those busy times of the year. You don’t want to end up mixing up packages and sending them to the wrong buyer.
Recently, I went through a time period of a few weeks where I was shipping, shipping, shipping.
One thing that I found that helped me was to have the item ready to go, weigh and make the label. While it was printing, I’d take a highlighter and write the abbreviation of the State that it was headed to on the package so I could easily work on packaging up the next item and not worry about getting items confused. A couple of times, there were two packages in a row headed to the same state. In those cases, I put the State abbreviation and the zip code on the package.
It made my shipping so much speedier, and my life a whole lot smoother by doing it this way.