Tracking Expenses – Tracking Expenses Cheaply

Tracking Business Expenses – Tracking Expenses Effectively and Inexpensively

In the beginning, when you are in the research and development stage of your business you do not need a computer accounting system for tracking expenses. You can easily track expenses records with a hand journal entry system. Office Supply stores carry some of the best bookkeeping journals (average cost is $9.99).

For other great information and innovative and neat office gadgets and ways of tracking expenses check out Commission Junction, eBay,, Ezine Articles, Squidoo Articles, and HubPage Articles- just to name a few!

Simple Solutions For Tracking Expenses

But if you don’t want to do that then you can set up a simple tracking expenses system on a computer spreadsheet program instead of running all over town or investing in a system for tracking expenses that  you won’t be ready for even in the NEXT  four years!

QuickBooks software seems to be the general industry standard for tracking expenses used by most CPA’s and Chartered Accountants in the United States and Canada.

Although there are other software  programs available for tracking expenses, I’ve been using QuickBooks since 1999 and find that it works best for most companies small to mid-range in size and up to as many as 40-60 or even more employees efficiently.

Tracking Expenses Example:

Tracking Expenses for your bookkeeping needs–ABC  Company

Tracking Expenses Sheet For ABC Company

 Chart of Acct. Item  Amount-Cost  Date  Comments-Notes
 Dues  $20.00  M/D/YR  Credit Card-Travel
 Gifts  $25.00  M/D/YR  Gifts
 Wine  $13.99  M/D/YR  Wine
 Home Office  $10.88  M/D/YR  lights-water(utilities)20%*
 Home Office  $9.58  M/D/YR  telephone 20%*
 Home Office  $42.25  M/D/YR  Insurance 20%*
 Meals  $20.00  M/D/YR  Meals**Lunch mtngw/Barby
 Meals  $17.00  M/D/YR  Credit Card
 Medical  $11.84  M/D/YR  Ken
 Office Supplies  $10.00  M/D/YR  Pens-Paper
 Marketing Supplies  $54.97  M/D/YR  Credit Card
 Travel:Meals  $19.25  M/D/YR  NY Travel-Ken
 Travel:Entertainment  $104.84  M/D/YR  NY Travel-Ken
 travel:Travel  $543.95  M/D/YR  NY Travel-Ken
 Auto Insurance  $477.60  M/D/YR  Oct23-Apr 23 Car Ins. Pd.

Barbie contributing $127.93 per month 2 x to repay 401K loan

Business Expenses Paid from personal $138.47

* Used if you have a home office (tracking Expenses for your home utilities and home phone land line can be deducted according to the percentage of the total square footage of your house percentage – relative to the total square footage of your home business office for business use).  Be careful of any rules and regulations for your specific area, for instance common areas used by other household members (hallway to bathroom, for instance) must be deducted or taken into consideration when tracking these expenses.  Your chartered accountant or CPA can advise you about the specific rules and regulations in your area.

**  Meals can be meetings,  . . . But . . .

Tracking Expenses Tip: You need to write down the names of people on your meals or meetings receipt, or that deduction might not be allowed.  Tracking meal or meeting expenses this way may be mandatory in your area.  Check with your CPA or chartered accountant about the specific rules and regulations in your area.

Tracking Expenses Tip – Be sure to track mileage expenses by carrying a trip log in your car, or go online and have a folder in your office files for internet directions to meetings and clients filed as a precaution.  In the event of an audit tracking expenses for auto mileage is the last thing you want to worry about! Internet directions always have a total miles posted somewhere on the directions page which makes tracking expenses for your auto easy!

Use the same accounts consistently and at the end of the month sort and track expenses according to column “A,” ( B.. C..D…) insert an extra line for totals between categories and create a sum for each chart of account category item (meals supplies..) for a monthly total – which you can create a profit and loss statement sheet. Include Sales (Deposits) and list Customers in the, ‘Comments-Notes,’ column.

Most spreadsheets have a “sum” function that will eliminate any hand addition.  Please use it to avoid costly mistakes in addition (or subtraction).

WOW THAT WAS EASY!   More Tracking Expenses Tips:

If you are switching from a paper system to a computer software system, maintain the hand entry system for the first 1-2 months so that there aren’t problems with the transition from paper to computer software.

Check with your CPA or Chartered Accountant to find out what software they recommend so that the two of you are compatible.  Failure to take this step can create tracking expenses and bookkeeping nightmares for you that your CPA or Chartered Accountant will gladly charge you to repair.

When you choose an accounting software make sure you install it on your computer when you are not in a hurry – set it up correctly.   Trust me on this one.  Going back to ‘fix’ it not only costs you time, money and energy, but in my business, time IS money, so don’t waste it (yours OR mine) by being in a ‘hurry’.

If you are looking for a CPA in your area, the best policy is to get a referral, but if you don’t know anyone to ask, try your local Area Chamber of Commerce. Always interview these people and ask for references.



ALWAYS  Get References.

The best way to get ripped off is to use a ‘family friend’, or a professional whose credentials you did not take the time to check out.  If you don’t check that, then you get what you deserve.  In this case, time really is money – yours (growing wings and flying away).

tracking expenses

Tracking Expenses doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, but not tracking expenses can really be expensive!

Mischelle Watkins,  All rights reserved.  For reprint permission, contact Mischelle using the contact form provided. You may excerpt as long as you link to the post. No exceptions.


  1. Hi Samuel, you are correct for those people who live in a state that charges a sales tax, or conduct business with another business or customer in a state that charges a sales tax. I also believe it is essential to work with a professional tax accountant when you are starting out to get set up correctly. Ideally, you will have an understanding of what a debit and credit and chart of accounts is before you go so that you are talking apples and apples. Payment schedules for tax payments can be negotiated – Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your IRS or State Tax agent to inquire if you have special circumstances or need to make alternative arrangements. Not only will you help you establish a good relationship with those entities, but you’ll benefit from the knowledge they have. It is their job to be courteous to you, so if you feel that you are getting discourteous, inferior or inadequate service – Ask to talk to a supervisor (ask politely). You should hang up having had all your questions explained in a way that you understand. If you have trouble with these kinds of phone calls, your tax professional may call on your behalf and can explain it to you. Getting angry is a waste of your time and theirs so if you are a hot head – Let somebody else call for you.

  2. Your state determines what is subject to sales tax and what it not. You must register with the state to collect and render sales taxes. Some states tax labor charges and some do not. Your state tax department can tell you what is taxable and what is not. You pay your income taxes separately from sales taxes. Since you are self-employed you are required by law to keep accurate business records and you use those records to prepare your tax returns. You report your business income and expenses on Schedule C. If the net profit is $400 or more, you attach Schedule SE to calculate the self-employment tax. If you estimate that you will owe more than $1,000 in tax when you file – about $7,000 in net profit will do that – you must make estimated tax payment using Form 1040-ES.
    If your state has an income tax they have a similar estimated tax payment system.
    Payments are due on 4/15, 6/15, 9/15 and 1/15 of the following year.
    I’d highly recommend a consultation with a local tax pro, a CPA or EA who specializes in small business taxation to get your bookkeeping system up to speed, set up your sales tax records, and estimate the quarterly income tax payments.

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