End-of-year bookkeeping prep can be overwhelming, I know…especially if you have gotten a little (or a lot) off track over the past few months. But by breaking it down into bite-sized chunks, you can get it done with my prep guide.
In this blog post, I’m going over how to prepare your financial documents for the end of the year, get up to date and challenge you to set yourself up for success in the new year. Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Make Time + Schedule It
First things first. You need to make time for this. I recommend 20-minute time blocks for each month that you are behind.
On your calendar, block out recurring 20-minute time slots over a few days. Essentially, you’re breaking this project down into bite-size chunks. This approach helps build momentum by giving you an easily attainable goal every day, which encourages you to continue the next day.
And let’s not forget that you need to pick a reward. At the end of each day treat yo’ self!!!! Be your own bookkeeping best friend. My favorite reward is a trip to Starbucks for an Iced Grande Caramel Macchiato. What will yours be?
Oh, and use a timer! This helps you stay on target, and start and stop easily. When the timer goes off, stop and head out for your reward!
So, to sum up, here are my key tips for Step 1:
- Be consistent.
- Set a timer.
- Follow the system.
- Give yourself grace.
- Reward yourself!
Step 2: Get Yourself Up To Date
Whether you’re already using accounting software or are just using spreadsheets, you need to make sure everything is up to date and in order. You need your totals for the year, for each category of revenue and expenses.
It’s important to gather your bank statements, receipts for purchases over $2,500, credit card statements…everything! I know that seems like a huge task, but just go month-by-month, download your statements. Then, organize the statements by bank and then by month.
If you’re using accounting software, your finances should already be entered, but if they’re not, get them in there. Get your bank feeds up to date! TIP: any easy way to do this is to use the “rules” features of your accounting software!
If you’re using spreadsheets, be sure to download your bank activity in .CSV format and update your spreadsheet. You can do it! Trust in the process. TIP: if you need help, check out my spreadsheet template link below.
If you’re really behind—that’s a-okay. Remember the wisdom of Step 1: tackle this project in bite-sized chunks, and don’t forget to reward yourself! Just go one month at a time.
If you need a hand getting all this organized—spreadsheet users this one’s for you—I’ve got a free bookkeeping spreadsheet template that can help you get it all organized. It’s even got a video walkthrough. You can get it here.
Step 3: Gather the Info
The idea behind making sure that you have everything in order is so that when you go to pass off your finances to the person doing your taxes, they have ALL the information to prepare your tax return. In addition, you will be able to answer any questions he or she may have. Plus, let’s not forget the fun organizer you get to complete. This step will help you have everything ready to go!
I always say, you don’t know what you don’t know. Same thing goes for your tax professional. Make sure you have everything they might potentially need! The idea is for you to be prepared to answer any questions and provide clarification as needed too.
Here’s what you’re aiming to collect for this step:
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Receipts for purchases over $2500
- Any other financial information relevant to your business (e.g., mortgage or rent payments, utility payments, square footage of home, square footage of dedicated work space etc. if you’re using part of your home as an office; these details are needed to capture the home office deduction)
If you think they might not need a piece of information or receipt, include it anyways. They’ll tell you if they don’t need it, and better safe than sorry! If it stands out to you, the odds are you need it.
Step 4: Categorize, Categorize, Categorize
Once you’ve got all your statements together, it’s time to start sorting out what is revenue, what are expenses and where your money is going. You don’t need to have a ton of categories, but it needs to give you a clear idea of where you’re at.
Don’t overthink this part – that’s a common pitfall that catches people up. Look at where you make money, spend money and make sure it’s clear and easy to interpret.
Think of your categories from a high level, don’t overthink this part. Here are the categories I recommend to streamline the process and keep it simple for you. I pulled these categories directly from the IRS Schedule C:
- Vehicles expenses
- Contract Labor
- Commission and fees
- Legal and professions services
- Mortgage payments (if you own your building)
- Office expenses
- Rent or lease (paid by the business)
- Repairs and maintenance (to your office space)
- Taxes and licenses
- Travel and meals
Again, you want to make sure you’re not missing anything so you get the best possible tax return. And remember, if you need some extra help. I’ve got you! Check out my free bookkeeping spreadsheet template that can help you get it all organized. It’s even got a video walkthrough. You can get it here.
Clarity Kickstart to a Financial Fresh Start Challenge
I know this is a lot, and you might be feeling a bit bogged down or in the weeds when it comes to your numbers. I get it. It’s been a long, weird year and numbers are confusing at the best of times.
So I want to lend a hand when it comes to giving you some help with my Clarity Kickstart to a Financial Fresh Start challenge. It’s running from February 8-12, so you’ve got some time to get ready.
In five days, this challenge will help you…
- Get your numbers organized
- Analyze your finances so well that you can basically recite your numbers in your sleep
- Get clear on your expenses and pricing
- Figure out how much money you’re actually making
So that’s it – that’s a wrap on this post. I hope you found it helpful and I can’t wait to see you in the challenge.