Our guest blogger today is doula and childbirth educator Andrea Lythgoe of Pampered Birth. Today, Andrea shares with readers how she got her business receipts organized with a product called "File-it Calendars".
For the first five years, my doula business finances were a mess! I was getting plenty of births, but I had no idea if I was making a profit, how much, and when it came to the end of the year, figuring out my expenses for tax time was just awful!
And then I stumbled on a product that has solved all most of my accounting problems. It's called the "File-it" calendar, and I've used it for the last five years with great success.
This calendar hangs on the wall – essential to not getting buried in mounds of stuff on my desk – and I use it to record the places I go and the mileage. I do NOT use it for appointments I've not attended yet, or for non-business related stuff. I just record trips after the fact.
Each month of the year is printed on a file folder sized pocket. I put all the receipts for business-related expenses in this pocket. When I deposit a check from a client, I write the client's name on the bank receipt and it goes in the calendar, too. If a non-business related receipt ends up in there, no big deal. Again, it's on the wall, so I never have to go looking for the place where the receipts go.
At the end of each month, I tear off the file folder pocket for that month. I go through my purse looking for more receipts. (Bonus! Purse gets cleaned out once a month, too!) I enter all the miles, deposits and receipts on the computer. After I've entered in the miles, I figured out the dollar deduction for those miles (using the current IRS formula –for 2019 it is 58 cents per mile for business trips) and reimburse myself for those, too. I personally use an Excel spreadsheet with different tabs for income, expenses, and miles driven, but you could easily use Quickbooks, Mint, or another program for this.
And to motivate myself to actually DO this every month, all monies I get for my doula work go into a separate bank account for my business. At the end of the month, I write myself two checks: One reimbursing myself for expenses paid, and one paying myself any profit I can withdraw at that point. Can't get the money into the non-business account without doing the accounting!
When I am done, the file folder pocket goes into a drawer in my desk. At the end of the year, I bind a year's worth together with a rubber band and move it to a filing cabinet for more long-term storage. This has been amazingly helpful for me. Just having it on the wall as opposed to in a drawer or shoebox makes it always easily accessible. I'm not promising myself to write everything down as it happens – because I know myself and I won't do that! Forcing myself to balance the accounts once a month helps me to keep my finger on how well my business is doing financially and how much money I have to spend on things like conferences, books, etc. And I spend a lot less time trying to figure out what the receipts mean, as I can more easily remember a transaction from February 12 on March 1 than at tax time the next year!
I don't have any connection at all to this calendar company, but I have found this calendar to be so helpful to me in keeping a simple, doable accounting process for my business. Now that I know better how much I make and where the money is going, I am better able to find ways to do things I love, like attending big conferences every year, while still making a profit. You can find 2019 File-It Calendars on Amazon. Plan to buy yours during the fall for the next year, because they do sell out!
I hope this tip is helpful to Inspired Birth Pro's readers!
Andrea Lythgoe is a DONA-certified doula, hospital-based Lamaze childbirth educator, and instructor at the Midwives College of Utah. She is the author of the website UnderstandingResearch.com where she aims to help those just beginning to read research to understand the language of research. When not doing birth work, she enjoys learning photography and watching her three daughters perform in plays.
Original publish date December 4, 2009. Updated 3/12/19. This post contains affiliate links.
Need more help with the way you track your money in your doula business? Check out these:
Bookkeeping Basics for Birth Pros
Business Expenses and Taxable Deductions for Birth Pros
How Did Your Birth Doula Business Do? The Year-End Review
Create This Year's Plan for Success for your Birth Business
Birth Business Finance Kit