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Do Your Own Books

Charlie Brown lying on his back
If you are self-employed or run a tiny business, you will have to ensure a certain amount of bookkeeping gets done.  The traditional approach is to stuff everything into a folder or envelope (bank statements, Staples receipts, check stubs, deposit slips..) and give it, sheepishly, to your hired bookkeeper/accountant at the end of the year.  Or six months after the end of the year, when you get a stiff letter from the tax authority reminding you that even if you owe no tax, they can apply a penalty for NOT FILING.  Which never seemed fair to me, but anyway.

My radical suggestion to you is: you should do your own books.

“Augh!” you shout, like a Peanuts character.  Maybe you feel like this:

But take a look at the work involved.  For my software contracting business, there are 24 salary checks a year, 12 payroll tax payments, 12 invoices per client per year, 10-30 miscellaneous transactions (the Staples receipts) and one year-end.  That’s not a lot of work.  It can easily be done in 5 minutes a week.  But if you save it until the end of the year, you’ve got at least 4 hours of work, probably more like 8 hours — what with finding and organizing all the slips of paper.  Suddenly it’s a daunting task that blows a whole work day and leaves you stomping around all grumpy, snapping at your spouse and kids.

I’ll write up some more reasons to do your own books later, but now… I have to go take my own advice and reconcile my checking accounts.

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