As we left yesterday, I was describing my banker’s box full of unsorted receipts and bank statements. It was closer to a fire hazard than an accounting system!
My first problem was that I didn’t have any kind of accounting program. Years ago, I’d used “Mind Your Own Business” accounting software and loved it. Unfortunately, it was no longer available and I was stuck selecting something else. I spent two weeks reading the pro’s and cons of several software packages. Here’s my recommendation: skip the customer reviews and just buy Quickbooks. It seems to be somewhat of a standard and I’ve been happy with it. Spend your accounting-software-investigation time quilting!
There also seems to be a lot of resources for learning Quickbooks. Our local community college offers several courses, as do many local training businesses. There are also national companies — such as Fred Pryor — that offer seminars.
Once you have a software package, you can start thinking about how you’re going to categorize your expenses. For this, you need to know something about taxes. This is a biggie! General wisdom says we all need a CPA at our disposal, and I’m certain that’s good advice. However — as I mentioned earlier — I am all about becoming empowered. So wander over the the IRS website and you’ll find some pretty useful information. There are even local seminars for businesses that looked worthwhile.
If you have questions and don’t want to hire a CPA (seriously, I have nothing against CPA’s!), I have another source for tax answers. “Enrolled Agents” pass a difficult exam and are experts on the tax code. Many are former IRS agents. They are generally less expensive that CPAs. An hour of time with an EA may put you on the path to self-sufficiency. There’s probably one in your town.
In summary, today’s empowerment has had three steps:
1. Choose an accounting software package.
2. See if you can find answers at the IRS website.
3. Consider hiring an Enrolled Agent if you have additional questions.