7 Expense Reporting Tips You Need To Know

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When you run a business, expense reporting is an inevitability – like paying taxes or feeling the uncontrollable urge to order takeaway every Wednesday night.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s not exactly thrilling – but you know what is? The fact that nailing your reports could help you keep more money in your pocket. 

Here comes your stock standard definition: Expense reports track your spending on essential business expenses. Essentials include things like meals, accommodation, and transport. Things like expensive workwear, fancy cat food, and those bathroom renovations you’ve been dying to get done? Not so much.  

The reports are generally prepared on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis, and often for different purposes. For example, monthly reports are great for tracking your spending against your budget, whereas yearly reports are used to write off expenses on tax. 

Now that the theory is under control, it’s time to make sure these expense reports are done right. Follow these steps to make it happen. 

Develop a sturdy company policy

Fair warning: company policies can be almost as boring and tedious as financial jargon, but they also happen to be the foundation of successful reporting. Think of your company expenses policy as the bread in your financial sandwich: they’re there to hold everything together by letting your team know where money should be spent and under what limits. 

A well set-out policy should also include specific budgetary numbers, a reimbursement plan, and the contact details for the relevant managers within the company. I’ll let you in on a little secret: the only thing that tastes better than an expensive lunch on the company credit card is the knowledge that you’ve avoided nasty policy violations. 

Train your employees

Being a business owner comes with so many responsibilities that it can be easy to neglect the people who keep your business running. If there’s one thing all employees have in common, it’s an appreciation for extra savings, but most won’t find much joy in filling out expense reports. Don’t miss an opportunity to highlight the importance of following the company process for expense reimbursement claims, even if it makes you feel less like a Cool Boss and more like a Major Nag. 

Keep all of your receipts

It’s easy to fall into the habit of declining receipts at counters or flinging them straight into the recycling bin. They’re just extra wallet clutter anyway, right? 

Wrong. 

Whether you’re a business owner with staff or a freelancer working on your hustle, you’ll need receipts to present to your clients (and the tax office) in exchange for any reimbursements. As long as you have the receipts, things like travel costs and rent can be reimbursed after the fact, so resist the urge to go full Marie Kondo and hang on to those paper slips – even if they don’t quite spark joy.  

Get to know your deductibles

We all want to keep more of our money in our pockets, and understanding your deductibles makes it possible to do just that. The rules around each of these claimable items depend on your company’s policy, but you can generally expect to claim travel expenses, rent, insurance costs, interest on business loans, and car expenses.   

Get your hands on an effective template

Q: How do you turn something incredibly tedious and time-consuming into something more efficient? 

A: Embrace the magic of templates! The internet is home to plenty of pre-made, money-savvy templates you can use to make your business days a little brighter. The best part is that you won’t even need your trusty calculator, since electronic templates can turn hours of mental arithmetic into a simple click-and-drag. 

Automate the process

Not too impressed by the tedium of handling your own expense reports? Neither were the high-powered business people who went before you, so they gave us the gift of automation software. A modern expense reporting program can handle instant expense tracking, send reminders, and automatically generate the reports you need. What more could you ask for? 

Get the right people on your side

After a few weeks of crunching numbers, you might find that expense reporting isn’t your cup of tea. Where can you go from here? There are a few options at your disposal: 

  1. Keep dunking that tea bag and hope that the flavor will magically improve. Can you improve your situation by putting in more effort and building on your skills? Of course. Do you always have the time and energy to do that? Hell, no – and for these instances, there is a second option:
  2. Put the tea down and get a milkshake instead. Sweet, malty, delicious – that’s how it tastes when you hand your endless to-do list over to someone else. 

In other words, you could invest time and energy in improving your processes and adapting to this strange new world…

Or you could invest in your sanity and get someone else to do it. Either way, you’ll be one step closer to a better-looking bank balance. 

Ready to scratch expense reporting off your to-do list and enjoy your milkshake in peace? We’re preparing to launch a comprehensive bookkeeping service for busy agency owners and freelancers in the very near future, so keep your book covers peeled!  

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