(last updated on April 29, 2014)
Business accounting has been on my mind a lot. I want to create a new product in the form of a Fountain Pen Friendly Notebook, but this will require careful management of my cash flow. The problem: I hate accounting, and this is just the tip of the wobbly tower of finance-related concerns that I have moving forward. In this post, I think aloud about the nature of the problem, and what I might do about it.
I’m a newbie businessperson, and with this comes the desire for a better way to manage money-related chores. I do the absolute minimum to keep things from going pear-shaped in my accounts, which means I am scraping by and not managing my money very well.
This year, I finally talked to a bookkeeper that was recommended to me by another artist-businessperson in the area, and I’ll start getting up-to-date reports on my finances. I’m wondering if it will actually makes me feel better; it should, but I’ve found that financial people don’t give me compelling reasons for it. They have a tendency to describe the benefits of accounting as an a priori fundamental truth, needing no additional explanation. Maybe it doesn’t work on me because I see life as a growing pie of opportunity, and avoid zero-sum thinking as much as possible. However, I have to admit that when it comes to the very limited pool of my own financial resources, the zero-sum mentality is exactly what I need to cultivate.
So…let me get to work on this.
Identifying the Blahs
Do I really hate accounting? Or do I hate keeping track of things?
- One of the most tedious things in life, as far as I’m concerned, is typing in numbers. This is exacerbated by the lack of a numeric keypad on my keyboards (I like a short keyboard so my mouse arm doesn’t get stressed). I also hate looking back and forth between the thing I’m typing in and the number I’ve typed. I’d rather get my teeth cleaned than type in numbers from receipts. I also am not particularly good at adding and subtracting numbers in my head. I suppose this is partly due to a childhood association of math with doing stupid exercises that had no real point. I bet if I spent a week drilling addition/subtracting I would get better at it, but in the meantime, the very thought of entering in numbers for a few minutes makes cleaning the bathroom look like a fun way to spend the afternoon.
Tracking the expenditures and income are somewhat tedious to manage physically, because it comes in the form of mail. I don’t have a good place to stack, sort, and process this mail into my folder system. It’s a lot of tedious paper-handling, husking of useless paper, shredding of annoying cash-advanced checks from credit cards, and filing. Mail is a source of junk mail and yucky chores, so I’m loathe to process this as frequently as I should. As a result, drifts of paper pile up on tables around the house, and I have to collect them all before I can process.
I have specific bank accounts and credit cards for personal use and business, and I use online banking to take care of bill paying. This keeps things somewhat separate. I am also using Mint to suck all the data in and generate reports, but the problem is I just never look at them. I know, it’s dumb.
I have mounds of old financial records that I need to sort. They have piled up and just take up room, and are a constant reminder of how unorganized I am in this regard. I move the mound around from place to place, trying to find a permanent home for them, but they are a blight on my officescape.
I don’t really like seeing the numbers because they never make me very happy. This is something I need to get over, because mindfulness in this area will lead to accruing money over the long term. Without this attitude, my various self-serving plans will never mature to fruition. Right now, I’m more on the “Dr. Horrible” scale of creative mayhem, but it would be nice if I could be a little more “Hugo Drax” in extending my reach.
p>The “accounting system” that I want is something that makes all this easier to manage. Just writing it all out has actually very helpful, and a number of immediate solutions come to mind.
Numeric Entry a problem? Delegate it to the bookkeeper. Before, I’d seen this as a possibly-expensive service, but it actually seems reasonable: maybe $200-$300 a year. The result would be a clear picture of my business in a form that I can manage.
Those piles of old records? Hand ’em off to the bookkeeper. I am not sure if this is a service she offers, but the idea of paying someone to go through all those records and organizing them would get a huge burden out of my head.
Buy some dedicated bins for mail storage. I think I can come up with a sorting methodology that allows me to process bills as they come in. The categories of mail that come in, as I sort them, are:
- catalogs / magazines
- utility bills
- communications bills
- credit card bills / bank statements
- taxes / business costs
- personal correspondence
- rewards programs / tempting offers / coupons
I just need some kind of narrow table with a few bins on them, a letter opener, a shredder, a garbage can, and a place to save the catalogs/magazines. That would go a long way in processing the mail as it comes in.
So really, it looks like the entire system could be improved with better paper handling, and delegating the tedious numerical stuff to a bookkeeper. If I can also offload all the tedious organization of my past financial records into neat bundles of archived stuff, then I’ll be much happier too.
We’ll see how this goes.