When your workdays are jam-packed, it can be easy for you and your employees to procrastinate the vital task of tracking expenses.
Tracking expenses is essential for several reasons, says financial advisor Eric Tyson, co-author of Small Business for Dummies. “First, you need to know how your business is doing, and tracking revenues, expenses, profitability, cash, debts, etc. helps you keep a handle on the financial pulse of your business. Second, you'll need documentation of your expenses and other financials to enable you to prepare an accurate tax return. And third, if you’re audited by the IRS or state tax authorities, you may need the expense documentation to show them.”
Fortunately, in today’s app-driven market, there are a number of good mobile programs that can help you easily and quickly track expenses and receipts with your smartphone. Such apps are also an expedient way to get timely expense reports from your employees.
For budget-conscious business owners, the good news is, many of the apps are either free, free with an option to upgrade, or cost just a few dollars. Below are six expense-tracking apps:
Developed with small-business owners and consultants in mind, this app is quite comprehensive. In addition to tracking expenses and mileage, it also allows you to record time worked. You can customize categories and sub-categories, and it generates expense reports. The templates in the app provide the information required by your accountant.
Designed for small businesses whose employees travel frequently, this free app, available for both iPhone and Android users, allows for fast creation of detailed expense reports. You can track travel expenses and approve travel spending for employees, as well as book hotels and flights. The app can also link up with credit cards and import charges automatically.
This free app enables you to keep track of business expenses, mileage and billable time. It offers receipt capture and can be synced with your credit cards so that expenses can be pulled in automatically. You can also use this app to scan receipts and create an expense report. It also allows for multiple expense reports that can be converted to PDF files. Mileage expenses can also be recorded.
Recording what you spend may be critical to success because it can directly impact your bottom line.
4. Mileage Log+
If getting accurate and timely mileage logs from your employees so you can reimburse them is always a struggle, this app may help. Created strictly for tracking gas mileage, the app has a mileage log and IRS rates for reimbursement. The app can store frequent trips, so a simple tap inputs that mileage. Expense reports are easy to share.
This expense-tracking app lets you capture receipts and file them for reimbursement or as a deductible. Or, if you're pressed for time, you can mail or ship an envelope full of receipts to the company and they'll input the receipts for you, then send you an itemized list of your expenses in a digital file. The app works with both iPhone and Android phones and is free with a membership option.
Available for your Android device, this open source app scans receipts via phone and generates expense reports that you can email to yourself as a PDF or CSV file. PDF reports are tabulated, making them easy to read and appropriate for sharing. There are both free and paid versions.
One last note: While not every expense tracker caters to both Apple iOS and Google Android, choosing one that caters to both may help make expense-tracking even easier.
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A version of this article was originally published on June 16, 2014.