Paperwork is a pain.

There are so many areas of our lives we have to organize. Tax documents need to be saved, as does any receipt for a purchase under warranty. We keep notes in files for work. Medical, automobile service, and household maintenance records must be kept up to date. Sometimes it feels like everyone needs a private secretary just to keep paperwork in order.

There is one area you need to stay on top of because it costs you money — getting your business expenses reimbursed. A recent UK study found that 36% of employees surveyed said they forgot to claim expenses.


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The reason this study caught my eye is I’ve seen it firsthand with my friends. A former co-worker in a sales role drove all over the state, but never claimed mileage and never expensed business lunches. He was laser-focused on achieving results in his role and felt the paperwork dragged him down.

He drove at least 20 miles a day for business, so at a minimum, he could have expensed $2,600 a year for mileage (and probably more). Over 10 years with a company, that’s more than $26,000!  

Another friend of mine puts her business expenses on her personal credit card instead of a company card to maximize her credit card rewards. On the surface, this seems like a good idea.

The problem is, she doesn’t turn in her expense reports in a timely manner. In fact, she goes months without turning in her records for reimbursement. This results in her paying interest on her credit card balance, which probably costs her much more than the rewards she receives.

While very few people look forward to recordkeeping and paperwork, staying on top of it can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.  

Here are some tips for keeping on top of your expenses:

Automate.

If you have to track your mileage, use an app. According to the Ride Share Guy, some of the best free apps for tracking your mileage are Stride Drive, Hurdlr, and Everlance.

Schedule.

Set an appointment to submit your expenses — maybe every Friday for 20 minutes or once a month. Either way, put in on your schedule.

Ask for help.

Get help from someone who is good at paperwork, such as your spouse, a teenager, a friend, or a virtual assistant. Even if you have to pay them, it’s worth it to get the reimbursement.

Don’t forget that even small amounts add up. The UK survey revealed some of the most common excuses for not submitting expenses:

  • “The amount was too little”
  • “I can’t be bothered with the administration”
  • “I feel embarrassed about claiming”  

Just remember, little things add up.


This article was written by Nancy L. Anderson from Forbes and was legally licensed by AdvisorStream through the NewsCred publisher network.
Thomas J Cooper, CFP®, CPPT profile photo
Thomas J Cooper, CFP®, CPPT
Certified Financial Planner
NAMCOA (Naples Asset Management Company®, LLC)
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