Oh the joy of invoices. Every accountant will want bags of them, with every penny being justified by an invoice somewhere. Completely understandable as the whole point of accounting and bookkeeping is to have an accurate paper (or data) trail of money movements which can be clearly explained.
To the non-accounting person this can be a nightmare and a seemingly pointless exercise, and although a nice idea to keep on top of throughout the year, in reality it results in a mad rush at the year-end accounts and audit when the accountant lists all kinds of transactions that need invoice back-ups.
So here’s 3 tips to help out. No necessarily a magic wand to end the need for invoices, but little tricks to help make it easier:
1. Online transactions can mean easier invoices. In today’s modern virtual world this will actually include the majority of suppliers and customers, whether they are directly internet related or are proper brick-and-mortar businesses who have an online account on their website or through software where you keep track of orders and transactions.
You can even be using mainstream ones like Amazon and Bay which allow access to invoices there and then. You just have to remember that each one can have a different layout and style and will take a few minutes to get the hang of, but once you do it can be easy to get hold of online rather than request offline.
2. Get used to keeping PDF copies of invoices. So rather than instinctively printing hard copies of every invoice, you can save them on your computer as a digital PDF version. Not only can this mean less fath by then printing them all off at the same time at say year end, but you may even find that you don’t need to print off and can simply copy all these digital files straight to your accountant (you can also attach to any email to ping across).
All you need is a place to store them, maybe an ‘invoices’ folder on your computer or USB stick, and then a quick way to convert any document such as an excel spreadsheet or Word document or even an email straight into PDF format. A lot of new software allows you to save as this PDF format from a drop down list when you get the save-as pop-up menu, or you can install software like Primo PDF which acts as another printer setting (sounds strange, but go to print your document but list this as the printer type and it will dump it as a PDF on your computer screen).
3. Get everything written down. Often too easy to be true, but just jot everything down. So even if it’s a small transaction, maybe just using cash, and for whatever reason you don’t get a formal invoice then simply scribble it down on a piece of paper to make note. Ideally it can be signed by everybody, correctly described on headed paper etc., but even just on a piece of paper will help (even just send a quick email instead).
A good example is a taxi where some don’t provide one and you need to ask them to jot down the cost on a business card or something as this can an allowable expense for you.