There are not many things I hate about being self-employed but doing the books probably comes top of the list. When I first started freelancing, I was really organised and sat down on the last Friday of every month to enter everything into my accounting programme and file invoices and bills. A look back through some of this blog's earliest entries shows that even a couple of years ago I was still relatively in control of the paperwork.
And then it all started to slide. Part of the problem was I never quite got to grips with the software - there didn't seem to be a massive incentive to keep struggling with it, especially as my accountant doesn't use it and is quite happy to just take a file of paperwork off me. So about a year ago I just gave up on it completely, but I kept putting off starting up a simple spreadsheet instead. It helps that I have a good memory for keeping track of which clients have paid up and I log into my bank account several times a week to look at what's going on there.
This year, I've not even filed the paperwork, just slung it all into a box folder as it was generated. But there's nothing like a deadline to galvanise you. Armed with the certain knowledge that my accountant will be on my doorstep bright and early tomorrow expecting coffee and a neatly bundled package of admin to take away, there was only one option.
And so, dear reader, I spent my entire afternoon wading through the box file and attempting to make sense of all my expenses (the invoices are pretty straightforward). I quickly discovered that a lot of bills that arrived by email I'd not printed off, then I had to peer at fading till receipts and scrawl notes on them so my long-suffering accountant knows what I spent money on.
Finally, it was all done. Everything is in date order in a lever arch file, neatly sorted into income, expenditure, bank statements and "other".Tomorrow my fairy godmother will start waving her magic wand and a few weeks later she will have filed my tax return for me and printed off a full set of accounts for me, including a profit and loss statement, balance sheet and all the rest.
She's worth her weight in gold. And she's tax-deductible.