Going Paperless For Your Household & Home Office | Amy Stewart | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Going Paperless For Your Household & Home Office

teacher avatar Amy Stewart, Writer & artist

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (48m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Project

    • 3. Key Concepts

    • 4. Household Records

    • 5. Getting it Done

    • 6. Business Documents

    • 7. Business Expenses

    • 8. Business Income

    • 9. Wrapping Up

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

It’s the chore on everyone’s to-do list, but somehow we never get around to it: Going paperless.

Whether you’ve been meaning to start moving your household documents to the cloud, or you want to start scanning an automating the paperwork related to your very small business or home office, now is the time!

Every January, I hear so many of my self-employed friends complain about having to dig through receipts and get their records in order before tax time.

So let’s get this done.

Over the years, I’ve figured out ways to make going paperless easier and less intimidating.

We’ll talk about how to tackle a little at a time so you don’t get completely overwhelmed at this big task in front of you.

We’ll figure out what systems will work best for you, and how to put them in place.

I’ll show you how to handle ordinary household documents, like:

  • House and car records
  • Tax records
  • Banking records
  • Health and medical records
  • Rental properties
  • Boats, RVs and other toys
  • Kids and school records
  • Pets
  • Family records like old family photos

And we’ll work on small business records. For this, we’ll dive into:

  • Scanning business documents and forms that you use over and over
  • Tracking receipts and expenses
  • Tracking income
  • Deciding when to upgrade to a full accounting system like Quickbooks

Whether you’re going paperless for your home, office, or both, we’ll pay special attention to:

  • Password and internet security
  • Equipment like scanners and shredders
  • Storing back-ups
  • Organizing documents so they’re easy to find
  • Keeping systems in place that will change how you work going forward.

I made this class for all of you who are still struggling with how to go paperless without losing control of all your important records. Let’s go!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Amy Stewart

Writer & artist



Welcome! For the last twenty years, I've devoted my life to making art and writing books. It gives me great joy to share what I've learned with you. 

I love talking to writers and artists, and bonding over the creative process. I started teaching so that I can  inspire others to take the leap. 

I believe that drawing, painting, and writing are all teachable skills. Forget about talent--it doesn't exist, and you don't need it. With some quality instruction and lots of practice, any of us can make meaningful, honest, and unique art and literature.

I'm the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books. When I'm not writing or traveling on book tour, I'm painting and drawing in ink, watercolor, gouache, and oil. Come f... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Intro: Hi, I'm Amy Stewart. I've been a full-time writer and artist for 20 years. And like any other person who works in a creative field, that also means that I run a very small one-person business. But you know, no matter how small it is, it does come with a certain amount of paperwork and recordkeeping and bookkeeping. So over the last couple of decades, I've seen a lot of changes and how people like us keep track of our income and expenses and important documents. But the biggest change, of course, is that now there are really easy and affordable ways to go completely paperless. It means that all your records can be stored on your computer or in the cloud and they're available to you the minute you need them. It seems like every January I hear so many of my self-employed friends complain about having to dig through their receipts in get their records in order before tax time. Now, I went completely paperless a few years ago when I was getting ready to move and just looking at all those file boxes full of papers that I was going to have to move into my new house. That was the push I needed to finally get everything scanned and searchable. And as I did this, I figured out ways to make it easier, less intimidating. And I found ways to just tackle it a little at a time. So I didn't get completely overwhelmed at this huge task in front of me. So I made this class for all of you who are still struggling with how to go paperless without losing control of all your important records. We're going to start with simple household records like your car registration or your homeowners insurance, all that paperwork that's related to the house, the car, the kids, the pets. We're gonna deal with all that first because it's pretty simple and straightforward and it's a good way to kind of ease into the process. I'm going to show you the kinds of technology and equipment that I use from the software to things like scanners and traders. Because you're gonna be doing a lot of shredding. And once we've household documents, then we'll start on more standard business documents. I'll give you examples of the kinds of paperwork that I want to have scanned and accessible to me at all times so I can run my very small business and I'll help you figure out a system for managing all that. This is going to include a quick rundown of how I keep track of everything from research, from my books to even client contacts. So you're a small business might be very different from mine, but I think this might give you a few ideas. And when we're finished with that, we're going to tackle business expenses. And this is where I've really managed to save myself a huge amount of time. I'm going to show you my system for keeping track of all of my expenses by category, including those business expenses that I need for my taxes and also receipts that I submit to clients for reimbursement. And finally, I'll talk just a little bit about the other side of the equation, which is keeping track of income in a way that's maybe a little useful for understanding your business better. Now, I want to say up front that I'm not an accountant and I'm definitely not a tax expert. So you're still going to want to talk to your professional advisors about whatever system you set up. I'm here to show you the tools and to show you how I use them. It's up to you to find out what's required of your business and the locality where you live. And to just make sure you're following all those rules, whatever they might be. I also want to say that some of these ideas work best for people with very small businesses at a certain point. It might be that, you know, professional accounting software like QuickBooks is really better for you. And we'll talk about how to make that decision in more detail. But either way, this class is about more than just tracking income and expenses. It's about running your whole household and your home office or your small business using modern digital tools. All right, let's get started. 2. Project: The project for this class is to take the first step, which is to make a list of categories for the types of documents that you are going to need to keep track of in a paperless system. I'm gonna give you a worksheet that you can download with a bunch of suggested categories for home and also home office. But of course, you should feel free to add your own. And if you'd like to go ahead and share those in the project section. I mean, this doesn't have to involve sharing any real personal information, just the kinda general categories that you think you might use. So then also take a look at other people's projects because they might give you some good ideas as well. And also just remember to post questions in the discussion. I'll pop in to answer those. And I'm also going to be including some links to some of the tools and resources that I'll be talking about in this class. So keep an eye out for those two. 3. Key Concepts: I want to talk about a few general concepts before we get into the specifics. And the first is this big disclaimer about being sure to consult with your professionals about any paperless system you set up. I'm not an accountant, I'm not a tax preparer. And besides those roles change all the time the way things work right now while I'm filming this video could be completely different by the time you watch it. So once you've worked out a system that works for you, be sure to consult with a bookkeeper and accountant, a tax expert, whoever you need to talk to to make sure that you're following whatever rules apply for you and your type of business and in your jurisdiction. I also want to mention that I'm gonna be showing you some software, some apps, some digital tools, and those things also change all the time. The best options for going paperless today, on the day that I'm filming this video could have changed by the time you watch the video. And so for that reason, I'm not gonna go step-by-step through every menu on every one of these tools because those things are always getting updated. But I will put links down below so you can find those instructions and get the most up-to-date information for yourself when you're ready to dig in and start doing this. But no matter how much these particular tools might change or get upgraded down the road, the ideas about how you actually manage all of this stuff in the real world. That's what I'm here to teach you. And that's going to be useful to you no matter which tools you end up using. Okay, another caveat, and this one has to do with security. A lot of these tools involves storing your information in the cloud. And then you can probably already guess what I'm about to say. I'm also not a cybersecurity expert. So I'm going to encourage you to always take every step possible to make sure that your information is safe and secure and backed up. Of course, that includes choosing strong unique passwords and using two-step verification whenever it's offered. Two-step verification in case you're not sure what I'm talking about. It's an extra layer of security that you can set up. So every time you log in, you get a unique codes into your cell phone or your email. And it's just a way to make absolutely sure that it's really you logging in. And of course, even these forms of security are gonna change over time. So just make sure that you're informed about the best way to safeguard your information online, even with the security protocols. I am going to show you how to make sure that you store your records on your own hard drive of your own computer, your home or office. And then of course, I hope that you are making backups of your own computer every day using an automated backup service. So what that means is that your records that are in the cloud are actually stored in three places. They're stored in the cloud. There syncs up with your computer at home. They can also be part of your regular backup that's always backing up everything that's on your computer. Now, another key concept that has to do with going paperless is the idea that you are going to scan things as they come in. If you have the time to open the mail and look at it, you also have the time to run it through your scanner right then and there. Because if you're letting piles of paper sit around in different stacks waiting to be scanned, then you don't actually have a paperless system. You'll have some paperwork online, but then some of it's sitting in a pile somewhere waiting for you to get to it. And the trick here is to make it so easy that you will not put this chore offers, set it aside for later. So for instance, what I get a received from the car rental place when I dropped my car off, I get out my phone and I scan the receipt while I'm on the elevator in the parking garage. It's really quick and easy to do. But trust me, you'll be so much happier with a paperless system if you handle those documents as they come in and don't make it another chore for yourself later. In other words, don't take a simple one step system and turn it into a two or three steps system by leaving things around to be scanned later. And this also applies to emails. If you have time to read that email with the receipt or the signed contract or whatever attached to it, then you have time to save it into your paperless system, right? Then. This is my big advice to you, which is touch everything once. All right, so one last concept which I hope you will really embrace for this process. The key to going paperless is to figure out a system that works for you and then just start using it going forward. In other words, don't worry about scanning all the backlog upfront. And the reason for this is that you really want to try out these tools first and make sure that they're actually working for you. Make sure that there's something you can really stick with. And then once they become a part of your regular routine and it's really second nature and you're comfortable with it. At that point. You could look at going back and bringing in all that backlog of paperwork from the past, you know, even then, you might find that it's really not necessary to scan all your old paperwork. Some of it might be older and irrelevant and you can either just toss it or box it all up and stored in the basement for a few more years until you're really sure you no longer need it. But I know from experience, but the only way to tackle a big project like this is to start small, break it down into manageable pieces, and just do a little bit at a time. So in this class, that is exactly how we're going to approach it. 4. Household Records: Okay, the first thing I want you to do is figure out all the different categories of household documents that you need to keep. For instance, you might have paperwork related to your house like mortgage records are building permits or maintenance records, homeowner's insurance, appliance warranties, things like that. Same thing for your car. Maybe you have vehicle registration, auto insurance, maintenance records, all that stuff. You probably keep some kind of paperwork related to bank accounts or retirement plans. You'll probably want to folder to store copies of your annual tax returns. Another category might be records related to your health insurance or just other types of medical records. And maybe you keep school records or other things related to the kids activities. You might have paperwork related to your pets like Veterinary Records. And also think about anything else you own, whether it's a rental property, boat, an RV, You're going to want to have records probably for all those things. You might also have some crucial personal documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption records, wills, powers of attorney, health directives. Some of this paperwork might be so sensitive that you choose not to store it in the cloud and that's entirely up to you. You can still scan it. So you have a digital copy saved to the hard drive of your personal computer. Some of this paperwork is also the kind of thing where you are going to want to keep the original, like with a birth certificate. And so for those things, it's probably still helpful to have that digital backup whether you choose to store it in the cloud or not, it's up to you. But then you can also take that paper version and take this opportunity now to go ahead and put it into a fireproof and waterproof container that's going to be easy to grab in an emergency is just a good time to get all that organized. And I want to mention one more thing about household documents. You might have some household expenses they you need to keep track of for your tax returns. Some of those are probably already going to fit into the categories we've talked about like property tax records. They might go into a folder by your house. Vehicle registration might go into a folder by your car. Maybe you also have charitable contributions. You could create a folder for those expenses as well and just scan the receipts. Or you could also use an expense tracker like expensive phi, which I am going to talk about in a few minutes. So stay tuned. It's going to be mostly for people with business expenses, but you can obviously use it for household stuff as well. Okay, for the moment, just make a list of what those categories are. And remember that you can of course add to this list or change it at anytime. There's just to get you started. The next step is to figure out what kind of platform you want to use to store your documents. And like I said, you don't have to keep them in the cloud if you don't want to. You could just save them to your personal computer and leave it at that. And once again, I just really want to emphasize, I hope you're making a backup of that computer and assuming that it's a modern cloud-based backup like Carbonite or something like that. It does actually mean that those documents do go into the cloud along with everything you back up. So it's up to you how you want to handle that. If you choose to only store your documents on a computer than just make a folder on your computer for each of these categories that we just put on your list. But most people do use a cloud-based system for their documents. It makes it easier to get at them wherever you happen to be. So for instance, a lot of people use Google Drive. If you're already using other Google products, this one might make the most sense for you. Some people use Dropbox, maybe are already using Dropbox at work or for other projects. So you might just decide that you want to stick with Dropbox because it's what you're used to. And there's another one out there called box. I don't use it much, but it's pretty popular. And I'm sure there's going to be new options out there all the time. The key is you want to make sure it offers very good security. You want to have that strong unique password and whatever other layers of security they offer, such as two-factor verification. You also wanna make sure that there's a function that allows you to sync the documents in the Cloud with your home computer. That way, every time you save something to your home computer, it's automatically uploaded to the same folder in the cloud and vice versa. You don't even have to think about that part. I guess I should say that some people probably just store their documents in the Cloud and maybe don't bother to sync it up with their home computers at all. But personally, I like having the extra backup. Okay. So once you've chosen which platform to use, the next step, of course, would be to set up an account and create a folder for every one of those categories that you've come up with. Your probably going to also need to install a little piece of software that's going to let you sync up the identical folders on your home computer with the cloud-based folders in Google Drive or Dropbox, whatever platform you choose to use, they offer a little piece of software for you to download to get that done. And like I said before, all these platforms go through changes and upgrades. So there's not much use in me walking step-by-step through how to set that up. But I am an include some links where those instructions can be found and they should be the most up-to-date instructions. I should also mention that most of these documents storage services also have an app for your smartphone or tablet, and that is optional. Of course, it really just depends on whether you think you're going to need access to those documents when you're on the go or not. Alright, well, once you've got that set up, you're also going to need a scanner and a shredder. I keep a small paper shredder. My office and all my paper recycling either goes through the shredder or if there's nothing sensitive on the paper, I just drop it in the wastebasket, but the shredder sits on top of for a scanner, I use scan snap. It's a very popular desktop document scanner right now. These type of documents scanners usually cost a few $100, and I found this to be a really worthwhile investment. But if that's just not practical for you right now, there's also scanner apps for your phone where you can take a picture of a document and it will save it as a PDF. The trick with those, as you want to make sure the app can save your documents where you want them to be saved. The whole thing with going paperless is to make it extremely easy. If it involves too many steps, you're going to be less likely to keep up with it. So for instance, if you want to store your documents and Dropbox, Dropbox has a scanner app that'll put files straight from your phone into your Dropbox folder. If you want to store your documents in Google Drive. I know at the moment of this filming that there is an Android app for scanning documents right into Google Drive. I don't know that there's an iPhone app that has that same function of letting you take a photo, scan it, convert it to a PDF, and save it into Google Drive. But there are other apps on the market, do documents scanning and do collect to connect to Google Drive. Now again, these products can come and go. So do your due diligence and look for reviews that'll tell you which ones are highest rated and give you the features you need. The bottom line is, if you are not ready to buy a scanner right at this moment, you could get by with one of these apps. If you have a few documents here and there that you ever need to scan. When I first started figuring out how to go paperless, I actually borrowed a document scanner from a friend of mine for a week just to try it out and make sure that it was something that was really going to be useful to me. 5. Getting it Done: Okay, so once you've set up all these systems, it's time to just start using them. Just start today. And going forward. Whenever one of these types of household document shows up, go ahead and scan it and save it into your new system. I'm going to show you a quick video that shows you what that process looks like for me. Okay, this is going to be some handheld action cinematography here. When I need to scan something, I just opened the scanner and it starts right up. You don't have to turn it on. We're going to pretend that this is my very important document. It's a print out of a calendar from 1919. This sort of thing that comes up in my line of work. Alright, so I press the button and it goes through the scanner. The next thing that happens is that over here on my computer, there's the document. I can mess with it right here if I need to, but the setting is I have it's always set just right. I could pick a different folder for it to go in here if I wanted to. I don't need to. Let's just call this folders called bank and retirement. Let's just pretend that's what it is. We're going to call it 1919 Kal and call that good. And then all I have to do is say that and it's done. So you might also have some things that show up pretty regularly by email. You know, maybe your homeowners insurance renewal happens online. You get an email telling you that your new documents are available. For things like that. What I do is I go I log in and grab the document. Usually, you know, my insurance company or whoever it is, it'll have a document that you can download as a PDF. And I save that right from the insurance company website to the folder on my computer. So whether these documents are coming to you as an actual piece of paper or an email with an attachment or something that you need to download. The idea is that you're going to start putting all your documents into this new system as they come in. Give this a few weeks or even a month or two, and make sure it's really working for you. Once you've got your head around it, you really understand how it all works and it all makes sense to you. Then maybe you go back and start scanning those older records. And I would suggest doing this in small chunks. Maybe you decide you're going to set aside an hour a week. When I did this for my household records, I went by category and I started with the easiest categories first, so I could just knock some things off the list. So for instance, I scanned all the records related to my car. That was easy. And in fact, for some of those older records, I didn't even scan each record individually and give them each different name. Instead, I just scanned big batches of him because I figured if I really ever need these documents again, I can take the time to look through a batch of records. So like I think I had a batch called Honda maintenance records 2010 through 2018 and it was just one long PDF with 30 or 40 maintenance records in it. And remember what I said about really old records. You know, you might want to talk to your accountant or your tax professional and find out how long you even really need to keep different kinds of records. There might be some things that you can just go ahead and shred and toss right now. And there might be other things that technically you do need to keep, but you're 99% sure you're never gonna need them. And maybe it makes sense to just seal those up in a box, stash him away in the basement with a date on the outside and when they're really old enough, then you can drove away. Okay. Now I want to talk about how to name those records as you scan them, you're gonna be putting these records into folders. So just knowing that all your car records, you're going into your car folder. It makes it easier to find things. But you know, there's literally no limit on how long a filename can be. So I tried to put every useful word that I might search for later if I'm looking for that document. So I might call a document 20-20 auto insurance renewal, Honda. Just think about whatever words you would probably use to search for that thing if you need it later and put those words in the title. Also, in some cases you're probably going to be creating sub folders within folders like, let's say you have a folder for your income taxes. Probably within that folder, you'll create a new folder for every tax year. But I still generally give really complete filenames. I'll call something 20-20 state income tax return. But knowing that I have it a different folder just for all my 20-20 stuff does make it a little easier to just browse and find what you need. So that's just basic organization and maiming of all those files. Now, one more thing, I want to mention some different ways to handle things like family photos or other types of fragile family documents. Now a document scanner can be used to scan photographs. Generally, you can just change the setting and tell it that you want to scan every picture as an individual JPEG and you just feed them through. And that works for more recent kind of modern photographs. Thousands and thousands of pictures. Or if you have old Kodachrome slides, you might want to send those off to a service that digitizes photographs. Usually the way this works is that you box it all up and send it off and what you get your pictures back. But then you also get the digital files. Now there's also services out there that can convert old Super eight movies or cassette tapes. So if you have stuff like that, I highly recommend getting those converted to digital files while you still can. Because some of these old technologies, like old film and slides and cassettes, they really do deteriorate. And there might come a point where they simply can't be read anymore. Also, for anything that's very fragile or precious, like very old photographs, letters, I strongly recommend that you at least snap pictures of these with your cell phone and store those images with your other important family papers. You know, as an author, I do a lot of historical research and I can't tell you how many times I've tracked down the location of some important documents only to find out that they were lost in a fire or a flood. So if you do nothing else is a result of taking this class. I hope you'll find a way to quickly snap pictures and archive your most important family memories. Of course, a lot of those family treasures, you're not going to put them through the shredder after you digitize them, you're going to want to hang on to him just like you're going to want to hang on to crucial documents like birth certificates. So like I said, part of this process will be to round those things up, make sure they're stored in some kind of fireproof and waterproof storage box and put him in a safe spot that's easy to grab in case of an emergency. 6. Business Documents: The reason I suggested that you start with your household documents is that they're probably just a little easier to get your head around. You know, they don't really change that much from year to year. There's a little bit of record keeping you might have to think about in terms of your personal finances or your household taxes. But, you know, overall for household documents, you're going paperless to make life easier for yourself and you're probably not. You probably don't have quite as many different bookkeeping in tax requirements to think about. But now we're going to look at, you know, home office, self-employed people, small businesses. Now here for just documents, I'm gonna suggest that you start with the same process that we used for household documents. Don't worry about the income and expense stuff quite yet. We're gonna get to that in a minute. But for now, let's look at all the other types of documents that you might need to run your business and figure out how to put those into categories and store them in the cloud. So here are just some examples of the kinds of documents that apply to me in my business as a freelance writer and an artist. One thing is that whenever an organization wants to pay me, they asked me to fill out a W9, which is a text form that just has my basic payment information. I don't fill out a new one of these every time somebody asked me for it. Instead, I have a scanned version saved in the cloud and I just email it off every time somebody requests one. And also this is just an aside. But I do want to mention if you're a very small business like a self-employed person, you can still get a federal employer ID number for free over the internet in a matter of minutes. And this allows you to give out a different number other than your private social security number. Every time somebody asks for it, it doesn't change anything about how you file your taxes. As always, check with your tax advisor on that. But it's just a way to keep from having to email your social security number to people all the time. I also keep a blank copy of my standard contract stored in the in the Cloud so I can real quick fill that out, send it to anybody who wants to hire me. And when those sign contracts come back, I have a folder in the cloud where I store all my sign contracts. For very large important contracts, you might decide you want to keep a paper copy just in case that's up to you. Another thing that I keep in the cloud is a blank template for invoices. We're gonna talk about more with invoices in a minute. But that's something I use. I also do a lot of public speaking, so I have a spreadsheet in the cloud that's just to track basic contact information for all those people who are doing the requesting of me as a speaker. Because I get a lot of emails asking for the same things over and over again. I keep a document in the cloud with just standard answers, but I can copy and paste and send out real quick. I keep my tax returns. Of course, if you're have licenses or business permits, you might keep those. But as you can see, I really don't have a lot of other documents to run my business. This is going to be different for everybody. So once again, make a list of those categories and start working on scanning or uploading those documents to the cloud using whatever system you've chosen to use. Here again, just like with your household, I'd recommend start today, use this system going forward. Don't worry too much about going back and scanning old documents until you're sure the system you've put into place is working for you. And as with household stuff, check with your bookkeeper, your tax advisor, about how many years you need to keep all your records around in the first place. I do also want to mention that as a writer, I do a ton of research and interviews and I make a lot of notes about ideas for my next project. I also keep all of that online. All of that is paperless as well and store it on my home computers backup, I use a product called Evernote for that. And I'm not gonna get into Evernote during this class. It's a whole other thing, but I do teach a class specifically about using Evernote. If you're interested in that, I'll put a link to that as well and you can check it out. 7. Business Expenses: Okay, now let's look at tracking business expenses in the cloud. I know that organizing a shoebox full of receipts is often the main reason people want to go paperless. So before we jump into it, I'm going to emphasize, but some small businesses really do need a system like QuickBooks or FreshBooks. That's more of a full-on robust accounting platform. That might be true for a business that has to do a ton of client invoicing. Maybe a business that has employees or contractors, or just a business that has a lot of small transactions all day long, like a brick and mortar store. So if you're in any of those categories, you probably already know that you need a system like quick bugs. And if you're not sure, once again, I would say talk to your bookkeeper or your tax advisor. Remember there's a lot of different options out there and some of them are designed for very, very small businesses. For instance, QuickBooks has a kind of new product that's just for self-employed people. It's a little lighter and leaner than the full version and it's just a subscription that cost a few dollars a month. So I won't be covering options like that in this section. This section is for self-employed people who have such a small operation that they don't yet need a full accounting system like that. So what I do from for tracking my expenses is I use expensive phi. This is something that was recommended to me by my tax preparer. It's also used by a lot of big companies. And there's other similar products like this one. So it's definitely not the only expense tracker out there. But let me tell you what it does. First of all, expensive phi is a website that you log into. It's also an app for your phone or tablet. And you can use expensive phi to track other things in addition to expenses like the amount of time you spend on a job or to track your mileage. And that can be useful if you have to do a lot of client billing of those things. But I mostly use expensive fide AT track my expenses. And there's a few different ways that let you do this. So if you have a paper receipt in your hand, you can open up the app on your phone and snap a picture. It scans the receipt, a good grabs the amount, the date, the name of a company or place you were, and it will put that into a category for you. So I'll just show you real quick how this works. All I do is open up the expensive phi app. And if this piece of paper I happened to be a receipt and then I would just snap a picture of it from right inside the app. And it's going to automatically just scan Matt. There's really nothing else I need to do. It's going to read the dollar amount and who the receipt is from and the date and all the important information. But if I did want to enter that information myself for some reason, maybe there's something more that I need to add to it, then I can go ahead and do that right on the spot while it's while it's fresh in my mind, I can fill in any details about it. I hardly ever need to even use this feature, but it's just nice to know that you can. And then I just tossed the Receipt and I'm done. And then you can also e-mail receipts or payment records to a special email address that they give you. And those will also be red and it's categorized for you. Finally, you can also connect bank accounts and credit cards to your expense account. And it'll pull all those transaction records in with the date, the amount, and who you paid. So if you have separate credit cards are separate bank accounts just for your business, you could attach those too expensive. If you use the same credit card or bank account for business and personal expenses, you can still connect them, but you will have to go through and exclude all of your personal spending, which is not difficult to do. It's just a step you'd need to take. Now, generally speaking, when expensive phi pulls and expense off your credit card or bank record in generates a digital receipt. And in some cases you might be able to use that as your only received for tax purposes. There's usually a dollar threshold for this, meaning that all digital receipts under say, $75 might be acceptable documentation of that expense. And again, check with the tax expert on this because these rules really do change all the time. But let me give you one example of how this has been helpful to me. When I go out on book tour, I have to keep track of my receipts and submit them to my publisher for reimbursement. So I talked to my publisher and I asked them if they really needed me to submit the actual paper receipt for every meal I ate. Or if they would accept the digital receipt that expensive phi is going to create based on my credit card transactions. And my publisher said yes, their accounting department does except those digital receipts, which means I don't have to get a physical paper receipt every time I eat a sandwich. But if you're not sure, you can always snap a picture of those receipts with the app and expensive phi will match up the credit card transaction with the paper you see, usually they'll just do that automatically. So this is really useful to me when I'm traveling. If I do decide I need to scan a receipt, I do it at the very minute. Someone hands that receipt to me and then I throw the receipt away. So like if I'm checking out of the hotel or as I'm returning the riddle car, I just snap a picture of the receipt on the spot and toss it as I leave. You might have a lot of bills that you pay on line. Maybe things you have automatically deducted from your bank account or things that are charged to your credit card. And those those bills generally come with an email confirmation when that payment goes through. So I will forward those email confirmations too expensive. Now just like any other kind of accounting software, you can create rules that will allow expensive to automatically categorize your expenses. It's gonna try to do this for you. It actually usually gets it pretty right. So for instance, it knows that the post office is a postage or shipping expense and generally knows which of your expenses are restaurants, are gas stations, and it'll code those as meals or fuel. But you can set up rules that are different from that. And of course you are going to need to go in and review everything that expensive I'd tries to do automatically for you. Expensive phi will also let you split and expense. So let's say you allocate a portion of your phone bill to your business, you can go in and split that expense right on the screen and make a note about why you did it. And let me talk about how Reports work inexpensive phi, you can create as many different reports as you need for a different time periods for different clients, whatever makes sense to your business. So like I have one report for all of my business expenses for that tax year. If I have to submit my expenses to somebody else for reimbursement, I make a separate report for each of those. And those reports. You can download them and save him and then email them to your client as a PDF. When you download those reports as a PDF, you can choose whether or not you want to include all of those scanned or digital receipts in the PDF. So for instance, I will download the full report with all the receipts attached once a year and save that PDF with my other important tax documents. But my tax preparer doesn't really want to see a hundreds of pages of receipts. They just want to see the numbers. They don't need all the attachments. So for them, I can download a version that doesn't include all of those pages and pages of receipts attached. The point is that with these reports, I'm making a backup of this important information and I'm storing it outside of the intensify app as at pdf. Oh, my computer. Also, if you need to invoice a large company, it might be that they also use expensive phi and you can submit your report to them right inside the app. In fact, that's really what it's built for. Finally, I just want to mention that expensive phi also has a feature where it'll keep track of your travel itineraries like your plane and hotel reservations. Now, I use a different app to keep track of my travel plans. It's called Trip it. I like it because it makes it really easy to share your itineraries with other people. And it just has a ton of useful features for anybody who travels a lot. So that's outside the scope of this class really. But I just wanted to suggest the triplet app if you're looking for a way to organize your travel. But to mention that expensive phi also does have a few little features about travel itineraries as well. And finally, remember, there's lots of other VCD scanning and expense tracking apps out there. So I encourage you do your own research or talk to your bookkeeper or your Tax Planner and just ask them what they recommend. 8. Business Income: Okay, we've talked about tracking expenses, which means that you're probably wondering about tracking income. Now, once again, I will remind you once you get to a certain size or complexity, you might really need something more like quick bucks. This is especially important if you do a lot a invoicing and you really need to be able to run a report so you can deal with your past due invoices. But for a very small one-person operation, you might be able to get by with a simple spreadsheet. You can create a spreadsheet like this one in Google Drive or another cloud-based documents system so that you can access it anywhere, even from an app on your phone or tablet. I'll give you examples of the kinds of income categories that are useful to me and tracking where my income is coming from. So for instance, here on the left-hand side of the spreadsheet, I'm just gonna make a note about who paid me. And then I'll put that payment under one of these other columns depending on what type of income it was. Maybe I got paid for teaching a class or giving a talk or writing an article. Some of the money that might come in could be reimbursements from those expense reports that I submitted. And I do need to keep track of that separately because of course, if I have money coming in as income, I'm gonna need that expense report to balance out the income and the expenses when I do my taxes. You might have certain forms of income that are kind of small and happen over and over again. Like, I don't know, maybe you have an Etsy shop or you wrote a eBook that is sold online. In that case, it might make sense for you to batch those as monthly income rather than recording each individual transaction. So like I'm assuming, if you have an Etsy shop that you can download a report out of NC that shows every individual transaction. So you have that as a backup. But maybe you just put on your spreadsheet April at sea sales, and you just have one of those for every month. You might even have some form of income that's so small that it's only worth recording once a year. Let's say you have an affiliate link on your website and you just make a few dollars a month from it, but you are supposed to keep track of it and report it. So maybe in that case you just keep a line at the top of your spreadsheet that says something like annual Amazon affiliate income or whatever it is. And it's just there to remind you that at the end of the year, you want to be sure to go grab that urine statement and put the amount for the year into your spreadsheet. And of course you want to download and save whatever record you need that itemize all those individual transactions. Now, all of this is the kind of thing that happens in a much more automated fashion. If you have like a full accounting system like QuickBooks. So again, this is just for those extremely small businesses that maybe you're not quite ready to take that step. Whatever record you have of payments you receive like check stubs or email confirmations. You can scan those and save him into an income folder with your other business documents. And of course, at the end of the year, a lot of the people who paid your gonna send you a 1099 or depending on where in the world you live, some other kind of tax document that reflects how much you were paid for the year. And you're going to want to save all of those kinds of tax documents into a folder in your paperless system as well. So I just want to mention a couple of other issues that have to do with being paperless and getting paid. A lot of his still do get paid by paper checks. Now when that happens, I use my bank's mobile app to deposit checks. You just take a picture of the check with the app. And usually I do this as soon as I get the check. It's especially useful when I'm traveling and I don't want to worry that I lost my paycheck. Well, I was on the road. So I deposited right through the mobile app and I go ahead and record that income, all my spreadsheet when I make the deposit, I keep those checks and a little envelope Mark deposited. And about once a month I checked with the bank and make sure those deposits went through before a shred that paper checks. I also want to mention that when I send out an invoice, I put on the invoice that I accept payments through PayPal, Zell and build.com as well as by paper check. You know, more and more I'm finding the bigger clients are happy to pay me through an online payment system. Bill.com in particular, is used by most big companies, and Zell is used a lot by banks for online payments and you've probably heard of PayPal. So if you aren't already accepting payments through online payment systems like this, it might be something to look into, especially if you know which systems your clients use. Usually it's pretty easy to set up an account and then people just have to pay you through the email address that you associated with that account. Okay. This brings me to my last point which is about invoices. And again, if you're a bigger business, you send out a ton of invoices. You're probably already using an online invoicing system. There are a lot of standalone invoicing systems out there that you can you can use as a small business. But if you're just sending them out one at a time, you can just use it an invoice template and fill it out. When I do that, whenever I have to send an invoice to someone, I just send them one that I make off my template and I make a little note on my income spreadsheet off to the side that just test the amount, the date when I sent it. And that way I can glance over there every now and then, just make sure I don't have any outstanding invoices I need to try to collect on. And that way when the payment comes in, I just move it over as as income. Now, I'm only sending out like a dozen invoices a year. So I don't really need a more robust system than that. It's really going to be up to you and the kind of business that you run. 9. Wrapping Up: Okay, I know we've covered a lot of different approaches to going paperless for your household and your home office. And I hope you can see the benefits to doing this. It means that you have everything your fingertips, fully searchable and accessible to you no matter where you are in the world. It also means that your records, you're safe from the risk of fire or flood or some kind of other disaster. And hopefully it saves you time in the long run. But you've probably also seen that no system is perfect. And I can just tell you that if you're waiting for the perfect system, you're going to wait a long time. There are tradeoffs to any of the tools that you choose to use. You're going to have to think about password security and making backups and how you're going to store those backups. You're gonna need to think about creating a system that's simple enough that you really will use it every day. Because if it seems too complicated and you just end up with a big backlog of paper that you haven't dealt with, then you really don't have a paperless system. Now the technology is always changing and some of these tools are going to come and go. And that's one of the reasons that I really emphasize making backups, downloading things as PDFs, storing them somewhere outside of the app you're using. The tools I've talked about it in this class are the ones that I've been using for years. I don't think they're going anywhere anytime soon, but the thing is you just never know. And finally, I know I've said this over and over again, but whatever system you come up with, it's going to have to pass muster with whatever business and tax requirements you have to comply with wherever you live. So you're going to need to be sure to get good, reliable advice about that. But it's a lot easier to get that advice once you already have a system in mind that you can ask about. So I know you're probably leaving this class with a very long list of what you're going to have to do to get yourself out fully functioning paperless system. And just remember, start small with a few easy categories that you're confident you know how to tackle may be the cat's Veterinary Records are the place to start and don't worry about going back and dealing with your backlog until you've been using that new system for awhile and you're sure it's gonna work for you. When I did decide to tackle my backlog of old papers, I put a real time limit on how much I was going to spend on what we have to admit it's a pretty boring job. So, you know, maybe it's an hour a week or an hour twice a week. Just something that won't seem too overwhelming. Because, you know, in general there's no rush to deal with your backlog of old records. So you can take your time and you can go one category at a time. So you can cross that one off the list and feel some accomplishment. It feels great to know that. Okay, now all the tax records are handled and I can forget about that one. Finally, I do want to encourage you to please also talked to other people who have a business similar to yours because they probably have other ideas and other tips and resources that I just haven't covered. Hopefully them, they might even be willing to show you how their system works and even let you take it for a little test drive before you make your own decision. Whatever you do remember the goal is to have something that's easy, reliable, flexible, and actually saves you time. Alright? If you have questions or comments, feel free to post those all. Try to pop in and answer those whenever I can. And also please stay in touch with me. I teach a lot of other classes, Mozi on writing and art. And my I'm easy to find online. I have a website, I'm on social media, I send out a newsletter and I would really love to stay in touch with you. So thanks very much and good luck going paperless.