Instead of making some of these, I spent a great deal of time today figuring out one of these:
Now I am not complaining about having to file my taxes. And the 1040 C is actually a very simple form, only 2 pages, and only 11 pages of quite clear instructions. The economist in our house takes care of the rest of it. For which I am grateful. So it is very little to ask that I fill out my own self employment form and keep track of my expenses, income, etc. In fact one might reasonably argue that this would be good business practice and that you could even find some useful information from these sorts of records.
The problem is that my records consist of 12 envelopes of receipts and what not, one for each month of the year. I generally have a pretty good idea of what's coming in and what's going out. Every year I look at accounting programs and record keeping systems, and sigh. I don't want to learn anything new. I then head out to the studio.
And then today, after much groaning and sorting those envelopes, it all kind of clicked. I don't actually need bells and whistles, the IRS wants very little from me, I don't need to learn anything new. How many years did I spend managing huge research projects and budgets?
I just set myself up an Excell spread sheet system, one for each month, and one that collects a running total of income and expenses for the year. The best part is the IRS already had things organized for me. I just used the schedule C, typed up my particular needs for income, expenses, and costs, and voila! I have a system. I like Excell because in its most basic form it is just a calculator and the formulas you type in are simple and intuitive. For example, when I want to sum up a collumn of numbers, I just type in sum=(, point my mouse to the top of a column and slide to the bottom, hit enter and there it is the total. Yeah! Gosh that's a lot clearer in my head than written here. You can do all sorts of complicated things but for my needs, this works.
You can click on that pic up there and it will get large enough to read my categories. Basically, its just divided into income, expenses (office, packaging, etc), and the actual cost associated with producing my jewelry components and pottery. This is really just broad strokes of where I'm at business wise. It's no good for figuring out the cost of producing a single item. I do that in a much more tedious and boring way. Oh yes, there are things even more boring than tax record keeping. But I can get an idea of where I'm at overall, and if, Lord forbid, I need to set aside tax money.
I can live with this. My headache is going away now. And I promise, promise, really promise myself that I will keep this up every month. This year will be different!