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Halfway there (Google apps and taxes)
In the U.S., July 4 is the celebration of our nation’s birthday. We often spend the weekend with parties or picnics or family reunions or weddings. The weekend often ends with tired, but happy, people. When you look at a calendar though, July 1 is sort of like “hump day” for the year. The year is now half over (or half begun) and it’s a time to take stock, assess what is or is not working, and plan for the rest of the year.
This might also be a good time to realize that it’s only 6 months until the end of the year and I’m willing to bet that there are a few people that haven’t even begun to think about taxes yet. (WHAT??? You want me to think about taxes in JULY.)
YES, I actually want you to think about taxes in July. Actually, it’s something you should be thinking about every week, or at least every month, and you should be doing some record keeping so that when you do your taxes (or go to see your tax preparer) in 2015, you are somewhat prepared. I realize that sometimes it’s easy to procrastinate, and I want to encourage you to not fall too far behind.
I’m a big fan of various Google Apps (HELLO — FREE!!), so I’m going to point out a few ways that Google Apps can be used in keeping track of your expenses.
Google Calendar https://www.google.com/calendar
Besides allowing you to keep track of your schedule, share your schedule, and syncing with a number of other applications, Google Calendar keeps track of where you’ve been. If you use Google Calendar thoroughly and faithfully, at the end of a week (or month, or 6 months) you can go back through your calendar and check what you’ve done. You can look at each event and see if there’s anything you’ve done that needs to be documented.
Google Maps https://maps.google.com
After you’ve checked your Google Calendar, you’ll realize that you’ve had some travels (meetings or lunches you’ve attended) that you forgot to write down mileage for. This is where Google Maps comes in handy. Just enter your starting location and your destination and you know your mileage (double it for a round trip).
Google Docs https://docs.google.com
Specifically Google spreadsheets. You can use a Google spreadsheet to enter your costs (mileage, advertising, office expenses, deductible meals and entertainment, etc. etc. etc).
Anytime you’re using any type of spreadsheet (Excel, Google Drive, Numbers), I highly recommend beginning with the end in mind. If you’re looking to do your own bookkeeping so that you can either do your taxes or send them to a tax professional, figure out what you’ll need at the end of the year and input the proper categories. (For myself, and many solopreneurs, look at Schedule C).
Next week we’ll look at a few other Google Apps that can make your life easier.
- Five Cloud Apps To Manage Your Business Remotely (woman.com.au)
- 5 Reasons Why You Should be Using Google Apps for Business (mysocialagency.com)
*Disclaimer, I’m not a tax professional.
What’s Your (online) Backup Plan?
There’s a quote you may have seen on refrigerator magnets and coffee mugs: “Life is all about how you handle Plan B*.”
A few months ago the next town over had some major flooding. This brought to mind businesses (and individuals) that might not have a backup plan. If you lose your home and your computer and your external disk drive how can you retrieve all of the information you had?
There’s an interesting article from Popular Mechanics about a test done to data where they took a hard drive and stuck it in salt water for a few days. They were able to send the data to a retrieval service to the tune of $1200 for a normal consumer. When I look at my hourly rate and compare that to my overhead costs (and I don’t pay rent), I realize that $1200 isn’t really an item I want to make room for in my budget. So TODAY I want you to figure out your backup plan.
This week, we’re going to discuss online backup services, and next week we’ll talk about backing up at home. Something I’m hesitant to admit is that I was …… less than stellar in my backups in my personal life. *ALL* my photos were on my computer AND online in Picasa but everything else (documents, software, etc.) had haphazard backups at best. I’m not proud to admit it – but I realize it’s normal.
There is an ABUNDANCE of information on the Internet about Online Backup and Cloud Storage. Which one is best for you? What’s the difference between Online Backup and Cloud storage? I’ve put a few of the articles that I’ve found most useful at the end of this post. (Let’s appreciate for a moment the number of useless articles and one blatantly plagiarized article I had to muddle through to bring you 4 quality articles.)
But instead of rehashing those articles I’ll tell you what I use (in the online/cloud world) and why.
- Google Drive. I’m unabashedly a Google Gal. As I mentioned earlier my photos have been backed up online (for YEARS) in Picasa folders. Google Drive doesn’t only keep files online; you can also share files (with colleagues or clients or friends). For instance, a friend and I are planning a program coming up at our church. Within 5 minutes of planning that I started up a spreadsheet on Google drive and share it with her. It’s a convenient place to put notes and keep things scheduled. And it’s always available as long as you have an Internet connection.
- Dropbox. Another online service where you can share files with friends, colleagues, or clients. I’m assisting some clients with an event, and share files on Dropbox is very convenient. Things can be written by one person, proofread by a second person, and edited by a third person.
- Carbonite. I could tell you that I went to Carbonite because it ranks highly in most reviews (which it does). I could tell you I chose Carbonite due to the UNLIMITED storage (hard to resist). But what drove me to look at Carbonite was because I kept hearing about it (which either means that people are talking about it, or it means I spend too much time listening to podcasts like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me or The Nerdist). (OKAY — once I got there the unlimited thing was quite tempting.)
Next week we’ll talk about backing up your files at home, and there will be a call to action to do SOMETHING to protect your files.
*Me, I’m glad there are 26 letters in the alphabet – because sometimes in life I’ve gone well past Plan B
- Five Best Online Backup Services (lifehacker.com.au)
- Online Backup Comparison (about.com)
(note, I’ve noticed that over the past 3 months this seems to update about once a month)
- Online Backup Vs. Cloud Storage (informationweek.com)
- Cloud Storage or Online Backup – Which One? (WilliamBurdine.com)