When tax season rolls around, I don’t mind visiting my accountant. She’s a nice gal, and I enjoy catching up with her once a year. What I hate is preparing to go see her. Finding old receipts, collecting documents, and remembering business expenses is such a hassle. It’s so much of a hassle, that I finally decided something had to be done and turned to my smartphone for help. I figured there had to be an app that would let me track expenses in real-time.

After a bit of investigation, I settled on Expensify. While I was attracted by the their tagline (Expense reports that don’t suck!), it was the functionality that hooked me. I like that Expensify uses your phone as an input device to capture expense data and receipt images, but that it also provides a clean web interface that allows you to organize your expenses, which is quite useful during tax time.

Getting started with Expensify

Getting started is easy. You simply go to their website, www.expensify.com, and sign-up for a free account. You can start using their web interface immediately to load in expenses, organize expenses, and even fill-out expense reports if necessary for company reimbursements.

Most importantly, you’ll want to download their mobile application. The mobile application gives you the ability to take pictures of receipts for uploading to your account. You can either enter your receipt data manually, or you can use their SmartScanning service to have them enter the data for you. Best of all, according to Expensify, the digital receipts are accepted by the IRS. Finally! No more hunting through shoeboxes of receipts come tax time.

I could continue to go on about all of the other cool features they offer, such as tracking mileage, direct bank imports, and third-party integrations, but it’s best to head over to their site for more details. They have a great overview of the features as well as an easy-to-use getting started guide.

Using Expensify

Expensify home screenExpensify is very easy to use. Here’s a quick example of how I use both the mobile app and their website to manage expenses.

Step 1. I open the Expensify app on my phone and tap “Add Expense”

Step 2. I enter the merchant name, the amount, adjust the date (if necessary), fill-out any advance information, snap a photo of the receipt, and then upload/save it my account.

Step 3. When I get home, or at the end of the week, I log-in to Expensify on the web. Once in my account, I add-in any other information for tracking purposes and categorize all of my expenses for the past week.

That’s it, it is that simple to use it to get organized with your expenses.

Using Expensify in real estate

Here are a few more ideas on how you might want use Expensify in your real estate business to help you stay organized throughout the year so tax preparation goes much smoother:

  • Track overhead expenses
    Use an expense report for each month to keep track of the overhead expenses in your business such as office expenses, desk fees, license expenses, and technology expenses.
  • Track car mileage
    With Expensify, you can track mileage via a map interface, odometer entry, or your phone’s GPS. It’s a great way to track the miles your car is used for business activities, such as driving between showings, going around on caravan, or tracking trips back-and-forth to your property listing.
  • Track expenses per listing
    Setup an expense report by property listing so you can track all of the costs associated with a particular listing such as marketing, advertising, and maintenance.
  • Track transaction expenses
    Track all of your expenses associated that you incur associated with helping a client purchase a property. These expenses may include any closing costs, home warranties, or closing gifts provided to the client.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on your way. Once you start using the service and application, I am sure that you will come up with lots of other ways to track and organize your expenses.

So remember, it’s never too early, or too late, to get organized. Employing an expense tracking service and application into your daily workflow can be both a time and life saver come tax time. I’ve found that Expensify certainly has made my life a lot simpler come April 15, and hopefully it can do the same for you.

There are many expense tracking mobile apps available. If you have a favorite other than Expensify, please tell me which app it is along with what you like about it in the comments. Thanks!