My buddy Greg Grospitch turned me on to a little program called Texthog and I must say it’s pretty amazing. Greg has put together another solid review going over some of the highlights of this awesome program and tips on how to prevent tax time panic!
Say goodbye to tax time headaches with Texthog!
I have many fond memories from my days in the hustle and bustle of this game we all call real estate. However there was one day, year after year, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy…APRIL 15th. We all know tax day and the weeks and months leading up to it, as a time to scramble for receipts and rack our brain over every last penny we spent on our business. Some of us might even go as far as to sit down with 5 different color pens to try to recreate a believable log of the past years auto mileage (not recommended). And whether you bite the bullet and pay a tax specialist or cheap out and use Taxcut like me, there is finally a way for all of you Tech Savvy Agents to make April 15th a breeze.
“Really simple online expense tracking”, is how Texthog describes themselves, and I would have to agree. This new online system of tracking and reporting your personal and business expenses gets my vote for the easiest most Tech Savvy way to keep track of the dollars and cents spent on your business.
Texthog, like many other online tools these days, has both a free and paid version. The main difference is the ability to track mileage and report on what you have entered into the system. The paid version will run you about 7 bucks a month and after a little bit of easy set up, will allow you to essentially track and report all of your expenditures and mileage in real time directly from your mobile device.
You begin by signing up for your account and putting together groups of expenses, for example, Mileage, Software, Professional Dues, Copies, etc. You also have the choice to use the canned groups supplied by Texthog, however to make your life easier come tax time; create groups based on your business. You then set a budget for each category. The program has a feature that will then alert you to ensure you stay within your monthly budgets, and will put your mind to ease when spending on your business.
Time to start tracking expenses! iPhone users have the ability to use the Texthog app. This app goes hand in hand with your online dashboard and allows you to update your expenses via the app interface by simply selecting a category and entering the expense. For those of you like me, who haven’t jumped on the iPhone bandwagon because you value good cell reception (hoping for Q4 release of Verizon iPhone, fingers crossed) you too get to manage your expense via text, email or even Twitter. Tracking expenditures is as easy as opening your email or text client on your phone, typing in the category, the vendor, and the price, and sending it to a unique email address supplied by Texthog during setup (I haven’t tested adding expenses with twitter because text and email just seems easier, however doing it via twitter is pretty tech savvy). I have found it works best to just save the email address in your contacts as Expense or some similar name that you will easily remember. The system will do the rest of the work for you. In my opinion, the coolest part of Texthog is the ability to take a photo of the receipt, attach it to your email or text, and toss it away. That receipt image will now be stored in the database alongside the expense entry. You can then go in and reproduce those receipt images if you were ever to get audited by Uncle Sam. Good bye ziplock bags full of business receipts.
Come tax time, you can now go into your dashboard and create reports on all of your expenses, saving you both the time and headache of searching and scrambling for 365 days worth of receipts and proof. All the data in your Texthog account can also be exported to a CSV file, or an import file for Microsoft Money, Quicken, or Quickbooks. The 7 bucks a month you spend on this program is well worth it if all it did was spare you from tax time madness; however tracking your expenses in real time, thus ensuring you cover all of your costs will probably lead to finding more than 84 dollars in extra deductions. (ps. I am no tax attorney, but I think using this tool to track business expenses would be considered a write off as well.)
While we are in the dead of summer and April is a quite a ways a way, it’s never too late to start. Sign up and begin today by entering your first 6 months worth of expenses via the online dash board and then track your second half costs via your mobile device. Good luck and here’s to a happier, less stressful April!