Keeping your expenses on track

Need to stay on track with your business expenses? Follow these tips to help you better develop, oversee and run your expenses.

1. Set an expense management policy 

Start by making a list of the expenses your company will be paying, along with a list of expenses your company will not pay for. Be sure you’re communicating clearly what is and isn’t reimbursable. Be sure the policy is equitable and enforceable. Emphasize that it applies to everyone. If you need further guidance, you’ll find plenty of free templates online. 

2. Automate expense management where you can

Let’s face it…very few people use paper anymore. An automated expense management system makes the reporting process easier and much less time-consuming. 

3. Issue business credit cards

Company credit cards make it easier to keep track of spending, maximize cash flow, ease record keeping and simplify the reporting process. If you don’t think giving your employees a permanent card is reasonable, you can also offer single-use or set-dollar-amount cards. 

4. Make expenses as easy to track as possible

A system that enables employees to take pictures of their receipts simplifies the submission process—and helps prevent loss or disorganization of the receipts. There are numerous software programs and apps that allow for tracking and submitting images of expenses. You can then share and access this information with the managers and accounting team, allowing them to approve or reject reports. A good reporting system also helps you keep track of trends and patterns. 

5. Audit your processes regularly

Be sure to do regular audits so you can keep track of problems, overspending or fraud caused by a glitch in your processes. There are times that regular spending of minor amounts can add up to a large problem in the long run. You can prevent these types of issues with one of a number of software applications that are available to help you keep track of expenses and make it easier for you and your accounting team to spot irregularities.

6. Organize a paper trail/go paperless

If you’re still using paper receipts, consider switching to a digital view of receipts; it makes it so much easier to stay organized. Plus, having a centralized system will make it easier for any viewers or accounting teams to access the information—no rummaging through binders and loose paper. 

7. Regularly review expenses

The end of the year is always a busy time—and the worst time to find mistakes or overspending since it’s often too late to change things by then. Be sure you review and check each expense on a regular basis so you can be confident that you’re making the smartest and most logical spending decisions. 

8. Educate your employees on tracking best practices

It’s vital to identify and track financial problems as quickly as possible after they happen. The key is having a good accounting team that’s educated and informed on best practices. At a time when capital expenditures are being taken away from many businesses, aim for liquidity with thoroughly vetted and up-to-date expenses. 

9. Encourage transparency at every level

Don’t keep your expense policies to yourself—share them with your employees. You never know who might have a better or smarter idea that could benefit your company. Encourage employees to share their ideas and give them constructive (and kind) feedback on better ways to control and submit expenses when needed. 

10. Prevent fraud

Unfortunately, businesses large and small experience fraud. Fraud is more likely to happen when you’re disorganized and unable to keep up with expenses, so it’s important to stay in communication with your employees, pay attention to their actions and work to ensure they’re not crossing the line—and that you’re not letting it happen.

Remember to stay organized, communicate, check in regularly and go paperless! 

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