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n103
4th July 2010, 23:05
Hello, am new here and just getting started with contracting. Have a few questions, would appreciate any thoughts:

1. How do you organise all the paperwork? Can anyone recommend a way to file letters, HMRC forms, expenses, receipts, etc that works for them? Also, what method of organising files on your computer works well?

2. How well do you separate your personal communication from your work-related communication e.g. separate email address, separate mobile number, etc?

3. Other than your main contract, do any of you have any side business activities that maybe you do over the weekend or spare time? Would love to know how many do this, or would like to do this? Also, specifically I'm curious if your accountant handles the other businesses (I'm with one of the big contractor accountants, and I dont think they do handle anything other than your main contract).

Many thanks in advance.

northernladuk
5th July 2010, 08:23
This is ridiculous. This section needs to be locked. It is just spammed with sockies and trolls attempting to be funny.



Can anyone recommend a way to file letters,


Someone shoot me please....:sick

administrator
5th July 2010, 08:40
This is ridiculous. This section needs to be locked. It is just spammed with sockies and trolls attempting to be funny.



Someone shoot me please....:sick

:laugh


Hello, am new here and just getting started with contracting. Have a few questions, would appreciate any thoughts:

1. How do you organise all the paperwork? Can anyone recommend a way to file letters, HMRC forms, expenses, receipts, etc that works for them? Also, what method of organising files on your computer works well?

Two ASDA bags. One with "Home" written on it, one with "Business" written on it. Sorted.

Actually 2 drawers in a filing cabinet...



2. How well do you separate your personal communication from your work-related communication e.g. separate email address, separate mobile number, etc?

One mobile number, 2 is a pain in the arse although I know some take out a PAYG mobile for use on CVs and only turn it on when looking for work.

I do have business and personal emails.



3. Other than your main contract, do any of you have any side business activities that maybe you do over the weekend or spare time? Would love to know how many do this, or would like to do this? Also, specifically I'm curious if your accountant handles the other businesses (I'm with one of the big contractor accountants, and I dont think they do handle anything other than your main contract).

Many thanks in advance.

My accountant is sent all invoices raised by my business plus all expenses quarterly. From this he does my VAT return and then EOY accounts too. Don't see why this would be any different for any of the contractor specific accountants. Especially if you are routing weekend work through your one Ltd then why on earth would it go to another accountant? They would not be able to create EOY accounts with only half the details...

Sysman
5th July 2010, 12:29
Two ASDA bags. One with "Home" written on it, one with "Business" written on it. Sorted.

You may jest, but many accountants have to deal with plastic bags of receipts from self employed folks all the time. A pair of accountancy lasses can get through them in pretty swift order.


Actually 2 drawers in a filing cabinet...

I used to use Sage but then migrated to QuickBooks, and did the basic book keeping and VAT myself. Since my early IT career involved accounting systems and payroll this was a piece of cake. I filed the printouts according to printout type, i.e. all the trial balances for a year were together, all the day books were together and so on.

To control receipts I created an expenses form, adapted from one of the better ones I had used as a permie. Fill in the details, staple receipts to the back, and enter them as a batch to my accounts program. By keeping these bang up to date it was surprising how many incidentals such as phone box calls (in the days before mobiles) I caught. I would have forgotten these if I had left it all to the end of a quarter.

n103
6th July 2010, 21:59
Thanks for the tips, sysman and admin.

Punter
7th July 2010, 13:03
To control receipts I created an expenses form, adapted from one of the better ones I had used as a permie. Fill in the details, staple receipts to the back, and enter them as a batch to my accounts program. By keeping these bang up to date it was surprising how many incidentals such as phone box calls (in the days before mobiles) I caught. I would have forgotten these if I had left it all to the end of a quarter.

Ditto.

I keep all receipts and do a monthly expense claim form to the company. It includes all allowable costs, like travel, hotels, subsistence, car mileage, phones, subsistence, incidentals (£5 a night in UK, £10 overseas), fees, insurances, accounting fees, subscriptions, stationery, home office costs, Christmas turkey.

One expense a month, one invoice a month, one VAT payment PAYE/NIC a quarter. One page in Excel.

TheFaQQer
7th July 2010, 13:49
Ditto.

I keep all receipts and do a monthly expense claim form to the company. It includes all allowable costs, like travel, hotels, subsistence, car mileage, phones, subsistence, incidentals (£5 a night in UK, £10 overseas), fees, insurances, accounting fees, subscriptions, stationery, home office costs, Christmas turkey.

One expense a month, one invoice a month, one VAT payment PAYE/NIC a quarter. One page in Excel.

That's what I do too - just have a printed page from Excel that I enter my expenses on and staple the receipts to it. When I get round to it, enter them into my accounting spreadsheet, put the papers in a poly pocket and file away with that year's accounts. End of year, email spreadsheet to accountant and give him the paperwork at some stage.

Having a well documented expenses approval system also means that you can apply for a dispensation to save paperwork when it comes to P11D, as well.

Clippy
15th July 2010, 12:48
That's what I do too - just have a printed page from Excel that I enter my expenses on and staple the receipts to it. When I get round to it, enter them into my accounting spreadsheet, put the papers in a poly pocket and file away with that year's accounts. End of year, email spreadsheet to accountant and give him the paperwork at some stage.

Having a well documented expenses approval system also means that you can apply for a dispensation to save paperwork when it comes to P11D, as well.

Similar approach to mine but, when I incur an expense, I file it in a poly pocket and update my spreadsheet straightaway and always reclaim my expenses at the end of the month.

Might sound anal but expenses can easily spiral out of control if you have a lot of them leaving you scratching your head when trying to compile them after several months and, potentially, out of pocket.

Learnt to do this from my first permie job after uni which involved a large amount of travel and hence, expenses.

Wanderer
17th July 2010, 11:40
1. How do you organise all the paperwork? Can anyone recommend a way to file letters, HMRC forms, expenses, receipts, etc that works for them? Also, what method of organising files on your computer works well?

Anything that's got an electronic copy is filed on my computer. Invoices and really important stuff are scanned and filed on the computer. Everything else gets thrown in a big box.


2. How well do you separate your personal communication from your work-related communication e.g. separate email address, separate mobile number, etc?

Sort of. My company stuff (accountant etc) uses my personal email address. Work stuff goes to the work email address. It's trivial to setup a new email address in your company name and probably not such a bad idea either.

For phones: Some providers will give you a secondary number on your phone that you can use for business calls. Just remember to have it handy if anyone asks what your number is!

When I'm looking for work I get a PAYG sim and a new email address then apply for loads and loads of jobs. Once I'm in a stable job, I throw away the SIM and the email address - I hate having agents ringing or spamming me all the time when I don't want to talk to them.


3. Other than your main contract, do any of you have any side business activities that maybe you do over the weekend or spare time? Would love to know how many do this, or would like to do this? Also, specifically I'm curious if your accountant handles the other businesses (I'm with one of the big contractor accountants, and I dont think they do handle anything other than your main contract).

You can do what you like with your company. The only limitation is that you may have to drop out of the FRS VAT scheme if you aren't in a single line of business. If the accountant can't handle then sack them and get one who can.

n103
19th July 2010, 19:18
Thanks once again, very useful.

Support Monkey
20th July 2010, 21:34
Also, what method of organising files on your computer works well?



Sorry i must have opened up the wrong forum I thought this was for IT contractors

Seriously though its a good question as it can be pretty tricky and i can see why some people may lose sleep over it

1 Folder on computer with company name on, everything electronic goes in there, end of year put it in a folder with the year on it,

1 folder (blue display folder from STAPLES, get a receipt) all the paperworkgoes in there, end of year transfer folder contents to Filing box (WH SMITHS, get a receipt) write the year on it with a big marker pen (get a receipt for that as well) and put it in the loft with the previous years

2 email address business and Personal but they both come in to the same inbox if you need to know how to split the emails you perhaps should be thinking of alternative employment

Aman
19th August 2010, 10:15
Your Local Enterprise Council and bank will have free books and material on running accounts of a small business.

If you don't prepare your own year end accounts then your aim is to have things organised just enough for an accountant to prepare the Y/E accounts.
Keep a note of due dates for year end accounts P11Ds, Shuttle Returns, Self Assessment etc and set alarms if necessary.

If you have many clients and are reselling or have purchasing requirements for each client you should see an accountant to produce a "chart of accounts".

Henceforth, I'll assume your business affairs are straightforward.

It's far less paperwork billing monthly.


If you have space (and funds) invest in a filing cabinet or metal locking shutter cabinet and a shredder.

You may want to use a PC based accounting package like Sage.

Bank Statements
Most recent at front.

Sales Ledger
Lever arch folder
Invoices sent out go in the sales. Organised by date paid up.
If remittance advice is received from client, file RA note with invoice. If you have one client it's not work bother even having monthly dividers.
Write up sales income in cashflow sheet.

Purchase Ledger
Lever arch folder with monthly dividers
Utility bill front sheets filed by month. The accountant / auditor has no need to see the itemised telephone call statements, so no need to file them in accounts.
Receipts for payments by Company cheque filed by month. Write CHQ <cheque no> on receipts.
Ditto company debit card. Write DBT on receipt.
If capital items note the serial numbers of these big ticket on receipts (and in inventory).
Little receipts (in size not value ) I used to tape to an A4 sheet.

Ledger front (work)sheet: List each transaction (overview) eg
18 August 2010| Ryman | stationery | £10.00 | /2.00VAT | 12.00
rather than itemising box of staples, 1 roll of sellotape….
As they occur or at end of week write up in cashflow sheet.

Inventory
Secured spreadsheet with
Purchase date | vendor | item | model no | serial number | security markings | location of security markings.
You may wish to photograph items.

Expenses claimable from client
Plastic zip bag until billing run.

Expenses (not claimable from client)
It's a little easier to bookkeep direct and indirect expenses if you have a business debit card. Business expense transactions will appear on your bank statement so you're less likely to miss transactions at year-end. I didn't have a company debit card and with less places taking company cheques better and online prices, I found myself having to buy capital items on my own card then claiming as expenses.

I put receipts for out of pocket expenses in DL envelope with yyyy-mm
At the end of each month fill in Monthly expenses (spreadsheet) form and staple printout to envelope.

My monthly expenses form is sectioned into travel | hotels & subsistence | professional fees & training | motoring | ICT | sundry items. You could pick a form off most umbrella company's website and adapt to suit your business area.

I file all the monthly expenses envelopes in Fox's Favourites (perfect for sharing) biscuit box 1kg or Jacobs Biscuits for cheese 1kg box until Y/E. They are the right width for DL envelopes

Add in subtotals to cashflow.
Copy of monthly expense report posted in Expense Folder (Lever Arch)
Totals for each employee listed in front sheet.

VAT
VAT ledger I keep with all Y/E accounts in a lever arch. A sheet with whatever was entered on all the VAT forms.

Every three months
Add your VAT paid
Add up VAT charged
Submit VAT form (the easy tax)
Enter amounts in cashflow sheet.


Payroll
I worked out a small nominal salary amount, asked the IR (now HMRC) the Tax and NI contributions were for that and paid by standing order to save any nasty surprises at end of year.

Correspondence (non transactional)
Lever Arch file with correspondence from each organisation kept together, most recent at front.

I relegate accounts from 2 years ago onto treasury tags and file in a metal box, with silica gel sachet to make little more secure against rodent and damp damage and partially secure against fire damage.
Keep all accounts for 7 years and a day.
Shred, burn or otherwise dispose of securely.

DS23
10th September 2010, 11:49
good work aman. have a banana

:banana:

cojak
10th September 2010, 11:59
Yeah, not bad. :yay:

I rarely scan expenses anymore, I have an iPhone app (Expense Tracker) that can log an expense entry and attach a photo of the receipt.

Then at the end of the month I'll post an excel .csv file to myself along with all the attachments.

Sorted.

Xenophon
10th September 2010, 12:52
I use a miniature Filipino ladyboy to do all of my filing.

CheeseSlice
10th September 2010, 13:11
Expenses (not claimable from client)
It's a little easier to bookkeep direct and indirect expenses if you have a business debit card.

You have a business debit card? I didn't think any banks did this, just credit cards. If so, who with?

Thanks.

FiveTimes
10th September 2010, 15:29
You have a business debit card? I didn't think any banks did this, just credit cards. If so, who with?

Thanks.

I have a business debit card with Alliance and Leicester.

I would have thought the debit card was easier that a credit card ?

Aman
12th September 2010, 17:37
You have a business debit card? I didn't think any banks did this, just credit cards. If so, who with?

Thanks.

I don't but I know some business banks do them. I wrote in past tense because my company is dormant and I'm no longer with that bank. Business debit cards will probably become more prevalent as business cheques are phased out.
I really wish I had one when I was trading as it would have made expenses a lot simpler. I missed some relatively large transactions on expenses because I didn't [edit: have a business debit card] or because I misplaced receipts or didn't check transactions on my personal accounts.
With payments on company cheque you don't have to dig out the stubs to trace a payment only to find out you didn't fill in that particular stub.

*BoS shut down my business account because I made a complaint. They were excellent in 1996 but deteriorated since Halifax merger.
The FT publishes business bank account information two or three times a week but I'm not sure on which days.