By Allissa Haines & Michael Reynolds
In our last Massage & Bodywork column, “Spring into Strategic Saving,” we talked about adding a little structure to your financial habits, so you can plan for a great 2018 and beyond.
We believe that great habits are supported by easy-to-use tools (and the occasional cookie for a reward), so we’re excited to share our favorite tools for understanding and handling the money in your massage business.
Many of us jumped into business ownership without a clue as to what that would mean financially, and especially without knowing what that means for taxes and financial planning. Knowledge is the best tool you can wield, so here are our favorite books to get business-money savvy.
An earlier version of this book was Allissa’s very first money book. It focuses on sole proprietorships and breaks down complicated tax rules into real, applicable situations. It’s not the only money book you’ll ever need, but it’s a great starter for people who have never run a business and feel a little lost or confused about what a business is and how taxes are handled.
Can I Deduct That? 2017: 100 Things You Can (and maybe can't) Take As Business Deductions by Margo Bowman and Kelly Bowers
Written especially for the (very) small business owner, this book is perfect for massage therapists, bodyworkers, and similar professions.
The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs by Joseph D’Agnese & Denise Kiernan
If you’ve ever found yourself short on cash the week quarterly taxes are due, or wondered to yourself, “When do I get paid?” this is the book for you. It includes actual systems for how to organize, save, and spend your money. And it covers the reasoning, which we found very helpful in overcoming fears and emotional obstacles in handling self-employment income.
Apps & budget programs
Mint is a free web/mobile app from Intuit that helps with budgeting, saving, account monitoring, and goal setting. Mint is a great all-around general personal finance tool. It’s not as robust as some other budgeting tools that are more specialized for budgeting (like YNAB) but it is pretty well-rounded.
The goal-setting feature is nice because it allows you to set a goal (such as a vacation, large purchase, etc.) and then calculates your monthly savings amount and coaches you toward it.
It is also pretty good at “learning” how to categorize things as they come in. We call it well-rounded because it will pull in and sync up with all your accounts in one place: checking, savings, retirement, college savings, investment accounts, loans, and pretty much anything you can throw at it.
One downside of Mint is that it is constantly displaying ads for credit cards and other offers. But hey ... it’s free and it works.
You Need a Budget is the ultimate financial control tool (and has replaced Mint for Allissa). There’s a learning curve for sure (watch the live training videos; they are fantastic) but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be budgeting and saving and planning for the next round of bills like a champ. Our favorite part of YNAB is how it helps you see and plan for bigger goals.
Saving up for an electric table? Create a goal and YNAB will determine how much to save each month, and help you prioritize to make that happen. Got a bunch of big bills that hit at the same time each year? YNAB can help you prepare and take the edge off the impending doom. There’s a free trial, then it’s $84 for a year. Yes, that’s a chunk of change. But if you embrace the tool, it’s worth every penny.
Dave Ramsey has a tool called EveryDollar that is designed to help people budget according to his 7-step “baby steps” program. It’s very well-designed but the downside is that the free version does not sync up with your bank. To sync up with your bank you will need to upgrade to EveryDollar Plus, which is $100/year.
EveryDollar’s strength is in its ease of use and clean user interface. It’s nice to be able to use a budgeting app that doesn’t push ads in your face all the time (*cough* Mint *cough*).
If you use a bookkeeping software, you may already use their tool for uploading and storing receipts.
There are plenty of apps that allow you to scan documents and upload files to virtual storage.
Google Suite is the whole package of calendar, email, document storage, and a ton of other features all in one place. I like that Google’s tools are versatile and organized like a virtual file cabinet. I store images of receipts, bank statements, and all kinds of stuff I used to have to keep in an actual file cabinet (like copies of all my liability insurance policies and important business documents, etc.).
Probably the most popular receipt management tool is Shoeboxed. It’s a pretty easy to use service that lets you scan, email, or snail mail in your receipts and then store and search them in the cloud.
I’ve used Shoeboxed in the past and it mostly worked well. However, I’ve had issues with finding things later and the user interface is not awesome.
So. Many. Options.
These are just a few ideas in a huge field of options. With a little digging, you may find that some of the tools you already use can help you budget or store your receipts. Read the manual and watch the tutorials for the programs you already have.
Whichever tool you choose, just get started!
Allissa Haines runs a massage practice and collaborative wellness center in Massachusetts. She partners with Michael Reynolds to create business and marketing resources for massage therapists like you at www.massagebusinessblueprint.com.