5 Common Expense Tracking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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14 years of experience in software consulting. CEO for SparkReceipt.
Common expense tracking mistakes

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Expense tracking can seem like a tedious chore, but its importance in managing your finances and planning for your business cannot be overstated. Many small business owners, freelancers, and individuals often fall into the same common traps when it comes to tracking their expenses, leading to financial errors, missed tax deductions, and even legal issues. Fortunately, these pitfalls can be easily avoided with a bit of awareness and the right business receipt scanner app, like SparkReceipt, to guide you. For our complete list of best receipt scanner and organizer apps, read more on this blog post.

1. Procrastinating on Expense Tracking

The Problem:

You arrive home after a long day of work, perhaps with your bag full of paper receipts or your email full of unsorted invoices. You promise yourself you’ll sort them out eventually, only for that pile to grow taller and taller as days turn into weeks. This procrastination regarding expense tracking can lead to a mountain of financial disarray with numerous hidden dangers.

Just like a snowball rolling down a hill gains mass and speed, so does your pile of unsorted receipts and invoices. Each new expense that goes untracked adds complexity to your financial picture. And you become increasingly discouraged from tackling it. Finally, the situation turns into a vicious cycle where the effort required for the task keeps you from beginning it in the first place.

How to Avoid:

Make it a habit to track expenses as soon as they occur. Use a receipt scanner app to instantly scan your receipts and log your expenses, making the process quicker and less overwhelming. As soon as you receive an e-receipt or e-invoice, forward them to the expense tracker without even needing to open the app.

Modern receipt scanner and organizer apps also utilize various technologies to automatically extract data from your receipts. And with the beginning of the AI revolution, new tools like SparkReceipt are becoming increasingly efficient at this.

2. Failure to Categorize Expenses Properly

The Problem:

Poor categorization can lead to inaccurate financial reports and missed opportunities for tax deductions. If you do not categorize your expenses, you have a hard time seeing where your hard-earned money is going. And this disarray makes everything exponentially more difficult when multiple people in the business have their own reimbursable expenses.

How to Avoid:

When you record an expense, make sure to categorize it correctly. Many receipt scanner and expense tracker apps allows you to categorize expenses into pre-defined or customized categories, ensuring that your financial records are organized and accurate. To make your task even simpler, choose an app specifically meant for your use case, e.g. small business receipt organization, to have the best preset of categories for accounting.

3. Neglecting to Track Small Expenses

The Problem:

Many people believe that small expenses are inconsequential and don’t need to be tracked, but these little costs can add up and impact your budget over time. If you don’t quickly scan and organize these small receipts, you could miss out on valuable tax deductions. Small expenses are also more likely to get lost or forgotten because they are often great in numbers but seem less important, leading to missed opportunities for savings and accurate bookkeeping.

How to Avoid:

Every penny counts. Whether it’s a $2 coffee or a $20 office supply run, make sure to track all expenses, no matter how minor they seem. Using a receipt tracking app makes it easy to capture these smaller expenses so they won’t be overlooked. Just snap a picture of the receipt in seconds and it will be automatically read and categorized.

4. Ignoring the Importance of Digital Backups

The Problem:

Physical receipts can fade, get lost, or become damaged. Without a digital backup, you lose all proof of that transaction. Simply saving a digital image of your receipt on your laptop isn’t a complete solution either. Computer files are at risk from accidents, damage, or accidental deletion. In addition, just using digital folders for receipt and expense tracking makes it hard to sort and find your expenses effectively. You miss out on useful data and search features that specialized expense tracking tools offer.

How to Avoid:

Always back up your financial documents. Receipt scanner apps not only allow you to scan and store your receipts digitally but also offer cloud backup features to ensure that you never lose an important financial document.

5. Failing to Separate Business and Personal Expenses

The Problem:

Mixing business and personal expenses can create a lot of confusion when it’s time to file taxes or audit your accounts. It can also make it challenging to understand the true profitability of your business or freelance work.

How to Avoid:

The best practice is to have separate accounts for business and personal expenses, making it easier to categorize and track expenditures. Use an receipt scanning and expense tracking app like SparkReceipt to filter and sort your expenses into distinct categories. These tools will help you maintain a clear boundary between your personal and business finances, making tax filing and financial analysis much simpler.

Why Proper Expense Tracking is a Must

Expense tracking doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By being mindful of these common mistakes and implementing solutions like SparkReceipt, you can manage your finances efficiently and focus more on growing your business or fulfilling your freelance potential. Keep your finances in check, and let a scanner for receipts and expenses help you avoid these pitfalls.