Zen and the Art of Bookkeeping – Simple Ways for WAHM’s to Master this Dreaded Task

Spend a day with the average Work At Home Mom, a.k.a. WAHM, and you will come away wondering how the heck she manages to get through the day without yanking all of her hair out. WAHMs are like superheroes. They can cook pasta, wipe Johnny’s runny nose, change Susie’s diaper, and do a sink full of dishes—all while fulfilling an order for their home-based business. But no one, not even Super Mom, can do it all. And the duty that is usually swept under the proverbial rug is bookkeeping—the dreaded “B” word.

“I used to have long, lustrous locks. Then I tried bookkeeping and ripped all my hair out.”

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/photo/523442

       Unfortunately, your bookkeeping duties can’t remain buried beneath your Berber forever. Someone might trip on them. They must be tackled. But don’t start sifting through the yellow pages for a wig supplier just yet. Here are a few easy tips to help you get that nasty bookkeeping done, keep your signature tresses in place, and avoid nasty letters from the I.R.S.

  • Invest in software.

It is important to purchase software that is designed specifically for small business bookkeeping and not a program meant for personal finance needs. Bookkeeping software will make your life so much easier and actually make a loathed task fun—almost.

All you do is input the information and the software adds up the numbers, generates invoices, keeps track of what is owed to you, and makes your tax preparation a breeze. Some programs that you might want to check out include Quickbooks, Peachtree, Sage 50, and Bookkeeper.

  • Make bookkeeping a habit.

Unlike New Year’s Resolutions, you cannot abandon your bookkeeping routine. Ignoring these duties will result in an intimidating mountain of receipts and invoices that, once again, will have you mangling your auburn mane.

Maintaining a regular routine, however, will allow you to keep on top of things and no longer dread this necessary task.

“Since I’ve gone paperless, I have saved a fortune on bandages.”

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/photo/729161.

  • Opt for paperless.

Nothing is more frustrating and time-consuming than sifting through heaps of paper—and that’s assuming that what you’re looking for hasn’t been lost. Creating a “paper trail” made of actual paper is no longer the best route to take.

While it is impossible to eliminate all paper, you can significantly decrease the amount that crosses your desk. You can use on-line banking to manage your accounts, set up automatic debits to pay bills, and use a business credit card that will track your business purchases. This way, all of your statements are readily available to you with the click of a button.

  • Develop a Filing System.

Sometimes paper cannot be avoided. Stores still issue paper receipts for purchases. And some businesses still deal in paper invoices. In order to maintain these often tiny pieces of paper, you need to develop and stick with a filing system.

Whether you choose to use actual filing cabinets, accordion files, or some other clever storage device, you need to find the one that works best for you. This means it will come naturally to you, allow you to retrieve information easily, and that you will be able to keep it up.

  • Know when you need help.

There may come a time when your business warrants an outside bookkeeper and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you’re too busy making sales to engage in your bookkeeping duties or if you have hired employees and are considering payrolloutsourcing, go for it. Trying to juggle too many balls at once will only stress you out and make your business suffer.

  • Give yourself a pat on the back.

Whenever we commit ourselves to a new course of action and stick with it—particularly when it involves doing something we despise—we need to be rewarded. Some may say that avoiding an I.R.S. audit should be reward enough, but it isn’t.

Find an extrinsic reward that motivates you—a dinner out, a new sweater, a manicure or something completely different—and give it to yourself for a job well done. This will encourage you to keep up the good work.

“I’m so happy that my hair has grown back in.”

Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Beauty_g419-Hairdresser_Combing_Costumers_Hair_p114317.html.


Once you have the tools and the know-how, bookkeeping is really a doable chore. Super Mom can now officially do it all—and you can finally get rid of that unsightly lump under the carpet.

What bookkeeping tips can you offer your fellow WAHMs? Let us know in the comments section below!


Contributor Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer, avid blogger, and illustrator who also harbors a fear of bookkeeping and all things related to numbers. And, yes, she has followed her own advice.  

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