When you’re always on the road, keeping your financial records organized can be hard. You may not always have time to document your transactions, and it can be easy to lose track of receipts.
As an owner-operator, however, bookkeeping is an important part of running your trucking business. Understanding bookkeeping helps to give you a clear picture of your business’ performance and be ready for tax time.
That’s why we’ve put together a few truckers’ bookkeeping tips to simplify your bookkeeping process. Keep reading below for our guide to bookkeeping for truckers!
What is bookkeeping?
The practice of recording each financial transaction a company entity does from its inception to its closure is known as bookkeeping. Each financial transaction is documented based on supporting paperwork, depending on the type of accounting system the company uses. That’s right—all those little slips of paper you keep in your glovebox are important to your trucking business! And you should be documenting them for your finances on a regular basis.
Why is bookkeeping important?
It may be tedious to record all of your transactions, but come tax season, you’ll thank yourself! By keeping track of every penny you spend and earn, you may be able to find new deductibles and save your business even more money.
Well-organized financial records can also provide a great deal of information about your business. You can use this information to gauge your company’s performance and make decisions about your budget, workflow, investments, and potential growth.
Using bookkeeping software vs. hiring a bookkeeper
There is one major factor you’ll want to consider when deciding how you want to manage your bookkeeping—time.
For trucker drivers who prefer to spend their off-duty time resting up for their next long-haul trip, hiring a bookkeeper can be a great investment. Balancing the books is time-consuming, and time is money! You can rest easy knowing your finances are in the hands of a professional. Bookkeepers can also be a great source of financial knowledge and may be able to share valuable insight that can improve your business’ overall performance.
If you prefer to manage your financial records on your own, there are several ways to go about it. While some may choose to use the traditional pen and paper, it’s better to digitize your records to avoid risking damage or errors in entries.
One way to digitize your documents is by creating a spreadsheet. Check out this guide to creating a trucking accounting spreadsheet:
Spreadsheets are convenient, but they still take quite a bit of time to build and maintain. They also don’t come with any of the fancy bells and whistles that bookkeeping apps and software do. Many bookkeeping apps and software will generate reports and draw valuable insights based on your data.
We highly recommend using bookkeeping apps and software to simplify your accounting process. Additionally, there is free bookkeeping software for truckers to use.
Top 4 trucker bookkeeping apps
This is one of the most well-known accounting for owner operators for a reason. It’s a simple-to-use, all-in-one accounting platform that includes many useful features such as income and expense tracking, mileage tracking, and invoicing.
It also integrates seamlessly with TruckingOffice, a trucking management system that helps you manage your dispatches and expenses, as well as prepare your IFTA reports.
Access all these features from your computer or mobile device, so you’re ready for anything on and off the road.
Keep your dashboard organized and paper-free with Shoeboxed. Shoeboxed takes your physical documents, digitizes them, and saves them to the cloud, so they’re accessible anytime, anywhere.
Simply use your phone camera to take a photo of any receipts, invoices, business cards, or paper documents. The app will transcribe them using optical character recognition (OCR) so that you can easily search for and edit them later. This information will also be double-checked by Shoeboxed’s data verification experts.
If you don’t have time to sort through all your documents, try our Magic Envelope. All you have to do is place your receipts into the postage-paid envelope and send it off to our processing facility. We’ll do all the work for you!
This cloud-based truck management software allows you to track fuel mileage, expenses, trips, and orders. While it’s not as well-rounded as the other options on this list, its most popular feature can help improve your bottom line.
Rigbooks analyzes each of your loads to let you know its true cost per mile. That way you can choose the most profitable loads and avoid wasting time and money.
If you’re experienced in bookkeeping and are managing a small or medium-sized trucking business, consider Q7.
Q7 is a fleet management software that also acts as full double-entry accounting software. Alongside its standard accounting features, Q7 offers a number of useful functions for owner-operators including dispatch software and a freight billing component. That means you’ll be able to manage all areas of your business from one place.
There is a steep learning curve with Q7 and it can be pricey, but if you are looking for a software that does it all, Q7 is definitely worth it.
Bookkeeping best practices for truckers
As you hop off your rig after a long, cross-country drive, bookkeeping is likely the last thing on your mind. It’s tedious work, and even if you employ a bookkeeper, you still need to hold onto and organize your documents on a regular basis.
Keep reading below for some useful tips to simplify your accounting process.
Keep an online copy of your bills
Avoid missed payments and stay on top of the money going out of your bank account by switching to electronic billing. That way, all of your bills can be accessed through any computer or mobile device, no matter where you are in the world. For any bills that don’t have an option to go digital, you can use Shoeboxed to scan your paper copies and save them to the cloud.
Learn about tax deductibles
Don’t “tip” the taxman. Make sure you research any and all deductibles your trucking business could be eligible for. If you’re self-employed, all of your business expenses are likely deductible—even your vehicle expenses like fuel, tolls, and parking! This is where your accounting software comes in handy. The data your software collects from your bills, invoices, and receipts can all be used to help find and prove eligibility for your deductibles.
Organize your receipts
One of your most powerful bookkeeping resources comes in the form of a tiny slip of paper—receipts! Without them, you run the risk of losing hundreds, even thousands, in taxes. You also miss out on valuable information on your business’ spending.
To learn more about organizing your receipts, check out our ultimate receipt organization guide. It’s long, but thorough, and makes a great truck-stop read!
Get a business credit card/bank account
How many times do you fill your tank while you’re on the road? Those charges add up and can certainly make a large dent in your credit card bill.
Save yourself the trouble at the end of every month by applying for a business credit card and bank account. That way, you won’t have any mix-ups between personal and business spending. The last thing you want is to end up paying a business expense out of your own pocket.
You’ll also have an easier time tracking and documenting your spending, as most accounting software can integrate with your bank account.
Update your books daily
What does taking the garbage out and recording expenses have in common? They’re both chores! You may dread them, you may forget to do them, but they’re necessary and have to be done eventually.
We recommend updating your books on a daily basis so you can make sure all the details of your transactions are fresh in your mind. The accounting software recommended in this article come with mobile apps, so even if you’re not at your desk, you have no excuse! If you find it difficult to find time to update your books daily, at least aim to update them weekly.
Check out this video for some great tips to simplify your record-keeping:
Frequently asked questions
1. Rigbooks—cloud-based truck management software allows you to track fuel mileage, expenses, trips, and orders.
2. Q7—Q7 is a fleet management software that also acts as full double-entry accounting software. There is a steep learning curve with Q7 and it can be pricey, but if you are looking for a software that does it all, Q7 is definitely worth it.
3. Quickbooks—integrates seamlessly with TruckingOffice, a trucking management system that helps you manage your dispatches and expenses, as well as prepare your IFTA reports.
4. Shoeboxed—keep your dashboard organized and paper-free with Shoeboxed’s Magic Envelope. All you have to do is place your receipts into the postage-paid envelope and send it off to our processing facility. We’ll do all the digitizing work for you!
1. Keep an online copy of your bills
2. Learn about tax deductibles you could be missing out on
3. Organize your receipts
4. Get a business credit card/bank account
5. Update your books daily
We hope this guide helps you on your journey to efficient bookkeeping for truckers! Bookkeeping is a tedious but essential task that will help your trucking business thrive and prepare you for tax time. It’s not the easiest road to drive on, but you’ll definitely reap the rewards when you reach your destination—financial success!
Originally published on August 11, 2021. Updated on September 12, 2022.
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