General Article

How to Determine Best Method to Track Mileage and Expenses

If you are an employee, self-employed or taxpayer, you may qualify to deduct the cost of operating your vehicle for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes according to the IRS. Additionally, keeping track of miles that fall under any of the previously mentioned categories is vital in order to request a reimbursement on expenses incurred for mileage driven or to deduct when tax season comes around. That may sound like a daunting task if keeping track of expenses and mileage incurred is part of your job, business etc.., especially if done with pen and paper through a mile log. That could be achieved by keeping a notebook, or printed template from a website kept in a binder or folder of like and function very manually some steps to consider:

Record starting mileage at the original destination
Ending mileage at the travel destination
Addresses of locations you were traveling to and from
Purpose of trip

While this is very do-able and if desired the required supplies and actions at essentially at your fingerprints, good rule of thumb before using any approach is to weigh in the Pros and Cons to determine if this would be the best fit for you. Remember when driving for business or whatever purpose you might encounter, reality is most of time you don’t plan for restroom breaks, meals or anything in between that may happen during the duration of the trip. This can quickly become a tedious task since in order to keep log as accurate as possible will have to update it every time, even those in between quick pit stops (restroom break, lunch, etc..).

Pros:
Easy to start
Minimal supplies required
No additional skills required

Cons:
Accuracy depends on consistency of user
Can be tedious
Rely on Honest system (with employee users)
Lacks Real time support to direct reports (employee users)
Manual Calculations
Time consuming, will take time away from productive activities

If paper and pen, recording every stop, calculating your own miles and trading productivity for busy, time consuming work sounds like something you can handle by all means please go ahead all the resources are probably sitting right in your desk this very second. Truth is though, we do live in a digital world where access to the internet is at our fingertips (literally), therefore leaving methods like this one very outdated. If you are firm believer of “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” then you should probably quit using the internet as well, because that was not the method information was traded before “it” too came along.

Pros:
Pricing – most platforms offer a basic free option that can be upgraded to unlock more features and benefits
Accessibility – since platform is built on app, it can be accessed at the convenience of your smartphone
Save Time – Easy to use, most apps simply are left to run in the background of your smartphone so you can spend time productive important matters
Hard to Misplace – You won’t have to worry about losing it and having to recreate it, most apps are backed into the cloud leaving your information stored at all times even if you lose your phone
Track Expenses – Some apps offer the function to link you bank account or upload receipts to automate your expenditures

Cons:
App user friendly skills – Simple app using skills required
Required tools needed for method does require smartphone – not everyone might have smartphone
Rely on GPS – means no internet = no tracking