making analog beauty possible

Things have been a little quiet around here lately because I’ve been digging myself out from under a pile of nearly a decade's worth of tax paperwork and business expense receipts. The not-so-glamorous side of running a small business. Our tagline, “analog beauty” seemed like a cruel joke as I spent a truly insane amount of time digitizing and shredding faded receipts from as far back as December 2010. It all began when I started to crave a little more shelf space in our tiny tenement apartment, and my neatly organized (but space hogging) accordion receipt file collection was the first thing in my sights. When you work alone, as I still do, it’s all too easy to get so busy keeping everything going from day to day that you forget to pause, reassess and create new systems for yourself to make things easier in the long run. Digitizing one’s receipts has been fairly common practice for at least a few years now, but I was hesitant to make the switch, fearing how much time it would take. And then a few weeks ago, I decided to just dive in.

Over the years, I’ve made most of my business decisions by trial and error, and despite my passion for the analog approach, I’ve come to realize that there are a number of digital innovations that are worth embracing in order to actually be able to spend more time making things by hand. Which is what I’d rather be doing. That is the litmus test I use before committing to a new system, does it free up time for creative work? (The jury is out for me in a big way right now on that vis-à-vis social media, in case you're wondering why I've been a bit scarce in those spaces of late.) If any of you reading this happen to be in the same boat, I thought I’d share a few things that have made keeping this little enterprise afloat just a touch simpler. Full disclosure, some of the links below are affiliate links, but I would never recommend a service to you that I don’t personally use and love.

Expensify is an app that helps you organize expense receipts, and I’ve now used it to reduce my paper pile to almost nothing. Its SmartScan technology is pretty good (though not perfect) at extracting vendor names, dates and totals, and has saved me an incredible amount of time. And now that I’m in the habit, I use it to scan in receipts as I go, before they turn into a pile. You can also email digital invoices to your account and they get automatically entered into your reports. Brilliant. The individual plan I use is $4.99 per month.

Last year, after doing my own books ineptly for way too long, I switched to Bench Accounting, and it has been worth every penny not to have to worry about it anymore. All my various accounts and platforms are connected, and they check in with me here and there, and then they prepare a year-end report for my taxes. I could not be more thrilled to leave this to the experts. At first, I found it to be a little pricey, but I have managed to budget for it and have absolutely no regrets. Use this link to get a month of free bookkeeping + another free month if you decide to sign up.

It can be really hard to save money when you’re constantly reinvesting in growing your business, which is why I decided to try Digit, a sneaky little app that saves automatically for you. I now have it running on both my personal and business accounts, to save for personal travel and as a way to set aside funds for unexpected expenses at work, respectively. Digit helped me save for our trip to France two autumns ago, and is helping me build up a little cushion for the maintenance issues that are part of keeping a studio in an ancient building on NYC’s oldest thoroughfare. You can learn more here and sign up using my link. (You’ll get $5 to start when you sign up!)

These are three little shifts I’ve made over the last little while that have made a big difference in how I approach my finances, lowering the stress level significantly. I’d love to hear from you, too, do you have any digital tricks up your sleeve to help manage your finances so you can spend more time doing what you love?

(p.s. this is a photo of my jasmine plant blooming in the studio right now. It’s the first time I’ve ever succeeded in having it re-bloom in my care. Here’s what I did: repotted it and gave it a good trim in the autumn, then fed it with compost from 6&B Garden. Watered regularly, and trained it up the window into the eastern light. Voila!)

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