Start: Mark Evans

Do you know where your receipts are?

Special to The Globe and Mail

(Pete Gardner)

When I started ME Consulting in January, 2009, a bookkeeper friend of mine invited me to his office to provide the low-down on how to make sure your books and accounting records stay organized.

I dutifully took pages and pages of notes, and then pretty much ignored all of his advice. Instead of having neatly organized receipts separated in files by month or spending, they were thrown into a shoebox.

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Agreements and contracts were either piled up on my desk or stashed away in a variety of places with no structure. It makes finding a specific document nearly impossible.

The only saving grace was that I used Freshbooks.com for every invoice, which provides information on how much money I had made. I also recorded most of my spending using accounting software (a topic for a future column). It meant that rather than suffering from total financial disorganization, there was a small glimmer of hope that things could eventually get organized.

If there's any day of the year that hammers home the importance of having your finances well-organized, it's today, when your income taxes are, in theory, supposed to be paid. If things are done right, the process to complete your income tax filing should be fairly hassle-free whether it is a DIY project or handled by an accountant.

That said, I doubt that many people are as organized as my friend the bookkeeper, whose filing system is both impressive and daunting. For most of us, the April 30 tax deadline means scrambling to find receipts, bills and all the other documents needed to file everything as completely and efficiently as possible.

If there is a lesson to be learned today, it's that being organized can save a lot of pain, aggravation and frustration. Making sure your records are in good shape can be a solid step in providing some sense of financial disciple, while making tax filing season a relative breeze.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting, a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences .