Wednesday, 7 December 2005

actually quite dull

Yesterday, R and I finally did B's expenses and fed them in to the VAT return.

Doing B's expenses is a quarterly trial. He doesn't often have time to do them himself and I initially declined to do them, not wanting to take on the roll of nagging secretary as well as wife, co-director and office administrator. So when R joined us, he volunteered. More as a way of keeping the peace than because of a heady delight in collating miscellaneous receipts. And in a blitz spirit kind of way, I started helping him.

Twelve months ago, when he took over the task, the main part of the process was actually locating the receipts. We would turn out B's pockets, go through his various bags, rummage through his wallet, look in old job files, the glove compartment and the ash tray of the car, even in his tool-kit and his work boots.

Now, however, we have introduced some technology to help us.

A receipt spike.

All B needs to do when he comes in is to empty his pockets and his wallet and stick the bits of paper on the spike.

As a tool, it also has the handy additional advantage of being useful to jab sharply in to the back of his hands if he's a bit slow off the mark.

Then once every three months, R and I sit down with the largest teapot in the house (half a gallon) and we start to collate the receipts. The first thing R does is go through them and throw out the ones that aren't actually connected with the accounts in any way.

This time this included three raffle tickets and a small map of a central London hotel car park.

Then, he divides them in to three piles - one for each month in the quarter - and hands them to me. I read out the date, the type of item, the amount and whether it is VATable or not. And R enters it on a spreadsheet.

It sounds simple, doesn't it?

However ... without B to tell us what the receipts are actually for, filling in the ITEM bit is sometimes quite hard. And since some of them are printed on wierd shiny paper in special ink that is designed to fade a bit more each time someone reads it, occasionally reading the date and the amount is also quite difficult.

So, after struggling through the current quarter's pile, we have Implemented A Strategy.

We have created a Receipt Voucher.

B is going to write the details of each receipt on the voucher and then attach it to the receipt, using that miracle device, a stapler.

I am even prepared to let him use my stapler for this - the one that I keep tied to my desk so the thieving magpies who seem to haunt our office can't make off with it to line their nests. That is how serious this situation is.

The only fly in the ointment is that so far, neither R nor I have got up the courage to actually inform B of the new system.

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