I’ve been doing my family’s taxes on TurboTax now for four years. I worked on them almost to the point of completion last weekend (let’s hear it for refunds!) and it went remarkably smoothly.
My husband keeps track of our personal finances in Quicken and I keep track of my business’s finances in Quickbooks. All the data were there for me to plug into TurboTax. But there was one task I always had to do manually that took at least an hour (and that hour felt like four). This year, thanks to the great little app MileBug, I was able to forego manually calculating my mileage.
After fifteen years of self-employment, I’d created the habit of jotting down my start and ending odometer readings whenever I drove my car for business purposes (which is probably more than 75 percent of the time). Until last year, I kept a little mileage log in my visor and as I waited for my garage door to close, I’d think about whether the last trip I’d taken was a business-related trip and if so I’d jot down the ending mileage for it. Then, if this trip was also business-related, I’d jot down the starting mileage. But I never took the time to calculate how many miles that last trip was.
So once a year when I was preparing tasks, I’d have to calculate the mileage of each trip, then add them all up to enter into Quickbooks.
Enter MileBug. I’m still entering the odometer readings each trip, except I’m doing it by touching the screen of my iPod Touch. (Since I carry the iPod in my purse with me, it’s always handy.)
Here’s a screenshot of MileBug on the iPhone from the Milebug website:
At tax time, rather than calculate my mileage, all I had to do was create a report with just a few touches, and email it to myself.
There it was in my email inbox: a beautiful spreadsheet of all my mileage for the year. I plugged the bottom-line number into TurboTax and I was done. It took about 2 minutes, if that.
I’m sure there are other great mileage apps out there, but Milebug has worked well for me. It’s available for the iPhone/iPod Touch, and Android and Nokia/Symbian-based smartphones.