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Insider Tips | Etiquette Basics

Insider Tips | Etiquette Basics

A big part of your wedding is the etiquette that goes along with many aspects of the process. From your Save The Dates, to invitations, to thank you cards, it’s important to know how to be formal and proper when sending out vital information that will resonate with your guests. Your wedding is an event they are attending, and just as you would expect from any other event, requires a certain level of consideration for the individual you are inviting. It may be your big day, but each person attending is also investing a large amount of time, money, and emotional value in your wedding.

Invitation Set

A big etiquette factor to maintain while coordinating your big day is all about wording. You have selected each guests to invite based on a connection you have with them. You want to share this huge, romantic moment in your lives as you embark on a new life together with your true love. Consider the envelope just as important as what goes in it.

If you are inviting an entire family, you can say The Andersons to include everyone in the household. If you are inviting a couple, you may need to poke around and do some research on how they should be addressed. Are they married? Do they share a last name? Are you inviting roommate that have no romantic correlation? What is their profession: are they a doctor or lawyer? The contents of the envelope should reflect the same titles.

Invitation Envelopes

Now, save that list, because you’ll need it again for thank you cards. You should send thank you cards within two weeks of receiving gifts prior to the wedding day. Any gifts given the day of buy you three months to get the thank you cards out. Review your list but also make sure nothing has changed. Perhaps two people who originally were invited together have since split up, and you definitely do not want to make the faux pas of ignoring this after they invested time and money for your nuptials.

Invitation

The basis of etiquette start by acknowledging each guest you are inviting individually and respecting their prestige and family. Maintaining this etiquette will not only show you off to be the amazing host and planner you are, but show your guests they are as important to you are you are to them, and everyone will enjoy your wedding day.Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 1.29.24 PM

Insider Tips | What To Expect From Your Wedding Planner

Insider Tips | What To Expect From Your Wedding Planner

You may be wondering why you need a wedding planner, or have already signed on the dotted line and are now wondering what to expect. A wedding planner is so much more than what the name entails, we are a confidant, a third party perspective, a mediant, a decorator, a DIY expert, a financial guru, and a spiritual guide for one of the biggest days of your life. Cue the “OM” chant and yoga mats. We wear many hats and fit many roles. We love what we do and invest a lot of time networking on your behalf to know as many people as possible in the wedding industry so you get the best of the best. So, what should you expect from your new planning partner?

10/24/14 Wedding of Kristen Zosel and James Wilburn at Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia. Reception at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. Photos by Renee Ittner McManus/RIM Photography

Create the Framework

In your initial consultation and meetings with your wedding planner, the foundation to support the entire planning process will be created. This means the budget, the priority list, the theme, and general understanding of events (rehearsal dinner, etc). Planning a wedding has many moving parts which your planner will be able to bring to your attention and lay out in a manageable way. They will also great a timeline from consultation to the wedding day to keep track of milestones. A wedding planner keeps an attentive eye and will keep in frequent contact to remind you if you need to start looking at caterers, book certain vendors, or lock in a florist. This serves as major piece of mind to any stressed out bride.

Wedding Invitations

 

Handle the Vendors

In a bride’s day dream, contracts typically don’t fall into the fluffy cloud. Your wedding planner tackles the logistics of vendors, receipts, and budgeting. A major planner perk also includes the wide network of vendors for the most honest recommendations. No need to spend hours Googling reviews or being scammed by someone you found online. A planner will facilitate the booking of trusted, tried and true vendors to make sure everything goes smoothly for your big day, and the contract will reflect any fine print or clauses necessary. Your planner will also greet and coordinate these vendors on your wedding day so you can sip champagne with your bridal party and get primped and pampered.

bridesmaids and bride

Keep Everything Running Smoothly

A wedding planner’s arsenal of back up plans, emergency items, and day of coordination is no joke. Your planner will pull together final details, guide the decor and floral arrangements to suit the theme you have discussed, and leave no place setting anything less than perfection. They’ll accept deliveries and direct the flow of incoming arrivals so by the time your guests arrive, everything will be where it should be.

Bride & Groom Kiss

While there are many decisions and responsibilities that settle on the bride during wedding planning, your wedding planner acts as the structure, the calendar, the guidance, and the neutral voice to keep the entire process running smoothly and the big day as enjoyable for you as possible. After all, your wedding day should be stress-free and magical, let your wedding planner orchestrate your dream and you just float down the aisle.

Photos: Wedding of Kristen Zosel and James Wilburn at Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia. Reception at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. Photos by Renee Ittner McManus/RIM Photography
I Said Yes! What To Expect Now That You Have The Ring

I Said Yes! What To Expect Now That You Have The Ring

“I said yes!”.. Now what? After the big proposal and excitement, you could now be facing stress and uncertainty about where to go to start planning your wedding. Our first tip, don’t forget to breathe! This is such a common question you may be asking yourself or other people once you get the ring on your finger, “What do I do first?” You may have been dreaming of your big day for years or have a fresh vision on what you expect. We have some tips on what to expect now that you’re engaged!

Engagement Ring

Your family will have questions

Your instinct is to post your gorgeous rock (with a perfect manicure) on social media and call your family to tell them about the big news. Our tip: savor the moment! Once you let everyone in on your engagement, your family will have a slew of questions you may not be prepared to answer yet! First, you’ll be asked when the wedding date is, what venues you’re looking at, how can they be involved, and so many more. You may still be surprised from the engagement it will pull your excitement away when so many topics come your way. The best way to handle it is to expect the questions and give yourself some time to enjoy the moment with your fiance before diving into planning.

Wedding Invitation
Friends may pop out of the woodwork

Everyone loves a wedding. Your guest list is the first budget buster we tackle when looking at the financial aspect of planning. Especially with social media, everyone wants an invite, and make it public they expect one. Your friends from college, high school, yoga class, and acquaintances may chime in their excitement and eagerness to attend. Be mindful of how you spread the word so you don’t go over budget for guests who may not be as invested in your relationship as family and close friends.

You have a lot to plan.. but that’s okay!

We’re going to be honest here. Planning a wedding is a lot of work! Our tip: hire a wedding planner right away! Not only will doing so alleviate the stress of planning but it will allow you to enjoy that engaged moment more. We’ll handle the tough stuff. We’ll talk budget, timeline, and arrange appointments with vendors. You can purge your creative vision without worrying about spending hours searching for the right details. Having a planner provides a foundation of insider knowledge on the industry and a network of wedding professionals so you know you will have only the best on your big day. We make the planning fun!

Avila Dawn Events Bride and Groom

Insider Tips | Emergency Kit Assembly

Your bridesmaid’s dress strap broke, your hair is starting to fall out from its’ updo, and if someone else tells you to calm down you’re going to lose it! With so many details going into your big day, the smallest fixes are bound to happen. Never Fear… Your emergency kit is here! Every bride should have an emergency kit on hand or in the safety of their maid of honor for quick solutions to common emergencies. Admitting things may go wrong is the first step! Now, put together your kit so you can rest easy no matter what happens, you’ll have the answer.

The Essentials

Many of these kits are available for purchase, but sometimes have more or less items than we actually need! We love a couple versions available through David’s Bridal or Etsy. We assembled our own with a tried and true list of must-have wedding day lifesavers. Many of these items can be purchased online or at your local craft store! Grab a small zip bag or transform your maid of honor’s clutch into your personal convenience store with this list!

Breath Mints – For those mid-day snack or post cocktail moments. You will be talking to so many people at your wedding and enjoying your amazing catering, the last thing you need is lingering bad breath when chatting with your guests. Wedding Emergency Kit Essentials

Lipstick – Touch ups are inevitable! If you hired a makeup artist ask for a sample of the lipstick they used, or ask at your trial if they can have the lipstick in a full size to purchase.

Tissues – Waterworks are just a right of passage into marriage. Having tissues on hand during your vows and first dance can save your make up!

Mini Hairspray & Bobby Pins – Just like your lipstick, touch ups are inevitable. Tame flyaway pieces of hair as you dance the night away or get wind blown during an outdoor ceremony. Catch a falling updo with bobby pins.

Stain Remover – You just dropped sauce on your white dress. No need to panic! Grab your stain remover pen and pray! These pens are proven to get out some of the toughest stains on the spot so no one has to know!

Nail File – Uh oh, broke a nail? Fix it in a snap with a mini nail file tucked into your emergency kit.

Fashion Tape & A Safety Pin – Fashion faux pas no more! A broke strap or sinking neckline has a quick fix with these seamstress replacements.

Aspirin – The worst thing we hear is a bride having a headache on this joyful day. Keep a travel size bottle of aspirin or headache relief of your choosing in case your mother-in-law gets on your last nerve.

Blotting Tissue – Different from regular tissue, these little rectangles are a lifesaver if yoBlotting Tissue in emergency kitu suffer from high shine in humidity or stress. Designed to keep your makeup intact, these blotting sheets absorb excess oil and leave your face flawless!

Perfume Mini – With stress can come stink, keeping a mini perfume bottle can freshen up and keep you smelling great and feeling confident throughout the entire day and night. We like keeping perfume on hand because it can also double as a deodorant (just in case!).

Wedding Bands – This may seem a bit silly, but it can really save a ceremony if the wedding bands are misplaced. Having a spare set of bands to pull out when the ring bearer thought it would be cute to hide the originals will keep your timeline on track and buy time to look for real ones!

All Smiles Thanks to Having an Emergency Kit!

PS – If you have a wedding planner, she will probably provide your wedding party with an emergency kit to combat an mishaps that may occur.

Business Basics | How To Track Business Receipts

So this is one of those not so glorious of tasks of running a business that keeps your ass out of trouble when you get that call from the IRS!! It also makes life a WHOLE lot easier when tax time rolls around. I won’t say that filing your taxes will be any more fun because it won’t, but at least you won’t sitting start at the pile of paper for a week before even trying to attempt to get that part ready for tax season.

So I deal with my receipts in two ways: online and paper.

Online Receipts

So when an online receipt is mailed to me I… 1) of course open it up (make sure that it says what purchased and has the correct amount) 2) pull up the print screen 3) save the file as a PDF and 4) put it in my Dropbox folder called “Expenses”. Additionally, I have a different folder for each year, so when the times comes that I can let the receipts go I can just delete the whole folder. Now you can call your folder receipts, money spent, whatever you wish! Really it doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you know where to find it!!

Now I will say at one point in life… I did just have all of my receipts saved in a folder in Gmail and it wasn’t bad until maybe that one receipt just wouldn’t pull up for some reason. Also although I say I will never delete an email, if I am moving too fast I end up deleting the email and then I have to search through my trash folder and well yeah it’s too much. Saving as a PDF in a Dropbox folder, just makes life a lot easier.

I prefer to organize my receipts as I go so that I can remember exactly what the receipt corresponds to and I don’t have to rack my brain trying to remember what happened earlier in the week or earlier in the month (if you have a duty day once a month. More on duty days in an upcoming post!)

So I label my receipts by the year, month and date first. Why? Because that way, all of the receipts get organized in chrolonigical order automatically. Example… if I made a purchase on April 2, 2017, I would start the title of the PDF receipt with “2017.04.02”. Once I have written that, I type in a description of the transaction. The description for the online receipt is less critical since the receipt probably has a description already on it. I might write something like this if I purchased a linen to use for a wedding: 2017.04.2 CV Linen Sequin Linen for Estate Table Decor. As you can see, in the description, I used the formula “who, what, why”. Who? CV Linen, What? Sequin Linen, Why? Estate Table Decor.

Paper Receipts

So for paper receipts, these are even more important to get in order because there is only one record of it and you’ve got it. If you are anything like me they are just stuffed in your wallet and at some point in life you decide to look back through them. For me, most of these receipts are restaurant and craft store receipts because I’ve been at a client meeting or purchased some decor items for a wedding. Why we need to keep these: well the IRS requires us to write down who was at the lunch and what business was discussed/what the business purchase was. Sadly, it’s not enough to just have a receipt. Go ahead and curse yourself because I know I sure did!

Well I don’t do so great with writing that information on the receipt because well it gets lost and destroyed in my purse, so I had to find a solution where I could digitize this information so it couldn’t be lost. Plus I am a techie girl and love all things digital. I also needed an app where I was able to mark receipts as business or personal, not because I keep track of all my personal receipts, but because sometimes I use my personal card for business or accident or pay or a business expense with personal cash. I have to be able to keep account of those receipts with our business receipts so that my business can reimburse me for it at the end of the month. So after going through tons of apps, I finally settled on one that works.

Expensify… I only use this app for receipts. There are other things you can track as well, but I don’t need it for all that. Plus the app is what… FREE!!

Here is a step-by-step guide on how I use it:

Create an Expense Report

When you open the app, you will see five icons at the bottom, click on “My Reports” just after the camera button and click on the plus sign in the upper right corner to create a new report. The expense report you create every month will put all of your receipts in one place for you, so you want to do this at the start of each month OR if you think you will forget just go ahead and create a report for each month. When you provide details on your receipt, there is an option that ask which report you want to save it to. I call my reports 2017-01 ADE Receipts. It’s just the year/month and then my company initials. Once you have created you report, you are ready to start adding receipts! (Time to clean out your wallet)

Side Note: Click settings (the blue person button in left corner) and uncheck SmartScan or just let the trial version run out (it cost money to use this feature and we trying to save. You don’t really need it.)

Add Receipts To Your Report

At the bottom of the app, you will see the green camera button. Use this button to take picture of your receipt. Once you take the picture, select the picture to open it and input the receipt information: march, total, date, comment, category, report, billable and reimbursable.

I am going to talk about the comment, category and reimbursable options since everything else is self-explanatory. For comments, just make sure to give a quick, but detailed description about the receipt. Example: You met up for coffee with a wedding client for their initial consult meeting. This covers who was there and what the purpose of the business was. You want to cover those two points for each receipt.

Online Categories to Set

Before getting started you will want to configure some options so you don’t have to change them with every receipt you upload. The options are categories and reimbursable. To do this, you will have to log into your Expensify account online, click the small blue button in the upper right corner, select personal settings and then categories on the side bar. You will want to delete all the categories already there and just have a personal and business category. Next you want to click on Expense Rules on the left hand side and do the following:

1. In the merchant box, just put a period. This will make the rule apply to all of your transactions.
2. Category = Business
3. Reimbursable = Non-Reimbursable
4. Billable = Non-Billable
Then when you upload your receipts, you won’t have to change those except on the rare occasions, which I will explain shortly. Once you have done all that, just click “Save” and you’re good to go!

Now that you have all this setup, at the end of the month you can send yourself a report that’ll have ALL of your paper business receipts in one place. You just have to send yourself the report. You do that by clicking “My Reports” (the icon that looks like a sheet of paper), select “Open” on the report you want to send. Once there, select “Submit” in the top right corner. The next screen will ask you where you to email the report and if you want to send as a PDF. You will have to slide the button to right, for the report to send as a PDF. Then once that has been turned on… client submit again and BOOM… easy peasy!

Now if you use your personal card or cash for business on accident, it’s super simple with Expensify to know how much you should be reimbursed. If you do use personal money by mistake when you upload the receipt, in the category section select “Personal” instead of “Business” and then slide the button to the right for “Reimbursable”.

And that’s it! I hope that this helps you get your receipts in order as much as it has gotten my life together!!

Behind the Veil Styled Shoot in Charleston, SC

Down the Aisle | Nordica + Brandan

Happy Monday! It’s wedding week for Nordica + Brandan who will be getting married at the Capital City Club on Saturday! Nordica has been a ball of energy to work with. She had a very clear vision of how she wanted her wedding day to look like and can’t wait to work with all of the other stellar vendors to pull this one off. There are even a couple of surprises incorporated into the day!

Bride: Nordica

Groom: Brandan

How did y’all meet? We met working at Moncrief Army Hospital. We had the same group of friends.

How did Brandan pop the question… were you expecting it?  The Biltmore is one of my favorite places to visit, we had visited several times throughout our relationship, so when Brandan said we were going to Asheville to visit the Biltmore it was nothing to think twice about. We got engaged at the Biltmore in the Rose Garden. It was a warm day in August, we walked around the garden taking it all in, chit chatting and taking pictures. And throughout it all I was blissfully unaware that Brandan was up to something. I turned my back to take a picture of this one particular flower and I was so focused on taking the picture that I still didn’t realize what was happening, Brandan called out to me and when I turned around and he was on one knee saying something! (Don’t ask me what it was because I have no idea) I was in shock but remember him saying “Will you Marry Me?” and through tears responding with an emphatic “YES”! The trip to Asheville didn’t end the engagement, the next morning Brandan surprised me with a hot air balloon ride!

Describe your wedding in three words? Fun, Joyous, Elegant!

Capital City Club Wedding in South Carolina planned by Avila Dawn Events

Now the details (theme, style, color, must-haves)?! I think what we are going for is understated elegance. Colors: Navy Blue and Blush with hints of silver. Must Haves: Great Music, Good Food, Great ambiance

What has been your favorite source for wedding inspiration (Blog, Magazine, etc)? Pinterest ( She’s the devil but I love her) Brides Magazine

What have you loved most about planning your wedding? Seeing it all come together.

What has been the most difficult? Having the time to do everything.

What are you most looking forward to on the wedding day? Seeing all of our family and friends!!

Do you have any advice for newly engaged couples as they go through the planning process? Hire a planner!!! Discuss everything with your fiance, it’s a day for you both. Make a budget and stick to it.

Capital City Club Wedding in South Carolina planned by Avila Dawn Events

Insider Tips | Escort Card vs. Place Card: What’s the Difference?

Today we are discussing escort cards vs. place cards, what’s the difference? Although they may seem like the same thing, they’re not and serve two totally different purposes! Let’s begin.

Escort Cards – Anything that states a person’s name and is used to direct that person to their table (easy way to remember this – escort cards escort you to your table)!

Escort Card Display, SC Wedding Planner, Columbia SC Wedding Planner, Columbia Wedding

Picture 1 /// Picture 2

Place Cards – Anything that states a person’s name and is used to show a person their place at a table (easy way to remember this – place cards place you at a specific seat).

Escort Card Display, SC Wedding Planner, Columbia SC Wedding Planner, Columbia Wedding

Picture 1 /// Picture 2

Now, do you have to have both for your wedding day? No, it totally depends how you want to manage your guest experience and the formality of your wedding. The most common card used at weddings is the escort card and I HIGHLY suggest using them. Escort cards are especially useful for large guest lists.

For small intimate events, using place cards is quite acceptable.

So now that you know the difference between the two, let’s dig into the fun stuff… the different types of cards you can use. Now this is where infusing your love story/personality comes into play. You can get as creative as your want with these cards. Just because it says card, doesn’t mean you have to use a card!!

Tell me… what did you use or what will you be using for your wedding?

Real Weddings | Sonya + Richard | Lace House

Man oh Man… can I tell you that I had a ball working with Sonya to plan her and Richard’s nuptials, Part 2. The couple originally got married in the Dominican Republic, but wanted to have a large celebration with their family and friends here in the States. Sonya is all about GLAM… so four chandeliers were hung inside of the reception tent, crystal columns flanked the dance floor, beaded candelabras adorned some of the guests’ tables and of course she wore red bottoms on her wedding day.

Even with the severe storm that knocked out power the day before, the day of the wedding was PERFECT! Patti of Studio Two One Two Photography was there to capture all of the highlights of the day.

Lace House Wedding in Columbia SC planned by Avila Dawn EventsLace House Wedding in Columbia SC planned by Avila Dawn EventsLace House Wedding in Columbia SC planned by Avila Dawn Events

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Lace House Wedding in Columbia SC planned by Avila Dawn EventsLace House Wedding in Columbia SC planned by Avila Dawn EventsLace House Wedding in Columbia SC planned by Avila Dawn Events Lace House Wedding in Columbia SC planned by Avila Dawn Events Lace House Wedding in Columbia SC planned by Avila Dawn Events

 

Down the Aisle | Rebecca + Robert

I am so excited for you to meet Rebecca and Robert!!

I have been working closely with them on the planning and design details and can’t believe that the day is almost here. Stone River is one of my favorite venues and we have put together a dream team of vendors to bring Rebecca’s wedding day vision to life!

The design details now and those of when Rebecca and I first meet have definitely changed through the course of planning. When we first met, the vision was rustic and as planning has progressed it has turned all the way over to glam! Robert is happy either way, as long as his bride to be gets the day she wants.

Stone River Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events, Columbia SC Wedding

Bride: Rebecca

Groom: Robert

How did y’all meet? At work

How did Robert pop the question… were you expecting it?  I was expecting it since we went together to pick the ring out. But, I didn’t know when he was going to pop the question. We went out for a regular dinner that night and when we got back to the condo our dog was waiting for me wearing a “Say yes mommy 💍” shirt. He got down on one knee and of cours, I say YES!!!!

Stone River Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events a Columbia Wedding Planner

This cute one will be making an appearance at the wedding! He asked the question, so of course, he has to bring down the ring lol!!

Describe your wedding in three words? Friends, family, and love

Now the details (theme, style, color, must-haves)?! Shades of Purple!! You can’t fail with that color. Fancy!! We must have some glam!!! Being from a big city, I cannot do simple.

What has been your favorite source for wedding inspiration (Blog, Magazine, etc)? For inspiration, the knot, believe it or not google images, and my wedding planner.

What have you loved most about planning your wedding? Trying on dresses was fun and buying gifts for my bridesmaids.

What has been the most difficult? None of it has been difficult. My least favorite has been paying for it.

What are you most looking forward to on the wedding day? Saying “I Do” to my best friend in front of family and friends.

Do you have any advice for newly engaged couples as they go through the planning process? Wedding planning is stressful, but at the end it’s all worth it.

Stone River Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events a Columbia SC wedding planning company

Business Basics | Tracking Your Mileage

If you are like me, at one point you had a small notepad and pen sitting in your drink holder. When it was time to head out for the day before going anywhere, you would pick up your pad and pen and record your starting mileage. Then crossed your fingers that you recorded your ending mileage at the end of day. But what if you went to a business meeting and then headed out to lunch with friends and then headed headed to venue walk-through. How many times did you just write on your pad and did you record the mileage reading from your last stop. Because you can’t claim that personal trip you just took. Or do you find yourself at the computer using Google Maps to estimate how many miles were driven for the day. Makes your head hurt a little right. Well friends, I am introducing you to some good good today! Say hello to…

MILEIQ

Business Tools: How To tRack Your Mileage

This is an app that can be downloaded to Android and iPhones. The beauty of this app is that once you get it all setup it automatically tracks your mileage. Say what? Yes, it is always working and you just don’t realize it. Essentially, it does most of the work for you. It really is genius. It knows where you are go and tracks your mileage around town. How does it do it? Hell if I know, but it’s working TRUST ME!! About 15 minutes after your drive is done, if you open your MileIQ app, a map will pop up showing you where you started and where you ended for each individual drive – even if they were in the same errands trip. And the only thing you have to do is at the end of the day open the app and classify the trips as personal or business. If it was personal drive, you just swipe to the left and if business swap to the right. Mile IQ saves all of the data for you in the cloud until you need it. If it was a business trip, you just type a comment about what you were doing, as from what I have been told the IRS requires that you state in writing why your trip was a business trip. Your comment about the trip doesn’t need to be crazy long, just write out the what + who + where.

At the end of each month, MILE IQ will email you a report in either Excel or PDF form with a list of your personal and business drives dated, time-stamped with all of your comments, the number of miles – and here’s the best part – the value of the drives all totaled up for the month. Cue to confetti! No math involved!! So at the end of the year, all you have to do is hand your year-end mileage report to your CPA and you are done! Collect all those tax deductions.

A word of caution though: make sure you swipe your drives every night or whenever you’re just sitting around killing time. (This should not be a monthly duty task lol!) If you want until the end of the month, you WILL forget some of the places you went, and then you’ll be searching through your calendar trying to remember.

So with everyone creating their plans for to get better organized… add this one to your list. Download MileIQ and have one additional piece of your business under control. No, I haven’t forgotten the most important question… how much does it cost? Well you won’t have to give up your first born for it. The cost if paid monthly is $5.99 (or one cocktail) and WELL worth it! Because, if there’s one thing I am learning abut being a small business owner, time is money and there’s a limited amount of it, so anything that saves me time I am interested in!

Business Tools: How To tRack Your Mileage

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