Preparing for the New Financial Year

Preparing for the New Financial Year

Preparing for the New Financial Year

Unless you use one of the accounting software packages that takes and uploads the photographs of all your expenditure receipts and invoices, you are still required by HRMC to keep paper records of all these for 6 years. This is regardless if you are a Sole Trader or Limited Company. In this blog post I share how I organise my paperwork for this and also keep track of everything financially on Microsoft Excel.

Receipts more than your invoices tend to make the most mess or get lost! They are all different sizes and find their way into your pockets or bag at random times. The main reason they get ‘shoved’ somewhere impractical is that there isn’t an easy system in place to file them effectively.

Likewise with paperwork, if there isn’t a system in place that’s easy to access it often just goes in a pile of other papers you have which becomes lost, thrown or shoved in a draw as you don’t know where to put it.

What follows is a simple and quick way to stay on top of your business financial filing.



  1. What you need

  2. Setting up for your folder New Financial Year

  3. Setting up excel to track your income and expenditure for the New Financial Year 

  4. The way this now works

  5. How Busy Lives! can support you with this



  1. What you need 

You just need four items to gather and you’re set up for the year ahead.

  • 1 x A4 Lever Arch folder
  • 2 x File Dividers labelled by month
  • 12 x A4 Plastic wallets
  • 2 x Sheet of bright A4 coloured paper or card


What are the best A4 folders to use?

Lever arch folders clasp

The type of folder you buy can really make a difference. To a certain extent it will depend on your budget as they range from £2.00 up to £30.00. The most important consideration when purchasing any is to open and close the lever arch mechanism a couple of times and check it  closes correctly. If it looks anything like the picture here avoid, as when you go to turn to a specific month all the contents will either become stuck or fall out.


I often get asked which are the best A4 folders to buy. In terms of the clasp mechanism I would definitely go for an ‘Ergogrip Binder’ as it is the best one I’ve come across for durability and also stays in place on your shelf looking professional and smart.

In terms of Lever Arch, go for one which is a thick PVC which will stand up on its own without falling over. I also like to be able to insert my own label down the spine so that I can update it when it has a new use, without the folder becoming ‘scruffy’ to the eye with writing scrubbed out and new titles written.

What are the best file dividers to use?

There are many types of file divider on the market. Try to avoid the paper ones if possible as they don’t tend to wear well when the folder is used frequently. My preference are these A4 Monthly ones which have a reinforced tab and hole punch spine. They always look as good as when you purchased them and you’re not having to count the months every time like the 1 -12 file dividers to remember which financial month you’re in!



Setting up for your folder New Financial Year 

  1. With one of your sets of file dividers place an A4 plastic wallet after each month in your folder.
  2. Insert the mixed file dividers and wallets into your folder commencing with April on top and the last three months of the financial year after December.
  3. Put your coloured card or paper in a plastic wallet on top of this in your folder. You can also print Expenditure on the paper / card if you wish.
  4. Now put your second set of file dividers on top of this. Again start with April at the top.
  5. Put your coloured card / paper in a plastic wallet on top of this in your folder. You can also print Income on the paper / card if you wish.



The way this now works 

Income Section – This top section of your folder can now be used for inserting and filing invoices you send each month. I always put the latest dated invoice on top within each month.

Expenditure Section – File your expenditure invoices within the month of your order, again with the latest date at the top.

Receipts from that month simply go in the plastic wallet behind your invoices.


Top Tip

If you also like to tack both your income and expenditure on excel this is a quick and simple way to ensure you’ve entered everything. I simply highlight the date on invoices and receipts after I’ve entered them onto my excel spreadsheet. Easy and quick cross check!


Setting up excel to track your income and expenditure for the New Financial Year 

There are some brilliant digital financial packages out there such as: Zero and QuickBooks. I highly recommend you speak to your accountant as to which package would suit you and your business. If the size of your business doesn’t warrant this and you still use excel to track your income and expenditure you may find the following useful.

Create and name the following sheets giving them a tab colour if you wish:

  • Annual Expenditure
  • 12 Month Cash Forecast
  • Expenditure
  • Car Related
  • Bank Statements
  • Income Invoices
  • Client Analysis
  • Thank you

The Pictures below show how each of the pages is then set up:








Top Tip

If you are really busy with client work find a regular time each week / month when you can update it.

Alternatively, update the sheet after you send a batch of invoices out to clients or have cross checked against your bank statement for when the money went into the bank.


  1. How Busy Lives! can support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I provide services like these for local small businesses and this frees up their time to focus on bringing in greater income for their own business. A ‘win-win!’

I am happy to help by:

  • Setting up your financial folders.
  • Filing your paperwork and receipts keeping your folders up to date.
  • Showing and teaching you how to use excel to manage your finances.
  • Letting you have a copy of the excel finance master I’ve created and use with my business.
  • Dealing with your invoices, bills and reconcilliation on QuickBooks or Zero on either a weekly or monthly basis.

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook

Or Email:



Organising & knowing what presents to buy

Organising & knowing what presents to buy

This post is aimed at busy people who do not know where to start and how to organise the selection and choice of present for someone else; be it a friend, family member or business connection.

The culture and attitude towards buying presents has changed significantly over the decades. The thought of re-gifting or using a present received for charity was previously a definite no. The definition of a present as a ‘gift’ is that it is part of a celebration and demonstrates the value we have towards another person. So how do you choose and buy the right present, so everyone really does feel valued?


  1. Buying a present
  2. Key Starting Point
  3. Questions to Consider when buying a present for someone
  4. Quick 5 step start to buying a present
  5. Great websites for presents supporting local and independent small businesses
  6. How Busy Lives! can help with buying and wrapping your presents

Buying a present

This can vary considerable from someone you know really well to hardly at all, with both people you have met through business or family. Top tips before you embark:

  • Have an overall budget in mind for how much you are going to spend overall on everyone.
  • List everyone you will be buying for.
  • Assign an amount limit for each person and check these fall within the overall limit you have set. Adjust amounts for certain people until you are happy not going over the limit you have set.

Key Starting Point

Find out as much information as you can about the person you are buying for. This may be common sense but believe me, there are people out there will just go into a shop or visit a website they like and randomly just buy something. In these eco-conscious times, surely it is also more desirable to present a gift that is ‘valued’ by the receiver than just more landfill!

It is almost like being a detective to get this right!

Whether you are going to buy the presents yourself or use the services of Busy Lives! to do this for you there is a common way forward. Below are my key questions. I select from and use some of these if I am asked to find a gift for someone who I do not know at all. Hope you find them useful:


Questions to Consider when buying a present for someone

  1. What is the relationship to the person you are intending to buy for?
  2. What do they enjoy doing the most either in their spare time or at work?
  3. What is there favourite food or drink?
  4. What age band do they fall in? Is there a current trend for this group?
  5. Do they have a healthy lifestyle with both fitness and food?
  6. Do they have a hobby or special interest in something?
  7. Do they enjoy going to the theatre or cinema?
  8. Do they enjoy reading a book, e-book or listening to an audio book?
  9. Do they have a favourite colour?
  10. Do they have any children living at home?
  11. Do they have a pet they adore?
  12. Do they enjoy celebrating Christmas / Birthdays?
  13. Are they the sort of person what would enjoy something really different such a ‘Red letter day event?’
  14. Are they a ‘follower’ who likes to have/wear popular brand items?
  15. Are they a person that would appreciate a gift that is from an independent business?
  16. Are they the type of person who would like a sponsorship gift for a charity they value?
  17. Are they the type of person who would like one main gift or a gift basket compilation?
  18. Are they the type of person who would value an experience as opposed a physical gift?
  19. Are they the type of person who would prefer a date booked in your diary where you spend quality time with them doing something or visiting somewhere special?
  20. Would they appreciate a high quality keep sake?

Quick 5 step start to  buying a present

  • Once you have the answers to your questions you can start gathering ideas and possibilities for what to buy for each person.
  • Go back to your original budget set for them and check your ideas fall within the limit set.
  • If you are buying something unique or personalised for someone, these are the presents which need to be purchased first and not left until the last minute.
  • Group the list into common areas. This will save you time both if you are buying from the High Street or over the Internet.
  • Remember to buy wrapping paper, gift bags or boxes for the present along with what you will seal the present with; cellotape, string, ribbon which people often forget to buy. If it is a really special present there are a wide range of accessories you can add from tissue paper and sequins inside the wrapping paper to fancy bows on the top.

Supporting local and independent small business with an actual unique gift

I always laugh when I see shop flyers in the newspapers that state they have an unique gift which cannot be bought anywhere else. What about the circulation of this to the thousands!

Here are a few businesses who I have met who are far more unique with what they offer:

  • Art
  • Business
  • Food and Drink
  • Home Accessories
  • Jewellery and keepsakes
  • Pampering and skin care



Name of business
Sarah Perkins Art
Website address
Present idea
Pet portraits and animal art. Works can also then be made into cushions, coasters, cards and mugs.
Typical Price range
£195.00 for an A4 portrait through to 36×36 portrait £750.00



Name of business
William Hannah Leather Notebooks
Website address
Present idea
Bespoke designed notebooks and inserts made from Italian Leather and suede. Wide range of colours you can have made to reflect the business brand colours.
Typical Price range
£90.00 for the Notebook with additional reasonable amounts added on as you personalise its features – embossed business logo on for instance


Food and Drink

Name of business
Bawdon Lodge Farm
Website address
Present idea
Variety of different Gins and vintage cordials
Typical Price range
Vintage cordials around £5.50 Gin collection around £35.00


Name of business
The Butler’s Pantry (Derby) Limited
Website address
Present idea
Bespoke vouchers
Typical Price range
£50.00 Private cookery tuition on a one to one basis (2hrs in duration)

£60.00 Cookery tuition for 2 people (2hrs in duration)

£120.00 Cookery demonstration event for up to 6 guests (2.5hrs)


Name of business
Cotswold Food Hampers
Website address
Present idea
Luxury food and drink hampers for him, her and corporate. Hampers also tailored for vegans or those who love their champagne available.
Typical Price range
From £40.00 through to £250.00


Home Accessories and gifts

Name of business
Little Corner of Happiness
Website address
Present idea
Prints, bangles, home accessories and unique planners and diaries.
Typical Price range
From £3.00 – £30.00


Name of business
Website address
Present idea
A range of bespoke laser cut wood, slate or Perspex gifts with personal wording and images. Religious gifts are available.
Typical Price range
Starting prices are between £22.00 and £80.00


Jewellery and keepsakes

Name of business
Always be keepsakes and gifts
Website address
Present idea
Beautiful personalised gifts, engraving, handprint and footprint silver jewellery such as charm beads, bracelets.
Typical Price range
From £10.00 – £75.00


Pampering yourself

Name of business
Beautiful Feeling (Attenborough NG9)
Website address
Present idea
Vouchers available for specific treatments or monetary value.
Typical Price range
£27.50 to £43.50 Range of Massages.

£15.00 to £35.00 Manicure.

£17.00 to £32.00 Pedicure.


Name of business
Vicki Brown FLP
Website address
Present idea
A range of natural based products such as Aloe Vera that support everything from skincare, nutrition, sports and fitness.
Typical Price range
Starting prices are from as little as £7.99 through to over £100.00

Please note there is no financial educement with any of the websites listed above.


How Busy Lives! can help with buying and wrapping your presents

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now help support others in that position.

I am happy to source, buy and / or wrap your presents ready for that special day.

Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook

Or Email:

Organising Your Office

Organising Your Office

Is your office chaotic?
Is your desk so cluttered that you cannot actually see any of it?
Have you got a system, but it just does not work?
It is amazing how much time you can waste looking for that one document or piece of paper. It can also have an effect on your stress and anxiety levels!
We are all equipped with our own skill sets. When it comes to making the most effective use of space. I like to think my spatial awareness is highly developed.


Areas covered within this blog post:

  1. Fact find
  2. What areas are working
  3. What areas need to be improved
  4. Action steps to take
  5. Eleven top tips for an organised office
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

When organising an office, sorting one area at a time may work but you may also end up with it just as chaotic! I have always found starting over from scratch to be the best solution. This may be daunting, but this is how I would tackle an home office as pictured below for a client:

The same strategy could also be applied to an office at a business premises.

1. Fact find

  • Do you want to actually work in the office or is it mainly for storing work related items, books and papers?
  • What type of papers and documents do you need to access quickly and most frequently?
  • Are you making effective use of the existing cupboards and draws with how they are organised?
  • Is there anything you are hanging onto which you no longer require?
  • How do you archive paperwork you no longer need?
  • What needs to be accessed and filed so that you can immediately find it next time you need it?What areas are working?

2. What areas are working?

Stand in the middle of the room with cupboards and draws open to evaluate the areas which are working, and you would want to maintain:
  • The top two shelves with books on in the second picture do work. They are zoned together, not needed frequently and are accessible. For a ‘quick win’ they can be quickly re-organised by theme, author or title.
  • Two chairs in the office is a good idea. The main office one for yourself and a second one if you have a client or colleague work alongside you.
  • The three tier tray stackers, box files, calendar and notes board are good ideas and can be organised further to full potential. Think what you need to access most frequently. This needs to be closest to you.
  • A desk drawer next to where you sit is great for accessing and storing the stationary you frequently use and will help you to maintain a tidy desktop.
  • Pictures which inspire and motivate you around the office help create the ambiance and make your office a relaxing environment in which to work.
  • Natural light into the office will also make a difference to your well-being and help reduce strain on your eyes.

3. What areas need to be improved?

Stand in the middle of the room again and decide what isn’t working and needs an improved system:
  • Floor, desk space and shelving above the desk as depicted is not currently working effectively in the pictures and needs tackling.
  • Files and papers left in bags on the floor restrict access both to their contents and making good use of cupboard space.
  • Access to key areas of storage is currently restricted.

4. Action steps to take

  • You ideally need two clear spaces.
  • In the first space stack all the paperwork and folders into one enormous pile. Use the second space to sort the papers and folders into common areas.
  • Clear and empty shelf and cupboard contents you are unhappy with onto this first space. Moving forward this will allow you to create zones for the different areas of your work.
  • Create lever arch folders / box files or storage of your choice with these areas and label clearly with the area they fall into. Pinterest on social media gives lots of great ideas for office storage of all sizes and shapes.
  • Sub-divide the level arch folder/chosen storage using file dividers or labels breaking down further into key areas. (for instance: A marketing folder would then be broken down into strategy plan, blogs, email marketing, flyers, press releases, testimonials, social media…)
  • Clearly label each area.

Eleven Top Tips

  1. Papers you need to access frequently need to be close by but not taking up desk space. The shelving immediately above or next to the computer desk is ideal for this.
  2. Have a clear plastic envelope folder. Put any new papers you don’t have time to file immediately into this, then file them when you have time.
  3. Papers you wish to keep and archived can be boxed and put in closed cupboards out of sight and secure.
  4. Invest in a good quality shredder and printer with a scanner. This can reduce the amount of paper you need to keep. This is also an effective means of security if electronically saved onto a secure cloud.
  5. Don’t hang onto hundreds of business cards. Create either a database or add onto your email contacts page within the same week you have received them if possible.
  6. If you do have an excess of paper, consider purchasing a small office filing cabinet that will fit under your desk. sell these that you can match to your desk colour.
  7. Have a bin in your office and recycle the paper ever week. This will avoid you creating another pile of paper you need to sort through again.
  8. Tower multi-socket plugs and cable tidy’s can really make a quick difference to the overall look of your office. They also make cleaning the room much easier.
  9. Purchase a good quality hole punch with a slide bar for lining up A4 paper to ensure the holes are consistently in the same place. You will be surprised how much smarter this instantly makes the contents!
  10. Hang your calendars, notice boards and pictures on the wall rather than having them on your desk top.
  11. If you are a person with numerous bags, put coat hooks spaced out on the back of your office door and hang the bags on these.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to organise a home office?

This depends on the client and the office! It usually ranges from half a day to three days depending on the amount that needs both sorting and organising.

Do you label and organise all your clients home offices the same?

No. It is important to create an office environment that will work for them. Some people prefer filing cabinets others concertina files or folders.

Is there another way of sorting everything without starting from one big pile?

You have two options here. You can tackle the room in zones but be careful you don’t end up the same as you were before. Your second option is to let me come and do it for you. Once a clear system is in place it is much easier to maintain as everything has its place.

I’m worried about you throwing away papers that may be important and need to be kept. How do I know this will not happen?

After fact finding about you and your business, any papers which I do not feel you need to hang onto I put into a ‘check’ box as I go along. This gives you the final say and opportunity to check before it is recycled.

Do I need to be there if I employed you to organise my office for me?

I need to have an initial meeting with you as part of my fact find about your business, yourself and how ideally you would like your office to look. After that, I am fine on my own. You can either give me a key to your property or I am happy to arrive before you go out.

How do I know I can trust you with my paperwork and data protection?

This is all set out in my Freelance contract and Terms & Conditions document which you receive in advance of any work taking place. I am also registered with the ICO and fully insured.

How do I book your services?

Either give me a call on 07565722031 or complete the contact me details and I will be in touch. Once we have discussed your needs, I will book you in the first available slot I have.

I would rather be there when you sort my office. Do you work at the weekend?

Yes, I am happy to do that if you prefer or at a time of your choosing.

If this is still a daunting task for you why not let me give you precious time back and do it for you! Think how brilliant you will feel being in an organised office with everything at your fingertips.



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