Everything You Need to Know About Tracking Your Business Expenses
23 August 2023 All news

Learn how to efficiently track and manage your business expenses with our expert tips and techniques, ensuring financial transparency and maximising profitability.

Proper financial management is paramount to any business's success, regardless of its size. A critical component of this is tracking business expenses—an aspect that, when well-managed, can lead to improved cost control, valuable insights into spending patterns and potential tax deductions. However, managing these expenses is far from a simple task, especially as your business grows and expenses become more varied and complex.

This article provides a comprehensive guide on understanding business expenses, why and how to track them accurately, explores the best tools available for this purpose and highlights how software like Sage Intacct can take your expense tracking to a new level.

Understanding Business Expenses

When we speak of business expenses, we refer to the costs incurred during the ordinary course of running a business. These can range from the rent for your office space to the salaries of your staff and from the cost of office supplies to the money spent on marketing and advertising.

To understand business expenses better, it's helpful to categorise them into two main types:

  1. Operating Expenses: These are costs related to the day-to-day functioning of your business. Examples include employee wages, rent, utilities, office supplies and marketing and advertising costs.
  2. Capital Expenses: These expenses contribute to the building of your business over the long term. This includes costs such as the purchase of assets like machinery or real estate or investment in significant upgrades or repairs.

It's important to keep in mind that not all expenses are treated the same when it comes to tax or VAT.  Some expenses that include tax or VAT may not be recoverable through your monthly or quarterly tax or VAT return.  In addition, certain business expenses can be fully deducted from your taxable income in the year they are incurred (like most operating expenses), while others may need to be capitalised and depreciated over several years (like most capital expenses). 

Hence, understanding business expenses isn't just about knowing what you're spending money on — it's about understanding the financial implications of each expense.

The Importance of Accurate Business Expense Tracking

The proper tracking of business expenses forms the crux of successful financial management in any company. It goes beyond mere bookkeeping, directly influencing critical aspects like budgeting, cost control, tax planning and regulatory compliance. Indeed, maintaining precise expense records can illuminate the financial health of your business, reveal important spending trends and open up opportunities for valuable tax deductions. 

Let's take a closer look at the four key areas where accurate expense tracking plays an indispensable role.

1. Improved financial management

Accurate tracking of business expenses furnishes you with a comprehensive understanding of your financial outflows. Knowing where each dollar is spent allows for strategic budgeting and forecasting. With detailed expense data, you can better anticipate future costs, manage your cash flow effectively and make informed decisions about investments, cost-saving measures and other financial strategies.

2. Cost control

When you maintain precise records of your expenses, you gain an opportunity to spot patterns and trends. This visibility can reveal areas of overspending, potential inefficiencies, or opportunities to negotiate better terms with suppliers. For example, if you notice that utility costs have been creeping up month after month, you might explore more energy-efficient alternatives or negotiate a better rate with your provider.

3. Tax deductions

Many business expenses can be deducted from your taxable income, reducing your tax liability. However, to claim these deductions, you need to have well-documented records of these expenses. Without accurate tracking, you might miss out on these potential tax savings. For instance, costs like business travel, office rent and certain professional fees are often tax-deductible.

4. Regulatory compliance

Accurate and comprehensive expense tracking is crucial for maintaining compliance with tax laws and regulations. In the event of a tax audit, having meticulous records can streamline the process and potentially help avoid penalties. Additionally, expense tracking supports transparent financial reporting, a must-have for businesses seeking investment or working with external stakeholders.

Best Practices for Business Expense Tracking

Learn how to efficiently track and manage your business expenses with our expert tips and techniquesEffectively managing business expenses requires a strategic approach, guided by best practices tailored to your company's specific needs. With that, we have a list of business expense tracking tips to help you. Following these principles can lead to improved financial management, reduced unnecessary spending, and increased regulatory compliance. 

Let's delve into six key best practices for business expense tracking:

1. Establish a clear expense policy

A well-defined approval policy and a documented procedure serve as the cornerstone of effective expense management. The procedure should outline what is considered a valid business expense, how these costs should be reported, and the procedure for approval to pay suppliers and vendors. A comprehensive approval policy and documented procedure not only prevent misuse of company resources but also ensure uniformity in expense recording across the organisation. 

2. Use digital tools

Using technology to track business expenses can significantly simplify the process and improve accuracy rather than hinder your business. Various software solutions automate data entry, categorise expenses, integrate with banking services, and produce detailed expense reports. These digital tools minimise human error, save valuable time, and provide a central platform for managing all business expenses. 

3. Regularly review and categorise expenses

It's crucial to conduct regular reviews of your business expenses to identify trends, flag anomalies, and make timely financial decisions. Regular checks can help you spot areas of overspending or underutilisation, enabling you to adjust your budgeting and spending strategies accordingly. 

Alongside regular reviews, categorising expenses — such as operational costs, capital expenditures, or tax-deductible expenses — helps break down spending patterns and offers actionable insights for future planning. This categorisation also simplifies the tax preparation process and makes it easier to identify potential cost savings.

4. Maintain Accurate Records and Receipts

Detailed record-keeping is a critical part of expense tracking. For each business expense, you should maintain a record of who incurred the cost, the date, the vendor, the amount, the business purpose, and the method of payment. Alongside this, you should also keep a copy of the corresponding receipt or invoice. 

Digital tools often offer features that allow you to scan and store invoices electronically, making record-keeping easier and more organised. These records are essential for tax purposes, potential audits, and internal financial analyses and ensure that your expense tracking aligns with best practices and regulatory requirements.

5. Reconcile supplier payments regularly

Ensuring regular reconciliation of your business payments with bank statements and credit card statements is a necessary practice. This process helps verify the accuracy of your payments, identifies any discrepancies, and keeps your books up-to-date. While it may seem tedious, regular reconciliations can uncover mistakes or fraud early before they can turn into larger issues. 

The frequency of reconciliation may vary based on the size and nature of your business, but it's a good practice to do this at least monthly. Using digital tools can make this task easier, as many of them offer automated reconciliation features.

6. Train employees on expense approval & procedures

No financial management system can be entirely effective unless the people using it understand its importance and how it works. Therefore, providing regular training on the proper procedures for reporting and recording business expenses is essential. 

Regular refreshers can ensure that your team stays compliant and that your data remains accurate. This step is particularly crucial if you introduce new financial management software.

Top Tools to Help You Track Your Business Expenses

Efficiently managing your business expenses calls for more than just diligent record-keeping — it demands the right tools. In the digital age, businesses are increasingly leaning on sophisticated financial software to streamline their financial operations, the introduction of financial management software that contains AP Automation functionality can improve your team's efficiency by up to 60%.

The perfect tool for your business will reduce manual work, enhance data accuracy and provide actionable insights. But with a vast array of options available, how do you decide which one is the best fit? 

In no particular order, let's explore three tools that can effectively assist in tracking your business expenses:


QuickBooks has become a go-to accounting software for many small to medium-sized businesses. It boasts a variety of features designed to simplify invoice tracking, including invoice capture and reporting.

While QuickBooks does offer a comprehensive suite of features, including invoicing, payroll, and inventory management, its functionality may not scale as efficiently for larger businesses or those with more complex financial needs. Additionally, while QuickBooks does offer integration with many business software solutions, it might not always offer the level of customisation or advanced automation that some businesses require.


Oracle NetSuite is a choice software for many medium to large-sized businesses seeking an integrated business management software solution. As a cloud-based ERP system, NetSuite encompasses a broad range of functionalities tailored for financial management, CRM and e-commerce, streamlining business processes from procurement to payment.

While Oracle NetSuite offers a robust and comprehensive suite that covers everything from financial planning and analytics to warehouse and inventory management, it may be perceived as too complex or costly for smaller enterprises. Moreover, although NetSuite provides vast integration capabilities with third-party applications, certain businesses with highly specialised requirements might find that they need additional customisation to fit their unique operational needs.

Read more: NetSuite vs Intacct

Sage Intacct

Last but not least, Sage Intacct is a powerful and comprehensive financial management solution that excels in business expense tracking, among other capabilities. Unlike many other systems, Sage Intacct automates the entire invoice management process, from data entry to payment, minimising the risk of human error and freeing up time for other tasks.

What truly sets Sage Intacct apart, though, is its multidimensional database. This feature allows you to track and report on expenses in a manner tailored to your business's unique needs, providing invaluable insights for strategic decision-making. Whether you need to track expenses by project, department, vendor, or any other dimension, Sage Intacct's flexible system makes it possible.

Moreover, Sage Intacct's integration capabilities set it ahead of the pack. It can seamlessly connect with other business systems, resulting in a more cohesive and efficient approach to managing financial operations. This feature, combined with its robust capabilities and scalability, makes Sage Intacct an excellent choice for businesses with growth ambitions or more complex financial needs.

Leveraging Sage Intacct for Your Business Expense Tracking

Find out how you can utilise Sage Intacct to keep track of your business expensesSage Intacct's Purchasing & Accounts Payable module is an integral part of its robust financial management software. Designed to streamline and simplify the entire expense management process, it helps businesses track, analyse and report on expenses with efficiency and precision. 

Whether you're dealing with employee reimbursements, vendor payments or indirect costs, Sage Intacct’s Expense Tracking module has you covered, providing a seamless solution to manage your business expenses effectively.

Key features of Sage Intacct for expense tracking

Sage Intacct brings a suite of powerful features to the table, enhancing the ease and effectiveness of expense tracking:

1. Automation

Sage Intacct automates time-consuming tasks such as data entry and receipt management. By digitising receipts and automatically capturing expense data, it eliminates manual data input and minimises the risk of human errors. 

This level of automation not only increases efficiency but also allows your team to dedicate more time to strategic tasks and less to administrative work.

2. Visibility

Sage Intacct offers real-time tracking of all your expenses, providing up-to-date and accurate data at your fingertips. With customisable dashboards, you can gain immediate insights into your expense data from multiple dimensions, such as by department, project, or vendor. 

The high level of visibility provided by Sage Intacct ensures you always have a clear understanding of your financial status and can make informed decisions promptly.

3. Customisable reports

Sage Intacct's multidimensional reporting feature goes beyond standard reports by allowing you to dissect your expenses based on dimensions that are relevant to your business. This means you can generate reports based on specific projects, departments, vendors, or any other criteria, offering in-depth insights that aid strategic decision-making. 

The flexibility of these reports makes it easier to understand the nuances of your expenses and to identify trends or issues early.

4. Integration

Sage Intacct is designed to integrate seamlessly with other systems you may be using in your business, such as your payroll or CRM systems. This integration creates a unified platform for managing all your financial operations, simplifying processes, and improving data accuracy. 

By allowing different systems to communicate and share data, Sage Intacct ensures that your financial operations are cohesive, streamlined, and efficient.

Benefits of using Sage Intacct for expense tracking

Adopting Sage Intacct for your business expense tracking can yield numerous benefits:

1. Time savings

Sage Intacct's automation capabilities significantly reduce the time spent on routine tasks like data entry and receipt management. This streamlining of the expense management process frees up your team's time, allowing them to focus on more strategic and revenue-generating tasks. 

By decreasing the amount of manual labour required for expense tracking, Sage Intacct effectively contributes to overall productivity.

2. Improved accuracy

One of the major challenges of manual expense tracking is the risk of human error, but Sage Intacct's automation features minimise this risk. By automatically capturing data from digitised receipts and syncing with bank accounts for real-time updates, the software greatly enhances the accuracy of your financial data. 

This improvement in data accuracy can help avoid costly mistakes and ensure more reliable financial reporting and forecasting.

3. Enhanced compliance

Compliance with tax laws and regulations is crucial for businesses, and Sage Intacct assists by keeping clear and accurate records of all business expenses. Its easy-to-follow audit trails, coupled with comprehensive documentation, can help businesses stay compliant and prepared for any audits or reviews. 

By reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties, Sage Intacct adds a layer of financial protection for your business.

4. Better decision-making

With Sage Intacct, you're not just tracking expenses—you're gaining insights. The software's real-time data visibility and in-depth, customisable reporting provide a clear picture of your expense trends, helping to identify cost-saving opportunities and make informed, data-driven decisions. 

By transforming raw data into actionable insights, Sage Intacct empowers businesses to improve financial management and strategy.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we've explored the importance of meticulous business expense tracking, examined best practices, and reviewed various tools available for this critical task. Above all, we've seen how Sage Intacct emerges as a leader in this space, offering an unparalleled suite of features — automation, visibility, customisable reporting, and seamless integration — making it an optimal choice for businesses of all sizes.

However, we believe that experiencing the power of Sage Intacct firsthand is the best way to appreciate how it can revolutionise your expense management process.

Therefore, we encourage you to try Sage Intacct out for yourself. Discover the time savings, improved accuracy, enhanced compliance, and data-driven decision-making capabilities Sage Intacct offers. Don't just read about the benefits — experience them first-hand. Take the first step towards optimising your business's financial management.

Book a Sage Intacct demo today

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