The Business End of Writing: Tip # 1: Documenting Driving Expenses

Photo to balance the angst of the topic!

Utilizing spreadsheets can help track your writing driving expenses.

Would you like to take a look at, or use a spreadsheet for tracking vehicle mileages when used for writing?

Email me at with “Vehicle Spread Sheet Request” in the subject line  and I’ll send it as an attachment.  (If anyone knows a better way to share a spread sheet, let me know.)

Because I alternate vehicles,  I utilize two ‘sheets’ on the spreadsheet workbook, one for each vehicle.  For those who deduct expenses at tax time, the needed information is already tallied on the spreadsheet for the year.  Document miles driven to and from:

  • Classes, workshops, and conferences
  • Meetings with Critique groups or Critique Partner
  • Writer’s Association Meetings, Classes
  • Office supply Store, Book Store
  • Research trips

On the spreadsheet, I jot down the odometer mileage at the beginning of the year.

As part of  permanent data, I note the purchase date of the vehicle and the beginning odometer reading for the vehicle on that purchase date.

For each trip pertaining to writing, a quick entry on the spreadsheet: the beginning mileage and the ending mileage. The sheet tallies ongoing data needed at tax time, with formulas already hidden in the appropriate columns. From this data the formulas on the sheet calculate  the % of car expense that applies to writing, or the total miles driven for writing so one can calculate the expense per writing mile.

At the end of the year, I set up a new sheets by clearing only the data, but not the columns that tally information, as they contain the formulas for the calculations.  All you need on the new sheet is the beginning mileage for the new year.

Additional tip: I keep a calendar book in the car so I can jot down the beginning and ending mileage of each trip.  As a cross check, I write the trips down on a day timer at my desk. If I take a moment to think before I pull out of my driveway, I might remember to hit the trip meter button on the car. Hopefully, one of the three methods will give me the data I need!

Whatever method you use, it is good practice to keep records. For those who pay taxes for their writing career, one expense tracking headache will be ready to go.

Next time I’ll offer to share an expense sheet for travels.  (The one above is strictly for personal Automobile expenses.)

Happy travels!

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