Looking for a better way to track business miles
May 3, 2008 3:22 PM   Subscribe

We got crapped on this tax season, so I'm looking for a better way to track my business miles. I always forget to write down trips in the mileage log, so I think an automated GPS system might work better for me. Any suggestions?

We make at least seven or eight trips per week for the business, which usually total 100 miles or so, but our vehicle is also shared for non-business trips. Does anyone have experience with a certain GPS unit or application that is particularly adept at tracking trips and letting the user determine whether each trip was business or not?
posted by bjork24 to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
i've never used it, but i think THIS is what you are looking for
posted by Mr_Chips at 4:59 PM on May 3, 2008

I also drive a lot for work, and have tried multiple ways of tracking my mileage. Really, the best answer is to just get a small travel diary from Office Depot. You'll spend more time setting up and monkeying with software than it would take to develop the habit of just writing the miles down. And you'd still be stuck with keeping receipts for hotels and meals.

Write down the odometer reading when you leave. Write in the second odometer reading when you return. Keep the diary in a plastic zipper folio kind of thing and just shove your receipts in there as you incur expenses. When you get home, take 5 minutes to tally the total in the diary and staple the receipts in there.

Also, you are talking about what, 800 miles a year? That's $400 of expenses @ 50 cents per mile. So you are taking about subtracting at most $400 off of your income. If you forget to deduct ALL of it, you lose maybe $100. If you forget only one trip, that's like $15. Any technical solution you set up will cost you money, not save it.

Maybe I've misunderstood slightly- when you say the vehicle is shared for non-business trips, do you mean while you are on the road for business? That does make it slightly more complicated, but you can use your cars trip odometer for that. Zero it when you embark on a non-business side trip, and when you go back "on the clock" for business, write down the total miles as a subtraction. But also, see what the tax rules are for whether you need to do that at all. I'm just not sure about that, but I think the rules make allowances for things like that. If you have to run out for toothpaste while you are on the road, those miles *might* count. Because if you were at home, you'd have your toothpaste. Similarly, there is something in the rules about "on the way home" sorts of trips. Don't know what they are, but check the rules and you might find that there is a way to simplify that recordkeeping.
posted by gjc at 7:21 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't track miles when I'm actually driving, but I have an old contact management program (ACT!) that lets me look up directions to my appointments in Yahoo maps. Once a month, I go back through my appointments and run the directions for each one. Yahoo maps also lets me add on multiple stops, so I just keep adding each stop, then add the final one for when I get home. I miss some miles because I don't always stay on my route, but its close enough for me since I hate daily tracking. I print out the list of dates and miles and attach it to my other expenses.
posted by rsclark at 9:19 AM on May 4, 2008

Also, you are talking about what, 800 miles a year?

I think you misread that. 7 or 8 trips, total 100 miles, per week. So, 5000 miles or so a year, or $2500.
posted by smackfu at 9:25 AM on May 4, 2008

Sorry about that, I completely missed that word. Ignore me, carry on.
posted by gjc at 3:02 PM on May 4, 2008

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