Do I Really Want to Deal with Your Box of Receipts?

Let me walk your through a typical initial client meeting. The client greets me at the door of their home or office and leads me to a table piled with papers. The papers might be in organized stacks, disorganized stacks, or it may look like a tornado just passed through. At this point, the client is excited about getting their books in order and very eager to pass the torch over to me.

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And at this point, I am very eager to grab onto that torch because this is the moment when I really get to start learning a lot about this business owner and their company. But what about that mess of papers? I almost never leave without my client first asking, “Are you SURE you want to go through all this? It’s such a mess.” I can’t help but laugh as I respond “YES! I love doing this kind of work. You see a mess, but I see a puzzle.”

The client gives a sigh of relief. Not only will their books get caught up, but now they can rest assured that the process will be fast and painless since I’ve taken that worry off their shoulders. Not only that, but they seem relieved that I will enjoy the task and they will not be a thorn in my side. Don’t believe my enthusiasm? Check out my new “About Me” Video!

As I mentioned, sorting through a client’s receipts and piecing them together with their invoices and bank statements really helps me to better understand the operations of their business. Is it service-based or product-based? How are those services and products broken out? What vendors do they work with? What customers do they have? Who works for them? Who do they bank with? How do they run their business? And, most importantly, what improvements can I suggest to get all the moving pieces to be cohesive so that they may work smarter, not harder?

Another reason that a pile of papers in no way intimidates me is the simple fact that my client’s volume of work is a relatively minute amount compared to the work I’ve done in corporate accounting jobs. I’ve had to re-reconcile 18 months of bank reconciliations for a large hospital affiliation. Each one would require 4-5 business days to complete. Finding documentation needed to reconcile was more difficult due to the amount of time that had passed. Talk about doing a puzzle! But I ABSOLUTELY LOVED every minute of it. I’ve also done a lot of clean-up work for the Reno Aces, as highlighted in the CFO’s testimonial.

Although your stacks of papers may be hindering YOU with decision paralysis on where to even start or how to begin, that one box will be a walk in the park for me. If you’re on the fence about partnering with someone to help with your financials, do yourself a favor and call me already! I promise you that I will love every minute of the work I do for you, just as I have loved every minute of the work I’ve done for others.

Excel: Text to Columns

In my last blog, I discussed taking text from separate cells and stringing them together. Today, we’ll discuss the opposite: separating text from a single cell. This function is referred to as “Text to Columns” and is found under “Data” on the ribbon bar menu.

Figure 1

Often times, we download a CSV formatted file in which all the data is listed in a single cell, instead of being formatted in separate columns. The “Text to Columns” function will make separation of the text a simple process. In Figure 2, we have an example of a bank transaction download. Notice how selecting cell A8 shows the string of text.

Figure 2 – CLICK TO EXPAND

To separate out the text, highlight the cells or row containing the text. Click on the “Text to Columns” as shown in Figure 1. You will then see a pop-up box, where you will click next to “Delimited,” not “Fixed Width” and then click “Next” (Figure 3).

Figure 3 – CLICK TO EXPAND

On the next pop-up screen, choose whichever delimiters you have. This is the item type that separates the data you want in different columns. This is why you may be familiar with the term “Comma Delimited” file format. This would mean there are commas between the text that should be split into different columns. With our example, we will be choosing “Space” for the delimiter (Figure 4). Note how when you make a choice it gives you a preview of how the text will separate into different columns. This is helpful before committing to the split.

Figure 4 – CLICK TO EXPAND

If you are happy with the data preview, click “Finish” and watch as your text magically separates into different columns! (Figure 5).

Figure 5 – CLICK TO EXPAND

There are many different options how data is split or delimited. If you’d like more information on what else the “Text to Columns” can do, CONTACT ME for further help or comment below with a specific question.

Excel: Using Concatenate to String Text Together

Are you ever in need of combining the text in multiple Excel cells? Are you ever in need of creating a pattern of text but one component is a variable? If so, you need to be using the CONCAT formula in Excel (this shortened formula now replaces the previously used CONCATENATE formula). Today I’ll go over two basic uses for this formula.

String Together Multiple Text Cells

Let say you have a list of first names, last names, and cities of residence. You’d like to combine all three items for a new list. Use the CONCAT formula to as follows:

  1. In the cell where you want the combined text, type =concat
  2. Add a parenthesis and then start selecting the cells in the order you want them combined, placing a comma between each chosen cell.
  3. Hit “enter” and the combined text will show in the cell.
  4. Note how the there are no spaces between the words. You will need to add in a space surrounded by quotes between each set of cells where you want a space.

String Together Text From Cells Plus Additional Text

Let’s say you have created a list of locations and distances ran recently. You’d like to create a formatted sentence using this list. Use the CONCAT formula to as follows:

  1. As in the steps above, type =concat( in the cell where you want the sentence.
  2. Anywhere you want to add text, put the text in quotes. You can do a combination of this and choosing cells, putting a comma between each section. (Note how spaces are added in the additional text sections. This can be done instead of individual “ “ between items).
  3. Drag the formula down, or copy/paste for the rest of the list to apply the same sentence to all lines of the list.

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like help with more complex concatenate formulas please CONTACT ME to work on it together. Or comment below with other formulas you’d like featured in a future blog.

Budgets, They’re Not Just for the Birds!

I was reading a fellow blogger’s post this morning about how business owners learn the hard way that budgets are the secret to survival. At the bottom of Belisle’s post, he states “Lesson learned: Budgeting is a waste of time only if you don’t plan on making money!” And I couldn’t agree more!

I then wandered over to Forbes to look for some blogging inspiration and the quote of the day was “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” This pretty much ties into Belisle’s post, so now I feel I must address my own opinion on the matter.

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Once again, I may surprise you when I say that I love budgeting! To me, the budget process unveils a lot about a company’s story: where they’ve been, where they are, and where they see themselves going. I’m sure a budget to most just looks like a bunch of numbers in a spreadsheet, but I assure you there really is a story lurking beneath the numbers. It’s packed with insight!

For companies that have never created a budget, the task can seem daunting. It can be difficult figuring out how to start one, so I advise you to start by looking at historical data, if you have any. From there, look at one revenue or expense account at time and really think about what influences the outcome of those numbers.

For instance, are you just throwing a sales number out there because it sounds like a number investors would like? Or are you considering what sales would actually be attainable but still be a challenging goal to inspire your sales team? Also, depending on what sales you budget, are you considering how the sales volume might directly influence expenses? Aside from overhead expenses that do not vary, some expenses will increase will increased sales. Departments are doomed to go over budgeted expenses if volume changes are not taken into account (this is where a rolling forecast can come in handy for volumes that are susceptible to constant change).

It is always surprising to me when I’ve been tasked with budgeting in a corporate position and there is very little backup for how the budget was formed. The more detail you can incorporate into a budget, the better. That is the only way you will truly be able to understand variants later on when looking at why actuals deviated from the budget.

A budget is a critical elemental in making a plan to reach your business goals. Without one, you are pretty much blindly navigating a massive ship in an expansive open ocean. Where will you end up? Anywhere. Is it the place you want to be? Maybe, but likely not.

If you’d like help implementing a budgetary plan to reach your goals, let’s set up a consultation to see what can be accomplished! Email me at jamie@renoaccountingsolutions.com

QuickBooks: The Audit Log

 

I know we’ve all been there: you’re working in QuickBooks and you know you posted a transaction yesterday, but today you just can’t find it! Are you losing your mind? Maybe. Or maybe not. There is a way to figure out if something was accidentally changed or deleted. And that way is through the use of the Audit Log.

I actually had a situation like this happen to me just yesterday. A big journal entry I post every month was missing. I knew I had posted it the week prior, so I pulled up the Audit log. It turns out that instead of copying a prior journal entry, which I do often to save time, I accidentally saved over it. After making this discovery, I hastily posted the new journal entry to get everything squared away. The Audit Log allowed for a quick deciphering of why my mistake occurred, not merely that it did occur.

There are a number of reasons to run an Audit Log report, such as:

  • Verifying who posted/edited/deleted a transaction
  • Verifying changes made to a transaction
  • Identifying when a transaction was posted (this is helpful when trying to locate changes made after a specific date)
  • Verifying who has logged into QuickBooks and when
  • Seeing changes made to the chart of accounts and other lists

To view the Audit log, follow these easy steps:

  • Click the gear icon and then on “Audit Log”
  • THAT’S IT!
  • Or, go the traditional route and choose “Reports” from the left-hand menu
  • Go to All Repots
  • Choose Business Over
  • Click on Audit Log
Audit Log from Sample Company of QuickBooks online – CLICK TO EXPAND.

You can customize the Audit Log to filter by such things as employee, date, and transaction type. This is useful if you’re looking for a particular item to review. Once you’ve found a transaction, click on “view” to the right-hand side and it will display the changes in detail.

Detail for changes of one transaction listed in the Audit Log – CLICK TO EXPAND.

The steps above are specifically for QuickBooks online, so if you’re working with QuickBooks desktop and need help with running an Audit Log, please CONTACT ME.

What Business Owners Need to Know About Accounting

I came across a Forbes article today based on a podcast: “Do Business Owners Need to Know Accounting”? I think this is a great question to discuss and today I will go over the aspects of accounting that I feel all business owners should know. It is critical to at least have a basic understanding of certain aspects in accounting in order to make timely and positively impactful business decisions.

Financial Statements

Business owners are probably familiar with the most commonly used financial statement: the Profit and Loss Statement. This statement not only tells you whether you are in the black or not, but it also tells a story of why your bottom line number is what it is.

It’s important to understand what each account’s purpose is and what can make that specific revenue or expense account change. You cannot estimate future amounts without this foundation. This is also a great first step in educating yourself for when it’s time to create a budget or forecast.

The second most commonly used financial statement is the Balance Sheet, although it’s not as commonly used by business owners in particular. The Balance Sheet  summarizes a company’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time. This financial statement tells a different story than the Profit and Loss Statement.

The key point for business owners to understand about the Balance Sheet is that it does not affect your bottom line (unless you’re looking at depreciable assets, but that’s a tax related topic). In working with clients, it is typical for business owners to expect a cash exchange to show up in their Profit and Loss, as this seems to be the only report that most ever look at. This is not always the case. Writing a check to yourself in place of a salary? That will likely go on the balance sheet as an Owner Distribution, not an expense.

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Cash versus Accrual Method

Simply put, the cash method of accounting is recognizing transactions as the actual cash exchange occurs. Writing a check in January 2017 that is for December 2016 rent? You recognize the rent expense in January, when the exchange occurred. Typically, every transaction is recognized in one single month.

The accrual method can be a little more complex for those unfamiliar with accounting. This method entails recording transactions to match actual usage, which can be spread to more than just one month. In the rent check example above, you would record a bill in December 2016 and this is when you would see the expense. The bill creates a balance in your accounts payable (on the balance sheet), and when the bill is paid, you offset the accounts payable and there is no affect to your Profit and Loss in January 2017. There is an advantage to using this method though: it more accurately reflects the story of how your business is doing, plus it can be easier to track upcoming bills to be paid and invoices waiting for payment from customers.

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You Have an Accountant

If for no other reason, it’s important to have a basic understanding of accounting so that you know what your accountant is doing! This is your business, and you are ultimately responsible for it financially. If there ever is a transaction or account balance that looks off to you or you aren’t sure what the implication is behind it, ASK YOUR ACCOUNTANT! There should never be any hesitation on his or her part to do so, and a good accountant will willingly continue to explain something until you both feel confident that you understand what is being questioned.

If you have a specific accounting question you’d like answered, comment below to have it featured in a future blog.

A Little Fun for Tax Time

With the tax filing deadline just a mere five days away – yes, you get an extra 3 days this year! – I thought I would amuse my readers with some fun and interesting facts about taxes and their history in the U.S. If you still need to file, you better get crackin’, or at least file for an extension.

History of Taxation

Before income taxes, the U.S. initially relied on tariffs. In the event of war, new taxes were imposed but often expired once the war was over. The first income taxes were imposed during the Civil War but did not last since they were not very well supported.

The 16th Amendment granted Congress the power to collect income taxes, which was done in the same manner as today through pay withholdings.  Form 1040, the first income tax form, was released in 1914 by the IRS’s predecessor, the Bureau of Internal Revenue. During this test run year, many people complained about the complexity of the form. (If only they knew how complex it would get!)

The 1913 version Form 1040 was a mere three pages and today it can be up to 174 pages long. The tax code itself is currently over 9,000 sections.

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Strange Taxes

  • Pennsylvania has a tax on coin-operated vacuum machines at gas stations.
  • In California, fresh fruit bought through a vending machine is subject to a 33% tax (Um, shouldn’t we be encouraging people to buy fruit over junk food?).
  • In New Mexico, people over 100 years old are tax-exempt, but only if they are not dependents (I know where I’m moving when I hit triple-digits!).
  • The IRS taxes stolen property. The 1040 instructions say that you should report it as stolen property. However, doing that would be self-incrimination, from which we are protected by the Constitution; therefore, one has the option of reporting it as “other income”.
  • In South Carolina, one can get a $50 deduction if they donate a dead deer to the poor.

Presidential Tax Returns

I think it’s pretty neat that we can see copies of past presidential tax returns. Here are some I personally found interesting.

Not everything about taxes is inherently boring. You can actually learn some interesting things about people by reading their tax returns! If you enjoyed reading any of these facts, check out the full list on Efile.com’s page .

 

 

 

Why I Decided to Get My MBA

Last fall I decided on a whim to go back to school and get my MBA. This is a Master’s in Business Administration and I’m attending class on-site at UNR. If you’ve never been to this university, I invite you to check them out HERE, and then go there and walk around. It’s a beautiful campus! I wish I had moved to Reno sooner and completed my undergrad at UNR. But hindsight is 20/20, right?

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So why did I feel that getting an MBA would benefit me? Well, for starters, I had just jumped out of corporate work and into entrepreneurship. I knew I had a unique skill set to offer the business community, but I also knew that I had difficulty conveying it. I was good at accounting and not so good at business. I needed a wider breadth of knowledge to draw on in order to enhance my usefulness to potential and current clients.

Now that I’m about two-thirds through my first semester, with classes chosen for the summer and fall semesters, I am so glad that I went back to school! Aside from always having loved school, I am meeting so many like-minded people who are brilliant and talented in so many different ways. It’s expanding my network and also my motivation to succeed.

Some people think I’m crazy for working full time and planning to take 3 classes each semester. But I want to soak up everything from this program as soon as possible so it can be applied in my business. I’ll be in the program from January 2017 to May 2018, the time period when my business is new and growing. I can already see the positive impact it is having on both my business and my personal growth, so I highly recommend any entrepreneur to look into it also.

The draw-back to all this? The late class times! I have always been an early riser, and more recently I really like getting my 8 hours of sleep. My classes currently run from 7:00-9:45pm – luckily only one teacher keeps us in class that late. But in the fall… well, one of my classes will run from 7:30-10:15pm! I’m certainly not fond of this change, but I will endure it in order to stay on my planned course.

If you would like to know more about my experience with UNR’s MBA program and see if it might be of benefit to you, shoot me an email at jamie@renoaccountingsolutions.com or leave a comment below. Go Wolf Pack!

Best Practices: Meals & Entertainment

Many of us meet clients over coffer or lunch or take the team out for celebratory get-togethers. For businesses with M&E expenses (meals & entertainment), there are some best practices to follow to make things easier at tax time.

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According to the IRS website, meals that are only 50% deductible include:

  • Traveling away from home (whether eating alone or with others) on business,
  • Entertaining customers at your place of business, a restaurant, or other location, or
  • Attending a business convention or reception, business meeting, or business luncheon at a club.

The meal must occur in a clear business setting, or if off-site they must meet the associated test. Passing the test means the meeting must be related to a business purpose and must occur directly before, during, or directly after the meeting.

For these reasons, my suggested best practice includes:

  • Keeping receipts for all business-related meals
  • Keeping record (directly on the receipt or with a log) of each receipt’s business purpose and who was in attendance

This proper documentation is important in the case your company is ever audited. This is referred to as recordkeeping by the IRS. Be sure to hold your employees accountable for providing their receipts as well and require reimbursement from them if they cannot do so.

If you’d like an evaluation on your documentation process to make sure you’re in tip-top shape for tax time CONTACT ME today!

Why I Offer Tutoring to College Students

In addition to offering business services, I also offer tutoring in undergrad college accounting subjects. Yes, it pays less. Yes, it may require me to brush up on subjects I haven’t touched on in years. And yes, I really enjoy it. If you’ve caught on from my other blogs, I have a passion for what I do in the accounting realm. I know that accounting is notoriously seen as challenging and unfulfilling.

So that is why I tutor. I want to show students that accounting can be exciting and fulfilling if you approach it a certain way. My goal is to help students dread their homework a little less and maybe even find some joy in the subject.

If students see someone who is both passionate and successful in an accounting career, it may open up a whole new outlook on what accounting can do for their career. I want other students to be successful as well! On the other hand, even if a student is only taking an accounting course to fulfill part of their business degree requirements, I still aim to make the experience as pleasant and useful as possible.

I recently met with a UNR undergrad. The day prior to meeting he text me with the subject we’d be working on: Stockholder’s Equity. At first I felt a bit of dread. I had not touched on this particular subject since studying for my CPA exam, which was at least two years prior. I was a little worried that I would struggle helping the student on this subject, but I grabbed my CPA study book and headed to campus.

I quickly glanced over the chapter on Stockholder’s Equity so I at least knew where to reference different items. Once the student arrived, we first worked on his homework and then his quiz. Question by question, all my past knowledge started coming back to me and we finished his work successfully.

That is the other reason I choose to tutor. It forces me to freshen-up on my accounting skills and teaching others helps me stay on top of my game. In my opinion it’s a win-win situation! If you or someone you know is interesting in working with an enthusiastic accounting tutor, head on over to my profile on UniversityTutor.com and check it out! I’d love to help you succeed.

Credit: UniversityTutor.com