QuickBooks & Common Expense Mistakes

As mentioned in my last blog that covered “QuickBooks & Common Deposit Mistakes”, I’m a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and I assist my clients with fixing discrepancies. Another area that I get asked about often has to do with expenses. When do you use a check? When do you use an expense? What about vendor bills? Here are some common mistakes I’ve encountered and how to fix them.

Using a Bill and a Check

If you plan to enter vendor bills, it can certainly be a helpful function to utilize. Tracking upcoming bills due and how much is owed can be of great benefit when planning for future cash outflows. It is imperative though, to make sure you are not duplicating the bill when you cut a check.

When you are ready to pay a bill that has already been entered, you will likely pay one bill or pay an entire batch. If you are paying only one, go to the bill and click on “make payment” in the upper right-hand corner (Figure 1). Choose the payment method from the drop-down menu next to the Vendor name and then click “Save and Close” at the bottom. From here you can complete the “Print Checks” step.

QuickBooks Bill
Figure 1 – click to enlarge

If you are doing a batch of bill payments, click the “Plus” icon at the top right and choose “Pay Bills.” Here you can select multiple bills to pay that have already been entered (Figure 2). Finish by click “save and Print” in the lower right corner and print the batch of checks.

QuickBooks Pay Bills
Figure 2 – click to enlarge

Either of these methods will properly record the bill (expense) and subsequent payment. The common mistake is posting a bill and then subsequently posting a check, without using the Bill Payment step. The expense will be recorded once on the bill and once on the check. This will also lead to showing bills an unpaid even after you have paid them.

Let’s say, for example, that our client Sue entered the PG&E bill in Figure 1 and then also posted the check in Figure 3. If Sue were to go to PG&E in her vendor list, see would see that the bill was unpaid. To fix this, Sue must go to the check and add the bill to it. Notice in Figure 3 on the right-hand side there are unpaid bills listed. Click on “Add” and then the bill will appear in the check detail. If the check amount defaults to $0.00 simply change it back to the amount the check was written for.

QuickBooks Check
Figure 3 – click to enlarge

You can record a check directly to an expense, like was done in Figure 1. Just be sure that you have not already posted a bill for that item. These same steps apply to credit card expenses and bill payments as well.

 

These screen shots were taken using a sample company in QuickBooks Online, so QuickBooks Desktop may look slightly different. If you’d like personalized help with fixing your expenses, please contact me HERE and we can set up a one-on-one meeting. If you have another expense issue you’d like me to delve into in a future blog, please leave it as a comment below.

QuickBooks & Common Deposit Mistakes

As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor (see my profile here), I often coach clients on fixing discrepancies in deposits. Today I will be discussing two common mistakes and how to fix them.

Not Receiving Payments

I recently worked with a client – let’s call her Sue – who was puzzled by open invoices. She knows for certain that she had received wire transfers for these invoices and posted the deposits in QuickBooks. The first step to solving this issue is to look at the deposit. Let’s say, for example, that Sue invoiced Cool Cars on 2/1/17 for $2,500 (Figure 1):

Figure 1 – click to enlarge

We would then look at the deposit that Sue made on 3/1/17 for $2,500 (Figure 2):

Figure 2 – click to enlarge

I see here that Sue posted a deposit in a manner that did not get applied to the invoice (B). To apply funds to an invoice, we must use the “Select Existing Payments” section (A). There are no payments here for Cool Cars so first we must receive a payment (Figure 3). Go to the client’s open invoice and click “receive payment.” Fill out deposit information and check next the invoice(s) to apply the payment to (C).

Figure 3 – click to enlarge

Since we chose Checking as the “deposit to” account, there are no further steps needed. However, we do still need to delete the deposit previously posted in Figure 2, otherwise there will be a duplication.

Multi-Payment Deposit

Another common mistake I see is when clients make only periodic deposits, ie: every two weeks, and each deposit contains multiple customer payments. If we receive payment as in Figure 3 above, it may be more difficult to reconcile bank deposits since each payment will show as a separate deposit amount. These receive payments should be posted with the “deposit to” account being “Undeposited Funds.”

Undeposited funds is simply a clearing account to be used when there is a timing difference between when payments are received and when they are deposited to the bank. Let’s say I have received payment from three different customers on March 1st, 5th, and 8th. I record the payments as received on each of those dates.

I think go to the bank on  March 10th and deposit all three checks together. In QuickBooks, we add a new deposit, checking next to each payment already recorded that was included in the deposit (Figure 4, see also (A) on Figure 3). We can see here that the deposit total is $2,965 which will match what is shown on my monthly bank statement.

Figure 4 – click to enlarge

These screen shots were taken using a sample company in QuickBooks Online, so QuickBooks Desktop may look slightly different. If you’d like personalized help with fixing your deposits, please contact me HERE and we can set up a one-on-one meeting. If you have another deposit issue you’d like me to delve into in a future blog, please leave it as a comment below.

Check out my next blog where I discuss common QuickBooks expense mistakes.

The Power of Excel

As an accountant I absolutely love using Excel. I use it for a multitude of items and it helps me cut down time required to complete a task. Here, I will briefly describe some of its functionality I find most useful.

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Automation

Many Excel users actually under-utilize the functionality of Excel. They may have taken the first step in creating a template for a recurring task, but it could still be a very manual task in general. There are a lot of functional formulas that can remove redundancy of data entry and calculations. Without a doubt, I can say that my favorite and most used function is =SUMIF. It easily adds numerous line items that have a specific cell value.

For instance, in this screen shot, my SUMIF formula is adding the amounts in Column C whenever there is an “A” in Column B. I can do the same formula to add up all the B’s, C’s, and D’s. There is no need to do any sorting or individual summations. Excel does work for you!

Documentation

If you use Excel as your source document for an office or accounting task, it is easy to have the Excel file contain ALL related documentation. Let’s say you use an Excel template for each bank deposit you record in your accounting system. A critical element to keep record of is the actual deposit slip that goes to the bank. You can easily embed a picture or PDF into the template that shows the deposit slip. From the top ribbon bar you go to the Insert tab, click on “Object,” click “Browse” and choose the file to embed. There are three embedding options: click “OK” for the object to show the full first-page; click “link to file” to show as a hyperlink; or click “Display as Icon”.

Integration into Other Software

Often times, Excel templates can be used for direct uploading into other software, such as an accounting system. This can be valuable when data input in the other software is manual and redundant. If you’re able to do the data entry in Excel, you can use copy/paste and formulas to speed up the task, then import into the other software.

You can find some basic templates on the Microsoft website, such as calendars, budgets, and to-do lists. Beyond templates, there is a plethora of functionality within Excel. If you are wondering if Excel is capable of doing this or doing that, it’s likely that it can. Exploring what I hoped Excel was capable of doing is how I became so proficient in it. Take some time to play around with different functions and items in the top Ribbon Bar. If you’re curious about something specific, please leave a comment below and I will answer it in one of my next blog posts.

Things to Consider When Choosing Accounting Software

Whether you are a small start-up or a large established company, there are things to consider when choosing an accounting software. Who will be using it? How much functionality will you require? Here are some guidelines to help you start your search for the best-suited software.

Who will be using it?

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Most software has limitations on how many users can access the software, either at any given time or altogether. It is important to know what your needs are and what your needs may grow to in the future. It could be costly to upgrade later on or find out you need different software entirely. For example, QuickBooks offers various levels with increasing number of users allowed (“number of people who can access QuickBooks Online” near the end of the list).

It is important to consider what roles within your company will need access to the software. If your sales manager or payroll clerk receive value from access, you should choose a software that has security access variability. You may not want certain individuals seeing confidential employee information or sensitive financial statements.

How much functionality will you require?

If you are a self-employed individual, you may only require simple functionality such as invoicing and bill payments. A mid-size company may require additional functionality to include budgeting and payroll. A large company may require layers of functionality when other software must integrate into the accounting software and serves as a sub-ledger.

Knowing which different software programs “talk” to each other and the ease with which they communicate is essential. Integration can entail complex processes and it’s important to understand how to locate and fix discrepancies. An example would be a payroll system – such as Paychex – that only sends over summary amounts to the accounting software to ensure confidentiality.

What else is unique about your company?

Each company and entrepreneur will have unique needs as it relates to their financial needs. Do not assume that because a company is similar to yours that you should jump right in to using the same accounting software. Not only should you identify your company’s need and wants in the software, but you should consider the cost-benefit of each one. Will that software that costs twice as much cut down on manual input? There is more that goes into a full cost-benefit analysis than the cost of the software itself.

Choosing an accounting software can be a daunting task, but having an experienced accountant assist with the process can help ensure a better fit. Contact me HERE if you’d like to get started on an accounting software evaluation, or comment below with your question.

What’s a QuickBooks ProAdvisor?

A commonly used accounting software used by the self-employed and small-to-medium sized businesses is QuickBooks. I use the online platform of QuickBooks for my own personal and business records. I love it so much that I became a Certified ProAdvisor.

If you need assistance navigating the set-up of your company into QuickBooks, whether starting from scratch or transitioning from a different platform, you can search for a ProAdvisor with the online search page (or, you can save yourself the trouble and contact me!). Another reason you may wish to seek out a ProAdvisor is for recurring accounting services. ProAdvisors must complete specific training to get certified, so they are well versed in the functionality that QuickBooks Online and Desktop provide.

Why I love QuickBooks

  • It is relatively easy to set up. You can pick the specific software or online level that best suits your industry or business type. It will give you a standard chart of accounts to work with that can easily be added to or modified.
  • It is easy to navigate with a side menu categorized by main financial functions such as: customers, vendors, transactions, and reports.
  • Bank reconciliations are completed right in the program.

Why I love QuickBooks Online even more

  • The cloud-based platform does an even better job at saving you time!
  • You can link up to your bank accounts for more regular matching to transactions, which in turn makes for a faster reconciliation.
  • The app allows you to view where you stand while on the go. You can capture images of your receipts and enter expenses on the spot. You can handle all aspects leading up to collecting funds from customers in a timely fashion instead of waiting until you’re back at the office.
  • The accountant invite makes for easy remote access and faster turn-around time on deliverables.
  • You can receive a wholesale discount on your subscription when billed through their ProAdvisor.

Don’t hesitate any longer on getting your financial software set up or caught up. Regular upkeep through the use of a ProAdvisor will save you a headache later on. Contact me HERE to get started today, or comment below with your specific QuickBooks question.

I’m your Accountant, what’s that mean to you?

You’re in need of an accountant, but do you know what an accountant does? I goggled “What does an accountant do?” and the first answer listed is “The primary task of accountants, which extends to all the others, is to prepare and examine financial records … in order to help [a business] run efficiently.”

via http://perceptionvsfact.com/15vu

According to Merriam-Webster, an accountant is “one that gives an account or is accountable.” Being an accountant myself, I feel this definition more accurately represents what I do. The key word here is accountable, for I am accountable to my clients, to my colleagues, and to myself.

I am accountable first and foremost to myself, otherwise all other accountability falls to the wayside. As stated in my “About Me” page, my passion for accounting has never subsided. It’s the reason I got my Bachelor’s degree, it’s the reason I’m pursuing my MBA, and it’s the reason I decided to take a leap of faith in myself and start my own business. My passion for accounting has lead me through countless experiences – experiences that provided puzzles and paths to solutions through adaptive learning. My years in the corporate world afforded me to be always inquisitive and seeking not only to learn every facet of accounting that I could, but to learn to find joy in the processes entailed in the work. I am accountable to myself to not lose that love of numbers because if I do, then I cannot serve my clients and my community as well. If you already dread the financial aspect of running your business, how would a lack-luster accountant make a positive impact?

I am accountable to my colleagues, for they are my inspiration. I am in awe of the amount of support and positive wisdom my colleagues are so willing to give. It helps me to aspire to give back in return and to continuously nurture our professional relationships. I am proud to live in Reno and to be a part of the Wolf Pack and I strive to have that show in my work.

I am accountable to my clients, both current and prospective, to be efficient, effective, ethical, and valuable. My work will resonate this accountability to the best of my ability. I’m in a constant state of learning so that I may continually provide accurate and up-to-date information that is relevant and useful. That information also must be timely so that my clients are best able to make informed business decisions. My clients are always educated on best practices and potential negative ramifications and are given suggestions to avoid legal and monetary pitfalls.

Being an accountant is more than just punching numbers on the keyboard. For me, the heart of being an accountant is making a positive impact, and I’m not just referring to the bottom line. A better bottom line is definitely a positive goal to attain, but the journey to get there is just as important. Let’s make that journey as enjoyable as possible!

If you’d like the opportunity to see how we can make a positive impact on your business, contact me for a free consultation. CLICK HERE to schedule one!

Love in Numbers

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day we express our love to others with cards, flowers, and chocolates. How about we skip the commercialized aspect and talk about a different kind of love… a love for numbers! No, you say? You don’t love numbers? Well, that’s ok, because you have a love for something else. Your passion. You broke into your business because you took your passion and ran with it, whether it be starting a new restaurant, creating beautiful artwork, or opening your favorite franchise. The last thing you want to consume your time with is numbers. Your time is much more valuable when spent curating new ideas and products that generate revenue.

Lucky for you, my passion IS numbers! How many people do you know who look forward to balancing their checkbook? (Hint: now you know at least one). Give me a detail-ridden, multi-layered account reconciliation, even one that hasn’t been done in over a year – or maybe 8! – and it’s GO TIME.

Since starting my venture into sole proprietorship this past November, I have been diligently working to meet as many local business owners as I can. I am amazed by the entrepreneurial supportive community that is Reno and I absolutely love hearing how others got started and learning about the different facets of their business. I want to be a part of it all! And as I conduct consultations (which are always free of charge) I delve into these details so I can best understand how I can be of benefit to their business.

My business model is to be adaptive to my client’s current and future needs. As their business grows and changes, their needs grow and change as well, meaning I adapt along with them. From a start-up who needs help setting up their accounting and business processes, to a young business that needs to look more deeply at financial analytics, to a mature company that needs to bring in-house accounting and seeks assistance in hiring and training the right team, my passion for numbers will always radiate in the task at hand. It is my ultimate goal to help my clients be as successful as possible by delivering meaningful information in a timely fashion in order to make the smarter business decisions.

This blog is just another tool that allows me to offer insightful information to the community I hold dear to my heart. I will cover topics on accounting and accounting software, excel, and how to seek out opportunities for efficiency and process improvement. I want to hear from YOU on the topics that will benefit you in your business decisions. Please leave your questions in the comments so that I can address them in a future blog. And remember to become a subscriber – in the right-hand menu – to ensure you don’t miss any of these helpful tidbits!

 

 

Steps to Identify Opportunities for Efficiency in your Business

Throughout my career in private accounting, I have had many opportunities to implement process efficiencies relating to not only my position, but others’ as well. Often times the process changes that affected me the most are ones that I suggested for my coworkers.

I have repeated specific steps time and time again, within companies of varying industries and sizes, which resulted in reduced time requirements, increased accuracy and automation, decreased need for manual input, and an increase in overall enjoyment of tasks. Coworkers have always been appreciative of the unsolicited help they received, and in return, I experienced positive results as well.

Want to increase efficiency within your job/department/company? Here’s my process for how to get there:

 

Start by working with one task at a time.

Don’t hit the pavement running with a mindset that you want to have everything working fluidly within a week/month/quarter. This can lead you to feeling overwhelmed when you realize how many tasks could potentially be improved. Process improvement is just that….a process!

Pick one task that seems to bog you down the most. Whether it’s monotonous, data-entry heavy, consistently riddled with errors, or something you merely don’t enjoy. There are a multitude of reasons why a task may be requiring more of your time than it needs to.

Step back from the task and take a thorough look at it.

Many times we forget to think about the task at hand; as in truly think about the mechanics of it. We get so consumed with meeting deadlines, we get too comfortable with routine, or we’re new to a position and following the lead of our predecessor.

My philosophy is to never stop thinking! Even if I’ve improved one component and feel that now the task is a well-oiled machine, I stop and ask myself “What else might I be able to do better?” In my experience, for example, it can take doing a routine monthly task 3 or 4 times to work out all the kinks. Gaining a deep understanding of one component of a task can lead you to recognize a deficiency in another area.

Step even further back and look at the company as a whole.

Maybe there’s one task you have that you consistently struggle to finish on time. But it’s not your fault, right? The information you need must first come from an outside department and you have reiterated numerous times how critical it is to have that information by a certain day, otherwise you risk missing your deadline.

This step right here is a HUGE game changer. When you step back and look at where your task requirements are coming from and how they end up in your possession, you have the opportunity to help others improve their processes. And when their process improves, you are likely to see an improvement on your end as well.

The same can be said if you’re always re-working something because the person you hand it off to has to kick it back. Set aside some time to meet with them and ask them to explain what they need from you in such a way that you can more effectively deliver your product.

When others feel that you are trying to help them instead of being that grumpy person from such-and-such department, they will be more willing to listen to your needs in the future and work together more collaboratively.

That’s the golden ticket, folks. Collaboration. Working collectively so that everyone can enjoy their work and those they work with. When you have this, it is much easier to procure efficiencies.

Repeat.

Once you’ve worked on one task, move on to the next! But every time you do a task that has already gone through the steps above, take just a minute or so and ask yourself if there’s something you missed before. And if so, put it back through the ringer. Process improvement is never-ending. So challenge yourself to do it better every time!

 

These steps in real life.

I know these steps work because I have gone through them more times than I can count. Back in 2013 I worked for company that purchased distressed commercial real estate, spruced them up, and then managed the properties.

The accounting department was relatively small: an AR/AP clerk, assistant controller (me), controller, and CFO. I had already worked on many of my own tasks, but when month-end close came around, I was usually waiting around for all the tenant billings to be posted. And there were A LOT.

I asked our AP clerk if I could help in any way, and, as per the usual, I got a “Thanks, but there’s not really much you can help with.” She assured me it was a task that had to be completed by following their standard procedure.

I did not accept that this was the only way you could possibly bill a multitude of tenants. So when I had some down-time I Googled our property management software, found the user manual and help site, and dug my nose into it for a good half an hour.

Alas, I had struck gold! The program was capable of utilizing Excel uploads. Thankfully, Excel is my forte so I got to working on a template. After a few trial runs, I finally had a template that was user-friendly for any level and fairly straight-forward.

The next day, I asked the AP clerk if she had time that I could show her what I’d discovered. The template peeked her interest and the next month we gave it a go. We had great success. I asked her how long the billing took her with the previous procedure. “At least 8 hours.” I am proud to say that the new template allowed her to complete the same billing in only 30 minutes!

She was immensely appreciative of my suggestion and her demeanor towards the task improved greatly. It was no longer a daunting day-long chore for her. Thereafter, she would periodically ask me to review other tasks to see if I could improve on them as well.

As for me, I was no longer forced to wait on her in order to get my own work done. If you ask me, it was a Win-Win situation.