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Optimize Your Chart of Accounts – Part 3

Welcome back!! We are so glad to have you here today.

We’re back with the third and final installment of our chart of accounts series. I just wanted to touch on some tips and tricks that haven’t already been covered.

 

Numbering Chart of Accounts

Some companies and accountants choose to number their chart of accounts. This helps to group similar items and makes it simple to sort by numerical order.

A standard example often used is as follows:

1000s: Assets

2000s: Liabilities

3000s: Equity

4000s: Income

5000s: Cost of Goods Sold

6000s: Operating Expenses

7000s: Other

I recommend consulting your bookkeeper, accountant or both before making a big change in your chart of accounts!

Assign Your Account Numbers in QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online will not automatically assign account numbers as the desktop version did. However, you can manually assign numbers by following the steps below- per the QuickBooks Online website.

  1. Select the Gear icon at the top, then Chart of Accounts.
  2. Select the edit (pencil) icon above the Action column.
  3. Under the Number column, enter the account numbers. (Account numbers can be up to 7-digits long).
  4. Select Save on the upper right after you’re done entering your account numbers.

 

Naming Chart of Accounts

It is very important that you take care when you are naming accounts. I have a few tips below to help you avoid any duplication or confusion.

  1. Use consistency when naming accounts. For instance, you might have a checking account named 1st Federal Bank and then the savings account named First Federal Bank. Every time you look for the accounts, you’ll have to remember how you spelled it. I recommend doing something along the lines of “First Federal Bank Savings XXXXXX” (bank account number). Adding the type of account and actual bank account number in the name make a good verification for you before you being entering transactions.
  2. Think once, twice, three times before you create a new account. Usually, it already exists. I see this all the time! Business owners can’t remember what they called something and then they make a new account. Before you know it, you have three accounts for fuel. You can avoid this by printing out your chart of accounts to look at. For some reason, it helps me to see the accounts on a sheet of paper.
  3. Use abbreviations ONLY when you will remember them. If you think you’ll remember BD for bad debts… chances are you won’t. Spell everything out when you have the space.
  4. Follow the names on your tax forms when possible. Whether you’re a Schedule C, Schedule F filer or file as a partnership, corporation, etc you can find exactly which tax lines your accountant will be classifying that specific account to.

 

Maintaining Chart of Accounts

Maybe yourself, your bookkeeper or accountant set up an account that you thought for sure you’d use. If you go an entire year without using an account, I recommend making it inactive. In QuickBooks Online, it says you are deleting the account, but it actually only makes it inactive. You can do this in QuickBooks Online by following the instructions below, per QuickBooks:

Deleting Accounts:

Choose the  Gear icon > Chart of Accounts.

  1. Click on the account to highlight it.
  2. In the Action column on the right, click the drop down and select Delete
  3. Click Yes.

When you decide you need to restore a deleted account:

Restoring/Undeleting Accounts:

  1. Choose the Gear icon > Chart of Accounts.
  2. Click on the Settings icon on the upper right hand side of the Chart of Account.
  3. Place a check in the box to Include inactive
  4. Click on the Account you want to un-delete to highlight it.
  5. In the Action column on the right, click Make Active.

 

Thanks again for stopping by! Leave me a comment if you read this blog or have any other questions.

Stay tuned for a blog post next week on Class Tracking in QuickBooks Online.

Happy Bookkeeping!

-Michelle

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accounting, bookkeeping

Optimize Your Chart of Accounts – Part 2

Welcome back! We’re continuing our discussion on your business’ Chart of Accounts.

Last week we discussed how to utilize your Chart of Account through the use of income accounts. If you missed it, check it out here! Today, we’re going to discuss your expense accounts. 

Continuing on last week’s example, let’s say you have two herds of cows of equal size. You decide to use two different weaning strategies for each herd and want to determine which method is more profitable. We’ve been through the strategy of differentiating them in your income accounts, and now we want to determine what the expenses for each herd are. 

For the most part, these two herds are treated equally. The same feed program, vaccination program and grazing protocols. The only difference is at weaning time, you put a little more input into one herd in the form of supplies and labor. Considering your hired man is paid on a salary, we won’t figure the labor into the actual expenses of the weaning program. Don’t get me wrong, some might consider the more labor intensive protocol a poor fit because of the availability of labor, time, etc. We’re purely looking at profit in this example. Management decisions can be very complicated, so this is just ONE way to break down your protocols and help with decision-making. 

So let’s say your normal weaning program takes absolutely no additional supplies. You won’t need to add any transactions to its own account. Your experimental weaning protocol, on the other hand, does require additional supplies. You should create an additional account on your chart of accounts to categorize the transactions. It will look something like Supplies:Weaning Program X. When you run a Profit & Loss Report, you can clearly see what your input into the special weaning program was and if it actually made you more money compared to the other program.

While we’re on this subject, I find it helpful to break your supplies down into other categories as well. You might have one that’s Supplies:Misc Ranch Supplies for anything that doesn’t fit in your other categories. Often times, a Supplies:Fencing account is helpful as well (and should only be used for fencing maintenance, as any new fencing built is a capital improvement and should be categorized as such). Basically anything that is supplies for the ranch that’s not auto expenses or feed, can go into your supplies accounts and you might want to separate it for your management decisions.

You can use this for your vehicle expenses as well. For instance Vehicle Expenses: Truck A, Vehicle Expenses: Truck B. And accordingly, you could break down your fuel expenses by vehicle or equipment as well. So your base account might be: Fuel & Oil. Then you could have several sub-accounts such as: Fuel & Oil: Oil, Fuel & Oil:Fuel:Truck A, Fuel & Oil:Fuel:Tractor A or something similar. You can separate diesel fuel and gasoline, dyed diesel and regular diesel. It all depends on what you need to see in your reports.

Keep in mind if you want your chart of accounts to serve your operation, you need to follow through with this concept. If you intend on utilizing sub-accounts, you will need to ensure that your transactions are categorized to the lowest level of the sub-accounts. If you have a transaction that doesn’t fit into a lowest level sub-account, then create one that does. These are best practices that will keep your accounting file clean and easy to use.

As always, include any comments or questions below. I love to hear your input!

We will continue with this series next week and I have plans to cover QuickBooks Classes in the future as well. Classes are helpful when you have multiple types of operations and need to separate multiple income and expense accounts.

If you aren’t even sure what changes to make or where to start, that’s where your bookkeeper comes in. If you don’t have a good bookkeeper, give me a shout! I’d love to offer you a free no-obligation bookkeeping consultation.

Thanks again for stopping by. Happy bookkeeping!

-Michelle
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accounting, bookkeeping

Optimize Your Chart of Accounts – Part 1

I’m finally back at it after welcoming my sweet little baby Abigail! I’m kicking off a series of blog posts on your business’ chart of accounts, which helps you categorize your assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses. Today we’ll be focusing on your income, specifically livestock sales.

So let me ask you… Is your Chart of Accounts serving your business? 

Go ahead. Think about it. 

If you’re scratching your head, I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably not. Thankfully I have a way to help you. 

Regardless of who initially created your chart of accounts- your accountant, bookkeeper, husband, wife, daughter, son…. you need to sit down a take a good look at it. If a chart of accounts is created solely for accounting or banking, it will not necessarily benefit your daily business. There. I said it. Not exactly a popular opinion. 

So how can you ensure that your chart of accounts is serving your business?

Throughout this series, we’ll walk through the most common accounts and I’ll explain how to customize them for YOUR business. The examples we’ll walk through are intended for Farmers, Ranchers and Agribusiness Owners, but I think that any business can relate with the general guidelines. When we are done with this series, you will be able to make custom reports for your business that will give you the most insight into your profitability as well as cash flow and net worth. 

I’m so excited about this, so let’s just get started!

Your accountant would (generally) tell you that your chart of accounts should have TWO accounts for sale of livestock. Purchased Livestock and Raised Livestock. Yep, that’s it. And the reason is so that your accountant knows if you need to pay capital gains tax on a purchased animal which you later sold. It really doesn’t have to do with what YOU need to know to manage your operation. So all of the work you are putting in to your herd to raise the best cows, the healthiest calves, etc is not properly reflected on any reports you are to run.

For the most part, in our example, I would agree with having one Purchased account. So it would look something like Income:Sales:Purchased Livestock. You might consider having multiple accounts if you purchase your replacement heifers or if you are interested in finding out which bulls have the best market value when you are through with them. Just a few things to think about. A lot of it has to do with how detailed of bookkeeping and reports you want to utilize and are willing to maintain, either yourself or via an employee or a bookkeeper.

However, your Raised Livestock account, in my opinion, should be better customized to your business. Any farmer or rancher (or business person, at that) can tell you there are thousands of different decisions you can make in your operation, and sometimes you need to see the data to know if a decision was the right one. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you have two herds of cows, of equal size. You decide to use two different weaning strategies for each herd and want to determine which method is more profitable.

After weaning, you market your calves and sell them. You want to create two different accounts on your chart of accounts to categorize the transactions. The first is Sales:Raised Livestock:Calves Weaned with X Program. The second would be Sales:Raised Livestock:Calves Weaned with Y Program. Now when you run a Profit & Loss statement, you can clearly see which set of calves made more money. We will continue to use this example next week and will determine your individual expense accounts, knowing that JUST income can’t indicate your true profit on these calves. My preferred accounting program is QuickBooks Online for its flexibility and mobility. Seriously, you can use it anywhere! No more being tied to a desk. One of the biggest reasons why I believe QuickBooks Online is ideal for farmers, ranchers and agribusiness owners. But we’ll have to chat about that another time. If you would like to transfer your books to QuickBooks Online from another accounting software program or even from your paper books, just let me know. I can help you snag the first two months for free! 

Keep in mind if you want your chart of accounts to serve your operation, you need to follow through with this concept. If you intend on utilizing sub-accounts, you will need to ensure that your transactions are categorized to the lowest level of the sub-accounts. If you have a transaction that doesn’t fit into a lowest level sub-account, then create one that does.

With these changes, you are well on your way to running reports that will reflect your specific management decisions. Your accountant can still easily find the information they need, using the less detailed accounts. You will be so amazed by the detail-oriented reports you can run if you just use your chart of accounts to your advantage!

If you aren’t even sure what changes to make or where to start, that’s where your bookkeeper comes in. If you don’t have a good bookkeeper, give me a shout! I’d love to offer you a free no-obligation bookkeeping consultation.

If you have any other topics you’d like for me to touch on, just drop me a comment!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy bookkeeping.

– Michelle
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bookkeeping, office management, paperless

Going Paperless

One of the biggest trends in business right now is to go paperless. It is one method to cut costs and boost efficiency. But is this method of file management even possible for you and your business?

It would be nearly impossible to completely eliminate paper from your business. So, what are some of the easiest areas to introduce paperless and automated practices? The first and most obvious area is your accounts receivable. How many invoices and statements are you printing and mailing to your customer?  This can be unnecessary when most, if not all, of your customers have an email account and might be willing to receive online invoices? If you are already running QuickBooks Desktop or Online, the email feature is very user-friendly and doesn’t cost you anything on top of your subscription. With your QuickBooks Online subscription, you can also receive free bank ACH payments directly from their bank to yours. This payment is applied directly to the invoice and entered into QuickBooks as a deposit. Once the invoice is sent, you don’t have to do anything more. Talk about a time saver! I can’t say enough good things about QuickBooks Online. I truly think it’s the best accounting software available right now.

Next, your accounts payable can be looked at. You probably receive most of your vendor invoices in the form of a paper invoice. Some of your vendors probably offer online invoicing. You also have the option, through your bank or even your accounting software, to pay your bills online. This creates a bank ACH, saving you money on checks, envelopes and postage. Not to mention the time it takes to create all of these. If you have monthly recurring payments, you can set the payment as such and not have to worry about it again.

If you are a service-based industry, you probably also keep miscellaneous customer information on hand. This type of information can very easily be scanned into your computer, if you regularly back it up, or to a cloud-based server. I, personally, do both.

Most of your bank, credit card and other loan accounts offer online statements. Take advantage of this! You will be notified by email when a statement is available, and you can save it in the proper location on your computer. You can always print it when necessary.

Any business will have other documents that can be scanned, such as; insurance documents, licenses, banking information, etc.

Let’s talk logistics. For scanning purposes, I use the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500. I find that this model is user-friendly and fast. There are smaller and more affordable scanner options, such as the Portable Fujitsu Scanner or this Portable Brother Scanner. For my cloud storage, I utilize Microsoft OneDrive. I have 1TB of storage through my Microsoft office account. That is A LOT of storage. On my computer, this my OneDrive show up as another folder, just like my regular document folders. Just to be on the safe side, I also back up my computer regularly using an WD Elements 1TB External Hard Drive. This is a manual process, but once it’s set up, all it takes is attaching the hard drive with a USB cord and the process will begin automatically. I keep my hard drive in a fireproof safe, so it anything were to ever happen, my documents would be stored in multiple secure locations. Some business might prefer a cloud-based automatic backup system. This is a great choice for many, but tends to be a little more costly. If you have a service-based business that exchanges a lot of customer documents, you can also subscribe to a cloud-based file sharing program. ShareFile is a good choice, but there are many options to choose from. With ShareFile, you can upload files as you go, or just ones that are request by your customer. It creates a simple customer portal, and they can send you documents as well. This is ideal for working with sensitive documents, so you aren’t having to password protect the documents for security purposes.

The only way for this to really work for your business is if you and your employees are committed to the process and have policies and procedures in place. You might spend a week or even a month, depending on the scale of your business, planning and preparing. You’ll need to decide who will assume the responsibilities; such as online bill pay, online or email invoicing, scanning, etc. Also take the time to ensure that your online file and naming system is simple and easy to use. There is nothing worse than having to search all over for a file. I recommend naming every file by the customer or vendor name, the document description and the date it was received. If you are truly committed to paperless, you might also consider spending some time scanning old documents. This will be a good way to clean up files.

Keep in mind the end goal. Easily accessible documents, employee efficiency and reduced costs. Win-Win-Win. I offer a discount on QuickBooks Online for all of my customers, as well as scanning services! Just contact me through the website or email me to get started.

Be sure to check out my other blog posts, like my Facebook page Patten Bookkeeping Services  for more information!

Thank you so much for stopping by and I wish you the best!

Michelle

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bookkeeping, budgeting

Budgeting Basics

Welcome to my website! I appreciate you taking the time to check out my website and blog today.

I recently started a Facebook group called Financial Freedom. It’s a group for those of us looking to learn better ways to budget, pay off debt, save for retirement and reach our financial goals. We will be supporting each other, giving advice and keeping each other accountable for our finances. I’m very excited about this new project and I’d love for you to join us!

This new group has me thinking A LOT about budgeting lately. I’ll be completely honest, I was never taught how to budget. I just had to learn the hard way- which, in case you’re wondering, is the slowest way to learn something. So I thought I’d give some basic pointers on budgeting. This can apply to personal finances as well as business finances.

The single most important component to budgeting is setting your goals. Without goals, you’re budgeting for the sake of budgeting. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not going to light your fire. So let’s talk about these goals. Both short-term and long-term goals should be made. Your goals should be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. A great starting point for a goal is to have $1,000 dollars in savings within three months- that’s a really SMART goal. Here’s Dave Ramsey’s take on how to do it in a month. He’s a pretty smart guy, too. (See what I did there?). These goals are very important and are what will keep you from bored Amazon shopping or throwing random things in the cart at the grocery store because you don’t have a list. There is something so energizing about making the “right” choice with your money and knowing you are doing your future self a favor.

The next step is to figure out your income and expenses. I like to get out a notebook and pencil and just start writing it all down. First, you’ll want to take your best guess at your monthly income. This can be a little more difficult for those of us who work hourly, work as freelancers or have our own business. Just do the best you can! When in doubt, estimate on the lower side. Next, put together your bank and credit card statements for the last two to three months. Track where your money is going by different categories, i.e. car payment, groceries, clothing, etc. From this list, note which expenses are “must haves”. For me, this is savings, tithing, utilities, groceries, car payment, insurance… you get the idea. I like to put my savings and giving amounts first. This helps me to prioritize what’s really important. So instead of spending first and then worrying about savings, I get my savings goal out of the way and go from there. While you’re looking through these expenses, keep in mind ways that you can save on them. Maybe you can manage to downgrade your cell phone plan or start to meal plan and pack lunches in order to save money on groceries. The amount you’ve been spending is not necessarily what you should be spending.

After you’ve indicated your “must haves”, look at the rest of the expenses. What can you live without? What can you simply cut back on? I’m not saying you ever need to feel like you’re doing without. Budgeting is like dieting: all things with moderation. You still deserve to enjoy your money. You earned it after all! If going out to eat once a week is important to you, then do it! If your morning coffee ritual is what keeps you going throughout the day, then get that coffee! If you are on a “crash diet” how long does it take before you crash?? That’s not what we want to happen. You need to be setting yourself up for success, not failure. So keep your lifestyle and your personality in mind. No two budgets will be the same because no two people (or couples) are the same.

At this point, there could be some left money left over. Your entire goal with your budget is to break even. You should allocate every dollar that you anticipate on earning. That doesn’t mean you necessarily need to spend every dollar. Make sure that your bills are up do to date and you have a reasonable emergency fund, about $1000. If you have an emergency fund and one of your goals is to get credit card debt paid off, then I say spend it and get them paid off! There’s nothing wrong with that. If credit card debt reduction- or any type of debt that you have multiple accounts, is your goal, Dave Ramsey offers a great resource with his debt snowball plan. If you have any questions about what is “normal” for expenses, this article has breakdown recommendations.

When you have everything in writing, you can transfer your budget to any medium you prefer. Maybe a plain old piece of paper and your checkbook register will work for you. An Excel spreadsheet works really well for budgeting. In the past I’ve used the Every Dollar App on my phone. Just recently, I started using the QuickBooks Online Plus budget tracking system, and so far it works great. So there really is something for everyone, and believe me, I’ve tried them all!

It might take you a while to get your budget just right. It’s okay to tweak it a little in the first few months. Keep in mind, when you have a windfall it’s very important to resist the temptation to get yourself something nice. If you didn’t need it on a month that you had less, you probably don’t need it now. Take this money and use it to your advantage. Pay down a debt or cushion your savings a little bit. Treat your future self, he or she deserves it!

Keep in mind, I offer a customized monthly personal and business bookkeeping package along with a FREE consultation! Just contact me through the website or email me to get started.

Be sure to check out my other blog posts, like my Facebook page, Patten Bookkeeping Services and join my Facebook group, Financial Freedom for more information!

Thanks again for stopping by and best of luck!

Michelle

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