One question that we frequently hear from our clients is this: What do I need to know about using QuickBooks to keep track of my company’s finances?
It’s a good question. It is absolutely essential for business owners and entrepreneurs to do a good job of tracking their income and expenditures. Not only is can it help you set appropriate budgets, but it will also protect you at tax time in the event you have to answer questions from the Internal Revenue Service.
QuickBooks is one of the most popular software options for tracking business finances, but like any tool, it’s only as effective as its user. You may remember that in a recent post, we told you that we recommended using QuickBooks Online to avoid issues with backing up your records.
Our goal at Cook Martin is to help our clients in any way we can. We know we can’t be there for you every day as you make budgetary decisions. However, we can offer advice to help you make the most of QuickBooks now and in the future.
With that in mind, here are six crucial tips for using QuickBooks.
1. Use QuickBooks to Automate Bill Paying when Possible
As a business owner, especially if you are in the habit of handling the accounting for your company in addition to everything else you do, you know that keeping the books for a business can be time-consuming.
Some of the work you do simply cannot be automated or cut short. There is no getting around the fact that you need to make journal entries on a regular basis, balance your checkbook each month, and process your payroll.
However, there is one area where you may be able to save yourself some time. Did you know that you can use QuickBooks to automate bill payments?
Now, obviously, this option won’t work for bills that change from month to month such as your utility bills. However, most businesses do have some bills that remain the same, such as:
- Rental payments both on office spaces and storage units
- Insurance premiums
- Payments for leased company vehicles
- Payments for leased company equipment
You can use QuickBooks to set up a recurring payment for these items. Here’s how you do it.
- Go to the checks tab and create a new check
- Enter the payee’s name and address
- Enter the dollar amount
- Enter a note about what the payment is for (such as Rent, or Lexus Lease)
- Choose a start and end date for the payment to determine when the check will print
- At the bottom of the screen, click the “Make recurring” box
- Save the template
Once you have saved the template, QuickBooks will remember the payment and print a check for it on the day you specified. You will still be able to enter ad hoc payments, but you’ll save time every month using this method.
2. Use QuickBooks to Set up Online Banking Download
The next thing you can do to save some time is to sync your QuickBooks with your financial institution’s online banking.
If you bank with a small credit union, there’s a chance that you might not have this option. But if you have your business checking account with a large financial institution or bank, you will probably be able to do it.
You can connect your business bank accounts to QuickBooks by going to the home page and clicking the “Banking” tab. From there, you’ll be taken to a page where you’ll be able to choose your financial institution from a list.
After you pick an institution, you’ll be promoted to sign in to their online banking system. You can pick the account you want to link to QuickBooks and tell QuickBooks what kind of account it is.
Once the accounts are linked, QuickBooks will download your recent transactions. You can click on an individual transaction to add information or change the transaction type.
The benefit of using this feature is that it can save you time doing data entry. It isn’t a perfect tool – you will have to review the downloaded information periodically to make sure that QuickBooks has categorized it appropriately – but it can cut down on the amount of time you have to spend reviewing your bank statement.
3. Use QuickBooks to Accept Online Payments
If the majority of your customers pay you with checks, then the chances are good that you spend time every day processing payments and taking them to the bank.
QuickBooks can help you eliminate that step by allowing you to accept online payments. The QuickBooks payment option makes it easy to accept electronic checks, credit card payments, and bank transfers.
One nice feature of QuickBooks payments is that you can create and email invoices with a “Pay Now” button so that your customers can pay invoices as soon as they receive them. When you receive payments through QuickBooks, they will be automatically matched up with invoices, thus reducing the amount of time you have to spend reconciling your accounts.
Receiving Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers through QuickBooks is free, and they have reasonable rates for accepting credit card payments. You can find a list of their fees by clicking here.
4. Use QuickBooks to Track 1099 Vendors All Year
If your business works with small vendors who require 1099 forms at the end of the year, you already know that things can get hectic at tax time as you rush to prepare the necessary forms.
Tracking those vendors can be a challenge if you don’t do it on a regular basis. It means that you have to pull reports, review payments, and determine who needs a 1099 form at the same time as you’re doing the necessary work to file your company taxes.
Did you know that instead of doing that last minute rush, you have the option of designating vendors as 1099 vendors when you enter them into QuickBooks?
Using this feature of QuickBooks can save you hours of time when you are preparing your taxes. Instead of scrambling, you can simply run a report that lists all of your 1099 vendors, including both payments and any necessary sales tax.
You can also print your 1099 forms directly from QuickBooks. You will need to set your tax thresholds per the IRS’s instructions. Then you can view a list of vendors and review them to make sure that everybody who needs to get a 1099 is designated as a 1099 vendor.
After you have reviewed the forms, you have the option of E-filing your 1099 forms with the IRS and sending them to vendors electronically as well. If you send electronic invoices to vendors, the 1099 forms will go to the same email address.
If you prefer to have printed copies of your 1099 forms to send to vendors, you can generate them by clicking on the individual vendor and then choosing the “Print Form” option.
5. Use QuickBooks to View Double Entries
Every accounting system uses a system of double entries. Anything that is entered as a credit on one side must be debited on the other – and vice versa.
In some accounting systems, catching mistakes in journal entries can be difficult. They simply are not set up to allow for easy review of entries.
QuickBooks is different. You can easily view your double entries for every transaction you enter at the click of a button.
To use this feature, simply open the transaction and then click Reports > Transaction Journal. You will be able to see all of the journal entries connected with that transaction. In the event that the double entry has not been entered correctly, you can fix it.
This feature is one that can be particularly helpful if you don’t do journal entries every day. It’s important to have a quick and easy way to track down errors so you can fix them instead of spending hours trying to find the one entry that was done incorrectly.
6. Use QuickBooks to Merge Similar Accounts
One issue that business owners often have is the creation of multiple accounts in QuickBooks. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a company that hasn’t struggled with this issue at some point.
It is easy to see how multiple accounts are created. If more than one person is entering invoices and writing checks, then mistakes are inevitable. They are especially common for companies that include initials in their names. A simple name like ABC Company might be entered as:
- ABC Company, Inc.
- B.C. Company
- ABC Co.
Those are just a few examples. They might all be entered in good faith, but it can be confusing to keep track of payments when they are handled in this manner.
The solution is to use the tools that QuickBooks provides to merge similar accounts. The next time you have QuickBooks open and notice two similar accounts, follow these steps:
- Right click on the name of the account you want to use for all accounts and Copy the name
- Go to the account you want to merge, and right click again to Paste the name you copied
- When you click Save to save your changes, QuickBooks will ask you if you want to merge the accounts. Click Yes, and the two accounts will be merged into one.
If you do have multiple entries for the same vendor in QuickBooks, you will want to make sure to let everybody who uses the system know about the changes you have made to avoid additional duplicate entries.
QuickBooks is one of our favorite account systems for businesses, and we are happy to recommend it to our clients. As you can see here, there are multiple tools available within QuickBooks that are designed to help businesses and their accountants streamline their accounting.
Another benefit of using QuickBooks is that most accountants are familiar with it because it is so widely used. If you choose to use a less common software or create a proprietary accounting system, you run the risk of your accounting firm having to learn the ropes before they get to work.