Memorize Transactions in QB: Why? How?

Memorizing Transactions in QuickBooks: Why? How?

QuickBooks saves time in countless ways, one of which is its ability to memorize transactions. Are you taking advantage of this feature?

One of the reasons you started using accounting software, among many others, was to save time. And QuickBooks has complied. Once you create a record for a customer, vendor, item, etc., you rarely — if ever — have to enter that information again; you simply choose it from a list. 

You no longer waste time searching through endless piles of papers to find the one you need; you just do a search. And when you need a report on your monthly sales or inventory purchases or your payroll liabilities, you don’t have to wrestle with Excel or locate the right paper records; you just click a few times.

Memorized transactions can be another major time saver. You might use them when you, for example:

  • Provide the same service for a customer on a regular basis,
  • Charge a monthly fee for rentals, maintenance, membership, etc.,
  • Pay a bill to the same company regularly, or
  • Have a standing order with a vendor for a similar set of items.

It’s easy to create memorized transactions. QuickBooks provides an icon for them in the toolbar of every transaction form that’s supported, like invoices, bills, and purchase orders.

Figure 1: When you see the Memorize icon in the toolbar of a transaction form, you know that you can create a template to use over and over.

To get started, create a transaction that you know will be repeated – even if the amount will be different every time (you’ll still save time because you won’t have to fill in or select absolutely every detail). Let’s say you’re doing some social media consulting for a customer, and you’ve contracted for eight hours every month. Create the invoice for that billing.

Then click the Memorize icon. This window opens:

Figure 2: In the Memorize Transaction window, you’ll tell QuickBooks how often the transaction will be created, in addition to providing other information.

Your customer will already appear in the Name field. You’ll have to choose from among three options so that QuickBooks knows how to handle this recurring form:

Add to my Reminders List. If you choose this by clicking on the button in front of the option, QuickBooks will add this transaction to your existing Reminders List.

Note: Confused about how you get QuickBooks to remind you about actions you have to take? We can walk you through the setup process.

Do Not Remind Me. We don’t recommend this option unless you have an exceptionally good memory, few memorized transactions, or a tickler file in another application. Even then, reminders are a good idea.

Automatic Transaction Entry. This absolutely saves the most time. It’s also the riskiest option. If you select this, QuickBooks will send the transaction through at the intervals you’ve defined. You’ll have to enter a number that indicates how many times you want the form sent and how many days in advance it should be entered. Please consult with us if you are planning to automate transactions. We don’t want you to have unhappy customers or vendors or an unpredictable cash flow.

Next, you’ll tell QuickBooks how often this transaction needs to be created by clicking on the down arrow to the right of How Often. Click on the calendar icon in the Next Date field to select the exact day this should occur next (you’ll have an opportunity when you work with the Reminders List to specify how much advance warning you want). 

When you’re done, click OK.

Once you start memorizing transactions, QuickBooks will store them in a list. When you get a reminder that one is due soon, open the Lists menu and select Memorized Transaction List. You’ll see this screen, populated with your own work:

 

Figure 3: You’ll open the Memorized Transaction List to enter one or to work with one you’ve already created.

Highlight a transaction in the list and click the down arrow next to Memorized Transaction in the lower left corner to see your options here. You can also click Enter Transaction, and your original form will appear. If you’ve saved it with a permanent amount, you can just save and dispatch it. Otherwise, enter the correct amount before you proceed.

If you’re fairly new to QuickBooks and don’t feel like you’re well acquainted with its time-saving features, give us a call and we’ll set up some training. Better to do that up front than to have to untangle a jumbled company file. We’re always happy to help.

Make Your Preferences Known in QB

January 30, 2015 · Posted in Bookkeeping Tips, QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 

Make Your Preferences Known in QuickBooks 

QuickBooks is ready to use when you install it. But you can change its settings to make it work the way your company needs it to.

There are some features that all small businesses need in their accounting software. Everyone needs a Chart of Accounts and a good set of report templates. There must be tools to bill customers and to document income and expenses. Some companies need payroll management, and some need the ability to create purchase orders. These days, many businesses want to accept payments online. 

But what does your company need? It’s unlikely that you would use absolutely every feature that QuickBooks offers, but you need to make sure that every tool you want to use is set up properly. 

If you’ve been using QuickBooks for a while, you may have been directed to the Preferences window already (accessible by clicking on Edit | Preferences). If you’re just starting out with the software, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the most important elements contained there. Here are some of them.

Figure 1: QuickBooks’ Preferences window. Some features are already turned on or off by default, but you can change their status.
 

Accounting 

Click on the Accounting tab in the left vertical pane, then on the Company Preferences tab. Here, QuickBooks wants to know whether you plan to use account numbers. It also offers the option to turn on class tracking, which lets you define classes like company locations or divisions, or salespeople. Not sure what you should do here? Please ask us.

Desktop View

Options here involve usability and visibility issues. Getting them right can save you time and frustration. For example, under the My Preferences tab, you can choose between a VIEW that displays only One Window, or one that keeps Multiple Windows open. Click on the Company Preferences tab to turn specific features – like Payroll and Sales Tax — on and off.

Finance Charge 

Should you decide to apply Finance Charges to late payments, for example, please let us go over this feature with you. We’ll explain how it is set up and how it works in day-to-day accounting.

Items & Inventory 

This is critical: you must visit this screen if you will be buying and selling products. First, you need to make sure that the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are active has a check mark in it. If not, click in the box. Also important here: QuickBooks can maintain a real-time inventory level for each item you sell so that you neither run short nor waste money by stockpiling. Check the box in front of Quantity on Sales Orders if you want the software to include items that appear on sales orders in the count. Also, do you want a warning when you don’t have enough inventory to sell (as you’re filling out an invoice, for example)? We can explain the difference between Quantity on Hand and Quantity Available; it’s rather complex.

Figure 2: Some inventory concepts may be unfamiliar to you. If you’ll be buying and selling items, let us walk you through this section. 

Payroll & Employees

Payroll is integrated with QuickBooks, but it’s so complex that it almost acts as another application. If you’re planning to take this on yourself, some training will be necessary.

Reminders

Unless you have a very simple business or an extraordinarily good memory, you’ll probably want Quickbooks to remind you when you need to complete certain tasks. Click Reminders | Company Preferences to see the lengthy list of events that QuickBooks supports, like Paychecks to Print, Inventory to Reorder, and Bills to Pay. You can have the software display either a summary or a list of what needs to be done, and you can specify how many days in advance you want to be alerted.

Sales & Customers, Sales Tax, and Time & Expenses 

If your accounting workflow includes tasks in any of these areas, you’ll need to visit them to turn features on and make other preferences known.

You probably won’t need to have absolutely every feature turned on from the start. But as your business grows and changes — and we hope it does — you can always revisit the Preferences window to let QuickBooks know about your new needs. We hope you’ll let us know, too.

Creating Item Records in QuickBooks

January 5, 2015 · Posted in Bookkeeping Tips, QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 

Creating Item Records in QuickBooks

Accurate, thorough item records inform your customers and help you track inventory levels correctly.

Whether you’re selling one-of-a-kind items or stocking dozens of the same kinds of products, you need to create records for each. When it comes time to create invoices or sales receipts, your careful work defining each type of item will:

  • Ensure that your customers receive correct descriptions and pricing,
  • Provide the information you must know about your inventory levels, and,
  • Help you make smart decisions about reordering.

You’ll start this process by making sure that your QuickBooks file is set up to track inventory. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Items & Inventory. Click the Company Preferences tab and click in the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are activated if there isn’t a check in the box already. Here, too, you can ask that QuickBooks warn you when there isn’t enough inventory to sell. Click OK when you’re finished.

Figure 1: You need to be sure that QuickBooks knows you’ll be tracking inventory before you start making sales.

To create your first item, open the Lists menu and select Item List. Click the down arrow next to Item in the lower left corner of the window that opens and select New. The New Item window opens.

Warning: You must be very precise when you’re creating item records in order to avoid confusing your customers and creating problems with your accounting down the road. Please call us if you want us to walk you through the first few items.

 

QuickBooks should display the list of options below TYPE. Since you’re going to be tracking inventory that you buy and sell, select Inventory Part. Enter a name and/or item number in the next field. This is not the text that will appear on transactions; it’s simply for you to be able to recognize each item in your own bookkeeping.

Figure 2: Let us work with you if you have any doubts about the data that needs to be entered in the New Item window. It must be 100 percent accurate.

In the example above, the box next to Subitem of has a check mark in it because “Light Pine” is only one of the cabinet types you sell (you can check this box and select <Add New> if you want to create a new “parent” item on the fly). Leave the next field blank if your item doesn’t have a Part Number, and disregard UNIT OF MEASURE unless you’re using QuickBooks Premier or above.

Fill in the PURCHASE INFORMATION and SALES INFORMATION fields (or select from the lists of options). Keep in mind that the descriptive text you enter here will appear on transaction forms, though customers will never see what you’ve actually paid for items, of course (your Cost, as opposed to the Sales Price). 

QuickBooks should have automatically selected the COGS Account (Cost of Goods Sold), but you’ll need to specify an Income Account. Please ask us if you’re not sure, as this is a critical designation. The Preferred Vendor and Tax Code fields will display lists if you’ve already set these up.

QuickBooks should have pre-selected your Asset Account. If you want to be alerted when your inventory level for this item has fallen to a specific number (Min) so you can reorder up to the point you specify in the Max field, enter those numbers there (the Inventory to Reorder option must be turned on in Edit | Preferences | Reminders). 

If you already have this item in stock, enter the number under On Hand. QuickBooks will automatically calculate Average Cost and On P.O. (Purchase Order).

Click OK when you’ve completed all of the fields. This item will now appear in your Item List, and will be available to use in transactions. When you want to create, edit, delete, etc. any of your items, simply open the same menu you opened in the first step here (Lists | Item List | Item).

Figure 3: The Item menu, found in the lower left corner of the Item List.

Precisely created Inventory Part records are critical to accurate sales and purchase transactions. So use exceptional care in building them.

Using Statements in QuickBooks: The Basics

Using Statements in QuickBooks: The Basics

Most small businesses use invoices for billing customers. But there are times when you may want to send statements instead of — or in addition to — invoices.

One of the more enjoyable parts of your job is probably sending invoices to your customers to bill for products and/or services is probably one of the more enjoyable parts of your job -second only to recording payments received. Thanks to the company file you’ve built in QuickBooks, creating invoices is generally a very simple process that requires no duplicate data entry.

Figure 1: You probably use QuickBooks’ invoice forms frequently, so you know how much easier it is to fill them out than to create paper bills.

QuickBooks also includes easy-to-use templates for another kind of customer form: the statement. These forms are generally not used nearly as frequently as invoices. However, you may find them more appropriate if you:

  • Want to create a form that lists all of a customer’s open charges
  • Have a customer who accrues multiple charges before being billed
  • Receive advance — or regular — payments, or
  • Need a historical accounting of a customer’s activity, including charges, payments, and balance.

Limitations of Statements

QuickBooks places some restrictions on statements. For example, if you have a number of related charges for which you want to create a subtotal for, you’ll have to use an invoice. Statements also cannot include sales tax, percentage discounts, or payment items. Products or services requiring descriptions that run more than a paragraph can’t go on a statement. Customization options, too, are limited: you can’t add custom fields to the statement form, nor can you include a message to your customers, like, “We appreciate your business.”

The “Reminder Statement”

There may be occasions when you want to create a form that lists invoices received, payments made, and any credits given for one or more customers. This may be necessary when, for example, a customer is disputes a charge. You may also want to send out these statements to remind customers of delinquent payments.

 

You do not have to enter any new data for these statements. Instead, QuickBooks will pull the existing activity that you ask for in the Create Statements window, shown below. To get there, either click on the Statements icon on the home page, or open the Customers menu and select Create Statements.

 

Figure 2: The Create Statements window in QuickBooks offers multiple options for defining the statements you want to send to customers.

 

As you can see, QuickBooks offers a lot of flexibility in the creation of statements. You can specify:

  • The active date range. Under SELECT STATEMENT OPTIONS, you can either enter a date range or request a statement for every customer who has open transactions as of the Statement Date (be sure that this date is correct before proceeding). You can also ask to include only transactions that are past due by a specified number of days.
  • The customers to include. Do you want to use the conditions you just outlined to apply to All Customers? If so, click on the button in front of that options. If you choose Multiple Customers, a small button labeled Choose… will appear. Click on it, and a window displaying your customer list opens. One Customer also opens your list of customers. If you’ve assigned types to your customers and want to include only those in one category (like Residential or Commercial), click Customers of Type. And Preferred Send Method lets you limit your statement output to customers who receive either emailed or printed forms.
  • The template to use. Click the down arrow to see the statement templates available. If you have not customized QuickBooks’ standard form and want to do so, let us help.
  • Whether QuickBooks prepares one statement per customer or per job. This is a very important distinction, so choose carefully.
  • Miscellaneous attributes of your statement run. Click on the box in front of any that should apply.

If you assess finance charges, you can do so here. This is an advanced activity in QuickBooks, and we’d be happy to provide guidance in this area.

When you’re done, you can Preview your statements, Print, or E-Mail them by clicking those buttons.

Entering Individual Charges

If you need to enter individual charges, you’ll have to work with QuickBooks’ customer registers. You’ll find these by either opening the Customers menu and selecting Enter Statement Charges or highlighting a customer in the Customer Center, then clicking the down arrow next to New Transactions and selecting Statement Charges.

Figure 3: Statement Charge in the customer register.

We highly recommend that you let us help you get started if individual charges are necessary. Like many of QuickBooks’ functions, this isn’t a difficult activity once you understand it. But it’s much easier and economical for you to get upfront guidance than for us to come in and untangle your company file.

Depositing Payments in QuickBooks: The Basics

November 4, 2014 · Posted in Bookkeeping Tips, QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 
Depositing Payments in QuickBooks: The Basics

Creating bank deposits manually can be a huge chore. QuickBooks simplifies this task.

Satisfying though it may be to enter all of those customer payments manually on a paper deposit slip, it can also be tedious and time-consuming. The more successful in business you are, the more time and care it takes.

Whether you accept cash, checks, or credit/debit cards, QuickBooks has tools that help you streamline the process of moving the funds into your physical bank accounts. In fact, part of your job is done when you enter the payments on the Receive Payments or Sales Receipt screens.

An Important Decision

When you record a payment in QuickBooks, you can enter it in one of two ways. Ask us if you’re not certain which one best suits your business. Payments can be deposited:

  • In a specific bank account. QuickBooks lets you specify an individual account for each transaction. If you select this option, a box labeled DEPOSIT TO will appear on the Sales Receipt and Receive Payment screens. Select an account from the drop-down list, and your payment will be automatically deposited into it.

Figure 1: You can choose to deposit customer payments to specific accounts.

  • In Undeposited Funds. This is an asset account that can hold multiple payments, but they are not automatically deposited.

If you decide to have all payments sent to the Undeposited Funds account, you can establish that as your default. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences | Payments | Company Preferences. Then make sure that the box in front of Use Undeposited Funds as a default deposit to account is checked.

Figure 2: Check the box on the right if you want payments sent to the Undeposited Funds asset account. You will make the actual deposits later. If this box is not checked, a DEPOSIT TO field will appear on the Sales Receipt and Receive Payments screens. 

Other Deposits

What about money you receive that is neither payment on an invoice you sent or payment for an item or service received immediately? There are many situations where this might be the case, including:

  • Vendor refunds, rebates, etc.,
  • Unsolicited donations [for non-profits], or
  • An owner’s investment in the business.

To record incoming funds like these, open the Banking menu and select Make Deposits to open the Payments to Deposit window. Click OK to skip to the Make Deposits window.

Complete the Deposit To, Date, and Memo fields, then click in the table below them if you haven’t already used the Tab key to get there. Use the drop-down lists to select (or add) the individual or company who submitted the payment, the account where it should be tracked, the payment method, and the amount. Enter any additional information needed, fill in the optional Cash back goes to fields, and then save the transaction.

Note: While you’re working in the Make Deposits window, you can click the Payments button at any time to open a new window containing customer payments that need to be deposited if you want to process them simultaneously. 

You may also want to use the Attach tool for miscellaneous payments to store related documentation. 

Depositing Undeposited Funds

You should process your Undeposited Funds on a regular basis, whether every day, every few days, or weekly, depending on your banking needs. To do this, go to Banking | Make Deposits.

 

Figure 3: You can either view all of the unprocessed payments in Undeposited Funds in a single list, or you can display them by type. 

The Payments to Deposit window will open if you have pending payments in your Undeposited Funds account. Put a check mark in front of all of the payments you want to deposit by clicking in the column to the left of the DATE column. 

Click OK, and the Make Deposits window will open, displaying the payments you just chose. As we instructed previously, select the account where you want the money deposited and the date, add a memo, and request cash back if desired. Save your work when you’re finished.

These are the steps you’ll take to deposit payments by cash and check. If you’re planning to open a merchant account so you can accept debit and credit cards, the process is similar, but there are additional steps you must take to ensure that your books balance. 

We can show you the ropes and answer any other questions you have about depositing payments. You work hard for your money, so make sure you see it in your bank accounts.

A Tour Through QuickBooks’ Payroll Setup Tool

August 4, 2014 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 
A Tour through QuickBooks’ Payroll Setup Tool

Getting QuickBooks ready to process payroll is a complex, time-consuming process. Here’s what you can expect.

Payday. You look forward to it when you’re young and working at your first part-time job. But as a grown-up who needs to start processing payroll for your employees, you probably anticipate it in a different way, perhaps even with a sense of dread. QuickBooks handles the real grunt work once you’ve done the initial setup, but those early hours you spend preparing to print your first paycheck can be challenging.

Fortunately, QuickBooks’ payroll setup tool can guide you through the process. Once you’ve signed up for payroll, open the Employees menu and select Payroll Setup. 

 

 

Figure 1: The QuickBooks Payroll Setup tool tells you what information you’ll need to supply in order to start paying employees.

Easy Operations

The first screen you’ll see in this step-by-step, wizard-like setup guide contains a link to QuickBooks’ payroll setup checklist. You don’t have to assemble all of the information you’ll need about your company, your employees, and your payroll taxes, but we recommend that you gather as much as you can before you start.

You’ll advance through setup by completing the information requested and then clicking the Continue button in the lower right (or, sometimes, Next; there’s also a Previous button available often). If you don’t have a particular detail immediately at hand, you can continue on and come back later. You’ll be able to edit your work then. 

To back out of the whole process and return at another time, click the Finish Later button in the lower left.

Building a Framework

QuickBooks first wants to know about the various types of compensation and employee benefits your company offers. To start adding your Compensation options, click Add New. Click in the box in front of any pay types you support (Salary, Hourly wage and overtime, Commission, etc.) to create a check mark. When you click Next, this window opens:

Figure 2: It’s easy to indicate the types of compensation your company offers. 

 

Keep clicking Next after you’ve completed each screen until you come to a page that lists all of the compensation types you’ve defined. To make any changes, highlight the type and click Edit to modify or Delete to remove. Then click Continue when you’re finished.

The next section is probably the most difficult: Employee Benefits. Here, using similar interface conventions to enter information and navigate, you’ll provide information about your company’s:

  • Insurance benefits
  • Retirement benefits
  • Paid time off, and
  • Miscellaneous items (cash advance, wage garnishment, mileage reimbursement, etc.).

It’s absolutely critical that you set these up accurately, or you’ll have unhappy benefits providers — and employees. If you’re not absolutely confident of an answer, it’s better to leave an item unfinished and come back later. You may want to ask us to work with you as you complete this section.

People and Taxes

QuickBooks will then ask you about your employees. Have your W-4 forms handy for this section, as you’ll need to know Social Security numbers, birth dates, etc.

 

Figure 3: On this screen, you’ll tell QuickBooks what type(s) of compensation and their dollar amounts apply to the employee.

 

All of those details you entered earlier about company benefits comes into play here. Once you’ve defined an employee’s compensation types and amounts, the next screen will display the additions and deductions that your company supports. You will have set up defaults for some of these, but you can modify them for individual employees.

There are numerous other details that you’ll have to supply for your staff, like how vacation and sick hours accrue, what state will want to collect taxes from them, and what their filing status is.

Unless you’ve worked with payroll before, you’re going to want our help in completing the payroll tax section. Once it’s done correctly, QuickBooks will calculate taxes due and help you pay them.

Finally, QuickBooks helps you determine whether you’ll need to enter any previous payroll data from the current year before you start to process your payroll in the software.

Whether you’re switching from manual payroll or a payroll service, or simply getting ready to pay your first employee, QuickBooks payroll-processing tools can help you save time and foster accuracy — as long as you get the details correct from the start. 

5 Ways You Can Use QuickBooks’ Income Tracker

June 30, 2014 · Posted in Accounting, QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 
5 Ways You Can Use QuickBooks’ Income Tracker
The Income Tracker is one of QuickBooks’ more innovative features. If you’re not using it, you should be.

 

One of the reasons that QuickBooks appeals to millions of small businesses is because it offers multiple ways to complete the same tasks, which accommodates different work styles. Say, for example, you wanted to look up a specific invoice. You could:

  • Go to the Customer Center and select the customer, and then scan through the list of transactions,
  • Use the Find feature (Edit | Find), or
  • Create a report.

There’s also another way you can get there if you have a recent version of QuickBooks: the Income Tracker. (Note: Only the Administrator or a staff member with the correct permissions can access this feature. Talk to us about whether to allow other employees to use it, and how to set that up.)

 

 

Figure 1: QuickBooks’ Income Tracker provides a visual overview of your company’s income.

 

That’s the first thing you can do with QuickBooks’ Income Tracker. To get there, either click the link in the vertical navigation bar or go to Customers | Income Tracker.

  

Four colored bars across the top of the screen represent unbilled estimates, open invoices, overdue invoices, and invoices paid within the last 30 days. Each bar contains two numerical values: the number of transactions of that type and the dollar amount involved. 

 

QuickBooks defaults to displaying all types of transactions, but when you click on a bar, the screen changes to show only that type of transaction.

 

You can also filter the table of transactions using the drop-down lists below the colored bars. Your choices here include Customer:Job, Type, Status (Open, Paid, etc.) and Date (range). Click the arrow to the right of each filter’s label to display your options.

 

The column labels below these lists will change depending on the transaction type that’s active.

More Functionality

The Income Tracker is great for simply viewing groups of transactions; double-clicking on one will open the original form. You can also open them by selecting an action to take. For example, open your estimates list and click on a transaction to highlight it. Then click the arrow next to Select in the Action column at the far right end of the row.

Figure 2: You can modify transactions like estimates from within the Income Tracker.

  

If you choose the first option here, QuickBooks opens a small window that asks you whether you’d like to create an invoice for 100 percent of the estimate, a percentage of it, specific items, or percentages of each item. When you make your selection and click OK, a completed invoice form opens, which you can then check over and save.

 

As you can see above, you can also mark the estimate as inactive, print it, or email it.

 

Each transaction type supports a different set of actions. In the open invoice action column, as you’d expect, you can click the option to Receive Payment, which opens the Customer Payment window with the customer and amount due already filled in. This can be edited to reflect a different amount, or you can just accept it as is, then save it.

 

Flexible Forms 

You can even create a new transaction within the Income Tracker. Click on the arrow next to Manage Transactions in the lower left corner of the screen and select the form you want.

Figure 3: You can open new transaction screens from within QuickBooks’ Income Tracker.

 

The Income Tracker also provides one of the fastest ways to print multiple forms. Just select the transactions you want to print by clicking in the box in front of them, and then click the arrow next to Batch Actions in the lower left corner.

Finally, you can edit transactions from here, too. Either double-click on one or select it and click Edit Highlighted Row in the Manage Transactions menu.

 

QuickBooks’ Income Tracker doesn’t do anything that can’t be done another way in the program. But it provides an excellent one-glance view of the current state of your receivables movement. 

If you’re consistently seeing patterns that you don’t like, call us. We can evaluate your receivables process and suggest ways to accelerate it. Even if your sales aren’t increasing, getting that “PAID” stamp on invoices quickly will improve your cash flow and strengthen your confidence as a business manager.

Do You Need to Use QuickBooks’ Fixed Asset Tools?

Do You Need to Use QuickBooks’ Fixed Asset Tools? The Basics

Managing your company’s fixed assets is a complicated process, one that will require some extra assistance. 

Much of the work you do in QuickBooks is short-term. You send an invoice and it gets paid. Your purchase order is fulfilled, and the products move into your inventory. You run payrolls and submit their related taxes and other payments.

 

Managing the life cycle of your fixed assets is an exception. Simply, fixed assets are physical entities that you purchase to help your business generate revenue, like property, a vehicle or a commercial oven. By definition, they must be in use for over 12 months.

 

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Figure 1: You’ll need our help in depreciating the book value of your fixed assets, but careful recording of them will make your QuickBooks reports, your taxes and your company’s worth more accurate.

 

QuickBooks can help you track these, but both the value of your company and your tax obligations – and the sale price, should you eventually sell them — are affected by how the book value of your fixed assets is depreciated. It’s important that you work closely with us over the life of each one. What you can do on your own, though, is to maintain absolutely accurate records in this area.

 

Two Paths 

The best time to start recording information about a fixed asset is while you’re creating a transaction related to its purchase. You can build an item record for it as you’re filling out the Item section ofEnter Bills, Write Checks, Enter Credit Card Charges or Purchase Order. 

 

Let’s say you’re writing a check for a new company truck. You’d go to Banking | Write Checks and fill in the blanks. Click the Items tab below the MEMO field, then click the down arrow in the ITEMfield. Scroll up to the top of the list if necessary and select <Add New>. You’ll see this menu:

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Figure 2: Keep track of your company’s fixed assets by creating item records for them. You can do this as you’re entering transactions for their purchase.

Click on Fixed Asset to open the New Item window.

 

Transactions Not Required

There may be times when you’ll want to create an item record for a fixed asset when you’re not processing a transaction. Such situations include:

  • Cash purchases
  • Transfer of a personal asset to your company
  • Purchase of a fixed asset with personal funds, or
  • A multi-item purchase.

To do this, click on the Lists menu and select Fixed Asset Item List. If you’re adding a new one, right-click anywhere in the list part of the screen and select New (or click the down arrow next to theItem button in the lower left of the screen and click New). The same New Item window that you opened from the check-writing screen appears.

 

You’ve already chosen Fixed Asset as the TYPE, so your cursor should be in the Asset Name/Number field. Enter an easy-to-recognize name so that you’ll be able to quickly identify it in reports. Select the correct Asset Account (ask us if you’re not sure) and type a description in thePurchase Description field, clicking the correct button for new or used.

 

Enter the Date purchased, the Cost and the Vendor/Payee. Don’t worry about the SALES INFORMATION fields until – and if – you eventually sell the asset.

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Figure 3: You should be able to complete the New Item window in QuickBooks for your fixed assets on your own, but consult with us on any questions.

 

Under ASSET INFORMATION, enter the Asset Description (you can write a lengthier description here), its LocationPO Number if applicable, Serial Number and warranty expiration date. Add Notes if you’d like, and you’re done – unless you want to incorporate Custom Fields. If so, click the Custom Fields button in the upper right, then Define Fields.

 

(We can provide the depreciation and book value numbers under FIXED ASSET MANAGER.)

Your fixed asset records are critical elements of QuickBooks. You may be storing similar information elsewhere in your office records, but QuickBooks needs it, too, so you’ll have a comprehensive accounting of your company’s value.

 

This can be a little tricky.  Contact us if you need help.

Start Planning Now for 2014 Income Taxes

February 7, 2014 · Posted in Accounting, Bookkeeping Tips, QuickBooks Software · Comment 
Start Planning Now for 2014 Income Taxes

 You may not have even completed your 2013 taxes yet. But now is an ideal time to start getting ready for your 2014 returns.

 

We know that you’re in some stage of preparation for your 2013 income taxes. It may seem odd to start thinking about 2014 taxes just now, but actually, this is the ideal time to start planning and making business decisions with their tax implications always in the back of your mind.

 

As you look at the data that will be entered in your 2013 tax forms, you’re likely to come across some expenses that you might have handled differently, or some income that should have been deferred. If you begin your planning process for 2014 while 2013 is still in the works, you can start making smarter, more tax-advantageous business decisions now, instead of late in the year when everyone is rushing to take actions necessary to lower their tax obligation.

Here’s how QuickBooks can help you with this new approach.

 

Overhaul your Chart of Accounts. The mechanics of doing this in QuickBooks are fairly uncomplicated, but changing this critical list – the backbone of your company file – requires solid knowledge of which accounts should be added, deleted or changed. You also need to know which accounts and subaccounts will have impact on your income taxes. They must be structured accordingly.

 

 

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Figure 1: QuickBooks’ default Chart of Accounts can be easily modified to meet your company’s unique needs. But let us help you with this task.

For these reasons, we ask that you consult with us if you think your Chart of Accounts could use an overhaul. Our early involvement will be much more economical for you than if we have to come in down the road when your accounts have become dangerously tangled.

 

Devise an effective system for estimated taxes. As you well know, there’s no magical formula for estimating how much income tax you’ll owe when all of your income and expenses have been tallied. We can make this an ongoing task by creating monthly or quarterly financial reports for your business and working from those.

 

If you’re self-employed, you might want to open a low-fee checking account that will serve solely as your tax fund. Because you have no employer to pay a portion of your Social Security and Medicare obligations, it’s critical that you’re putting enough away. Consider putting one-third of your taxable income into that account and see how it goes. You may get a pleasant surprise at tax prep time, or you may have to dip into other savings to be compliant.

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Figure 2: You may want to set up a separate bank account to park estimated tax funds, so you know they’re committed. Ask us about numbering new accounts.

 

You can submit federal payments online on the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System site. Check with us to see if your state has an electronic system. Of course, the IRS will accept a check.

 

Run reports on everything. And keep running them. We already mentioned that we’re happy to create and analyze your most critical financial reports on a regular basis. You may have tried to understand the Trial Balance, Statement of Cash Flows, etc. in QuickBooks and been puzzled. Don’t feel incompetent because of that: It often takes an accountant-level individual to understand what they mean for your business.

 

You can define and build your own reports using QuickBooks’ customization tools. If you have employees who travel, consider bringing in an automated expense report application (we can help you find one and implement it). Stress the importance of adhering to IRS rules about travel. Same goes for your local salesforce, off-site technicians and other service providers, etc.

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 Figure 3: Help your staff help you by involving them in budgeting and expense management.

For employees who come into the office every day or are telecommuting, you can give them some ownership of their contribution to expenses by bringing them into the budget process and/or requesting that they submit their own monthly mini-reports on any company funds they spend. The more employees are aware of and accountable for expenses, the easier it will be for you to work toward minimizing your tax obligation. And having some information about the considerable sum you pay in taxes may help staff understand your tightening of the purse strings.

Consider retraining accounting staff if necessary. You may be paying a portion of your taxes unnecessarily, simply because your company’s bookkeeping is less-than-precise. Nip that in the bud.

The more you micro-manage your reporting, stay aware of the consequences of every expenditure and bring employees into the process, the more prepared you’ll be for 2014 taxes. As always, call us if you have more questions. 

 

Making QuickBooks Yours in 2014

January 6, 2014 · Posted in QuickBooks Software, Time Management Tips, Uncategorized · Comment 
QuickBooks can be used as is (with some exceptions), but you can customize many elements to improve your workflow, your form output and your business insight.

While many of the things you purchase and use in your daily work and professional lives don’t come with options, many do. Think about the last time you bought a car, for example. Did you request additional features for safety or convenience or aesthetic value?

  

You can’t buy “extras” with your copy of QuickBooks. You can select from the different versions (Pro, Premier, etc.) and extend the software’s functionality by installing integrated add-ons from the Intuit App Center. But if you install QuickBooks on two machines from the same DVD or download, they’ll look and work the same.

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Figure 1: Need more functionality in areas like CRM or receivables? Talk to us about adding an integrated app.

That is, until you start customizing the product, which you should do. The customization options in QuickBooks let you:

  • Change the appearance of your desktop 
  • Modify forms to include only needed content and to make them look professional and uniform, and
  • Drill down deeply on your company data to isolate only the information that you want.

The benefits of customization are obvious. You’ll accelerate your workflow, polish your image and get insight that helps you make critical business decisions.

Your Desktop View

QuickBooks has always made your most commonly-used tools available on the home page. Intuit revamped this screen very skillfully starting with the 2013 versions, so it’s much cleaner and less cramped. But if you don’t use all of the functions represented by icons, you don’t have to even see them.

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Figure 2: You can remove icons from the home page, but not if related features are enabled.

 

You can remove icons like Estimates and Time Tracking if you’re not planning to use those functions, but some icons must remain if specific features are active. For example, if sales orders and estimates are enabled, invoices are automatically turned on. Likewise, if you’re enabled Inventory, Enter Bills and Pay Bills are locked in, too.

 

There’s an option to either limit the QuickBooks display to one window or let multiple windows open simultaneously. When you open QuickBooks, you can choose to have a specific set of windows open, the window or windows that were open when you shut down, or no windows.

Your Forms

QuickBooks comes with pre-defined forms for transactions like purchase orders, invoices and sales receipts. If you don’t like the look of one of these default templates, you can download one from the dozens of alternatives that QuickBooks supplies. You can alter these to better meet your needs – even creating multiple versions of the same type of form to use in different situations. 

Columns and fields can be added, deleted, renamed and repositioned so that your forms contain only the information that your business requires. You can add your logo and change fonts and colors. Once you’ve settled on a design, you can apply it to multiple forms to present a unified image to your customers and vendors.

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Figure 3: You can specify which fields will appear – both onscreen and in print — in your templates’ headers, footers and columns.

 

QuickBooks provides the tools to do all of this, but let us help you if you plan to do much modification. It can be challenging, especially if you have to use the Layout Designer.

Your Reports 

You already know that you can do simple modification of your reports, like changing the date range. You may even have clicked on Customize Report and altered the column structure of a report and its sort order.

 

But do you regularly click on the Filters tab in the Modify Report dialog box? If you’re often frustrated because your reports cover too much ground or an inadequate, unfocused level of detail, you should be exploring the options offered here regularly. Filters restrict the data in a given report to a smaller, more targeted group of records or transactions, based on your needs.

 

For example, you might want to find out which customers in your New Construction class have outstanding balances (based on invoices) of more than $500 that are more than 60 days old. You’d set up Filters to create this screen:

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Figure 4: You’ll learn far more about your company’s financial status if you use Filters in reports. We can help you set up the most effective ones for your business.

 

Why not resolve to make your copy of QuickBooks your own in 2014? Some customization processes will require some upfront time, but once you get going, you’ll wish you’d done this sooner.

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