How to avoid your conveyancing trust account becoming a mess

Blog Post How to avoid your trust account becoming a mess from Festival Bookkeeping Adelaide

Conveyancing is such a fast-paced and dynamic industry. I don’t know where my conveyancing clients get their energy from sometimes. I know they often work long hours in order to meet tight deadlines. I also know that they often absorb a lot of the stress from being the ‘middle man’ when dealing with banks, clients, mortgage brokers, real estate agents and other conveyancers.

One aspect of conveyancing that can cause a lot of stress for conveyancers is managing their trust account. It’s very easy for conveyancing trust accounts to get into a mess. No one intends it to get that way, but over time a few small problems add up and then you “blink” and your trust account has turned into a headache that won’t go away.

I’ve compiled a list of my 7 favourite ways to ensure a conveyancing trust account doesn’t become a mess.

1. Descriptions

Use the description field in your software well. Ensure your staff are taught to also enter accurate descriptions of all transactions entered into your trust accounting software. When you provide your conveyancing client with their trust account report, it needs to be clear how their money was spent. Your auditor also needs to see a clear audit trail of everything that has been entered into your software and why. If discrepancies turn up when doing your monthly trust account reconciliation, you don’t want to make it any harder than it has to be by having incomplete records to refer to.

2. Regular reconciliations

Stopwatch in sand. Blog post how to avoid your trust account becoming a mess by Festival Bookkeeping Adelaide

Trust account reconciliations must be done regularly. The longer any issue goes unidentified and uninvestigated, the longer your list of problems becomes and then those problems sit there rolling over month after month. The more time that has passed, the less chance you or your staff have of remembering what actually went on with that file.

3. Training

Everyone that has a log in to your software should have been trained in the basic principles of trust accounting and should also have been been trained in how to use the software. Not everyone has an eye for numbers or a mind for details. And not everyone is good with technology. However the ramifications from 1 person entering incorrect information into your software can be great. If this person is also responsible for reconciling your trust account – you may have even bigger problems than you realise.

4. Outsourcing

Female with laptop. Blog post How to avoid your trust account becoming a mess by Festival Bookkeeping Adelaide

In many circumstances, it’s just not a good idea to keep doing your own trust account reconciliations. It’s not the best use of your time or your staff members’ time. When you rush or are pre-occupied you make mistakes, that then take even longer (and can be expensive) to fix. The time you spend on doing it yourself means less time spent building your business or managing your staff. Your staff may be overwhelmed and disgruntled because they don’t have the training or the knowledge. If you outsource to a bookkeeper, be sure to check if they have experience with working with trust accounts. It’s a specialised area of accounting and not all bookkeepers have been exposed to the nuances and regulations of the conveyancing or real estate industry.

5. Checklists & procedures

One of the most effective ways to ensure that a task is done consistently, thoroughly and correctly is to set up a good system. An easy way is to start with a checklist or series of checklists. Make sure that your checklists and procedures are kept up to date – it’s a good idea is to write the date of each update or version on your documents and to include the file path and document name in the footer so it’s easily found for updating each time.

6. Trust accounting software

Some trust accounting software is better than others. I know I have my favourites that I prefer to work with. Don’t be afraid to change if you need to – but ensure you’re not left to your own devices to set it up. A reputable software provider will make the process of changing easy for you and be readily available for training and ongoing support if needed.

7. Reports

Have a good system for saving reports. If you, your staff or your bookkeeper can’t get hold of any previous reports it can make it much more difficult to figure out how to fix problems. The harder it is to fix problems, the more likely they are going to be left in the “too hard basket” and keep rolling over month after month. Not to mention your auditor will need copies of your reports – and you don’t want to make the audit process any harder than it has to be.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

Sarina Abbott Adelaide bookkeeper, BAS Agent and Xero adviser

About the author.

Sarina Abbott is the owner of Festival Bookkeeping. She’s a registered BAS Agent and Xero adviser who has previously worked in the legal and conveyancing industry, as well as for a registered training organisation.

She lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband and 2 sons.


You can find out more about Festival Bookkeeping here.

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Registering for GST – 10 Tips for a Smooth Transition

It’s a milestone that’s satisfying to reach, however I see it cause stress for many small business owners here in Australia.

You’ve either been keeping a close eye on your turnover for a while – pushing to get to the $75,000 threshold and preparing ahead of time. Or you’re in the other camp and you’ve taken your eye off your numbers – deep down knowing you’re probably very close to, or over, the threshold. The latter being what I see most.

There’s no need to bury your head in the sand when it comes to GST registration. Yes – it does mean more deadlines with the ATO you need to deal with. But it’s all part of running a business in Australia and the good news is you may only have to deal with the initial GST registration stage once in your business lifetime.

To help avoid the stress of GST registration time, I’ve compiled 10 tips that will help with a smooth transition.

GST Registration – 10 Tips for a Smooth Transition

  1. GST is essentially a tax you’re collecting on behalf of the Australian Taxation Office. You collect it from your customers, and pass on what’s left to the ATO after you’ve claimed the GST on your expenses. It’s best to be in the mindset that the GST portion of your sales and expenses doesn’t belong to you. Don’t fall into the trap of making business decisions based solely on the total of the money in your bank account, as some of that money you’ve collected from customers may be on it’s way back out of your account at BAS time (and that always comes around before you know it).
  1. Consider if you need to increase your pricing to account for the GST you may need to be passing on to the tax office. Review your pricing to ensure your profit won’t decrease once you’ve registered.
  1. If you’ve been slack with keeping your bookkeeping up to date, that now has to be a thing of the past. If you’re registered for GST on a quarterly basis, you need at least 3 months worth of bookkeeping kept up to date at a time. Ideally, keep on top of it more regularly to help ease the pain of BAS time. This is one of the positives I see come out of GST registration – business owners make their bookkeeping and finances more of a priority and this in turn leads to a stronger business overall.
  1. You may need to change how you invoice your customers. There are strict requirements for the layout and information contained in your invoices once you’re registered for GST.
  1. Yes – the ATO can fine business owners who don’t lodge their BAS on time. And yes – they can charge interest on late payments. Do your best to lodge and pay on time to avoid being on the ATO’s radar of non-compliant tax payers. If you are experiencing difficulties, try to lodge on time anyway and then contact the ATO to make other arrangements for payment.
  1. You don’t get to pick and choose what services you want to charge GST on. If it’s a taxable supply, then you must charge GST and report that GST in your BAS.
  1. Reaching the $75,000 turnover threshold for GST registration is not confined to just the 12 months in a single financial year. So you may reach $75,000 in the period from 1st May 2021 to 30th April 2022. It’s up to you keep an eye on your turnover and register when required – not just once you’ve completed your Tax Return for the year and been given the news by your accountant.
  1. You can backdate your GST registration. So don’t panic if you realise you have reached the threshold – just ensure you get registered as soon as possible.
  1. You must charge GST on your goods and services from the official date of registration, which may involve amending invoices you’ve already sent to customers and re-sending them if you backdated your registration. But the good news is you can also claim the GST on your expenses from that date too. Your date of registration can be found on the ABN Lookup website, if you’re unsure.
  1. Lastly, to ensure you have the money available to pay your BAS obligations on time, open up a separate business bank account and regularly transfer money over to ensure you have plenty to cover your new financial obligations to the tax office. Many of my clients do this and it adds an extra level of control and confidence with their finances.

Seeking Help

If you’re seeking the assistance of a bookkeeper for BAS advice, to help you prepare and lodge your BAS or to perform any BAS related services on your behalf, then they must be a registered BAS Agent. In Australia, registered BAS Agents have qualifications and experience, meet the Tax Practitioner’s Board requirements of being a “fit and proper person” and have appropriate professional indemnity cover. They also undertake many hours of professional development each year to stay on top of changes in the industry. Always ask the bookkeeper upfront and confirm for yourself if they are in fact registered by searching on the Tax Practitioner’s Board website.

For more information on GST registration in Australila, refer to the ATO website: https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/GST/Registering-for-GST/

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

About the author

Sarina Abbott started her bookkeeping firm Festival Bookkeeping in 2015. She’s a registered BAS Agent, Xero adviser and self-confessed numbers nerd. She’s been sharing her bookkeeping tips via The Savvy Bookkeeping Blog since 2013. You can find out more about Festival Bookkeeping here:

https://www.festivalbookkeeping.com.au/home.html

Xero & Cliniko – 4 Common Errors

Do you have Xero and Cliniko integrated?

We know we can Do Beautiful Business with Xero. We know Cliniko is The Software for People who Care. And when integrated, you’re saving valuable time and reducing the risk of data entry errors.

(Read about one business owner’s perspective of using Cliniko here: Cliniko – A Business Owner’s Perspective)

But what are some of the common mistakes that small business owners and their staff make when using the two together?

4 Common Mistakes When Using Xero and Cliniko

1. Reconciling the Xero bank feed transaction against the Invoice when you use Clearing Accounts

When you have Clearing Accounts set up, Cliniko pushes the invoice payments through to a Clearing Account in Xero, instead of pushing it through as a payment to the bank account. It’s important to pay off the Invoice in Cliniko first. Then go back over to Xero and select the Clearing Account on the right-hand side once you’re in the Reconcile screen.

How do I know if I have Clearing Accounts set up? In Xero, under your Accounting tab – click on Chart of Accounts – click on the Assets tab. If you have a clearing account set up, you will find it here. To check in Cliniko also – click on Settings – Payment Types. Check the “Xero Account for Payments”.

2. Archiving invoices in Cliniko and not voiding them in Xero

You may assume that when you archive an invoice in Cliniko, that action results in the invoice being removed in Xero also – but that’s not the case. The integration doesn’t have this funcationality, so you will need to manually “void” the invoice in Xero so that your Accounts Receivable figures are correct.

(If you need to write off a bad debt instead, read about that here: Cliniko – Writing Off Bad Debts)

3. Archiving invoice payments in Cliniko, but not removing them in Xero

Similar to number 2 above, when you remove an Invoice payment from Cliniko, that action does not result in the Invoice payment being removed in Xero.

You will need to head over to Xero, open the invoice, click on the invoice payment in blue and select Options – Remove and Redo.

4. Allocating credits in Cliniko but not allocating the credit manually in Xero

One of the nice things about Cliniko is the way Credits are dealt with – it’s very easy to see if a patient has an outstanding credit to be applied and Cliniko will even prompt you to allocate it to the oldest unpaid invoice. If you do allocate a credit in Cliniko though, you need to also hop over to Xero and apply the credit manually yourself so that your information in both software is consistent and accurate. The process of allocating credits in Xero will be different if you use Clearing Accounts, compared to if you don’t use Clearing Accounts.

Note: When editing invoices, voiding invoices or allocating credits in Xero – if the invoice falls in a period where the Activity Statement or Tax Return has already been lodged, take care with this step and check with your BAS Agent or Accountant if unsure first.

So if you have made the above errors when using Xero and Cliniko, what are the consequences for your business?

  • Inaccurate Accounts Receivable figures in your financial reports – your patients may have unpaid invoices sitting in Xero that should have either been removed or showing as paid.
  • Clearing accounts not coming back to “0” – throwing out your Balance Sheet figures
  • Higher accounting or bookkeeping fees if your trusted professionals have picked up the problems and are having to fix them before preparation of your BAS or Tax Returns each time

Happy Bookkeeping….

Sarina

About the author

Sarina Abbott started her bookkeeping firm Festival Bookkeeping in 2015. She’s a registered BAS Agent, Xero adviser and self-confessed numbers nerd. She’s been sharing her bookkeeping tips via The Savvy Bookkeeping Blog since 2013. You can find out more about Festival Bookkeeping here:

https://www.festivalbookkeeping.com.au/home.html

How to motivate yourself to do your bookkeeping (secrets from a bookkeeper)

Bookkeeping Adelaide How to motivate yourself

You lean over and turn off your computer after a full day of work. You feel relieved that another day is done. Your mind turns to what you’re going to have for tea and whether you’re going to need anything from the supermarket. Then out of the corner of your eye you spot a couple of receipts partly folded and starting to fade that are placed precariously on top of a pile of other papers. Sigh….you still haven’t done your bookkeeping. Another day has gone and you didn’t get around to it like you promised yourself you would. Again.

If you don’t run your own small business, this scenario might seem a little trivial. It’s just entering a few dates, names and numbers, right?

Well I’ve lost track of the number of small business owners that have confided in me how bad they feel about being behind in their bookkeeping and how much it’s affecting their personal life and business life.

This is what I hear a lot:

“My partner is getting frustrated with me because I don’t know my figures”
“My tax return is overdue and I’m sure I’m going to get a big fine that I can’t afford”
“I’m sure I will need to register for GST soon, but I don’t know what my income is. It’s really worrying me because I know I have to do something about it soon”
“My business coach keeps asking for my figures – but I don’t know them”

Now you would think I’m going to tell you that you should outsource to a bookkeeper or buy this new, beaut software. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is to genuinely share methods that small business owners can use themselves, in order to gain the motivation to get their bookkeeping done. These methods are what I use myself when motivation is low, or overwhelm is high. They are not expensive or difficult and I’m sure that if you use even a couple of these methods, you will get your bookkeeping done or at the very least make great progress.

1. Use a timer

This can be an online timer, your watch, or even try an old-school method. Set the timer for a short period of time – 40 minutes is fine. Commit to 40 minutes of bookkeeping only. Smash it out and feel great about the progress you just made. Maybe that’s enough – you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Turn off your computer and forget about it for today. Now maybe the time went quickly for you and you feel you’ve got another 40 minutes in you. You’re on a roll. Go off and step out into the sunshine for 5 minutes or make a cup of coffee to reward yourself. Go back to your computer, set the timer for another 40 minutes and smash out another 40 minutes of bookkeeping.

2. Work somewhere different

If you’ve got a laptop, move it out of the office to the dining room table. Or move it from the dining room table to the bedroom. Personally I would have difficulty working outside, but if that works for you, then go for it. Go to the library (I get phenominal amounts of work done when I work from the library – however it’s usually business development work and not accounting, as I don’t want to risk others accessing my accounting information because I’m using a public internet connection). Go to your parent’s house. Book a once-off day to work from a co-working space. Just change up where you’re working from, because sometimes just the thought of sitting down at that same spot that you’ve already spent hours at can be depressing.

3. Treat yourself

Buy snacks for yourself that you wouldn’t normally buy – specifically for bookkeeping. Treat yourself with something nice, so that sitting down to do your bookkeeping is a positive experience.

4. Do smaller amounts often

Now you might not realise that this is one of the reasons you put off your bookkeeping. But if you’re only logging into your software or opening up your spreadsheet every few months (or even longer), then you’re probably forgetting how to do a lot of it. Decision fatigue is a thing! If you have to keep stopping and deciding what to do next, or are trying to remember how you did something last time, then you’re wearing yourself out without even realising it. By doing it more regularly, everything will stay fresh in your mind.

5. Eat the ugliest frog first

This has been one of my most helpful business mantras since I discovered it about 5 years ago. If I’ve lost you here, check out Brian Tracy. I’m thinking bookkeeping might be your Ugliest Frog. So eat it first!! Practise a bit of tough love on yourself and do your bookkeeping before you do anything else that day. You can even try getting up 40 minutes earlier, for the sole purpose of getting bookkeeping done. The rest of the day will feel SO good for you that the decision to then get up and do the same thing the next day will be even easier. Your day will flow a lot better and you’ll become much more productive in general. You can use this concept for anything in your personal or business life.

6. Listen to music

Motivate yourself to do your bookkeeping with music


This seems a bit obvious, but how often do you actually make the effort to put on music while you work at your computer? Or if you are doing your bookkeeping first thing in the morning, have music on while you’re in the shower before you start. Similar to the special snacks you treat yourself with, you will start to look forward to doing your bookkeeping because you’ve made a fun ritual for yourself.

7. Start tracking your monthly income

This doesn’t need to be fancy. Start writing down your total sales each month. Each time you get another month’s bookkeeping done, record somewhere separately what that monthly sales were. Some months it may be less than the month before – that’s okay. You just motivated yourself to kick butt that bit more in the next 4 weeks. Some months it will be more than the month before – congratulations! Something you’re doing is working – the proof is in the numbers. It’s quite addictive once you start tracking your numbers – you will find yourself automatically motivated to get your bookkeeping done.

8. Just turn on the computer


In my early 30’s I used to run a lot. There’s a trick with runners to keep motivation up – they say just to “put on your sneakers”. It really works. Once those runners are on, it’s that much more easier to just step out the door and do your run. Do this trick with your computer. Get up and turn it on! Before you get dressed. Before you make your coffee. Before you check your phone. When I have a particularly overwhelming and large client job to do, this (oh so easy) tip works every time.

9. Positive mindset


I know it’s easy to get into the mindset that bookkeeping is boring. Bookkeeping is pointless. Bookkeeping is hard. Or thinking “numbers aren’t my thing”. Well I challenge that mindset. You’re not going to love everything in business – if it was easy, then everyone would be doing it and doing it successfully, right? Having a positive mindset helps in all areas of your business and personal life. You can choose to keep thinking bookkeeping is horrible – and continue to avoid doing it – and continue to beat yourself up over not doing it. Or you can choose to re-frame your thinking around it.

For example:


I can’t wait to get that 40 minutes of bookkeeping done, because then I’ll be on track to get my tax return done early this year. Gee that’s going to feel good.

I feel like my sales are up this month – I can’t wait to check my income spreadsheet to see if I hit $5,000 in sales finally.

Woo hoo – another month’s bookkeeping done. Time to hit the pub.

Okay – so these might seem a bit corny, but you see what I mean. Your bookkeeping is what you tell yourself it is. You get to choose your attitude.

Why would a bookkeeper share these tips?

I don’t mind sharing these tips with small business owners. There will always be business owners that don’t want to outsource their bookkeeping. There will always a point in time when it makes sense for a small business owner to do their own bookkeeping. When it’s time to outsource – it’s time to outsource. The cons of doing it yourself will outweigh the pros and you will (probably with relief I’m thinking) hand it over to a professional bookkeeper.

In the meantime, I just know there’s a tip or 2 above that you can implement straight away. My wish for you is that you no longer feel bad about being behind in your bookkeeping and get to experience that feeling of relief that comes with being up to date very soon!

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

About the author.

Sarina Abbott is the owner of Festival Bookkeeping. She’s a registered BAS Agent and Xero adviser who has previously worked in the legal and conveyancing industry, as well as for registered training organisations. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband, 2 sons, a dog and a rabbit.

You can find out more about Festival Bookkeeping here.

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Festival Bookkeeping Cliniko

Cliniko – A Business Owner’s Perspective

Trying to choose the right software to use in your business can be difficult. Having the opportunity to see what other business owners who are already using that software think about it can be a huge help. So I was lucky enough to have Merel Purmer of The Art of Expression tell us a bit about her business and her own personal experiences with using Cliniko.

What services does your business The Art of Expression provide?

We provide counselling and art therapy services

Can you please tell me a bit about your business journey – where you started and where you are now?

I started my business in July 2014. I have slowly built my business. At first still working in a part time-job, then moving full-time in my own business and now I have 2 employees working with me.

How did you find out about Cliniko software?

I did extensive online research into the different practise management software systems. This helped me working out what exactly I wanted from a system and which one would than suit me best.

How long have you been using it?

I have been using Cliniko since January 2017

Did you try any other similar software prior to deciding on Cliniko?

No I haven’t tried anything else. I use the free trial period to find out it I liked it. Once everything is set up it does not make it easy to move to a different system. Having said that, I have not once thought about moving to a different system.

Did it take you long to learn how to use it? Did you teach yourself or did someone show you how to use it?

I taught myself how to use it. It did not take me very long to understand the main components of the Cliniko. It is very easy to navigate, I like the lay-out and all the features it has.

Cliniko has very good support. I can ask a question at any time and someone will help me out.

What is your favourite feature of Cliniko and why?

I like how from my booked client appointment I can easily add the notes for the session and create an invoice for that particular session, and Cliniko sends the invoices to Xero. The best thing is that I can give you Sarina, as my bookkeeper, access to Cliniko to create all my invoices!

I am now also using the ‘forms’ feature with my clients. I create my own customised form, for example my assessment form, and send this to my clients to fill out. Clients don’t need a laptop or any special software to fill out the form. They can access the form by following the link I send them, on their phone/tablet/computer.

Have you had any feedback from clients as to whether they like/don’t like it?

I have asked for feedback when I send of the first assessment forms and the feedback from clients is that it is easy to use. The only negative is that they have to fill out the form in one go as it does not safe anything you have entered previously.

I also use the online sessions, Telehealth, feature with clients. This has been absolutely fantastic during COVID. The connection is secure, encrypted from both ends, giving my clients the privacy and confidentiality they need. Clients have appreciated still being able to connect during COVID. Some clients still access the online sessions.

Do you use Cliniko in conjunction with any other software or apps?

Yes, I have my Xero account linked to Cliniko.

Is there anything you wish the software would do, that it doesn’t currently do?

I don’t think I am using all the features yet!

Finally, would you recommend Cliniko to other business owners in the same industry as you?

Absolutely!!

Hopefully this will help you in your business journey as you navigate your way through software selection.

Festival Bookkeeping specialise in assisting business owners with their Xero and Cliniko bookkeeping needs. You can find out more about us on our website: http://www.festivalbookkeeping.com.au/

Happy bookkeeping...

Sarina

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Cliniko – Writing off bad debts

Most of us have had to do it at one stage or other – writing off an invoice issued to a customer because we are just never going to get payment.

Writing off bad debts is relatively straight-forward in Cliniko. I think because it’s not something you do every day, you do feel a bit of dread at the thought of having to do it. But fear not and read on for some simple instructions to get those bad debts dealt with.

Step by step instructions:

Head to SETTINGS and then BILLABLE ITEMS. If you don’t see the option to select SETTINGS on the left-hand side then this is because of the level of user access that you’ve been given.

From here create a new Billable Item by clicking on the ADD OTHER button. Set the price at “0”.
For those registered for GST you will probably want to create one new Bad Debt item called “BAD DEBT with GST” (the tax box should be GST 10%) and one called “BAD DEBT no GST” (the tax box should be N/A).

Make your way to the Invoice you want to write off and open up that invoice. At this point I like to write down on paper the amount and Invoice number, just in case I get interupted part-way through.

Click on the REVERSE button up the top.

What you will see next is Cliniko’s version of a Credit Note. If you haven’t dealt with credit notes before – don’t let this scare you off. Credit notes are the perfect way to adjust or “0” out an invoice whilst still keeping proof that the invoice existed in the first place. This new Credit Note will display the same Item name and amount as the original invoice, but the quantity will now be showing as a negative number. Go ahead and click the REMOVE button to the right of that line.

Add your new billable item called BAD DEBT. Enter the unit price with a negative sign in front of it. The amount will need to be what you are writing off.

I always like to add good descriptions where I can and there’s a handy NOTES box where you can explain the circumstances surrounding the write-off of the invoice.

Click the CREATE CREDIT NOTE button and you’re done!

Extra tip:

Oh and if you’ve got Xero integrated with Cliniko, don’t forget to hop over to Xero and write the Invoice off as a bad debt in there as well. Reversals done in Cliniko do not feed through to Xero.

Festival Bookkeeping specialise in helping Australian small business owners with their Xero and Cliniko bookkeeping needs. You can find out more about us on our website: http://www.festivalbookkeeping.com.au/

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

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Improve Cashflow with Flow Software

 

Business owner man cashflow Xero Flow Software

My favourite thing about Flow is that it doesn’t mess around. No need for studying accounting books or endlessly Googling how to read your financial reports.

It’s a daily cash management tool for small business. It pulls your hidden, critical information out of your accounting software and brings it right out into the light of day.

It’s great if you’re feeling overwhelm and just need the simple facts so you can get stuck in.

From the Futrli website, some of the ways Flow can help the small business owner:

  • Quickly identifies hidden poor payers
  • Calculates the right time to pay bills
  • Helps you understand how to make the right decisions to keep more of your cash in your account

An example of how Flow communicates with you:

FlowScreenshot2Snipped

And this:

FlowScreenshot1Snipped

Once you connect Flow to Xero they sync on average every 12 hours – giving you up to date information to work with. Because your software is integrated, as you’re scrolling through your posts in Flow, you can click on those posts and you’ll be taken over to Xero to look at the actual Invoices and Bills that Flow is referring to (with the Pro version).

I recommend pinning posts in Flow so that you can go straight to the information that’s important to you if you are short on time.

Soon Flow will also integrate with Slack and Gmail.

Getting on top of your debtors and creditors is one of the easiest ways to improve cashflow. I think we tend to just accept things how they are though and honestly we don’t realise how much of a difference working on these key areas of our business can help turn our business around. Whether it’s in a time of urgent need to stay afloat (like a lot of small businesses are experiencing right now) or during those times when our business is looking strong and we’re wanting to spend some money and take it up a level.

Flow is very easy on the budget and easy to use. There’s a free version with the basics and the Pro version with some nice extra features that are worth the small monthly subscription.

Happy bookkeeping…

                                              Sarina

 

Interested in more great software that integrates with Xero? Try reading:

10 Tips for Reconciling with Smokeball Software

Tips for reconciling with Smokeball software

It’s a great feeling when your trust account is in order and reconciled!

Smokeball is online software, primarily for those working in law and conveyancing. It integrates with Xero accounting software. If you haven’t seen their promotional video with Calista Flockhart, you can check it out here http://www.smokeball.com.au/calista.html.  I got a giggle out of it!

If you’re new to Smokeball, here are my 10 tips for reconciling your trust account.

  1. If you’re moving towards a paperless practice, work from an electronic copy of your trust account bank statement instead of printing off a hard copy. If you open your Statement with Adobe Acrobat Reader you can use the Highlight Text tool to highlight discrepancies or use the Sticky Note tool to add notes. For your first few reconciliations you may feel more comfortable working from a hard copy that’s been printed out, and then progress to using electronic copies later.
  2. Once you select RECONCILE you can’t undo that action. So be sure to fix any discrepancies within that date period first if you can.
  3. Anything that is on your bank statement but missing from Smokeball will have to be recorded in the ADJUSTMENTS tab until it has been fixed and can therefore be ticked at a later date.
  4. Make use of the SAVE DRAFT feature – this will enable you to come back and finish reconciling when you’re ready. You’ll be able to pick-up your reconciliation where you left it.
  5. If you have to reverse a transaction to fix a mistake, it will default to the current day’s date and this date can’t be changed or backdated. You won’t be able to reconcile these entries until you complete the reconciliation for that period.
  6. Don’t select RECONCILE until you have a “0” variance in the brackets below the Reconciliation Balance figure on the right-hand side.
  7. Always record the details/reasons for any Reversals or Adjustments. If someone else logged into your software, would they be able to see a complete story of what has occurred and why? You’re aiming for an easy to follow audit-trail of all your clients’ trust monies and any problems that you’ve fixed.
  8. You can go back and print off your Bank Reconciliation reports at any time, regardless of whether you’ve closed off (clicked RECONCILE) or not.
  9. Save electronic copies of all your bank statements and reconciliation reports in one place and in date order so that they’re easy to find.
  10. Reconcile regularly. The more transactions you have, the more often you should be reconciling to keep on top of it. You don’t want to let your reconciling grow into a bookkeeping monster that you’re afraid to face!

For further information on working with trust accounts, you might like to read my post Working with trust accounts

Festival Bookkeeping specialise in helping Australian conveyancing firms with their bookkeeping needs – including trust account reconciling using software such as Smokeball and CATS. You can find out more about us on our website: http://www.festivalbookkeeping.com.au/

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

5 Quick Tips – Investment Property Record-keeping

Investment Property Record-keeping tips

1.  Keep the bigger picture in mind

It’s important that you don’t let your record-keeping overwhelm you – to the point that it discourages your from buying further investment properties. Be on top of your record-keeping from the start and have a simple system that works for you. A good filing system and a spreadsheet for starters. Online software such as Xero Cashbook are an even better option.

2.  The first year is the most complicated

You won’t be able to claim immediate deductions for all your expenses in the first year – some expenses may need to be written off over several years and some may come into play when it comes time to sell. Be sure to keep extra documentation such as your purchase and sale Contracts, conveyancing documents and loan documents. An accountant experienced in preparing Tax Returns for property investors will know the ins-and-outs, but it’s in your best interests to ensure they have access to everything in order to get the best outcome for you.

3.  If you can’t substantiate it, you can’t claim it

Make sure you keep invoices, receipts and bank statements for all property expenditure, as well as proof that your property was available for rent, such as rental listings. Purchase a diary to help keep track of key dates and travel.

4.  Your record-keeping responsibilities aren’t over once a property is sold

Capital gains tax may apply when you sell your rental property. Keep records over the period you own the property and for five years from the date you sell the property.

5.  Protecting your documents

Scan all your receipts and paperwork for safe-keeping and peace of mind. Have you ever pulled out a cash register receipt after 6 months and the writing has already faded? Imagine what it will look like in 5 years’ time.

 

In the words of the Australian Taxation Office:

Keeping proof of all your income,

expenses and efforts to rent out your

property means you can claim everything

you are entitled to.

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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