accounting software

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

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

 

 

4 reasons to choose Xero accounting software

Laptop beach working Xero

If you’ve been following my blog, Facebook or Instagram feed for a while you would have noticed I talk a bit about Xero. It’s cloud-based accounting software that came out of New Zealand in 2006 and it’s pretty much changed the landscape of accounting software as we know it.

I’m around small business owners a fair bit and get to hear what their frustrations are with regards to their bookkeeping – as well as hearing what’s working well for them.  So based on feedback from clients and also my own experiences, I’ve come up with 4 reasons small business owners choose to use Xero over other accounting software.

Bank feeds

Xero’s bank feeds are the bees knees.  When you log into Xero in the morning, your previous day’s bank statement shows up in Xero.  It’s all right there – customers payments, bill payments, transfers between accounts. A couple of clicks later and your data entry and reconciling is done in one go.  The risk of doubling up on anything or missing anything is greatly reduced.  Transactions can be dealt with while everything is still fresh in your memory. And the real magic starts when you set up rules telling Xero how to deal with the information showing in your bank statement. Brilliant.

Easy access

Your bookkeeper and accountant can log in and access your data via the cloud without having to access your computer. No more having to export data and risk problems later when you import changes back into your file.  No more printing out endless pages of reports to pass on.  You can give access to anyone you want to for no extra charge. Employees can login and submit time sheets and leave requests without having access to the rest of your business data. Going on holidays and want to be able to keep one lazy eye on the books for a couple of minutes each day? The mobile app will allow you to do just that.

It’s beautiful

Xero is a joy to look at. It’s clean, fresh and easy on the eye.  Who wants to be overwhelmed when logging in to do their bookkeeping? Not me. You can even customise what information you want to show on the first screen, depending on the type of data you want to keep a close eye on.  Small business owners are wanting and demanding more from their technology and Xero have got this right.

Easy to use

This is what I hear most from Xero users.   There are other accounting software packages that are more powerful and have more in-built features than Xero, but in my experience this also means that business owners can get their bookkeeping into more of a mess too.  As your business grows or you need extra features, you can use the appropriate Xero add-on. There are over 500 add-ons to choose from so chances are there’s one out there that does exactly the job you need it to do.

I could go on and on about why I would recommend Xero over other accounting software, but I wouldn’t want to bore you – bookkeepers tend to get excited about these sorts of things 😊.  If you’re looking to get organised with your finances, or you don’t love the software you’re using, then have a look at Xero.  Give the 30 day free trial a go and teach yourself two or three easy things from their free video tutorials.  Even if you plan to outsource your bookkeeping I would recommend knowing your way around the basic features of the software and making sure it’s the right one for you.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

Xero apps – What are they?

Headphones calculator coffee pods

Do you love technology or have you been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century longing for the good old days? I think I’m a bit of both.  I enjoy cutting my teeth on new technology for my business but I still love teaching Journals and Ledgers to students the old-fashioned way using pencil and paper. I prefer the comforting tap tap tapping of a big clunky calculator to whipping out my smartphone (my hubby & kids will attest to this).

If you’re a Xero user, you may have heard of Xero apps (or Xero add-ons). They’re cloud-based applications that work with Xero to perform one or more extra functions. There’s an app for pretty much every task and every type of business.

Some apps are ‘horizontal’ apps that are made for use across a range of industries. Others are ‘vertical’ apps that are made for one main type of industry.

They come in varying shapes and sizes and some are more complex than others.  For example, Receipt Bank is straight-forward to use and once integrated with Xero correctly you can be up and running pretty quickly. It has a couple of main functions, which it does well.  Mindbody is an example of a more complex app with many functions, and will therefore take more time and energy to integrate with Xero and to learn to use correctly.

Most of the apps allow you a free trial period at first, so you can try before you buy. Once you’ve decided to go ahead with the product you’re often required to pay by monthly subscription that automatically gets charged to your credit card.

It’s a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable using Xero first before you go add-on shopping. But if you live for learning new technologies, then hey – don’t let me stop you jumping right in! You might also start the other way around, using an App first and then integrating it with Xero down the track. I’ve seen this work successfully as well.  If you use a cloud-based accounting software other than Xero such as MYOB, Quickbooks or Reckon, many of the apps will integrate with these too.

Why are people using Xero apps?

  • To provide a better experience for their customers
  • To save time
  • To get organized
  • To streamline processes
  • To improve cashflow
  • To keep a closer eye on their finances

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

 

Looking for more info on software & technology?

Which scheduling software?

Diary glasses

Continuing on from my post “Cliniko + Xero”, I wanted to share some more thoughts on scheduling software.  In particular, scheduling software that integrates with Xero.

I found that once I started looking into these types of software solutions it was like a vortex dragging me in deeper and deeper.  So many options – all offering slightly different features and aimed at slightly different target markets.  It took all my willpower not to drown in the sea of information and to remain focused!

So after extensive research, I came up with 5 software solutions that all have something to offer the small business owner looking for scheduling software.  Some are more suited to the health and well-being industry, some are aimed at the hair and beauty industry and some are general in nature and could suit consultants or personal trainers. They’re all hosted in the cloud, so no need to mess around installing software. Being hosted in the cloud also means you can access them from mobile devices. They all offer the ability for the business’ clients to book appointments for themselves online.

Once you outgrow booking in client appointments with paper and a pen, these types of software solutions are a huge asset to the busy business owner. They offer so much more than appointment scheduling and are complete practice management systems.

I’m only covering the basics here.  This list doesn’t cover everything that you’d want to know before making a decision to commit to one solution over another.  It will give you an idea of some of the differences, though, and an idea of cost.  Prices are in Australian dollars and include GST (as at the date of writing).

xero scheduling app comparison

My research has uncovered many more variables between each of the products listed.  Each of your businesses is unique and has its own needs – I would recommend you delve deeper than this table and look beyond the “features” listing on the respective software websites.  Alternatively, invest in the services of a Xero adviser who can do the research for you. It will save you a lot of time and they will also be well placed to assist you with your Xero integration if needed.

Looking forward to sharing more of my findings – there are some great small business solutions out there that integrate with Xero.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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Xero – One of the features that saves me time

working-with-xero-on-laptop

There are a lot of features Xero has that save me time whilst I’m wading through merrily singing my way through my bookkeeping.

One of my favourites, though, is one of the most simple and basic features that Xero offers. The feature I’m talking about is copying transactions.

To give you an example, I do very similar work for a client each month, with a few changes here and there.  Because I like to be transparent in how I charge I include extra detail so that clients can see exactly what I’m charging them for – therefore my Invoices can sometimes be lengthy.  I wrote about this in my previous post 3 Simple Tips to Improve Cashflow.   I don’t invoice at the same time of the month every time, so automatically repeating Invoices isn’t the best option in this case.

When I’m ready to charge those clients I simply search for that client’s name in Xero, click on the last Invoice and copy that Invoice.  I copy by selecting Options then Copy in the top right hand corner.  I can then tweak it with any adjustments needed, but the bulk of the information is already there and my wording is consistent from one Invoice to the next.

Copying also works for transactions like Spend Money and Receive Money as well.

I try to remember to work smarter and not harder and this is one of those simple things that makes a difference when it comes to the sometimes very time consuming task of small business bookkeeping.

What is one way you work smarter and not harder?

Other tips on working smarter, not harder:

 

 Happy bookkeeping…

 

Small business owners – Wages or Drawings?

working-at-table-with-laptop

The issue of paying yourself money from your business can be confusing.

Technically, a Sole Trader cannot employ themselves. Money a sole trader takes out of the business for personal use is classified as “drawings” and is not considered wages for tax purposes. Drawings are not allowable deductions for the business.

Transactions that you record using the account Drawings are not reported in Activity Statements that are lodged with the Australian Taxation Office.

This is also the case for someone who has their business set up as a Partnership. At law, you cannot be an employee.

If your business is set up as a Company, you can be an employee of the company.  You can pay yourself wages and would therefore withhold PAYG withholding tax if your wages are above the tax free threshold.  Unlike drawings, wages are allowable deductions for the business.

Transactions that you record using your “Wages” accounts are also not reported in the “Goods & Services Tax” section of your Activity Statements – only the “PAYG tax withheld” section.

Because Drawings and Wages are both outside of the GST system the tax codes to use in your accounting software are as follows:

Xero = BAS Excluded

MYOB = N-T

Reckon Accounts = leave the tax code blank

 

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Happy bookkeeping…

 

3 simple steps to getting your bookkeeping sorted

3-simple-steps-to-getting-your-bookkeeping-sorted-wordpress

If you have just started a business you may be stressing about whether you are on the right track with your accounts.  If you have been in business a little while you may be wondering if there is an easier way to keep on top of your accounts.

Once you start looking into the various accounting software options out there, unless you are in the business of bookkeeping or accounting, it’s not uncommon to become overwhelmed or confused.

I like to keep things simple, so I’ve come up with 3 simple steps to help you out and get you started.  These are 3 steps I’ve used to get clients up and running with accounting software.

3 simple steps to getting your bookkeeping sorted (Video)

Importantly, don’t forget to try your software out for free first.  Get a feel for it and make sure you can easily get answers to any questions you may have via their help centres, forums, videos, email support etc.

Happy bookkeeping…

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