adelaide

Working with trust accounts

 

Book glasses plant bookkeeping

Those working in the legal or real estate industry would be familiar with trust accounts.

I started working with trust accounts in my teens when I was employed by law firms.  Now as the owner of Festival Bookkeeping I’m once again working with trust accounts on behalf of clients.

It’s important that the money held on behalf of clients can be fully accounted for every step of the way.  In fact in many circumstances firms must have their trust accounts professionally audited once a year to ensure trust account legislation is being complied with.  So by working with trust accounts you are taking on another level of responsibility, in addition to the usual tax responsibilities that come with small business bookkeeping.

With that in mind, here are some of my top tips for working with trust accounts:

  • Do not overdraw (cause a deficiency of) a client’s trust ledger
  • Perform regular backups of trust accounting software & store a copy off-site as well
  • Ensure you have the details of every client whose money you hold
  • Avoid single trust transfers between unrelated parties if possible (eg vendor to purchaser)
  • Keep all cheque butts and ensure all cheque numbers are accounted for in sequential order
  • Do not pay general office expenses, debts or bank fees from trust monies
  • Check with the governing body of your industry as to what accounting software is suitable for your trust accounting. In some circumstances the software you use to track your business income and expenses is not suitable to use for your trust accounting.
  • Keep the details of any errors or discrepancies that have occurred and/or been fixed
  • Don’t draw “cash” cheques
  • Finally – reconcile regularly

Be sure to do your research and check which legislation applies to your industry and state.

As with any small business bookkeeping, errors can occur but if they do make sure you have a “paper trail” or explanation of what occurred and how it was fixed. Fix mistakes promptly and don’t hang onto client’s money any longer than necessary.  Regular reconciling will help pick up any differences between your bank account activity and your accounting records.  A good bookkeeper can help you with this task.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When’s the right time to hire a bookkeeper?

Working at desk with diary and calculator

This is a great question! The answer depends on your individual circumstances.

If you can relate to one or more of these scenarios it may be time to consider hiring a bookkeeper:

  • Your business is growing and you’re at the point where you simply can’t do it all yourself. Your health and/or personal relationships are starting to suffer.
  • You’re making mistakes with your figures (due to rushing, lack of training or simply getting numbers the wrong way around).  You’re finding that the stress and time taken to find mistakes and correct them is not worth it anymore.
  • You find it stressful keeping up with tax office obligations and deadlines
  • You want to focus on the income-producing activities of your business, such as producing your products or services and generating new leads
  • You don’t enjoy bookkeeping (that’s okay – it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time)
  • You’re happy to do the ongoing bookkeeping but need a hand getting started or when doing something new for the first time
  • You’re behind in your bookkeeping and need your books up to date for the end of financial year or BAS lodgement time

These are all common indicators that it may be time for you to find yourself a good bookkeeper.

Where should you look for a new bookkeeper? Either use someone that you have personally met and who you feel has your business’ best interests at heart, or you can talk to your accountant and other business owners for their recommendations.  Find out what education and experience they have.  In Australia, they must be a registered BAS Agent in order to charge you a fee for BAS related services.

The 3 main advantages to engaging the services of a professional contract bookkeeper as opposed to hiring an in-house bookkeeper are:

  • No need to pay superannuation, holiday pay, sick pay, holiday leave loading or WorkCover.
  • No need to provide extra desk space and equipment or to be tied to the office waiting for them to finish their work – many bookkeepers will do your bookkeeping off-site.
  • They are business owners like you – they know the ups and downs and how the small business world works.

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

3 Simple Tips to Improve Cashflow

3 tips for improving cashflow

I think I’ve read almost every small business finance book in the Tea Tree Gully library here in Adelaide – some of them twice.

I’ve found 3 great tips that I’ll be incorporating into my business.  They are not only an easy way to help increase cashflow but will also help tweak your mindset if you find your confidence flagging.

This is from Accounting for the Numberphobic by Dawn Fotopulos.

Dawn writes:

“Invoices become a running record of the value the business delivered for every client – a testimony of what’s been accomplished.  Listing the benefits the client received is the key to differentiating your product or service from others.  It will remind the client of what makes the business you manage different and more professional than that of your peers”.

She goes on to write “Invoices help to build the reputation of the business”.

Have you ever considered the effect your invoice has on your client when they receive it? Is it possible they look at your invoice and think “How did he get to that price? What exactly did they do in that 8 hours they have charged me for?”

If you’ve poured your heart and soul into providing a great product or service for a client – don’t risk your invoice getting put on the backburner whilst your client pays everyone else before you.  Remind your client of the value you have provided so that paying you is that much easier and they have a great reason to use your business again in the future.

So these are my 3 tips for improving cashflow & boosting business confidence:

  1. Include a detailed description on your Invoice of the service or product you’ve provided and remind them of the value you’ve added for them. Be confident in your invoicing!
  2. If some of the work was complimentary and isn’t being on-charged to the client – include that on the invoice so the client is aware.
  3. If 2 or 3 people have performed the work for the client – include their names to give more meaning to the work.

I’ll definitely be incorporating this into my own Xero invoicing for Festival Bookkeeping – it will only take an extra 5 minutes.  Such simple concepts and easily implemented. Love it.

 Looking for more small business tips? Here are some others that readers have liked:

 

Happy bookkeeping…

New Employee Checklist

Secretary black and white
A good checklist from the ATO website if you are small business owner thinking of hiring a new worker.

Takes you through all the things you need to establish upfront, for example “Is your new worker an employee or a contractor” (a hot topic with the ATO at the moment) and “What are your record-keeping requirements”.

 

Link to ATO website:  Hiring new staff

 

Other suggested blog posts:
Find me on Instagram:  Festival Bookkeeping

Find me on Facebook: Festival Bookkeeping

 

Happy bookkeeping…

 

The Festival Bookkeeping story

 

festivalbookkeepingstory

I grew up in small mining towns, attended high school in Whyalla, South Australia, and got my first job as a legal secretary for a law firm there. This was also my first foray into studying at TAFE, where I was introduced to the mysteries of double entry bookkeeping.  (Little did I know this would make an appearance further down the track and become a big part of my life).

Fast forward 22 years and I’m now married with 2 children and living in Adelaide. I’ve studied and gained an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and gained the experience and extra studies required to become a Registered BAS Agent.  In between I’ve worked in accounting and administration for large corporations, for several small businesses, government organisations and a non-profit.  On the side I’ve sold Body Shop products in people’s homes where I first learned to become comfortable standing up and speaking in front of groups of people.  Without knowing it at the time, this equipped me with the confidence and skills needed to teach accounting to students at TAFE in the following years.

So this has all culminated in where I am today – having a small business based in the North Eastern suburbs of Adelaide that enables me to help other local business owners with their finances and also teaching students at TAFE.  Two things I love doing.

And that is basically the Festival Bookkeeping story. I hope that by reading this you have been able to gain an insight into both my personal and business background and why I love to do what I do.

Oh, and the short version of the story:

Country girl turned City Girl. Accounting Nerd. Small business owner helping other small business owners.

Happy bookkeeping…

You can find me on Facebook here: Festival Bookkeeping

And find me on Instagram here: Festival Bookkeeping

3 basic admin tips that will save you an hour a day

I love a good time-saving tip!  I’ve found these 3 great ideas that anyone can easily implement in their business or at work, from Debbie Eglin over at the Flying Solo website.

Tip 1 especially fits in with my favourite subject at the moment – going paperless.  I hope going paperless is something you are working towards in your business or workplace.  It really is the way forward and makes a lot of sense.

Tip 3 is another great tip because we often find ourselves typing the same words over and over, which is a time-waster.

3 basic admin tips that will save you an hour a day

Happy bookkeeping…

 

Why I prefer to go paperless #1

trees

You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to be interested in going paperless – it will also save you in the hip pocket. So it’s really a win-win situation. A win for you and a win for the environment (which of course benefits you too!)

I previously shared some tips on 4 Easy Ways to Go Paperless. The 4 tips are some really simple ways to make that step towards going paperless without having to spend lots of money or make huge changes to the way you work or run your business.  Readers shared some of their tips on going paperless too, which you might want to check out in the Comments section at the bottom of the post.

I wanted to write a couple of posts about how exactly you can benefit from moving towards a paperless office, particularly from a bookkeeping point of view. So instead of the “how” I wanted to explore the “why” of going paperless.

So read on for the first of many great reasons that I prefer to go paperless and how you, too, can benefit.

# 1   Online banking is better than writing out cheques.

  • Banks often charge a fee to send out cheque books
  • Banks sometimes charge a fee for each cheque presented
    I discovered this the hard way – being charged .95c every time one of my cheques gets deposited!
  • Mailing cheques is time consuming and you have to pay for stamps.
  • People can lose cheques, resulting in double the amount of work.
  • Cheques for small amounts are often not banked, and sit there in your accounting records as being unpresented month after month until you finally get hold of the person and sort it out, or it goes stale.

Just like having 2 cheque signatories, you can set up your online banking so that 2 people have to authorise each payment – resulting in better security of your money.  And whilst on the subject of online banking, bank statements can be downloaded from your bank’s website and saved in a suitably named folder which can be backed-up, reducing the need to have paper copies sent out to you.

Happy bookkeeping…