bookkeeping adelaide

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

 

 

 

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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Is it time to Marie Kondo your accounting software?

Marie Kondo

Does doing your bookkeeping spark joy?

If it doesn’t (and you’re only human) I’m not suggesting you get rid of it from your life completely. It might be a good time to tidy it up though.

Messy data means inaccurate records. Does this really matter? Well yes, because inaccurate records can mean:

  • Paying too much income tax
  • Paying too much GST
  • Underpaying super for your employees
  • Missing out on a bank loan
  • Making bad business decisions because you’re looking at incorrect figures

 

4 common issues that I come across when working with client’s accounting software are:

1.  Doubling-up of expenses

2.  Not reconciling bank accounts correctly

3.  Old unpaid Bills and Invoices

4.  Recording superannuation, GST, PAYG withholding and income tax payments

     using the wrong Account code

 

Here are some examples, using Xero accounting software:

1.  Doubling-up of expenses

You receive a bill from a supplier and enter the Bill into your accounting software. You pay the bill at a later date and when it comes through your automatic bank feed you enter it directly from the Bank Feed screen as a Spend Money transaction instead of closing off the Bill. The bill sits there as unpaid in your system with the expense now being recorded twice.

2.  Not reconciling bank accounts correctly

You merrily work your way through your Bank Feed – hitting the Green “OK” button and watching those transactions disappear from sight. You get the message “Congratulations. You Reconcile!” But wait – your bank had a glitch a couple of months back and several transactions didn’t feed through. You also deleted some bank statement lines because they were for personal purchases. And you had closed off a couple of bills that you never ended up actually paying. The result is missed income and expenses, doubled-up expenses and incorrect Asset and Liability figures in your Balance Sheet.

3.  Not checking for old unpaid Bills and Invoices

Old unpaid bills still sitting in your software can be the result of doubling-up (refer no 1), paying bills from personal funds but forgetting to record them and bills that need to be closed off due to credit notes being issued or contra agreements being made.

Old unpaid Invoices still sitting there might need to be followed up with your customers, or could be mistakes that need to be dealt with, or written off due to non-payment.

4.  Recording superannuation, GST, PAYG withholding and income tax using the wrong Account code

These errors are made really easily, especially if you aren’t familiar with double-entry bookkeeping. Knowing when to use Expense type accounts and Liability type accounts in your software can get confusing. There are also special rules regarding how Income Tax payments get recorded in your software.

For me, the 4 abovementioned issues are the ones that crop up the most. They need to be fixed correctly so that financials are accurate.

And who doesn’t love a good de-cluttering?

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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3 Easy Bookkeeping Tips for Tradies

Tradie working tradesperson

I get that bookkeeping can be a bit of a hassle or (dare I say it) boring for some small business owners. Your focus is on doing a great job for your clients and being able to pay your bills. So with that in mind I’ve chosen 3 of my favourite bookkeeping tips to make life that little bit easier for the tradies out there.

1. Separate personal banking from business banking

Many business owners start out by using their personal bank account for business purposes. And if you’re a sole trader the Australian Taxation Office doesn’t have a problem with this. However, I still advise people to separate the two as soon as possible. Why? Well firstly getting your paperwork ready for tax time will take longer if you don’t (and ideally you want the process of getting ready for tax time to be as streamlined and pain-free as possible).  Secondly, it makes it much more difficult to know how much money you have personally pumped into the business to get it off the ground and to know how much you have taken out for personal expenses.

 

2. Keep all receipts

There may be some tax deductions you aren’t aware of – and no-one expects you to know them all. For example, if you’re outdoors a lot as part of running your business the cost of purchasing sunglasses and sunblock may be a tax deduction. If you’re not sure, keep your receipt anyway and run it past your accountant before tax time. Storing your receipts electronically is a great way to go as well. There are also some great apps that can help you with storing receipts and reducing data entry time – be sure to check out Hubdoc and Receipt Bank.

 

3. Invoice promptly

If you have time after completing a job can you invoice whilst there or straight after? Using mobile software is ideal because you can log in anytime, get your invoice prepared and emailed through then and there. Lack of cashflow is one of the main reasons small businesses don’t survive.  So the faster and more regularly you can get that cash coming in, the more likely you are to have money to cover your bills when they become due (and the less reliant you will be on expensive loans and credit cards). Rather than let your invoicing build up into a big job that you dread doing, doing little bits more often means less stress and better cashflow. If you’re having trouble with clients paying you on time, I prepared this infographic: Top 6 Tips – Keeping on Top of Customer Payments

If you’re looking for easy to use accounting software, Xero is popular with tradies and you can try a free 30 day trial here. It works well with the above 2 mentioned receipt apps Receipt Bank and Hub Doc as well.

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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Helpful resources for small business owners

Desk diary laptop planning

Sharing some of my favourite (and essential) resources and tools that I use as a small business owner in Australia.


General Business

Australian Taxation Office – information on everything from record-keeping, GST, super, tax, employees and everything in between (recommend subscribing to the Small Business Newsroom)

Fair Work Ombudsman – essential resources if you’re hiring staff

Return To Work SA – worker’s compensation information including whether you need to register and how to go about paying and lodging

Business.gov.au – information, links and guides on starting a business, running a business or exiting a business

ABN Lookup – to check if other businesses you are dealing with have an ABN and if they’re registered for GST

Grant Assist – information on grants available to South Australian small business owners

 

Workshops and Events

Eventbrite – Find workshops and networking events in your local area

 

Inspiration

Small Business Secrets – TV show on SBS. Interviews with various types of business owners around Australia.

(Confession:  I’ve spent way too many hours on a quiet Sunday morning up
binge-watching recordings of this under a rug with a cup of coffee before anyone else
gets up. It’s an inspiring start to the day but then I find it hard to snap out of business
mode for the rest of the day…watch at your own risk).

 

Accounting Software

Xero Australia – popular online accounting software

“We started Xero to change the game for small business. Xero is now one of the fastest growing Software as a Service companies globally. We lead the New Zealand, Australian, and United Kingdom cloud accounting markets, employing a world-class team of more than 1,400 people in 20 offices worldwide. Our beautiful cloud-based accounting software connects people with the right numbers anytime, anywhere, on any device.”
ReceiptBank – popular record-keeping automation software that can be integrated with your accounting software

“Receipt Bank helps small to medium-sized businesses, sole traders, and individuals save valuable hours by pulling information from receipts and invoices quickly, accurately, and efficiently.”

 

Happy bookkeeping…

 

Sarina  

Festival Bookkeeping

 

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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

Networking…am I doing it all wrong?

Mobile laptop bed

A few years ago at the beginning of my business journey I was told during a one-on-one session with a marketing consultant that networking events are not for making friends. My follow-up emails with the people I met were all wrong. I needed to get to the point about the services I offered and cut the pleasantries.

I do a lot of networking with other women and most of my clients are also women. Do we attend networking events to make friends? Heck yes.  We’re often working from home on our own, we have challenges that other women and mums can relate to and sometimes these are our only opportunities to connect.  Yes, we are there to find clients. Yes, we are also there to find people that we can form alliances with. But when a fellow business owner tells me how she felt about her teenager going out driving on her own for the first time I remember that conversation and I remember that woman and her business, because we genuinely connected over that conversation.

Networking is a time for listening – not just pitching.  If you listen you’ll find out what people’s frustrations are, where they could do with some help.  I don’t want a business card thrust in my hand and to be “sold” to without getting to know that person first.  A wall goes straight up and doing business with them is the last thing on my mind.

There’s definitely room for me to be more aggressive in my networking. I’m getting better at selling my business when I do my “stand up and tell us about your business” pitch.  But I also know that when someone picks up the phone and calls me after meeting me at a networking event, then there was a degree of trust there and they felt I was the type of person that would do the right thing by them (and their business finances).

In hindsight, a lot of the advice the marketing consultant gave me was good, solid advice.  I went ahead with some of his recommendations later (after I got over the initial shock of his bluntness). I also agree that at the end of the day you’re investing time and money in networking events in order to grow your business. I’ll continue to make sure potential clients are aware of what I do and how I can help them, but I’ll also be having a laugh and getting to know the people I’m out spending my night with.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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