bookkeeping 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


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

My 3 favourite productivity tips

Handbag purse calculator phone

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” Dr Seuss

As a business owner, your productive days are the ones that keep you moving forward. They keep you one step ahead of the competition. Importantly, they mean that you can put your feet up at the end of the day with a smile on your face, feeling good about your day and what you’ve achieved.

Today I’d like to share my 3 favourite productivity tips to help you, in Dr Seuss’ words, get on your way!

Play music

Playing music whilst working BUT…only when doing easy tasks I don’t need to think too hard about. For me this includes scanning documents for filing & uploading receipts to my software. It’s surprising how much work you can power through when you have music to boost your mood and it’s almost like a reward for getting through your tougher work earlier on.

Use online invoicing software

Is this how you prepare Invoices? Open up a Word document, change the Invoice number (after checking it’s the next number), add the customer name and details, save it, attach it to an email, type up a professional-sounding email message, send. Oh and remember to back-up all your Word documents in case your laptop fails etc? Well you have probably already guessed what I’m going to say. Of course there are much more efficient, hassle-free ways to do your invoicing and this includes using online invoicing software. Using your mobile or iPad you can send an invoice to your customer whilst you are right there with them and you know they’ve received it. If you send the same invoices to customers every month, you can set up recurring invoices to go out in a fraction of the time than if you had to do it manually each month. For those in the UK, you can try Quickbooks’ online invoicing software free for 30 days.

Do the difficult tasks first

This is a gem of a tip that has really helped me in my business and in life overall actually. It sounds so simple, yet it can have huge productivity benefits. When the weight of a difficult task is lifted off of your shoulders you really do fly through the rest of your day feeling confident and able to tackle anything. I’ve come to believe that success comes to those willing to do the difficult things others put off doing. Pick up the phone and make those difficult phone calls first thing in the morning before you have too much time to think about it. Head out the door and introduce yourself to potential clients. Leave the fun stuff like updating social media until after the uncomfortable stuff is out the way. I tend to overthink things and before I know it part of my day is gone whilst I wait for myself to “feel like” doing the tough stuff. Since adopting the habit of doing the difficult tasks first I wouldn’t do things any other way.

So for me being productive is all about working smarter and not harder, embracing technology and remembering to reward myself. Not all of my days are productive ones, and that’s okay. As a bookkeeper sometimes I get weighed down with the numbers and just need a good break so I can come back and tackle my work another day with fresh eyes!

 
Let me know – how do you stay productive? Have you changed your habits and become more productive?

Similar posts you may like:

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

Bookkeeping tips for tradies

Tradies tools drill spanner

Receipts

Keeping receipts can be annoying and it’s easy for them to get damaged or lost, but when you think about each one as another tax deduction they take on a whole new meaning.  My top tip is to take a photo of each one so you can save it electronically.  The Australian Taxation Office accepts digitally saved copies of receipts that can be clearly read. Keep a plastic or material folder in your ute or van, write “Receipts” on it and put each receipt in here for safekeeping until the end of the week or month when you have a chance to enter it in your books. Once recorded, file it away in a labelled folder in date order. I keep electronic copies of all receipts, save a copy within my Xero accounting software and also have back-up copies on my laptop and a USB.

Don’t mix personal with business

One of the first things you should do is to open a separate bank account, solely for business purposes.  Use this account for business spending only and ensure all customer payments go into this account. Mixing business and personal spending can turn into a headache very quickly and can be easily avoided.

Vehicle expenses

As a tradie your business vehicle is probably your daily transport, storeroom, office, lunch room etc etc. You are going to cover a lot of kilometres in a year and so it’s important to get the right amount of tax deductions.  There are a few different methods of claiming your vehicle expenses – the ATO website explains them pretty clearly.

Equipment

You will no doubt have invested in good tools and safety equipment that are used in the running of your business.  Keep the details of all this equipment.  This can be done in a basic spreadsheet or Word document.  Include price, brand, serial numbers and where you bought them.  This will help with end of year depreciation (something your accountant can do for you) and is also helpful for insurance purposes.

Get a record-keeping system in place ASAP

This can be an Excel spreadsheet or accounting software – the important thing is to get a system early on.  Your priority in the beginning may be knowing you have consistent work and enough cash in the bank to cover your immediate expenses, but down the track being able to get easy access to your financial information (most profitable services, which clients are slow payers etc) can be the difference between having a struggling business and a growing, successful one. If you have the funds I would recommend using accounting software from the beginning. A good bookkeeper or accountant can help you choose.  My tip is to get a free trial, make sure it does everything you need it to and that your bookkeeper/accountant can work with it. I previously made a short video called 3 Simple Steps to Getting Your Bookkeeping Sorted.  You might also like Do I Need to Use Accounting Software?

Keep an eye on your bank account

If you get into the habit of checking your bank account regularly you will get a feel for what time of the month loan payments come out, when funds are running low, if there is any suspicious activity etc.  My software is linked to my bank account and every day I can see any bank activity from the day before.

Get customer contact details

Preferably more than 1 type in case you need to follow up unpaid invoices. If you are extending credit to some customers by allowing them to pay at a later date, it’s only a matter of time before you find some customers that won’t pay you on time or will try to avoid paying altogether.  By having several ways to contact them (email, phone, letter) you can follow up unpaid invoices easily. My top tip – keep a written record every time you contact a late paying customer and include dates, what was agreed and who you spoke to. For more help on this topic read Top 6 Tips – Keeping on Top of Customer Payments.

Plan for tax

Open a separate bank account and transfer a percentage of your income aside each month or quarter. Tax time can be stressful when you are running a business so avoid having that extra worry of trying to come up with a large amount of money for tax in one hit.

GST registration

At the time of writing this post the GST threshold is $75,000.  Keep your eye on your GST turnover throughout the year to see if it’s edging towards the threshold – at which point you’ll need to register.  For more of my tips on GST read Common GST Mistakes and BAS Tips for Aussie Small Business Owners.

Insurance

Make sure you have the right insurances.  As a Registered BAS Agent I have to have certain insurances in place in order to keep my licence and this is also the case with many other professional bodies.

Thank you to all my readers of the Savvy Bookkeeping Blog.  You may have noticed I love writing about small business and not-for-profit bookkeeping. I share more useful and fun bookkeeping information and videos over on my business Facebook page – Festival Bookkeeping.  Why not come over and follow me there? Love to hear from you.

 

Happy bookkeeping…

 

 

 

The post in which I mention bookkeeping & fun in the same sentence

ipad-and-receipts

Okay, so I may have a warped sense of what constitutes fun – but hear me out on this one.  If you find bookkeeping a pain in the butt and a necessary evil in order to keep the taxman happy, then take 5 minutes to read my:

6 ways to make bookkeeping fun!

  1. Get creative! Jazz up your accounts files with some nice labels or replace your folders with colour co-ordinated ones.  There are some really nice colours out there now, and you can colour co-ordinate your whole office.
  2. Every time you finish your bookkeeping tasks for the week, reward yourself with a little of something that puts a smile on your face. (Did somebody say chocolate?)
  3. Take time out to meet other business owners and attend a bookkeeping workshop. As well as picking up some hints and getting you enthused about getting back to your bookkeeping you’ll probably get a morning or afternoon tea thrown in as well.  There are workshops that cover debt collection, payroll, tax, software, cloud computing and lots more.
  4. Have your favourite music playing quietly in the background, grab a glass of wine (or maybe just half in my case or else my accounts would be a shambles) and enjoy the time to yourself.
  5. Get organised. Have a spring clean of your accounts documents and files and feel good about how organised you are.  I’ll be writing more on accounts organisation a little down the track (try this post here).
  6. Follow a blog that motivates you in your quest for business or career success.  A couple of goods ones are:
    http://under30ceo.com
    http://flyingsolo.com.au

If none of these ideas really appeal to you, you could always pay someone else to do it while you go out and have your kind of fun!

Some other bookkeeping posts you might like:

How do you keep motivated to do your essential bookkeeping tasks? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy bookkeeping…

 

Move forward

Take charge tip

I’ve been thinking about how we sometimes put things in the too-hard-basket, where they stay for much too long. Cluttering up our lives not only in the physical sense (ie a desk covered in paperwork), but emotionally too. Sometimes you just have to take charge, dig in and deal with it.  A weight will be lifted off your shoulders and by de-cluttering physically and mentally you leave space open for good things to come into your life.

This has recently worked for me.

Has this ever happened to you? 

 

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