Should You Charge Late Fees? QuickBooks Can Help

Do you have a lot of aging receivables? Assessing finance charges can speed up customer payments.

Have your customers been submitting payments later than usual these last several months? It wouldn’t be surprising. Many businesses are struggling to pay bills these days. Still, you need to get paid – and on time. Tardy receivables have a negative impact on your own cash flow.

We’ve discussed ways to encourage prompt payment in past columns. For example, you can start accepting credit/debit cards and direct bank transfers, make sure invoices go out immediately after a sale, or offer a premium like a small one-time discount for paying on time 12 months in a row to name a few.

You can also assess finance charges on remittances that come in after the due date. QuickBooks provides the tools to allow this.

Setting It Up

Before you start charging extra for late payments, you’ll need to do some setup work in QuickBooks. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Finance Charge. Click the Company Preferences tab. You’ll see a window like this:

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You can set your own preferences for assessing finance charges in QuickBooks.

You’ll have to answer these questions and enter your responses in the window:

What will your Annual Interest Rate (%) be?

What will you set as a Minimum Finance Charge?

Will you allow a Grace Period? This is the number of days given to your customers to make their payments after the due date before finance charges kick in. This is typically from 15-21 days.

Where should captured finance charges go? In this example, the Finance Charge Account has been assigned to Other Income

Do you want to Assess finance charges on overdue finance charges? Some jurisdictions don’t allow you to charge interest on overdue interest charges. If you want to do this, check on your local lending laws – specifically state usury laws which may limit the amounts that can be charged.

When will you start to Calculate charges? In this example, the due date is selected. So, QuickBooks will start to add finance charges 21 days after the stated due date. If you choose invoice/billed date, you’ll want to make your grace period longer. This can be rather a confusing concept. Contact us if you want a deeper explanation.

Assessing Finance Charges

There’s one more issue on the Preferences screen that you’ll need to resolve. QuickBooks offers two ways to notify customers about finance charges. You can’t include them on invoices, like you may be used to seeing on credit card bills. Rather, you have to print separate invoices that only contain the finance charges. 

If you put a check in the box in front of Mark finance charge invoices “To be printed,” you can print them out separately. If you leave the box blank, the finance charges will appear on the customer’s next statement. Click OK when you’re done with this window.

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QuickBooks can find the overdue invoices that need to have finance charges applied and display them in a window like this one.

Open the Customers menu and select Assess Finance Charges. A window like the one in the image above will open. Make sure that the Assessment Date is the actual date you want to assess charges, which may not be the current date. Click in the Assess column to create a checkmark for every customer you want to charge. When you’re done, click Assess Charges.

When you’re ready to print finance charge invoices, open the File menu and select Print Forms | Invoices to open a window like this:

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Invoices with an FC preceding the number are finance charge invoices ready for printing.

Lots to Learn

Besides knowing whether you can charge finance charges on existing finance charges, there are other considerations. For example, do your state’s lending laws allow you to use the phrase “finance charge” or must you use something like “late fee?” When should you assess finance charges? Have you notified your customers of your intent to begin assessing finance charges? This is definitely something they should know in advance. You might need to add this to your customer message on invoices.

We can’t tell you whether finances charges are the path you should take to improve your cash flow as there are many issues to consider. But we can help you with the mechanics of doing so and are here to answer any questions. Let us know if you want to get started using this tool, we can help.

QuickBooks Online’s Mobile App: The Basics

QuickBooks Online is more portable than you may realize.

In this work-from-home world, millions of people are finding it impossible to get away from the “office”. But there may be times when you’re not at home or work when it would be really convenient to have access to your accounting data in QuickBooks Online. 

The site’s free companion apps make that possible. Available for both Android and iOS, the QuickBooks Online mobile app can do many of the things that you’re used to doing on your desktop or laptop. And of course, everything you do on the app is synchronized with your browser-based version, and vice versa. Both versions look and work similarly and offer a user experience that makes your mobile tasks easy to accomplish. 

Here’s a look at what you can do.

The QuickBooks Online mobile app doesn’t look much like the browser-based version, but it can do many of the same tasks.

Navigation Tools

Once you’ve downloaded the QuickBooks Online mobile app and entered your login credentials from the browser-based version, you’ll see a screen full of shortcuts to the app’s main functions. This is an abbreviated list of what you can actually do, but it takes you to the screens you’ll want to see most often. Click the All tab, and a full set of links for the app opens that includes functions missing from the shortcuts page, like Reports and Products & services. 

Click on the home button in the lower left, and the app opens two more screens. One is a Dashboard that’s similar to the one you see in your browser. It displays charts for profit and loss, invoices, and expenses, as well as a list of your account balances. Click the Activity tab to see a list of the most recent activity. Like most everything on the app, the list is interactive. When you click on an activity, the transaction underlying it opens.

There are two more navigation links at the bottom of the screen. When you want to add a transaction, you can click on the + (plus) sign to open your options there. Click the three horizontal lines to open the Shortcuts page. The gear icon in the upper left takes you to the Settings screen, where you’ll find links to Company Information, Tax Rates, Overdue Invoice Alerts, etc.

Records and Transactions

Customer and vendor records are not as detailed as they are on the browser-based site, but they should serve you well for mobile activities. You can toggle between basic contact details and recent activity. There are also icons that allow you to quickly call, text, or email a contact. Product records are not as complete, however you can see each item’s name, description, sale price, tax status, and account and category assignments. You have the ability to edit records and create new ones on the apps.

You can view the data from your browser-based version of QuickBooks Online on the mobile app.

You can also add and edit transactions on the mobile apps, including invoices, estimates, sales receipts, expenses, and invoice payments. These are very thorough. They include the fields you need to bill customers and record purchases. You can even request signatures on estimates, add notes or attachments to invoices, and view a status bar for invoice progress.

Other Features

There are other tasks you can complete on the QuickBooks Online mobile apps. You can snap photos of receipts with your phone. The apps will then upload them to the main site and move some of their data on to the correct fields on forms. You can work with bank deposits, projects, and categories. And you can record mileage for business trips. If you turn on Auto-tracking, the apps will record your mileage as you drive.

There’s one more feature on the app that’s fairly new to QuickBooks Online – so new that it may not have been rolled out to you yet: Cash Flow. This is divided into two sections on the main site, Overview and Planner. The second deals with cash flow projections, which can be a complex concept to understand. We recommend you let us walk you through this tool so you know when it may be wise to take actions that will prevent an impending cash crunch.

Are you experiencing cash flow problems now because of the economic downturn? We can analyze your data and reports in QuickBooks Online and help you come up with a recovery plan, contact us to help you.

10 Tips for Better Budgeting…

…and how QuickBooks Online can help you with the mechanics.

If you already have a budget, it’s probably been difficult for you to stick with it for the last several months. Unless you provide products and/or services that have been in great demand since the  COVID-19 pandemic took hold, you’ve had to adjust your budget significantly.

Better days are ahead, though, and now is a good time to start doing some planning for 2021. While there are still likely to be uncertainties next year, creating a budget will give you a starting point. A budget increases your awareness of all of your projected income and expenses, which may make it less likely that you’ll find yourself constantly running short on funds.

Here are some ways you can make your budgeting process more effective and realistic.

Use what you already know. Unless you’re starting a brand-new business, you already have the best resource possible: a record of your past income and expenses. Use this as the basis for your projections.

Be aware of your sales cycle. Even if you’re not a seasonal business, you’ve probably learned that some months or quarters are better than others. Budget conservatively for the slower months.

Distinguish between essential and non-essential expenses. Enter your budget items for the bills and other expenses that must be covered before you add optional categories. 

You can use data from a previous year to create a new budget in QuickBooks Online.

Keep it simple. Don’t budget down to the last paper clip. You risk budget burnout, and your reports will be unwieldy. 

Build in some backup funding. Just as you’re supposed to have an emergency fund in your personal life, try to create one for your business.

Make your employees part of the process. You shouldn’t be secretive about the expense element of your budget. Try to get input from staff in areas where they have knowledge.

Overestimate your expenses, a little. This can help prevent “borrowing” from one budget category to make up for a shortfall in another.

Consider using excess funds to pay down debt. Debt costs you money. The sooner you pay it off, the sooner you can use those payments for some non-essential items.

Look for areas where you can change vendors.  As you’re creating your budget think carefully about each supplier of products and services. Can you find less costly alternatives?

Revisit your budget frequently. You should evaluate your progress at least once a month. In fact, you could even start by budgeting for only a couple of months at a time. You’ll learn a lot about your spending and sales patterns that you can use for future periods.

How QuickBooks Online Can Help

QuickBooks Online offers built-in tools to help you create a budget. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner and select Budgeting under Tools. Click Add budget. At the top of the screen, give your budget a Name and select the Fiscal Year it should cover from the drop-down list by that field. Choose an Interval (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) and indicate whether you want to Pre-fill data from an existing year. 

QuickBooks Online supplies a budget template that already contains commonly used small business items.

The final field is labeled Subdivide by, which is optional. You can set up budgets that only include selected Customers or Classes, for example. Select the desired divider in that field, then choose who or what you want included in the next. Click Next or Create Budget in the lower right corner (depending on whether you used pre-filled data) to open your budget template. If you subdivided the budget, you’ll see a field marked View budget for. Click the down arrow and select from the options listed there.

To create your budget, you simply enter numbers in the small boxes supplied. Columns are divided by months or quarters, depending on what you specified, and rows are labeled with budget items (Advertising, Gross Receipts, Legal & Professional Fees, etc.). You simply enter numbers in the boxes that apply. When you click in a box, a small arrow appears pointing right. Click on this, and your number will automatically appear in the rest of that row’s boxes. When you’re done, click Save in the lower right. You can edit your budget at any time.

QuickBooks Online provides two related reports. Budget Overview displays all of the data in your budget(s). Budget vs. Actuals shows you how you’re adhering to your budget. 
We know creating a budget can be challenging, but it’s so important – especially right now.  We’d be happy to look at your company’s financial situation and see how QuickBooks’ budgeting tools—and its other accounting features—can help you get a better understanding of your finances.

Still Dealing with 2019 in QBO? Clearing the Way for 2020

If you have a nagging feeling this month that you’re not caught up with your accounting tasks, it’s time to clean up your unfinished 2019 work.

It would be great if you could have closed out 2019 knowing that you were all caught up with your accounting work. You sent all your invoices, paid all your bills, and wrapped everything up with a series of reports and a proverbial bow.

Unfortunately, December rarely goes that way. You’re making last-minute adjustments for your taxes. Dealing with the holiday rush if you’re a retailer. Handling end-of-year employee issues, trying to make your monthly sales quotas, and doing something special to make your customers feel appreciated at this time of year.

On top of your daily accounting work, you’re feeling pressure in December to get a clear picture of your finances for the entire year. Then the holidays hit, and suddenly you’re ringing in the New Year without having had time for that.

Here are five things you can do clean up 2019 and make way for 2020.

1. Create two critical A/R reports: Accounts Receivable Aging Summary and Open Invoices.

This may make you feel both better and worse. On the bright side, you’ll know where you stand in terms of who owes you what and how big the problem is. On the other hand, you may find it disheartening to see how many payments are past due. These reports are easy to find. Click Reports in the left vertical pane and scroll down to Who owes you.

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The Open Invoices report can show you quickly who’s past due.

Now would be an excellent time, too, to develop some strategies to be proactive and keep your accounts receivable more up to date in 2020. We’d be happy to sit down with you and help you with this difficult task.

2. Create two critical A/P reports: Accounts Payable Aging Summary and Unpaid Bills.

Add “Stay Current with Bills” to your list of 2020 goals. But first, you have to see where you stand right now. Click Reports again and scroll down to What you owe.

Who is responsible for paying bills? If it’s you, maybe it’s time to hand over that task to someone without your managerial responsibilities who can make it a priority.

3. Create statements for all customers who are past due.

Things slip for your customers toward the end of the year, too. Give them a chance to catch up. Their invoices might have gotten lost in the year-end confusion, but you need to get current with your accounts receivable. So, send statements to those in arrears.

Click +New at the top of the left vertical pane, then go to Other | Statement

4. Clean up your customer and vendor lists.

Customers and vendors come and go, but their QuickBooks records are forever unless you do something about them. You can easily make them inactive – after confirming they have no open activity. Click Sales | Customers in the left vertical pane. Click the box in front of customers you want to make inactive and then click Batch actions | Make inactive.

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Cleaning up your customer and vendor lists will save you time in the future.

5. Always look carefully at your dashboard when you log in.

The block in the upper left corner is the most important here. You can see at a glance how much money you have tied up in unpaid invoices and how much money needs to be deposited. This will help you keep QuickBooks Online cleaned up.

More to Do

There are certainly other things you can do to clean up QuickBooks. For example, if you carry inventory, January is a good time to run the Physical Inventory Worksheet report and make some decisions about where your purchasing emphasis should be in 2020. Need help interpreting your product movement and sales priorities? We can help with that.

Finally, sometime this month—certainly in the first quarter of 2020—let us create the critical standard financial reports (under For my accountant in Reports) that you could actually generate in QuickBooks Online, but which would be difficult for you to analyze. These are the reports you would need if you were going to apply for a loan, for example, or request a business valuation. But the insight they provide can give you a sophisticated overview of your finances.

Have You Explored QuickBooks Online’s New 2019 Features?

Intuit keeps innovating. Here are some of the changes the company introduced for QuickBooks Online in 2019.

Whether you can see them now or not, Intuit added and enhanced a ton of new features in 2019. Some of you may not see all of them until 2020, since the company typically rolls them out slowly.

So, if you’re not in one of the first waves of users, we want you to know what’s coming. It may also be that your version of QuickBooks Online has incorporated the changes, but you just haven’t noticed them. Here’s a rundown of what’s in store for everyone on the horizon.

A new location for the Create button

Previously, you clicked on the +(plus) sign in the upper right corner to open the Create window (invoice, sales receipt, bill, single time activity, etc.). Now, you’ll see a button marked +New in the upper left corner.

Instant Deposits

If you use QuickBooks Online Payments, you’ll be able to have available credit card and bank transfer payments from customers deposited in your bank account within 30 minutes for a 1 percent fee. The funds will be directed to your U.S.-issued Visa or MasterCard debit card.

Mileage Tracker

This is a tool previously found only in QuickBooks Self-Employed, but QuickBooks Online users will now have access to it. It does just what it sounds like: allows you to track business-related mileage so you’ll have a numerical total to enter when you come to that deduction on your income tax return. You can record trips manually by entering starting and ending addresses (or the total miles). Or, if you’re using the QuickBooks Mobile app, you’ll be able to turn on GPS and let your smartphone record the mileage automatically.

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QuickBooks Online’s Mileage Tracker allows you to record business miles driven manually or automatically and calculates your tax deduction.

New navigation tools in QuickBooks Mobile app

You’ve probably gotten used to navigating from a list of features in the QuickBooks Mobile app. You should soon see an entirely different look for navigation that uses icons representing common tasks (Transactions, Expenses, Mileage, etc.). These will appear when you click on the Shortcuts tab. You’ll find the remaining tools under the All tab.

Health benefit management

QuickBooks Online now allows you to compare, buy, and manage employee health, dental, and vision coverage.

Receipt Capture

Receipts can be the bane of a business owner’s existence. Many still use the “shoebox” method, tossing receipts in a box and entering them when tax time rolls around. Not a particularly elegant solution. Now, you can snap photos of receipts and move them into QuickBooks Online in one of three ways, by:

  • Scanning through the mobile app.
  • Uploading, then dragging and dropping.
  • Forwarding through email.

Receipts are automatically categorized and matched to transactions; if there’s no match, you can create a new transaction. Your receipts appear in the Receipts dashboard under the Banking tab.

Multilingual invoicing

Do you have international customers? If so, you may be able to send them invoices in their native languages. Besides English, QuickBooks Online now supports French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), and Chinese (traditional).

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You can now send invoices to customers in any of six languages.

One-step contractor payments

You can now select trackable details like class, project, and location by making selections from drop-down lists in the contractor payments window.

Next-day deposits

If you’re a QuickBooks Online Payments subscriber, you’ll be able to get next-day access to payments customers have made to you via credit card or ACH. You’ll have to sign up for this service, and fees apply to ACH payments (1 percent of the total deposit, up to $10).

Auto-calculated sales tax

QuickBooks Online has streamlined the process of adding sales tax to sales forms – even if you’re a cash-basis business. After you’ve done some initial setup work, QuickBooks Sales Tax will do the necessary calculations and add sales tax automatically.

Hello, 2020

We hope that 2019 has been a good year for your business, and we wish you the best in 2020. If you’re still struggling to use QuickBooks Online to maximize productivity and make better business decisions, remember that we’re here to help. We can also advise you on any of the new features Intuit has introduced. Contact us anytime to set up a consultation.

Who Owes You? 5 QuickBooks Online Reports That Can Tell You Fast

Keep a constant watch on your accounts receivable to improve cash flow.

Quick: How many of your invoices are unpaid? Have any of your customers gone over 30 days past due? Did you bill all of the time and expenses for that project you just completed for a customer?

If you’re doing your accounting manually, there’s simply no way to get that information quickly. Depending on your bookkeeping system, you may not be able to get it at all.

QuickBooks Online has more than one solution for this problem. You see the first one every time you log in. The Dashboard contains a graphic in the upper left corner that tells you how many invoices are overdue and unpaid. Click on the colored bar labeled OVERDUE, and you’ll see a list of invoices with the unpaid ones right at the top.

You can tell at a glance how much of your money is tied up in unpaid invoices.

While this is important information for you to have as you start your workday, it doesn’t tell the whole story. To get that, you’ll need to access some of QuickBooks Online’s reports – five of them in particular. Click Reports in the left vertical pane, and then scroll down to the heading labeled Who owes you.

These reports are listed in two columns. Each has the outline of a star next to it. Click on the star, and the report will be added to the Favorites list at the top of the page. Click on the three vertical dots next to it, and you’ll be able to Customize the report. And as you hover over the title, you’ll see a small, circled question mark. Click on this to get a brief description of the report.

There are several reports in this list that can provide insight into where your outstanding revenue is. We recommend you run five of them at least once a week – more frequently if your business sells large quantities of products and/or services. The suggested are:

Accounts receivable aging detail

This report provides a list of invoices that are overdue, along with aging information. There are several columns in the report, but you’ll want to pay special attention to the last one: OPEN BALANCE.

Tip: If you have many customers or simply a high volume of unpaid invoices, you might consider running the Accounts receivable aging summary instead.

Changing the Content

Before you run the report, you should explore the customization tools provided for it. They won’t be the same for every report, but you can start to get an idea of what can be done. Hover over the report title and click Customize. A panel like the one pictured below will slide out of the right side of the screen.

QuickBooks Online provides deep customization tools for reports.

You can see some of your customization options in the image above. Beyond these, you can also work with filters and headers/footers. When you’re satisfied with your changes, click Run report.

If you want to run a report with its default settings, just click on the report title in the list to display it.  You’ll have access to limited customization from there.

Four other reports you should be generating regularly are:

  • Customer Balance Summary: Shows you how much each customer owes your business
  • Open Invoices: Lists invoices for which there has been no payment
  • Unbilled Charges: Just what it sounds like: tells you who hasn’t been invoiced yet for billable charges
  • Unbilled Time: Lists all billable time not yet invoiced

We don’t expect you’ll have any trouble understanding reports like these; they’re fairly self-explanatory. QuickBooks Online offers many other reports, the standard financial reports that need to be generated monthly or quarterly, like Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss, and Statement of Cash Flows. You’ll absolutely need these should you apply for a loan or need to supply in-depth financials for any other reason. We can help you analyze them to get a comprehensive, detailed picture of your company’s fiscal health.

Setting Up Sales Taxes in QuickBooks, Part 1

If your business is required to collect and pay sales taxes, you can use QuickBooks’ tools to help you meet those obligations.

Next to payroll, state sales taxes represent probably the most complex element of your accounting tasks. QuickBooks can help with the mechanics, but there’s a lot you need to learn before you can start charging and paying them. For example:

  • Is your company located in a destination-based or origin-based state where taxes are concerned (do you charge sales tax based on where your customers are or where you are)?
  • Certain types of items and services are exempt from sales tax. Are yours?
  • What local taxes (city, county, etc.) must you collect, if any?
  • How often must you submit what you owe, and to what agency?

If you don’t know your state’s rules, search for your Department of Revenue (sometimes called the Department of Taxation) on Google. Or talk to us about this whole complicated process. You can’t begin to work with sales taxes in QuickBooks until you know the answers to many questions.

First Steps

Once you know what your state’s rules are, you can start setting up the sales taxes you’re required to collect and pay. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences. Click on Sales Tax, then Company Preferences. Make sure the Yes button is highlighted next to Do you charge sales tax?, then click on Add sales tax item. You’ll see this window:

In states where it’s required, you may have to at least set up a state sales tax item in QuickBooks. You may also be responsible for local (city, county, etc.) taxes.

TYPE should already be set to Sales Tax Item. Enter a name for your tax in the Sales Tax Name field; the Description should automatically appear as Sales Tax. Type in the Tax Rate (%) and the name of the Tax Agency that will collect it (select <Add New> if it’s not there already). Click OK to return to Company Preferences and continue to define additional tax rates. If there is a sales tax item you use frequently, you can select it from the Your most common sales tax item field.

Tip: Each sales tax rate is considered an Item in QuickBooks. When you have to edit or delete one, open the Lists menu and select Item List. Type sales tax in the Look for box, then Search. Right-click on your target and select your desired action from the local menu that appears.

Sales Tax Groups

When you want to combine multiple sales taxes as one item (state, county, etc.), click Add sales tax item again in Company Preferences and choose Sales Tax Group. Enter a Group Name/Number and Description. In the table below, click the down arrow in the field in the TAX ITEM column. Keep selecting individual tax rates until you’re finished, then click OK. When you use one of these groups in a transaction, the customer will only see the total tax, but reports will break them down into their individual parts.

Completing Your Preferences

The bottom half of the Company Preferences screen needs more information.

It’s important that all the entries at the bottom of the Company Preferences screen are correct before you start working with sales taxes in QuickBooks.

The first two items here are simply field labels that will appear in transactions to indicate whether or not a line item should be taxed. You should leave them as is; they’re automatically created by QuickBooks. If you want to Identify taxable amounts as “T” for Taxable when printing, click in that box to make a checkmark.

Is your QuickBooks company file set up on a cash or accrual basis? Click on the button in front of the correct choice. WHEN DO YOU PAY SALES TAX is a question that will be answered as you’re learning about your state’s sales tax requirements. When you’ve completed this section, click OK.

Assigning Tax Codes

As you create item and service records in QuickBooks, you’ll be asked to indicate whether or not they’re taxable. The Tax Code field appears at the bottom of the window, like in the image below.

You’ll need to designate every item or service you sell as taxable or non-taxable.

There’s much more you need to know about collecting and submitting sales taxes, like how to work with transactions and reports. We’ll cover those topics next month. In the meantime, let us know if we can help you set up your QuickBooks company file for this complex task.

5 Things You Should Know About the Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online doesn’t require deep knowledge of accounting principles. Still, there are concepts you should understand.

You probably didn’t expect you’d have to become an accounting expert when you started your business. You knew you’d have to deal with recording income and expenses – maybe track your inventory and process a payroll. But you may not have understood just how complex financial bookkeeping could be.

That’s why you decided to use QuickBooks Online, or are at least considering it. The service is an expert on accounting, and it simplifies the process. It knows exactly how you have to document transactions to stay compliant with the rules that accountants and other businesses follow. This is good practice, and it’s absolutely necessary if, for example, you ever have to apply for financing.

One of the features of accounting systems you should understand is the Chart of Accounts. You won’t have to alter it in any way—in fact, we strongly advise against it—but you’ll encounter it when you work with transactions. Here are five things you should know about it.

What is it?

These three columns from QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts display account Names, Types, and Detail Types.

QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts is a list of financial categories that are used to classify your company’s transactions when you record them. If you were doing your accounting manually, you would have to create your own Chart of Accounts. But QuickBooks Online builds one for you based on the company type and industry you choose when you’re setting up the site.

Why is the Chart of Accounts important?

Some people refer to the Chart of Accounts as the “backbone” of your company file. All transactions flow to it. Its primary importance can be summed up in one word: reports. Your reports will not be accurate if your Chart of Accounts is poorly constructed or if you categorize transactions incorrectly. This becomes as issue when you want to:

  • Prepare taxes. Your income tax return will not reflect your reportable income and deductible expenses if transactions are not assigned to the right classifications.
  • Apply for financing, take on an investor, sell your company, etc.
  • Monitor your finances. You won’t get a true picture of your income and expenses, which makes it difficult to analyze your company’s fiscal health and plan for the future.

What’s in the Chart of Accounts?

There are two types of accounts. One contains information that’s used in the Balance Sheet report. These accounts will have a number in the QuickBooks Balance column that’s based on all transactions up to the current date. They include Assets (bank accounts, accounts receivable, inventory, etc.), Liabilities (unpaid bills, credit cards, payroll and sales taxes, loans, etc.), and Equity.

The remainder of the accounts are used in the Profit and Loss report, otherwise known as the Income Statement. They’re divided into Income (sales, discounts given, etc.), Cost of Goods Sold (labor, shipping, materials and supplies, etc.), Expenses (advertising, insurance, payroll, etc.), Other Income, and Other Expense. You won’t see a number in the QuickBooks Balance column for these accounts because the Profit and Loss report changes based on the date range selected.

Should I ever make any modifications to my Chart of Accounts?

You can set up bank and credit card accounts in QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts.

As we stated earlier, we strongly recommend that you never modify your Chart of Accounts without consulting us. However, there are two exceptions to this. You’ll want to create entries for your bank and credit card accounts. To do this, first open the Chart of Accounts by clicking the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Chart of Accounts under Your Company. When it opens, click New in the upper right corner. Choose Bank or Credit Card and fill in the blanks.

Do I need to use account numbers in the Chart of Accounts?

Generally, the smaller the business, the less need there is for this. If your business is big enough that you have dedicated A/P and A/R individuals, you may want to post transactions to account numbers.

Understanding Reports

QuickBooks Online makes it possible for you to view the Chart of Accounts and those two critical reports, Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss. Customizing and analyzing them, though, is something you should do under professional supervision. We’re happy to help here and in other advanced areas of the site. Contact us for a consultation.

Do You Need to Bundle Products in QuickBooks®? Create Assemblies

If you frequently sell multiple inventory items grouped together, you need to learn about QuickBooks’ assemblies.

Let’s say you run a home improvement retail outlet, and one of the things you sell is doors. You might sell their parts—door frames, hinges, doorknobs, etc.—individually, in case a customer needs to replace a piece. You may also want to sell all of the individual components as a kit and give your buyer a price break for purchasing them all together.

QuickBooks calls these assemblies; sometimes they’re referred to as kits. Just as you’d create an individual inventory part, you can group related parts together and create an item that you would sell as a package.

A couple of caveats here. You can only build assemblies in QuickBooks Premier and above. If you need this feature and are using QuickBooks Pro, talk to us about upgrading. Second, we know that not all of you are using the latest versions of the software. We’ll use QuickBooks Premier 2018 in the examples here.

Under the Hood

Before you can start working with assemblies, check your QuickBooks settings to make sure they’re correct. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Items & Inventory | Company Preferences. Click in the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are active in it’s not already checked. If you want QuickBooks to deduct the quantity of items that have already been entered on sales orders, check that box (we recommend this, so you’re not selling items that have already been promised). Then make sure the button in front of When the quantity I want to sell exceeds Quantity Available is filled in, for the same reason.

Before you start building assemblies, you’ll need to make sure your Company Preferences are marked accordingly.

Creating an Assembly Item

Open the Lists menu and select Item List. Open the drop-down list under Item in the lower left corner and click New. In the window that opens, click the down arrow under Type and select Inventory Assembly. Enter an Item Name/Number in the corresponding field in the window that opens. Don’t check the Subitem of or the I purchase this assembly item from a vendor boxes, and ignore Unit Of Measure.

Again, depending on the version of QuickBooks you’re using, you may see different fields in the Inventory Information box at the bottom of this window. But there are some standard elements you should find in this window no matter the version. They include:

  • Cost. How much does it cost you to purchase all of the parts for one assembly?
  • Sales Price. What will you charge your customers per kit?
  • COGS Account. “COGS” stands for Cost of Goods Sold. What account in the Chart of Accounts will you use to track the cost of producing your assemblies? Usually, the default one in QuickBooks is fine.
  • Income Account. Which account tracks your sales of this assembly?
  • Bill of Materials (BOM). This appears as a table in QuickBooks; it’s a list of all the individual inventory parts that make up the kit, along with their Cost (to you), QTY (quantity required for each assembly), and the total BOM Cost.

Your Bill of Materials Cost is the total of all inventory items required to create an assembly.

The Inventory Information box at the bottom of this window might contain fields for information like the Asset Account, quantity On Hand, and the number of items on purchase orders and sales orders. Once your inventory assembly is saved, it will appear in your Item List.

When you need to actually create kits, you’ll open the Vendors menu and select Inventory Activities, then Build Assemblies. You’ll select the Assembly Item from the drop-down list in the upper left corner, which will open a list of the components needed and their quantity on hand. You’d enter the number of kits you want (the maximum possible appears below the table) and then click one of the Build buttons. The next time you look at the kit in your Item List, you’ll see that its quantity has increased.

The concept of assemblies is easy to understand, but if you haven’t worked with accounts and inventory much, you may find creating kits in QuickBooks to be a bit of a challenge. Inventory levels can be a real problem if they get out of whack, and accounts must be assigned correctly to avoid inaccuracies in reports and taxes. We’d be happy to work with you as you get started with this task.

How to Use Progress Invoicing in QuickBooks® Online

Does your business do work for clients over weeks or months? Consider using QuickBooks® Online’s progress invoicing.

Let’s say you’re doing a job or project for a customer that is going to take a long time, but you don’t want to wait until you’re finished to get paid. Or you’ve agreed to let a customer pay for something in multiple payments. QuickBooks can help. You can create an estimate upfront for the work or products and send a series of invoices at different intervals until the bill is paid off. This is called progress invoicing.

Before you can use this tool, you’ll need to make sure it’s turned on. Click the gear icon in the upper right and select Account and Settings. Click the Sales tab. Look for Progress Invoicing in the left column. If that option isn’t On, click the pencil icon in the far-right column and click in the box to create a checkmark and Save it. Then click Done in the lower right corner.

Creating a Template

You’ll need to use a special template for progress invoicing. Click the gear icon again and select Custom Form Styles. In the upper right corner of the screen that opens, click the arrow next to New Style and select Invoice to open the design window. Replace the template name with a descriptive one and click Airy Classic to select it.

You’ll need to select the Airy Classic template and give it a descriptive name.

There are other options on this page – lots of them. You can add a logo, change fonts and colors, and even modify the content on the invoice. Talk to us if you want to explore the possibilities.

Your progress invoice needs you to adjust a couple other things here. Click on Edit print settings. If there is a check in front of Fit printed form with pay stub in window envelope, uncheck it. Next, click the Content tab, then click the small pencil icon in the second section of the invoice sample over on the right. At the bottom of the left pane, click Show more activity options.Check the box in front of Show progress on line items if you want your progress invoice to display item details. When you’ve made all the changes you want to, click Done.

Estimate to Invoice

QuickBooks can create both invoices and estimates. They’re very similar, and you’ll complete them in the same way, with one obvious exception: In addition to an Estimate date, you can also specify an Expiration date. Click the + sign in the upper right, select Estimate, and fill out the form. Save and close when you’re done.

When your customer has accepted the estimate and you’ve agreed on a payment schedule, you’ll need to know how to create a progress invoice. Click Sales in the navigation bar on the left, then All Sales. Locate your estimate on the list and click Create invoice at the end of the row. This window opens:

You have three options when the time comes to start your progress invoicing.

You’ll choose Remaining total of all lines when you’re ready to send your final invoice. For your first, you can either enter a percentage of each line item or a custom amount for each. If you choose a percentage, QuickBooks will calculate what that number would be and enter it. You’ll be able to specify your custom amounts when the progress invoice actually opens. Click Create invoice.

The invoice that opens will contain the information you provided on the estimate. You’ll notice a new column here, though, labeled Due. Your calculated percentage will appear there if you chose that option. If you indicated that you wanted to enter a custom amount for each line, that field will say $0.00 of [total]. Go down that column and type in the amount you expect to be paid on each line item. When you’ve finished, Save the invoice and send it to your customer. Now it appears in the invoice list, where you can send reminders, receive payment, etc.

You can send as many progress invoices as you’d like until you can finally bill your customer for the Remaining total of all lines. QuickBooks provides a report so you can see the progress of all of your progress invoices at once. Click Reports and scroll down to Sales and customers to run Estimates & Progress Invoicing Summary by Customer.

Progress invoicing is a simple concept, but it requires many steps, as you’ve seen here. And there are other ways to go about it in QuickBooks. We strongly suggest that you let us help you with this task to make sure your invoices are set up correctly – and that you’re paid in full.