QuickBooks Online Tip: Getting Ready for Payroll in QuickBooks Online

Taking on your company’s payroll with QuickBooks Online? Knowing what you’re up against ahead of time will make your setup tasks much easier.

Payroll is probably the most complex element of small business accounting. Not only are you directly responsible to your employees, but you also have to make sure you’re handling everything related to benefits and payroll taxes correctly.

Whether you’re switching from a manual system to QuickBooks Online, or you’ve just hired your first employee, you’ll soon discover that the site can make your payroll-related tasks much more organized and accurate – speeding up the process tremendously.

But before you start getting ready for your first payroll run, you have a lot of setup work to be done. Be sure to leave yourself time before those first paychecks are expected.

Our Purpose Here

We’ll provide some step-by-step instruction, but initially, we just want you to see what information you’ll need to have available and how QuickBooks Online handles it. This is not meant to be a payroll setup tutorial.

Building a Backbone

There’s no particular order set in stone for your payroll preparation tasks, although you will need to provide some background information about your company and its policies before you can start creating employee records.

QuickBooks Online doesn’t walk you through the steps required. It does though display a page with links to all of the data you’ll have to enter. Click the gear icon in the upper right, and then click Payroll Settings. You’ll see this screen:

QBO 0318 image 1.jpg

QuickBooks Online’s Payroll Settings screen displays links to the pages where you’ll manage your setup tasks.

You would have entered information about your Contact Information and Work Locations (under the Business Information heading) when you first signed on to QuickBooks Online. At the same time, you would have been exposed to the Chart of Accounts, which already has accounts designated for payroll. You can see them by clicking Preferences | Accounting, but please do not customize these. If modifications are needed, we’ll do them for you.

Payroll Policies

How often will you pay your employees? Go up to the Payroll heading in the upper left and click on Pay Schedules. Click Create and open the drop-down list next to Pay Period to select the frequency desired. Then enter the date for the first payroll you’ll run in QuickBooks Online and the end date for the period that it covers. Click the box below if you want this to be the default setting for all employees. Then click OK to return to the previous page.

Open the Vacation and Sick Leave Policies window. If you don’t yet have accrual rules for these paid days off, let us help you here. It’s complicated. When you’re done, click the back arrow to return to the Pay Policies window and select Deductions/Contributions. Are you offering benefits like health insurance? You’ll need to have your paperwork and information handy before you start completing this section.

QBO 0318 image 2.jpg

Before you can pay employees, you’ll need to have entered information about the benefits you offer so you can withhold dollars for them.

Click the plus sign (+) in front of Add a New Deduction/Contribution and complete the fields here, then click OK. You’ll assign these deductions to employees on their individual records in QuickBooks Online. If there are any Employee Garnishments needed (like child support), click the down arrow next to Add Garnishment for and select the worker from the list. You’ll provide details for these in the window that opens. This information was most likely provided to you by the agency requesting it. When you’re done, click OK.

Taxes and More

If you’re new to payroll and have never dealt with payroll taxes before, you’re going to need our help getting this complicated element set up correctly. Even if you have, we’d recommend that you let us work with you. QuickBooks Online does a good job of providing guidance here, but failure to submit payroll taxes (or pay them incorrectly) can lead to penalties and fines – or worse.

There are other setup tasks you’ll need to complete, like:

  • Connecting your payroll bank account to QuickBooks Online.
  • Creating employee records.
  • Setting payroll production preferences.

Setup is by far the most challenging part of processing payroll in QuickBooks Online. Once that’s done, you’ll just be entering hours and making modifications. Please do connect with us if you’re planning to take this on, and we’ll make sure you get a good start.

 

QuickBooks Desktop Tip: Get Paid Faster Using QuickBooks

Are your customers slow about paying their invoices? QuickBooks can help accelerate your receivables.

Your company’s cash flow depends largely on how quickly your customers pay the invoices you’ve sent. And if you’re like most small businesses, those checks tend to dribble in close to—and after—the due date. If you operate on a slim margin, this often means that you’re late at paying your own bills.

It’s essential, then, that you do what you can to get incoming revenue moving as quickly as possible. QuickBooks offers numerous ways to help you accomplish that critical goal.

Simplify the Payment Process

The single most effective step you can take to speed up customer remittances is to allow payment by credit card or electronic check. If you’re currently only accepting paper checks, you already know what problems that option can create, like mailing time, trips to the bank, and insufficient funds.

To establish this capability, you’ll have to sign up for a merchant account that will connect your bank to the financial institutions used by your customers. There are fees associated with this, and the initial setup will be unfamiliar to you. We can help with this.

  Once you sign up for a merchant account, you’ll be able to accept payments from customers by credit card and bank transfer.

Once you sign up for a merchant account, you’ll be able to accept payments from customers by credit card and bank transfer.

Having a merchant account will accelerate your receivables and improve your company’s cash flow, but it has other benefits, too. For example:

Your customers will appreciate the convenience, and may even be more likely to make a purchase.

In 2018, customers and prospects expect to be able to pay for items and services electronically. Not allowing this affects their perception of you as a forward-thinking, progressive business.

You’ll save time, which translates to money. Instead of chasing payments, you can be working on ways to meet your goals and help your company grow.

Always Know Where You Stand

If you’re conscientious about keeping your records and transactions updated, you’ll always have access to the most current data about your company’s financial status. You’ll be able to answer questions from customers and vendors quickly and accurately, and your daily accounting tasks will be much easier to accomplish.

There’s another benefit, though: reports. One of the five best things about QuickBooks is its ability to create dozens of reports using pre-formatted templates. You only have to choose the one you want to see, and the software will display it using your company’s data. You also have the option to customize these reports extensively, so they contain the exact cross section of data that you want to see.

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QuickBooks contains dozens of templates for pre-formatted reports that you can customize and create very quickly.

You can see in the image above that several of QuickBooks’ reports are focused specifically on the status of your customers’ invoices and payments. We strongly recommend that you run these reports regularly. The more you know about who is behind and by how much, the more targeted your collections efforts will be.

You’ll also notice that there’s a category of reports called Accountant and Taxes. You can certainly create these yourself, but some, like Trial Balance, will be unfamiliar to you. There are others listed under Company & Financial that are quite complex, but quite important. We’d be happy to analyze these for you on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly) and provide insight that will help you make better business decisions.

Remind Late Payers

There are all kinds of reasons why customers pay invoices late. Their bills may have been lost in the mail. They may have ordered so much that they’re confused about which invoices haven’t been paid. And they may just be low on funds.

You can’t do much about the latter reason, but QuickBooks provides a way for you to update customers about their past due payments: statements.

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Sometimes, customers just need a full accounting of what they owe in the form of a statement.

It’s not difficult to follow QuickBooks’ customization options for statements, but we’re here to help if you run into difficulties. In fact, we’d be happy to sit down with you and talk about these as well as other options for improving your company’s cash flow. It’s a multi-faceted problem with many solutions; we can go over the options with you. Contact us now to work on making the rest of 2018 more profitable.

 

 

 

QuickBooks Online Tip: Getting Ready for Payroll in QuickBooks Online

Taking on your company’s payroll with QuickBooks Online? Knowing what you’re up against ahead of time will make your setup tasks much easier.

Payroll is probably the most complex element of small business accounting. Not only are you directly responsible to your employees, but you also have to make sure you’re handling everything related to benefits and payroll taxes correctly.

Whether you’re switching from a manual system to QuickBooks Online, or you’ve just hired your first employee, you’ll soon discover that the site can make your payroll-related tasks much more organized and accurate – speeding up the process tremendously. 

But before you start getting ready for your first payroll run, you have a lot of setup work to be done. Be sure to leave yourself time before those first paychecks are expected.

Our Purpose Here

We’ll provide some step-by-step instruction, but initially, we just want you to see what information you’ll need to have available and how QuickBooks Online handles it. This is not meant to be a payroll setup tutorial.

Building a Backbone

There’s no particular order set in stone for your payroll preparation tasks, although you will need to provide some background information about your company and its policies before you can start creating employee records.

QuickBooks Online doesn’t walk you through the steps required. It does though display a page with links to all of the data you’ll have to enter. Click the gear icon in the upper right, and then click Payroll Settings. You’ll see this screen:

QBO 0318 image 1.jpg

QuickBooks Online’s Payroll Settings screen displays links to the pages where you’ll manage your setup tasks.

You would have entered information about your Contact Information and Work Locations (under the Business Information heading) when you first signed on to QuickBooks Online. At the same time, you would have been exposed to the Chart of Accounts, which already has accounts designated for payroll. You can see them by clicking Preferences | Accounting, but please do not customize these. If modifications are needed, we’ll do them for you.

Payroll Policies

How often will you pay your employees? Go up to the Payroll heading in the upper left and click on Pay Schedules. Click Create and open the drop-down list next to Pay Period to select the frequency desired. Then enter the date for the first payroll you’ll run in QuickBooks Online and the end date for the period that it covers. Click the box below if you want this to be the default setting for all employees. Then click OK to return to the previous page. 

Open the Vacation and Sick Leave Policies window. If you don’t yet have accrual rules for these paid days off, let us help you here. It’s complicated. When you’re done, click the back arrow to return to the Pay Policies window and select Deductions/Contributions. Are you offering benefits like health insurance? You’ll need to have your paperwork and information handy before you start completing this section.

 Before you can pay employees, you’ll need to have entered information about the benefits you offer so you can withhold dollars for them.

Before you can pay employees, you’ll need to have entered information about the benefits you offer so you can withhold dollars for them.

Click the plus sign (+) in front of Add a New Deduction/Contribution and complete the fields here, then click OK. You’ll assign these deductions to employees on their individual records in QuickBooks Online. If there are any Employee Garnishments needed (like child support), click the down arrow next to Add Garnishment for and select the worker from the list. You’ll provide details for these in the window that opens. This information was most likely provided to you by the agency requesting it. When you’re done, click OK.

Taxes and More

If you’re new to payroll and have never dealt with payroll taxes before, you’re going to need our help getting this complicated element set up correctly. Even if you have, we’d recommend that you let us work with you. QuickBooks Online does a good job of providing guidance here, but failure to submit payroll taxes (or pay them incorrectly) can lead to penalties and fines – or worse.

There are other setup tasks you’ll need to complete, like:

  • Connecting your payroll bank account to QuickBooks Online.
  • Creating employee records.
  • Setting payroll production preferences.

Setup is by far the most challenging part of processing payroll in QuickBooks Online. Once that’s done, you’ll just be entering hours and making modifications. Please do connect with us if you’re planning to take this on, and we’ll make sure you get a good start.

QuickBooks Desktop Tip: Tracking Time in QuickBooks, Part 2

We’ll be continuing the two-part series we started last month.

Last month, we learned about getting QuickBooks ready for time-tracking by activating it in Preferences. We also created a record for a service item. This month, we’ll actually use that record in the two ways you’ll be using it in QuickBooks: to pay employees for their hourly work and to bill customers for services.

Recording Employee Hours

There are two ways to enter hours for your employees who provide services to customers and are paid by the hour. The first is to create a work ticket for a single activity. Click Enter Time on the home page, and then Time/Enter Single Activity to open this window:

  Single-activity work tickets for employee hours are especially useful if you need to set a timer.

Single-activity work tickets for employee hours are especially useful if you need to set a timer.

First, check the date to make sure it displays the day when the work was actually done, not recorded. Click the arrow in the field next to Name and select the employee’s name from the drop-down list that opens, then do the same in the Customer:Job field below. The Service Item field needs to display the name of the service performed by the employee.

If you want to time a period of activity, use the Start, Stop, and Pause buttons under Duration. You can also replace the 0:00 that appears by default with the number of hours and minutes that were worked.

In the middle column, you’ll select the correct Payroll Item from the drop-down list. You can add a new employee if necessary without completing his or her entire record, but be sure to go back and complete it before your next payroll.

Hidden behind the drop-down menu is a field titled WC Code, which stands for Workers’ Compensation Code. It will only appear if you’re using QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll and have that feature turned on.

Tip: If these two fields do not appear, you’ve selected an employee who isn’t timesheet-based.

In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see a field labelled Billable. Be sure you click in the box to create a checkmark if you’ll be invoicing a customer for the work done.

Save the activity record when you’ve completed it.

Using Timesheets

 You can enter employees’ hours directly on a timesheet instead of creating a single activity record.

You can enter employees’ hours directly on a timesheet instead of creating a single activity record.

QuickBooks offers a second option for entering employee hours: timesheets. You’ll notice that there’s a Timesheet icon in the toolbar of the Time/Enter Single Activity window. If you click on it with a completed record open, a new window opens containing a graphical representation of a paper timesheet.

If you enter employee hours in a single activity record, they will appear on a timesheet, and vice versa. There are two advantages to entering hours directly on the timesheet, though. The first is that it’s faster. And secondly, you can click the Copy Last Sheet icon if you’re just going to duplicate an employee’s previous pay period’s hours. If you want to go there straight from the home page, click Enter Time | Use Weekly Timesheet.

Billing Customers for Time

QuickBooks makes it very easy to transfer billable hours worked by employees to the corresponding customers’ invoices. After you’ve entered blocks of time spent on services, open an invoice form and select the customer. This window will open:

 Once you’ve entered billable hours worked by an employee, simply open an invoice form and select that customer to open this window.

Once you’ve entered billable hours worked by an employee, simply open an invoice form and select that customer to open this window.

By default, Select the outstanding billable time and costs to add to this invoice? is checked. When you click OK, a new window opens displaying a grid that contains all of that customer’s billable time. You can Select All or click in front of each entry you want to include. You’ll notice here that there are also tabs on the grid for Expenses, Mileage, and Items that can be billed back to the customer.

If you choose not to carry billable hours over to the invoice at the present time, you can always add them by clicking Add Time/Costs in the invoice’s toolbar.

Questions? We’re always available to help ensure that you’re billing customers for all costs they incur – and to talk about any other element of accounting that affects your cash flow.

 

 

 

QuickBooks Online Tip: Customize QuickBooks Online Using Settings

You can start using QuickBooks Online the first time you sign in. However, your tasks will be easier and faster, if you customize it for your company.

QuickBooks Online was designed to be used by a variety of business types; that’s one reason why it’s such a popular small business accounting website. It was built to be versatile. That is, whether you sell hard drives or you service HVAC systems, you can customize it to “fit’ your company.

This is why your first order of business when you start using QuickBooks Online should be to click on the small gear icon in the upper right corner. The window that opens displays links to all of the site’s options – a collection of choices that’s called “Preferences” in desktop QuickBooks.

  When you click on the small gear icon in the upper right corner of QuickBooks Online, this window containing the site’s many options will open.

When you click on the small gear icon in the upper right corner of QuickBooks Online, this window containing the site’s many options will open.

Global Settings

The first screen you should visit is Account and Settings. This page is divided into five sections, accessible by clicking on one of the tabs below:

Company - Your company’s name and contact information appears here, as well as identifying details like the tax form you file, as well as your industry.

Sales - You can do a lot of customizing here that will affect your company’s selling activities. For example, you can specify preferred invoice terms and delivery method, and indicate whether to turn on features like:

  • Shipping
  • Custom fields and transaction numbers
  • Discounts
  • Quantity and price/rate
  • Inventory quantity on hand

You can also access the site’s tools for customizing the design and layout of your sales forms (invoices, receipts, etc.).

Expenses - You’ll toggle expense-related tools on and off here. You can choose to, for example, track expenses and items by customer and make them billable. Will you be using purchase orders? What will your default bill payment terms be? 

Payments - Here, you’ll be able to set up a merchant account so you can accept credit cards and bank transfers from customers through QuickBooks Online. If you already have a merchant account, you can connect it here.

Advanced - There’s a good reason why this section is named “Advanced.” You may not be familiar with some of the concepts here, like “closing books” and specifying default accounts for items like Markup. We can go over these things with you and help you make decisions.

Other entries in this list are easier to complete, though you may still want some guidance. Will you support multiple currencies? Automatically apply credits and invoice unbilled activity? Make individually-tracked time activities billable to customers?

Other Preferences

There are many other areas in this window that you’ll want to explore before you start processing a lot of transactions in QuickBooks Online. If more than one person will have access to the site (we’ll assume you’re the Administrator), you must click on Manage Users. Here, you can set limits of what other employees can access. Click New on the screen that opens to launch this mini-interview, and follow its instructions:

  You can restrict users to specific areas of QuickBooks Online.

You can restrict users to specific areas of QuickBooks Online.

Other preferences you should look at include:

Chart of Accounts – only to familiarize yourself with the accounts that make up the backbone of your accounting data. You’ll use these in transactions. Please do not make any changes here without talking to us.

All Lists – to see what’s available here, like Classes, Recurring Transactions, and Payment Methods.

Products and Services – to start building records for the items and services you sell. If you carry inventory and have never worked with a website that helps you manage it, please let us go over these concepts with you.

Budgeting – if you plan to create a budget. QuickBooks Online contains a tool that will accommodate this critical task.

Audit Log – if multiple people will be using QuickBooks Online. It tracks all activity by date and user.

QuickBooks Online is easy to use, but there’s a lot to learn upfront about customizing it to meet your company’s accounting needs. It’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed at first. Let us help you get through those early days of use.  Connect with us, so we can walk you through the basics.

 

QuickBooks Desktop Tip: Tracking Time in QuickBooks, Part 1

If your company sells services, you can track the time spent providing them in QuickBooks. 

When you sell a product to a customer, you know it. It goes away, and your inventory count in QuickBooks is reduced by one. This tracking helps you know what’s selling and what’s not, and it signals when a reorder is due.

If your business provides services to customers, though, you’re selling your employees’ time and skills. There’s no inventory count; you can sell as many hours as you have workers to fill them. Tracking time accurately and comprehensively, though, is as important as knowing how many hard drives or tote bags you’ve sold.

QuickBooks contains tools to help you record the hours employees spend doing work for customers, so you can bill them for services rendered. You can also use these same features to enter employee time for payroll purposes. The software offers two options here: single-activity records and timesheets. 

Building the Foundation

We’ve discussed QuickBooks’ Preferences many times before. The software was designed to support small businesses with a wide variety of structures and needs, so it needs to be flexible. For that reason, we always recommend that you check in with your “Preference” options before you explore new features.

To get there, open the Edit menu and select Preferences. In the left vertical pane, click on Time & Expenses, then on the Company Preferences tab at the top. Here is a look at the top part of the window that opens:

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The Company Preferences window for Time & Expenses displays multiple options.

To make sure that QuickBooks’ time-tracking features are turned on before you start, click the button next to Yes under Do you track time? Specify the First Day of Work Week by opening that drop-down list. If you know that all your time entries will be billable, click in the box in front of that statement.

There are other options in that window; we’ll talk about them next month.

Creating Service Items

Before you can start tracking billable time, you have to create a record for each service offered – just like you would for a physical product. Click the Items & Services icon on the home page or open the Lists menu and select Item List. The window that opens will eventually display a table containing all the items and services you’ve created. 

To define a service item, click Item in the lower left corner, then New, to open a window like this:

  You can create numerous types of items in QuickBooks;  Service  is one of them.

You can create numerous types of items in QuickBooks; Service is one of them.

Click the down arrow in the field under Type to see your options here. There are many, ranging from Service to Inventory Part to Sales Tax Group. Select Service. In the field under Item Name/Number, enter a word or phrase and/or number that describes the service, and that won’t get confused with another.

If you had already created an item like “New Construction Services” and you wanted “Carpet Installation” to appear as a subitem of it, you’d click in the box in front of Subitem of to create a checkmark, then open the drop-down list below it and select “New Construction Services.” 

Ignore the Unit of Measure section. If this designation is important to your business, talk to us about upgrading your version of QuickBooks. Connect with us, too, if the service you’re defining is used in assemblies or is performed by a subcontractor or partner, as these are more advanced situations.

Enter a brief Description in that box and your hourly charge—to the customer—in the field to the right of Rate. Click the down arrow in the field next to Tax Code to select the item’s taxable status. 

It’s very important that you get the next field right. QuickBooks wants to know which account in your company’s Chart of Accounts should be assigned to this item. In this case, it would be “Construction Income.” If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of assigning accounts, let’s set up a session to deal with this and other basic knowledge you should have.

When you’re done, click OK.

Next month, we’ll talk about entering time items in records and time-sheets.

QuickBooks Desktop Tip: 5 QuickBooks Reports You Need to Run in January

2018 has begun. Does your accounting to-do list look like a clean slate, or are critical 2017 tasks still nagging?

Getting all of your accounting tasks done in December is always a challenge. Besides the vacation time you and your employees probably took for the holidays, there are those year-end, Let’s-wrap-it-up-by-December-31 projects.

How did you do last month? Were you ready to move forward when you got back to the office in January? Or did you run out of time and have to leave some accounting chores undone?

Besides paying bills and chasing payments, submitting taxes and counting inventory in December, there’s another item that should have been on your to-do list: creating end-of-year reports. If you didn’t get this done, it’s not too late. It’s important to have this information as you begin the New Year. QuickBooks can provide it.

A Report Dashboard

You may be using the Reports menu to access the pre-built frameworks that QuickBooks offers. Have you ever explored the Report Center, though? You can get there by clicking Reports in the navigation toolbar or Reports | Report Center on the drop-down menu at the top of the screen.

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QuickBooks’ Report Center introduces you to all of the software’s report templates and helps you access them quickly.

As you can see in the image above, the Report Center divides QuickBooks’ reports into categories and displays samples of each. Click on one of the tabs at the top if you want to:

  • Memorize a report using any customization you applied.
  • Designate a report as a Favorite.
  • See a list of the most Recent reports you ran.
  • Explore reports beyond those included with QuickBooks, Contributed by Intuit or other parties.

Recommended Reports

Here are the reports we think you should run as soon as possible if you didn’t have a chance to in December:

Budget vs Actual

We hope that by now you’ve at least started to create a budget for 2018. If not, the best way to begin is by looking at how close you came to your numbers in 2017. QuickBooks actually offers four budget-related reports, but Budget vs Actual is the most important; it tells you how your actual income and expenses compare to what was budgeted.

Budget Overview is just what it sounds like: a comprehensive accounting of your budget for a given period. Profit & Loss Budget Performance is similar to Budget vs Actual. It compares actual to budget amounts for the month, fiscal year-to-date, and annual. Budget vs Actual Graph provides a visual representation of your income and expenses, giving you a quick look at whether you were over or under budget during specific periods.

Income & Expense Graph

You’ve probably been watching your income and expenses all year in one way or another. But you need to look at the whole year in total to see where you stand. This graph shows you both how income compares to expenses and what the largest sources of each are. It doesn’t have the wealth of customization options that other reports due, but you can view it by date, account, customer, and class.

A/R Aging Detail

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QuickBooks’ report templates offer generous customization options.

Which customers still owe you money from 2017? How much? How far past the due date are they? This is a report you should be running frequently throughout the year. Right now, though, you want to clean up all of the open invoices from 2017. A/R Aging Detail will show you who is current and who is 31-60, 61-90, and 91+ days old. You might consider sending Statements to those customers who are way past due.

A/P Aging Detail

Are you current on all of your bills? If so, this report will tell you so. If some bills slipped through the cracks in December, contact your vendors to let them know you’re on it.

Sales by Item Detail

January is a good time to take a good look at what sold and what didn’t in 2017 before you start placing orders for 2018. We hope you’re watching this closely throughout the year, but looking at monthly and annual totals will help you identify trends – as well as winners and losers.

QuickBooks offers some reports in the Company & Financial and Accountant & Taxes categories that you can create, but which really require expert analysis. These include Balance Sheet, Trial Balance, and Statement of Cash Flows. You need the insight they can offer on at least a quarterly basis, if not monthly. Connect with us, and we can set up a schedule for looking at these.

 

QuickBooks Online Tip: Working with Downloaded Transactions in QuickBooks Online

Downloading transactions into QBO is the easy part. You still have work to do once they’re on board.

Its ability to download financial transactions is one of the five best things about QuickBooks Online. Without it, you’d spend a lot of time on tedious data entry, verifying which checks and deposits had cleared and entering new ones.

Instead, you can easily connect to your bank and bring in all your activity from the previous hours or day. QuickBooks Online stores this neatly in a register and provides tools for you to further describe and classify each transaction.

Setting Up the Connection

Haven’t connected your financial institution to QuickBooks Online yet? It’s easy. Click the Banking link in the toolbar, then Add Account in the upper right. The Find your bank window opens. Start entering the name of your bank, credit card company, or service like PayPal in the blank field. A list of potential matches will drop down; you simply select the one you want. A window like this will open:

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All you need to do to start downloading transactions into QuickBooks Online is select your financial institution and enter the User ID and Password you use to connect directly to the site.

You will have to go through some security procedures, and then QuickBooks Online will download 90 days of transactions (you can shorten this if you’d like). You’ll also be asked which QBO account should receive the transactions. After a few minutes, the register for that account will appear, displaying the transactions you just downloaded.

Warning: The mechanics of connecting to your bank and downloading your first batch of transactions may sound easy, but if everything is not absolutely clear to you as you’re going through the process, please contact us sooner rather than later.

Working with Transactions

Once you’ve downloaded a set of transactions, you’ll want to look at them. Again, click the Banking link in the navigation toolbar. Your accounts will appear in small boxes at the top of the page, along with two balances: the one that came from the financial institution and the one in QuickBooks Online. Select the one you want by clicking on it, and its register will open.

Tip: QuickBooks Online generally updates your accounts once daily. If you want to launch a manual update at any time, click on Update in the upper right corner.

Let’s look at one downloaded transaction to see what you can do with it. Make sure the For Review column is highlighted above the register. Select a transaction by clicking on it. A window like this will open below it:

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QuickBooks Online does more than simply download financial transactions: It lets you define them in greater detail.

There are several options here, including:

  • Add to register. If you’re satisfied with the information as is, just click the Add button to the right (not pictured here).
  • Split. If you want to split the amount/category (Supplies, Tools, etc.)/class of a transaction, click Split (also off to the right and not pictured). A window will open to let you specify that.
  • Assign categories. QuickBooks Online may automatically make assignments to obvious categories, which you can change if incorrect. You can also click the down arrow to the right of that field and select your own from the list.
  • Bill an expense to a customer. Did you purchase something that needs to be billed to a customer? Click in the box under Billable and select the correct one from the drop-down list that opens.
  • Find matches. This can get complicated, and we recommend you let us work with you on it. Let’s say you entered an invoice in QuickBooks Online, and an income item for that exact amount gets downloaded from your bank. QBO will assume that those two “match,” and display them in the In QuickBooks column. You can click Undo if this is incorrect. But you can also click Find match in the transaction window, and QBO will open a list of possibilities.

As you can see from browsing the lists of downloaded transactions, there’s a lot to learn here. We’d be happy to get together and walk you through your first explorations of these powerful features.

QuickBooks Desktop Tip: Are You Using QuickBooks’ Reminders?

We can’t emphasize this enough: QuickBooks’ Reminders can prevent countless problems with your finances.

How do you know when it’s time to pay a bill or follow up on overdue customer payments or print payroll checks? If you’re still using a paper calendar and sticky notes and file folders, there’s a good chance you’re missing some important deadlines on occasion. Manual methods aren’t effective enough when you’re dealing with your business finances. You might experience:

  • Credit problems.
  • Overextended customers.
  • Unhappy vendors and employees.

If you’re missing the mark frequently, you won’t be able to get a true picture of your financial status, and your cash flow will suffer.

Use QuickBooks’ built-in reminders to avoid this unnecessary drama. Here’s how they work.

Totally Customizable

To start setting up Reminders, open the Edit menu and select Preferences. Click Reminders in the left vertical pane. With the My Preferences tab highlighted, click in the box in front of Show Reminders List when opening a Company file to create a checkmark. Then click on the Company Preferences tab to open this window:

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When you’re setting up your Preferences for QuickBooks’ Reminders, you can customize each type in multiple ways.

As you can see in the above image, QuickBooks lets you create reminders for a wide variety of actions. For each, you can indicate whether the Reminders window will display a summary or a list, or whether that particular activity will not be included. For those that are time-sensitive, like Checks to Print, you’ll also be able to specify how much warning you’ll get – how many days in advance each item will appear in the Reminders list.

My Preferences vs Company Preferences

If you haven’t worked much with QuickBooks’ Preferences, you may not understand the difference between the two tabs that appear in each window. Only the QuickBooks Administrator can make changes on the Company Preferences page since these affect company-wide settings. All users, though, can change any options that appear in the My Preferences window.

Here’s an example of a Preference (General) where all employees can indicate how they want QuickBooks to work for them specifically:

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Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then General to open this window. Everyone who uses QuickBooks can set up their Preferences here, but only the administrator can modify Company Preferences.

Using Reminders

If you indicated in My Preferences that you want the Reminders window to open every time you open your company file in QuickBooks, it should appear on top of your desktop. If you didn’t, or if you need to see it after you’ve closed it, open the Company menu and select Reminders. A link should also be available in the toolbar.

Using the Reminders tool is like using any other interactive to-do list.

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QuickBooks’ Reminders window displays the tasks you need to do today and in the near future. You can click the arrows to the left of each boldfaced category to expand or collapse the list.

The left pane of the window displays tasks that must be done today, while the right shows upcoming tasks. Small arrows to the left of each task category expand and collapse each section when you click on them. Double-click a task (not the category label), and the relevant form or other document opens. When you’ve completed the chore, it will disappear from the list.

There are two icons in the upper right of the window (not pictured here). Click the plus (+) sign, and the Add To Do window opens. You can create six types of to-do items here: call, fax, e-mail, meeting, appointment, and task. Each can be assigned to a customer, vendor, or employee, or earmarked as a lead. You can designate a priority (low, medium, high) and a status (active, inactive, done) to each. You can also assign a time and date due, and enter descriptive details. Each to-do then appears in the appropriate place in QuickBooks.

The other icon, a small gear, opens your Preferences for Reminders.

The mechanics of setting up your Reminders window are not difficult. What can be a challenge is watching your cash flow as all these transactions occur. If you’re struggling with that, let’s sit down together and develop a plan for keeping your cash flow positive while meeting your financial obligations.