Phone Scammers find New Tricks to steal your Personal Data

Scam calls aren’t exactly the new thing for any of us. But, what is new is that now Scammers are getting their hands on your personal data and posing as trusted companies to swindle money. This article uncovers some shocking facts that you cannot ignore.

Scam calls aren’t exactly the new thing for any of us. But, what is new is that now Scammers are getting their hands on your personal data and posing as trusted companies to swindle money. This article uncovers some shocking facts that you cannot ignore.

Issuing Credit Memos and Refunds in QuickBooks

You’re accustomed to money going in a certain direction, but sometimes you have to pay your customers. Here’s how it’s done.

QuickBooks is very good at helping you get paid by your customers. It comes equipped with customizable invoice templates for billing customers and sales receipts for recording instant sales. It supports online payments, so you can accept debit or credit cards and electronic checks. It simplifies the process of recording payments and it offers reports that let you keep track of it all.

There are times, though, when you have to issue a payment to a customer. QuickBooks provides forms that allow that transfer of funds: credit memos and refunds. Do you know when and how they should be used? Here are the basics.

Credit Memos

A credit memo is just what it sounds like. A customer returns an item for which they’ve already paid, and you have to credit him or her for its cost. This is the more complicated of the two and requires more bookkeeping, since you’re tracking the sale, its payment, and the return item. You can deal with the amount of the credit by:

  • Retaining the funds in the customer account.
  • Issuing a refund.
  • Applying it to the next open invoice.

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When you issue a credit memo to a customer, you have three options for returning the money they paid.

To create a credit memo, click Refunds & Credits on QuickBooks’ home page or open the Customers menu and select Create Credit Memos/Refunds. The Credit Memo window opens. Select the correct Customer:Job. In the line item section of the form, choose the merchandise returned in the Item column and enter a quantity. Repeat the process if more than one item was returned, then click Save & Close. The Available Credit window, pictured above, will open. Click the button in front of the option you want.

Select the first option if that’s what you want and click OK. The window will close, and the customer will have had that credit amount applied to his or her own account. You can see this in the Customer Center if you click on Customers in the navigation toolbar (or Customers | Customer Center). You can then either click on the Customers & Jobs tab and scroll down until you can highlight your customer’s record or click on Transactions | Credit Memos.

Click on Give a Refund to open the Issue a Refund window. Everything should be filled in here except for the payment method. If you select Cash from the Issue this refund via drop-down list and then pick the correct account from the list that opens, the refund amount will be subtracted from the account. Select Check and then the Account, and check the box in front of To be printed. That refund will be in the list the next time you open the File menu, then Print Forms | Checks. Choose a credit card and check the box in front of Process credit card refund when saving box to issue a credit card refund automatically.

Tip: Can’t work with credit cards because you don’t have a merchant account? We can help you set this up.

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The Issue a Refund window

If there is an open invoice, the Apply Credit to Invoices window will open, containing a list of unpaid bills. If there isn’t already a checkmark in front of the invoice you want to apply it too, click in the first column to create one. QuickBooks will tell you how much credit was applied and whether any remains. When you’ve checked the screen for accuracy, click Done.

Dealing with Overpayments

Let’s say a customer is catching up on multiple outstanding invoices and he or she sends you a check for the total but overpays you. Open the Receive Payments window by going to Customers | Receive Payments or clicking Receive Payments on the home page. Select the customer and enter the Payment Amount and Check #. QuickBooks will have put a checkmark in front of all the outstanding invoices listed to indicate they’ve been paid.

In the lower left corner, you’ll see a section titled Overpayment. The extra amount and your two options for dealing with it appear here. You can either credit the customer or issue a refund. Click the action you want to take, then save the transaction.

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If a customer overpays you, you can use QuickBooks’ built-in tools to credit him or her.

You can also issue refunds through the Write Checks window, but this is a more complicated procedure. It’s easier to process a credit memo.

If you’re at all unclear about what we’ve described here, please contact us for assistance. Refunds or credits that come through incorrectly (or not at all) can make customers very unhappy and may affect future sales. So, let us help you get it right the first time.

The Life of an Estimate in QuickBooks Online

Estimates-or quotes, or bids-are useful tools when you’re pitching a sale of products or services. Here’s how QuickBooks Online handles them.

Sales estimates are standard procedure in many professions. You wouldn’t authorize a car repair without one. Nor would you OK a remodeling job on your kitchen or a summer’s worth of yard landscaping without knowing what the costs will be upfront. Estimates don’t have to be formal documents. You could scribble a proposal for products or services and their prices on a paper napkin and have your customer sign it. But as we’ve said before, the quality of your sales documents reflects on your company’s professionalism as well as its image.

QuickBooks Online offers specialized tools to manage this step in the selling process. You can create detailed estimates that the site can easily convert to invoices when you get an approval. And QuickBooks Online reports help you monitor the progress of your quotes. Here’s how it works.

A Dedicated Form

You probably already know how to create an invoice. If so, you shouldn’t have any trouble generating estimates because the forms are very similar. To get started, click the + (plus) sign in the upper right corner of the screen. In the Customers column, click Estimates. A form like this will open:

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QuickBooks Online provides a form template for your estimates.

Open the drop-down list in the Customer field and select the correct one (or +Add new).

Note: If you click on +Add new, you’re only required to enter your prospective customer’s name to create an estimate; contact detail, of course, will not appear on the form. You can go back later and complete a customer record, but it’s best to at least enter a physical and email address. Click +Details to open the complete record, then save what you provide there.

The word “Pending” should appear below the Customer field. This refers to the status of your estimate. Click the down arrow to the right of it, then on the down arrow in the small window that opens to see what options you’ll have later. If you want to copy someone else on the estimate, click the small Cc/Bcc link to the right and provide the email address(es).

Enter (or select by clicking on the calendar graphic) the Estimate date. If your offer is only good for a limited period of time, enter an Expiration date; otherwise, leave that field blank. Then go down to the Product/Service grid and select the items for which you’re providing an estimate, one on each line. Fill in the Qty field and check the labeled box if the item is taxable.

If you had created a product record for it already, the other fields should be completed automatically. If not, click +Add new. The Product/Service information pane should slide out from the right side of the screen. Here again, you’re only required to enter a Name, but you should really create the whole record and save it to return to the estimate. If you’ve not been through this process before, we can walk you through it.

You can add a discount to the estimate as either a percentage or a dollar amount in the lower right corner of the screen. You can also edit the customer message that appears in the lower left and attach any files necessary. When you’re done, save the estimate.

Estimate Options

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You can work with your estimate from the Sales Transactions screen.

If you’re not already there, click the Sales link in the left vertical toolbar, and then the All Sales tab and the Estimates bar. Find your estimate and look at the end of the row, in the Action column. If you want to convert your estimate to an invoice, click Create invoice. In the window that opens, indicate whether you want to invoice:

  • A percentage of each line item,
  • A custom amount for each line, or,
  • The total of all lines.

Look over your invoice when it opens, complete any other fields necessary, and save it. Your estimate’s status has now been changed to Closed, and the new invoice created from it will appear on the Sales Transactions screen. It will also be included in the Estimates By Customer report.

If you can create an invoice, you can create an estimate. The tricky part comes in when you have to amend an estimate before you bill it – or even alter it and resubmit it. If you’re going to be working with estimates extensively, let us help you get it right from the start.

How QuickBooks Protects Your Data, and How You Can Help

The data in your QuickBooks company file contains some of the most sensitive information on your computer. Make sure it’s secure.

Your customer list is gold. And those Social Security and bank card numbers in your payroll, client, and vendor records need to be protected from intruders and only viewed by authorized employees.

It’s not just large corporations and financial institutions that get hacked. That’s what the bad guys want you to think. In reality, small businesses are often the victims of data breaches because their owners think they’re immune from data theft and destruction.

Even if you’re password-protecting your PCs and running antivirus and anti-malware software, there’s more you need to do when it comes to your accounting records. Here’s what we suggest.

Restrict access by setting up user permissions.

If you have multiple staff members using QuickBooks, don’t share the same user name and password. That obviously gives everyone access to all data and activity. If something goes awry, you have no way of knowing when or how it happened, and who was responsible. To protect yourself and everyone else who logs in, it’s critical that all users have their own unique logins. They should only be allowed to access information and functions that relate to their job duties.

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You can restrict QuickBooks users to certain screens and activities.

To assign these permission levels, open the Company menu and click on Set Up Users and Passwords, then Set Up Users. This opens the User List window, where you should be identified as the Admin. Click Add User. Enter a user name and password for an employee who needs access (this can be changed later). Check the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license.

Tip: Not sure how many users are allowed under your current license? Click F2 and look in the upper left corner. If you need to add licenses, let us know.

Click Next. The next screen lists three options. You can grant access to all areas or to selected areas. You can also create a login for us as your external accountant, which lets us see everything except sensitive customer data. Select the second option and click Next. You can see in the image above that you can give the employee different levels of responsibility. When you’ve made your choice, click Next. The subsequent nine screens deal with different areas of QuickBooks and their related activities.

Tip: When you need to change your password, which you should do at a minimum every three months, go to Company | Set Up Users and Passwords | Change Your Password.

Save your company file elsewhere.

You should always be backing up your company file to an external storage device (like a CD or thumb drive). To set this up, open the File menu and select Back Up Company, then Create Local Backup. This window will open:

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The Create Backup window

Make sure Local backup is selected, then click the Options button below (not pictured here). Click Browse to see a directory of your PC and select the correct destination. Leave the two boxes below it checked; this will add the backup date/time to the filename and limit the number of backup copies to three.

By default, QuickBooks will remind you to back up your file every fourth time you close your company file; you can change this number if you prefer. Leave the Complete verification option checked and click OK, then Next. Specify when you want to save your backup copy and click Next again. You can schedule regular backups of your company file on the next screen if you’d like. When you’ve completed this screen, click Finish.

You should also consider saving a copy of your company file to the cloud. Intuit offers its own service for this; it costs $9.95/month or $99.95 annually, but it gives you 100 GB of storage space, so you can back up other critical business files, too. If you can’t swing this financially, at least store your backups to a portable device that you can carry offsite.

Warning: If you already pay for cloud storage from another vendor, don’t assume you can just copy your QuickBooks file to it. Talk to us.

Other Steps

There are other things you can do to protect your QuickBooks data, including:

  • Insist on strong passwords. Yes, it’s a pain to create and remember them, but it’s critical here.
  • Keep everything updated. That includes your operating system and anything else that requires updates.
  • Minimize web browsing on work computers and remind employees about smart email behaviors.

We strongly recommend that you consult with us as you’re setting up any kind of backup system for QuickBooks. The software’s instructions are straightforward, but we don’t want you to do anything that would jeopardize the integrity of your company file.

Receive Payments the Right Way in QuickBooks: Your Options

One of the reasons we like QuickBooks is because it uses language and processes that are familiar to small businesspeople. Instead of using the term “accounts receivable,” it has a menu label that says Customers and menu items that use phrases like Create Invoices and Receive Payments. You would have to go into the Chart of Accounts to find standard accounting terminology – and we never recommend that you do that without consulting with us first.

Yet when you’re doing customer-related tasks, you’re following a traditional accounts receivable workflow, a series of steps that completes a sales cycle, like Estimate | Invoice | Payment | Deposit. QuickBooks keeps it simple for you and doesn’t often force you into unfamiliar territory.

One of the more pleasant elements of accounts receivable is the process of receiving customer payments. There’s more than one way to do this, and it’s very important that you use the correct way in each situation.

Payment Methods

Before you record your first payment, you’ll need to make sure that QuickBooks is set up to accommodate its Payment Method. QuickBooks comes with some standard types, but you can add, edit, and delete your own options (though not those that are built in to the software). Open the Lists menu and click Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, then Payment Method List. This window will open:

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You can work with Payment Method options in this window.

To use any of the commands in the Payment Method drop-down list, you’d highlight the method by clicking on it and opening the options list by clicking the down arrow in that field.

Note: When you add or change an existing entry, the window that opens contains fields for both Payment Method and Payment Type. They should be identical or at least very similar.

Settling an Invoice

If your company sends invoices, you’ll need to record their matching payments in the Customer Payment window. Click Customer | Receive Payments or the Receive Payments icon on the home page. There’s also a button for this in the toolbar in an open invoice. However you get there, here’s what it looks like:

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You’ll record payments that customers send in response to invoices in this window.

Select a customer in the RECEIVED FROM field, and any outstanding invoices will appear in the table below. The CUSTOMER BALANCE appears in the upper right corner. Enter the PAYMENT AMOUNT and verify the date.

Click in the box for the correct payment method to the right. If it’s a check, enter the number in the CHECK # field. If you choose CREDIT DEBIT, you can enter the card details in the small window that opens. If you provided this information in the customer’s record and chose that as the PREFERRED PAYMENT METHOD, it should fill it in automatically.

Note: To set a PREFERRED PAYMENT METHOD, which will save time, open the customer record and click the small pencil icon in the upper right. Click Payment Settings and complete the fields in that window.

If the customer has paid less than the balance due, you can either LEAVE THIS AS AN UNDERPAYMENT or WRITE OFF THE EXTRA AMOUNT. Select one of those two options in the lower left and save your work when you’re done.

Instant Payments

You’ll use a different form when a customer gives you a payment in exchange for the goods or services you provided, without receiving an invoice. Click Customers | Enter Sales Receipts to open a window like this:

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If a customer gives you a payment without receiving an invoice, you’ll provide them with a Sales Receipt.

You’ll complete this form much like you did the CUSTOMER PAYMENT window, except you won’t be applying the payment to an existing invoice.

Tip: If you have a merchant account or are willing to get one, you can record payments and email sales receipts at remote locations on your mobile device. We can walk you through the setup.

Receiving payments from customers is one of the easier tasks you’ll do as a QuickBooks user, but if you don’t use the software’s tools correctly, your books will be difficult to untangle. We can help ensure that you’re doing this element of your work right from the start; just contact us to schedule a consultation.

Could Your Sales Invoices Be Better? How QuickBooks Online Can Help.

Every interaction with your customers can enhance your image. Here’s how QuickBooks Online contributes to that.

Getting paid by your customers—on time, and in full—can take some effort on your part. You set smart due dates and enforce them. Price your products and services so they’re both reasonable and profitable. Accept online payments. But are your invoices working for you here? QuickBooks Online provides sales form templates that you can usually use without modifying.

But it also offers tools that support multiple kinds of customization. It helps you shape the content and appearance of your invoices and their accompanying messages to be consistent with your company’s brand.

These may be cosmetic changes, but they can affect the way customers react to communications from you. You have few chances to make an impression, so anything you can do to enhance and personalize every interaction will have impact on their impression of you. Neat, well-designed sales forms convey professionalism and attention to details.

Here’s a look at what you can do.

Editing Fields

Unless you use every single field in QuickBooks Online’s default sales form template, your invoices will look sloppier than they might otherwise. The site gives you control over much of the content that your customers will see. To make changes, click the gear icon in the upper right of the screen and select Account and Settings, then Sales. You’ll see Sales form content in the left column. Click on any of the fields to the right to open a more thorough list of options.

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QuickBooks Online lets you turn fields on and off in your sales forms and specify other preferences.

Click on the status (On, Off) in the right column to change it. When you’re satisfied with your selections, click Save. Then close that window by clicking the X in the upper right corner.

You have more options than these. Click the gear icon again, and then Your Company | Custom Form Styles. You’ll see that there is already a “master” form. You can either edit it or create a new one. We recommend leaving the master form alone so you always have a clean copy to consult if you get tangled up while you’re working.

Click the down arrow in the New style box in the upper right and select Invoice. In the screen that opens, enter a descriptive name for your template in the field at the top and then click Content. A graphical representation of your invoice will appear in the right pane, grayed out. It’s divided into three sections: header, footer, and table (the middle of the invoice where you describe what you sold). Each displays a small pencil icon on the right side of the screen. Click the one in the middle to make that area more visible.

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It’s easy to specify which fields should appear on your invoices, what the labels should say, and how wide the space should be.

As you check and uncheck boxes to indicate what content should be included, your invoice on the right will change to reflect your actions. You can Preview PDF by clicking that button in the lower right. When you’re satisfied with the changes you’ve made to all three sections, click on the Design tab.

Changing the Look

You don’t have to be a graphic artist to have QuickBooks Online forms that look attractive and consistent, which highlight your brand. The site provides tools that give you control over the appearance of your invoices, not just their content. Click each link below the Design tab to:

  • Choose a template.
  • Add your company’s logo.
  • Select a color scheme and fonts.
  • Change the printer settings to accommodate letterhead, for example.

Choosing Your Words

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You have control over the messages that go out with your invoices.

Finally, click the Emails tab. Options here let you customize the emails that are sent to customers along with their invoices. Again, changes you make in the left pane will be reflected in the graphical version on the right side.

When you’ve completed all of your modifications, click Done.

We gave you this whirlwind tour of QuickBooks Online’s invoice customization options so you’d know what was possible. We expect you might need some assistance when you sit down to apply the concepts you’ve learned about to your own company’s sales forms. We’re available to help you present a polished, carefully-crafted image representing your brand to your customers.

How Does QuickBooks Online Handle Mobile Expenses?

If you purchase several items and services away from the office, QuickBooks Online can help you record them while you’re out and about.

QuickBooks Online’s mobile app, available at the Apple App Store and Google Play, can do many of the same tasks that it performs on your office desktop. You can, for example:

  • Check account balances.
  • Add and edit estimates, invoices, and sales receipts.
  • Add and edit customers, vendors, products, and services.
  • Record invoice payments.

One of the most common uses of the app, though, is the recording of expenses. Rather than coming home from a trip with your briefcase stuffed full of receipts and notes about purchases you made, you can document them on the road using your mobile device. When you get back to the office and log on to QuickBooks Online, they’ll all be there.

How It Works

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You can snap a photo of a receipt with your smartphone and attach it to an expense you record in QuickBooks Online’s mobile app.

Open your QuickBooks Online mobile app and click the plus (+) sign at the bottom, then tap the Expense icon. The New Expense screen will open. If you have a paper receipt, lay it flat on a table in a well-lighted area. Click the camera icon and then the Take Photo link. If you took the picture outside of QuickBooks Online for some reason, you’d select the Choose Existing link. Your device’s camera will open, and you’ll see four squared corners on the edges of the screen.

Hover your device over the receipt. You’ll need to position the camera so the receipt area that you want captured appears within the four corners. QuickBooks Online will provide advice along the way to help you do this. When you’re in the right place, you’ll see the phrase, Great! Snap the pic. Click the shutter icon below, and your device will snap the photo and display it. If you want to use it, click Use this photo (if you want to try again, click the X in the upper left of the screen).

QuickBooks Online will open the New Expense screen. You’ll see a miniature version of your receipt in the upper left corner. Looking at your original version—it will be too small to see here—fill in the blanks with the data from the purchase. Be sure to click the Billable button if you can bill someone else for it. Make any notes you’ll need in order to remind yourself of the transaction, and Add a Split if you need to divide the transaction between categories, customers or vendors, or billable status. Click Save when you’re done.

Automatic Synchronization

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Once you’ve entered an expense in QuickBooks Online’s mobile app, it will be synchronized with your desktop, browser-based version.

Of course, no duplicate data entry is required once you’ve entered a receipt in the QuickBooks Online mobile app – the two versions always update each other.

Once you’re back at your desktop, on the browser-based version of QuickBooks Online, click Expenses in the toolbar to open the Expense Transactions screen. You should see the transaction you just created on your mobile device first in line on the list that displays. Click View/Edit at the end of that line to see it. Look toward the bottom under Item Details to see the link to an attachment that contains the photo you snapped of the receipt.

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The record of the expense you entered on your mobile device will contain a link to an attachment that contains the photo of your receipt.

Of course, you don’t have to take a picture of your receipt with your mobile device. You can simply enter the details of your expense and Save the record.

QuickBooks Online’s mobile app can help you save time and improve the accuracy of your work done away from the office. As we mentioned earlier, the app is capable of doing much more than simply recording receipts. We’d be happy to run you through its pieces to make sure your remote accounting work is done correctly.

Resolve to Do These 3 Things in QuickBooks Online This Month

‘Tis the season for making resolutions and setting goals. Try exploring these three areas to dig deeper into QuickBooks Online.

By now, many New Year’s resolutions have already been made. Though they’re usually created with the best of intentions, they’re often just too ambitious to be realistic.

For example, you might decide to learn more about QuickBooks Online and keep up with your accounting chores more conscientiously in 2019. That’s hard to quantify. How will you know if you achieved that goal?

Instead, why not pick three (or more) specific areas and focus on them this month? We’ll get the ball rolling for you by making some suggestions.

Explore the QuickBooks Online mobile app:

Yes, QuickBooks Online itself is already mobile; you can access it from any computer that has an internet connection and browser. But you probably don’t always lug a laptop around when you’re away from the office, and you’re sometimes at locations where using it wouldn’t be practical. But you can always pull out your smartphone and fire up the QuickBooks online app, available for both iOS and Android.

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No matter how small your smartphone (this image was captured on an iPhone SE), you can still do your accounting tasks using QuickBooks Online’s app.

QuickBooks Online’s app replicates a surprising percentage of the features found on the browser-based version. You can create, view, and edit invoices, estimates, and sales receipts for example, as well as see abbreviated customer and vendor records. Your product and service records are available there, including tools for recording expenses on the road.

Create a budget for one month:

Budgets are intimidating. That’s one reason why some small businesses don’t create them. So instead of trying to estimate what your income and expenses will be for an entire fiscal year, just build a budget for one month. In QuickBooks Online, you’d click the gear icon in the upper right, then select Budgeting. Click Add budget in the upper right to open the New Budget window.

Give it a name, like “February Budget,” and select FY2019. Leave the Interval at Monthly, and open the Pre-fill data? menu to click on Actual data – 2018 (if you have data from last year). Then click Create Budget in the lower right corner. Look at last year’s February numbers and estimate how they might change in 2019. Replace the old numbers with your new ones.

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Creating a framework for a budget in QuickBooks Online is easy.

We’re suggesting you try it for just one month, so you get a feel for how this tool works. And that experiment will probably leave you with some questions. We can help you go further and complete an annual budget.

Customize your sales forms:

Every piece of paper and email you send to your customers contributes to their impression of you. Are you presenting an attractive, consistent image of your business to them? QuickBooks Online can help with this. It offers simple (for the most part) tools that allow you to modify the boilerplate forms offered on the site – without being an experienced graphic designer.

Start by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Your Company | Custom Form Styles. Unless you’ve done some work in this area before, the screen that opens will have just one listed entry: your Master form, the one that comes standard in QuickBooks Online. To see what you can do, click Edit at the end of that line. Your four options are:

  • Design. This section contains links to modifications you can make to your sales forms’ visuals. You can, for example, add a logo or color and change the default fonts.
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    Want to change your logo or other elements of your sales forms? QuickBooks Online has the tools. 
  • Content. Do you want to add or remove the standard columns (Date, Quantity, etc.) displayed on your invoices? You can do so by checking and unchecking boxes.
  • Emails. QuickBooks Online sends email messages with forms; you can edit them here.
  • Payments. This is a reminder that QuickBooks Online supports online payments, which can help you get paid faster.

There’s more you can do to make your sales forms look professional and polished. We can help you with these tools – and any others you want to explore to expand your use of QuickBooks Online. It’s a new year, and who knows what might come your way over the next 12 months? Contact us if you want to prepare for the new accounting challenges that 2019 might present.

Getting Started with Accounts in QuickBooks Online, Part 2

We covered a lot of ground last month, but there are still some things to know about working with transactions you import from your banks.

Last month, we went over the basics of managing financial transactions once you’ve downloaded them into QuickBooks Online. We walked you through the mechanics of connecting to banks and credit card companies online and described the process of reviewing imported transactions, exploring concepts like:

  • Categorizing them, and marking them as billable
  • Adding them to an account register; matching them to related transactions; or transferring them to another account
  • Using Batch actions to process related groups

 

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We explored QuickBooks Online’s Banking features last month, including the site’s ability to work with related transactions as groups.

This month, we’ll look at the process of setting up rules to automatically classify transactions as they come in from your banks. We’ll also provide a brief overview of the Chart of Accounts.

Bank Rules

We’ve already discussed QuickBooks Online’s ability to guess how transactions should be categorized (it’s not always right, but you can change incorrect ones). It also allows you to memorize transactions that recur on a regular basis; this also saves time and improves accuracy. There’s another way the site also uses automation to help minimize keystrokes: Bank Rules. Based on your input, it will scan incoming items and classify them, so you don’t have to. This can be very helpful when you regularly import transactions that share specific attributes.

Let’s look at how this works. Click Banking in the navigation toolbar, then click Bank Rules. Once you’ve created your own rule(s), they’ll appear in a grid on this screen. For now, click New rule in the upper right corner. Basically, you’re going to tell QuickBooks Online that when specific conditions are met, as you can see in the example below, it should take the specified action(s): assign a Transaction type, Payee, and/or Category. You can also have the transaction automatically added to your books.

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You can create Bank Rules in QuickBooks Online that will automatically assign a Transaction type, Payee, and Category to imported items that meet specific conditions.

We suggest you meet with us if you’re going to take on this task. If your business processes a lot of transactions, Bank Rules can be incredibly helpful. But set them up incorrectly, and it could take many hours to untangle the errors.

Account Registers, Chart of Accounts

In this column and the last, we’ve been working with transactions as they come into QuickBooks Online directly from your financial institutions, before they appear in your account registers. When you clicked Add after you looked at—and perhaps modified—a transaction listed under For Review on the Banking page, you sent it to that account’s register.

Notice that the site’s registers look similar to their paper counterparts; you may remember recording checks and deposits in the back of your checkbook, if you’ve been in business long enough. There are two ways to see them in QuickBooks Online. When you’re on the Banking page, look over to your right. You’ll see a link labeled Go to Register.  Click it, and you’ll be taken to that page for the account that’s currently active.

You can also open your account registers from the Chart of Accounts. We don’t talk much about this element of financial management because it’s not something you should be modifying. Nevertheless, it’s the heart of your accounting system. It consists of a comprehensive list of your company’s accounts, divided into assets, liabilities, income, expenses, and equity (along with subaccounts). Transactions are assigned to the appropriate account and recorded in the General Ledger, which is another element of accounting that we don’t discuss because you don’t have to deal with it in QuickBooks Online.

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You can view your company’s Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online, but we recommend you don’t modify it.

Click on the Accounting tab in the navigation toolbar, then Chart of Accounts. You’ll see your individual bank accounts listed here, along with a View Register link.

A Critical Concept

Again, you won’t have to deal with the Chart of Accounts, but it’s very important that you understand how to manage downloaded transactions as you move them into your bank accounts in QuickBooks Online. Mistakes here can trigger errors in reports and taxes, as well as create general confusion. We’d be happy to get you on the right path with this critical function.

Getting Started with Accounts in QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online was built to work with transactions downloaded from your online financial institutions. Here’s how to work with them.

The ability to import transactions from financial institutions into QuickBooks Online is definitely one of the best things about the site. You may have even signed up for that very reason. By now, you’ve probably already set up at least one connection. But are you using all of the QuickBooks Online’s account tools? There’s a lot you can do once you’ve imported in data from your bank or credit card provider. We’ll explore these features in this column and the next.

First Steps

If you’re a new subscriber, you may not have established these critical links yet. It’s an easy process. Start by clicking the Banking link in the left vertical navigation pane. In the upper right corner, click Add Account and enter the name of your financial institution if it’s not pictured. Then follow the instructions you’re given on the screen. These can vary depending on the bank or credit card provider, but you’re always at least asked to enter the user name and password that you use to log into each online.

Need help with this? Let us know.

Viewing Your Transactions

Once you’ve made a successful connection, you’ll be returned to the Bank and Credit Cards page. You should see a card-shaped graphic at the top of the screen for each account you’ve linked. Click on one. The table that opens is not your account register. The view here defaults to For Review, which refers to transactions you’ve downloaded. The All tab should also be highlighted; we’ll get to Recognized transactions later.

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When you first download transactions into QuickBooks Online, before you’ve done anything with them, many will appear under For Review.

There’s a lot going on here, so don’t be surprised if you’re confused. Review each transaction by clicking on it. QuickBooks Online will have guessed at how it should be categorized, but you can change this by opening the list in the category field and selecting the correct one. It’s critical that you get this right, since it will have an impact on reports and income taxes. If you need to Split it between multiple categories, click on that button found to the right.

If the transaction is Billable, check that box and choose a customer from the drop-down list. If you don’t see this box, click the gear icon in the upper right and select Account and Settings | Expenses. Check to see that Make Expenses and Items Billable is turned On (click on Off, then check the appropriate box to turn it on).

Next, determine how you want to process the transaction by clicking on one of the three buttons at the top of the transaction box. Do you want to accept it and Add it to that account’s register? Do you want QuickBooks Online to Find (a) Match for it (like a payment that matches an invoice, for example)? Or, do you want to Transfer it to another account? Once you’ve made one of these three selections, the transactions that you’ve added or matched will move under the In QuickBooks tab (where you can still Undo them) and will be available in the account’s register.

Other Options

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You can save time by using QuickBooks Online’s Batch Actions tool.

Say you run across some duplicate or personal transactions that you don’t want to appear in the current account’s register. Check the box in front of each, then click the arrow in the Batch Actions box. Select Exclude Selected. They’ll then be available under the Excluded tab. You can also Accept or Modify multiple transactions simultaneously by using this tool.

So far, you’ve been viewing All your transactions. Click on Recognized to the right of it. These are transactions that are already familiar to QuickBooks Online because they’ve appeared before and/or have been matched, or because you’ve created Bank Rules for them (we’ll address that concept next month). You’ll need to address these the same way you did the transactions in the For Review section; you can either Add or Transfer them.

If you’re new to QuickBooks Online, this may all sound pretty complicated. It can be at first. But once you’ve worked with downloaded transactions for a while, you’ll understand the flow much better. If you’re not clear on the process from the start, it can lead to trouble. Contact us at your convenience. We’d be happy to sit down with you and go through it all using your own company’s data; the familiarity may help.