Establishing Preferences in QuickBooks

Before you start entering data, make sure QuickBooks is set up appropriately for your company.

QuickBooks was designed to serve the needs of millions of small businesses. To do that, it had to include the tools and processes suitable for a wide variety of companies. But Intuit recognized that every organization is unique, so your copy of QuickBooks can be customized in ways that make it work best for you.

You could just dive in and start adding records and transactions. But we recommend you do some setup first. If you don’t, you may run into some issues later, such as finding that some features you need haven’t been turned on, for example, or that QuickBooks is simply not doing some things the way you do. The good news is that you can change many of these.

Getting There

QuickBooks refers to these options as Preferences. You’ll find them by opening the Edit menu and selecting Preferences.

To start customizing QuickBooks so it works best for you, open the Edit menu and choose Preferences.

As you can see, the left vertical pane contains a list of Preference types. Click on any of these to change the option screens to the right. Always click the tabs labeled My Preferences and Company Preferences to make sure you see everything that’s displayed for each type (sometimes one will have no choices).

Setting Up Reminders

Let’s look closely at one set of Preferences: Reminders. It’s very important that you visit these screens when you begin using QuickBooks. Depending on how big your company is and how complex your accounting processes are, there may be things you need to do every day, like pay bills and follow up on overdue invoices. It would be nearly impossible for you to do everything on time if you didn’t ask QuickBooks to keep track of critical dates and remind you of them.

Click Reminders in the left vertical tab. You’ll see one option under My Preferences. Do you want QuickBooks to show Reminders List when opening a Company file? If so—and this is a good idea—click the box in front of that line if there isn’t a checkmark there already.

Then click Company Preferences. Here’s where you’ll tell QuickBooks whether you want to see summaries or lists for each reminder, or neither. You can also specify how much advance notice you want for specific tasks by entering a number of days. QuickBooks comes with default settings, but you can easily change these.

QuickBooks comes with default settings for Reminders, but you can enter your own Preferences here.

As you can see, it’s easy to specify your Company Preferences. Click the appropriate button under Show Summary, Show List, or Don’t Remind Me. If you’ve requested a reminder, delete any number that appears in the box in front of days before or days after and then enter your own.

Critical Areas

We recommend that you look through all of QuickBooks’ Preferences and change any that don’t fit your company. Some simply have to do with the way QuickBooks displays information and how it functions, but others have direct impact on your accounting work. As always, we’re available if you have questions here.

There are many that you will probably want to visit. They may have numerous options, but here’s some of what you can establish in each:

  • Accounting. Do you want to use account numbers and classes?
  • Checking. Which accounts should QuickBooks automatically use for tasks like Open the Pay Bills, Open the Make Deposits, and Open the Create Paychecks?
  • Finance Charge. Will you be assessing finance charges on late payments from customers? What’s the interest rate, minimum finance charge, and grace period?
  • Items & Inventory. Do you want inventory and purchase orders to be active?
  • Multiple Currencies. Does your company do business using other currencies?
  • Payments. Can customers pay you online? What methods can they use?
  • Payroll & Employees. Will you be processing payroll using QuickBooks?
  • Sales & Customers. Do you want to use sales orders? How should QuickBooks handle invoices when there are time and costs that need to be added?

You can see why it’s important to study QuickBooks’ Preferences early on. It’ll help you avoid unnecessary roadblocks and ensure that your company’s needs are reflected well in the software.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Anatomy of a QuickBooks Inventory Item

If you have an item-heavy business, you need tools to track your inventory. QuickBooks provides them.

When you started your business, maybe you were able to keep track of your inventory by peering in the closet or your garage. As you grew, that simply took too long. But you grew tired of running out of stock because you didn’t have time to constantly check its levels, and you forgot about items that didn’t sell and were tucked away in a corner.

You need inventory-tracking. QuickBooks can help you create thorough records for each product you sell. It keeps track of how much you have on hand and warns you when your stock is running low. And its reports tell you what’s selling and what’s not, so you can make better, smarter purchasing decisions.

Activating Inventory-Tracking

Before you get started creating item records and including them in transactions, you need to make sure that QuickBooks is set up to start tracking. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences. Click Items & Inventory in the left vertical pane and then select the Company Preferences tab. This window will open:

QuickBooks needs to know what your intentions are when it comes to inventory tracking.

First, of course, click in the box to the left of Inventory and purchase orders are active if it isn’t already checked. Click the next box down if applicable. The rest of this window deals with two concepts you need to understand. Quantity on Hand refers to the number of items that you actually have. Quantity Available subtracts items currently on Sales Orders. QuickBooks will warn you if you don’t have enough of a specific item to commit to a customer. You just have to decide which definition of Quantity you want to use.

When you’re done here, click OK.

Accuracy Matters

Now you can start entering records for the products you sell. Accuracy is absolutely essential here. You’ll see why as you explore QuickBooks’ tracking capabilities.

There are a few ways to open an item record window. You can click Items & Services in the upper right corner of the Home Page, or open the Lists menu and select Item List. Both will open a window displaying any item records that have been entered in a register-type view. Right-click anywhere and select New, or click the arrow next to Item in the lower left corner and select New.

QuickBooks Item List for Inventory

Double- and triple-check your work as you enter information in the QuickBooks item record window.

QuickBooks lets you create records for numerous types of items, including Service, Discount, and Inventory Assembly. To see how inventory-tracking works, select Inventory Part from the drop-down menu under TYPE. Next, enter an Item Name/Number in that field.

If you’ve already named a main category (like Hardware, in the example above) and want to place your product in a subcategory of it, click the Subitem of box and choose from the drop-down list. Manufacturer’s Part Number is optional. You can ignore UNIT OF MEASURE, if this isn’t an option in your version of QuickBooks.

Purchase Information

If you buy this item from a vendor, fill in this side of the window. Write the description that should appear on purchase transactions when you place an order. Enter the cost you pay for it, and select the COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) account if the default isn’t correct. Do you buy this product exclusively from one supplier? Select the name in the drop-down menu under Preferred Vendor.

Sales Information

Enter the description you’d like customers to see on invoices and the price you’ll charge. If you’re at all unsure of what to select for Tax Code or Income Account, we can go over your Chart of Accounts with you and explain how its accounts are used in records and transactions.

Inventory Information

Here’s where the software’s tracking capabilities come in. QuickBooks will probably default to your Inventory Asset account, which is fine. Enter the minimum number of items that should be in stock when you get a reminder to reorder, and the maximum you want to have at any one time. Fill in the On Hand field with the number you currently have. QuickBooks will automatically calculate the Total Value.

In the screen shot above, you see an example of what that last line looks like once you start using that item in transactions. You’ll see its Average Cost and the number that are currently on purchase orders and sales orders.

Creating records for every product you sell can be tedious, time-consuming work. But the payoff comes in the real-time knowledge you’ll have of your inventory that will lead to better, smarter purchasing decisions. As always, we stand ready to help.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Ringing Out 2016 in QuickBooks

2017 is just around the corner. Now’s the time to do your end-of-year QuickBooks tasks.

Since early January of this year, you’ve been faithfully creating new records, entering transactions, and recording payments. You’ve run basic reports. You’ve done your collection duties. You may have paid employees and submitted payroll taxes.

Now the end of the year is rapidly approaching. In the midst of holiday get-togethers, gift shopping, and perhaps preparing for travel, you probably have a list of work tasks that must be completed by December 31.

Is your annual QuickBooks wrap-up on that list? It should be. Here are some of the things we suggest you fit into your busy schedule sometime this month.

Create and send year-end statements.

Create and send year end statements in QuickBooks

As your customers wrap up 2016, too, it’s good to send statements to past-due accounts.

In an ideal world, all of the invoices that are currently due would be paid off by the end of the year. We all know that that’s not usually the reality. Two reports can help you here: the A/R Aging Summary and Open Invoices.

Give everyone a chance to clear their accounts before December 31 by sending statements. Click Statements on the Home page (or Customers | Create Statements) to open the window pictured above.

You have multiple options here that are fairly self-explanatory. The screen above is set up to create statements for all customers who have an open balance as of the date you select, but not for inactive customers or those with a zero balance or no account activity. That way, no one who’s paid in full to date will receive a statement. Of course, if you didn’t want statements created for anyone who’s less than 30 days past due, you’d click in the box in front of Include only transactions over and enter a “30” in the following field. Questions about all of this? Give us a call.

Tip: You can also find out who’s overdue by clicking on the Customers tab in the left vertical pane to open the Customer Information screen. Click on the down arrow to the right of the field just below Customers & Jobs. QuickBooks provides several filters for your list.

Reduce your inventory.

Discount items in QuickBooks

Want to discount all or selected items in your inventory by the same percentage or amount? Open the Customers menu and click Change Item Prices. We can work with you on the whole item pricing process.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day might be a good time to sell excess inventory by having a sale. If you only sell a few products, you probably know what hasn’t sold well in 2016. If your stable of products is larger, you can run QuickBooks reports like Inventory Stock Status by Item and Sales by Item Detail to identify your slow-sellers and discount them. You may need to filter your reports to see the right data. Talk to us about customization options if you’re unsure of this.

Clean up your contact lists.

If you don’t maintain your customer and vendor lists, you’ll eventually start wasting time scrolling through them when you enter transactions. So this would be a good time to designate those contacts that you’ve not dealt with in 2016 as Inactive (you can delete their records entirely, but we advise against that). Simply open a Customer record, for example, and click the small pencil icon in the upper right to edit it. Click on the box in front of Customer is inactive.

Send holiday greetings to customers and vendors.

It’s getting a little late to send a holiday greeting/thanks-for-your-business note in December. Consider doing this in January (Best Wishes for a Successful 2017!) when your customers’ and vendors’ lives have slowed down a bit. You’re less likely to get lost in the crowd. If your lists are short enough, personalize these cards as much as possible. At least sign them by hand if you can.

Tip: You can print customer labels for your cards directly from QuickBooks. Open the File menu and then click Print Forms | Labels.

Run advanced reports.

Here’s where we come in. If we’re not already creating and analyzing QuickBooks’ advanced financial reports (found in the Accountant & Taxes submenu of Reports) monthly or quarterly, talk to us about it. They’re important, and they give you insight that you can’t get on your own. This is another activity that can spill into January.

We’d like to thank you for being a client this year, and to wish you a successful 2017!

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Tax & Business Letter: Winter 2016

This issue’s topics include:

  • Hiring for the holidays? Pay attention to your Affordable Care Act responsibilities
  • Keep your business healthy with a comprehensive annual checkup
  • Are you making the most of your vehicle expense deductions?
  • Get your finances in shape for 2017
  • Use this free tool to proactively monitor your credit
  • This tax break offers benefits and surprises

Capture

Click Here to Download

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Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 2

Last month, we discussed QuickBooks’ report Preferences and The Report Center. We’ll look at report customization this month.

QuickBooks makes your bookkeeping faster, safer, and more accurate than what you could do using a manual system. Still, you may occasionally tire of your daily tasks. You want to know what all of these forms and records mean in terms of your overall financial health. You want to see reports.

The actual mechanics of creating reports in QuickBooks are fairly straightforward. You can go to the Report Center, make a selection, maybe change the date range, and voila! Your company’s related data appears in neat rows and columns.

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You may be able to get some of the information you need by simply changing the date range on a QuickBooks report.

But perhaps you to see different columns than what QuickBooks’ report templates include. Further, you might like to filter your output for more meaningful, targeted analysis. And frankly, some of QuickBooks’ reports—particularly those included in the categories Company & Financial and Accountant & Taxes—can be a little advanced for the average small businessperson with little bookkeeping experience. They’re easy to run, but difficult to understand.

So we strongly encourage you to let us run these more complex reports, like the Balance Sheet, for you on a regular (monthly or quarterly) basis. They can provide valuable insight as you continue to make critical business decisions.

But we don’t want to discourage you from working with QuickBooks’ reports on your own. You could run A/R Aging Detail, for example, to keep an eye on past-due payments, or Unpaid Bills Detail to see where you stand with your own financial obligations.

Make Reports Yours

Sometimes, QuickBooks’ own report output is a bit too broad for your needs. So the program provides sophisticated customization options. You can work with these to narrow down and shape the data that appears in your reports.

First, columns. Building reports from scratch would be too time-consuming and frustrating for you to do all of the time. And it’s unnecessary, since QuickBooks provides templates for its reports, sets of columns and data filters that would serve some businesses well, but which can be modified by each user.

Try this. Open the Profit & Loss Detail report and click on the Customize Report button in the upper left corner. The Modify Report window opens.

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QuickBooks lets you modify the columns that appear in reports.

The Display tab should be highlighted. Change the Report Date Range if necessary by clicking on the down arrow to the right of the Dates field. You can also create your own custom date range by deleting the dates in the From and To fields and entering new ones, or by clicking on the small calendar icons and clicking on the desired dates.

Warning: Do you understand the difference between running reports as either Accrual or Cash? This is important. If you don’t, let’s get together to go over some basic report concepts.

It’s easy to change the default columns that appear in reports. You can either enter a column label in the Search Columns box or scroll down the list of all possible labels. Click in the space in front of the ones you want to include, and click on existing checkmarks if you want to remove those labels. You can also designate a sort order, either Ascending or Descending.

If you want to work with the Advanced options, or if you come across a Display screen that puzzles you (depending on the report, you may have some complex choices), let us know.

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QuickBooks report Filters screen

When you’re done here, click on the Filters tab. This is a powerful element of QuickBooks report customization. You can limit your report output to data that meet certain criteria. In the image above, for example, you can tell QuickBooks which subset of Accounts should be included. Click on the Billing Status filter, and you can limit the results to Any, Not Billable, Unbilled, or Billed. You get the idea.

You can apply multiple filters to a report. Every one you select will appear in the list under Current Filter Choices.

We’ll skip the Header/Footer and Fonts & Numbers tabs, since these are primarily cosmetic options you can explore on your own. But you can see from this brief overview how you can use many QuickBooks reports as is or customize them extensively. And we do recommend that you work with reports regularly, both on your own and with us. The insight they provide can help your company grow and flourish instead of just getting by.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 1

QuickBooks comes with dozens of report templates that can be run as is. This month and next, we’ll show you ways to make them “fit” your company.

Reports are your reward for all that hard work you put in entering records and transactions in QuickBooks. Sure, you can always find individual invoices, sales receipts, and customers by using the software’s search tools, but in order to make smart business decisions, you need to be able to see related subsets of the information you so carefully entered in neat rows and columns.

You’ve probably created at least some basic reports in QuickBooks. You may have, for example, wanted to see who’s late paying you, or whether you have unpaid bills. You might need to know your stock levels, or which purchase orders are still unfilled. You certainly want to keep a close eye on whether you’re making or losing money.

Accounts Receivable and Open Invoices Examples

The QuickBooks Report Center displays examples of reports you can create using your company’s own data.

QuickBooks makes it easy to get those answers in only a few seconds. But to get really meaningful, targeted views of your accounting information, you’ll  want to shape your reports so that they reveal precisely what you need to know. You can do some of this on your own, but you might want to enlist our help to drill down even further – and to create and analyze the more complex output that some reports can provide.

Configure Preliminary Settings

As we often do when we’re starting a tutorial on a specific QuickBooks feature, we’re going to send you to the Preferences window first thing. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Reports & Graphs. With the My Preferences section open, you can instruct QuickBooks on some of the ways reports should be handled. You can choose to:

  • Have the Modify Report window open every time you create a report (to remind you to make any necessary changes first).
  • Set your Refresh If you always want to have the most current data displayed when you generate a report, you can tell QuickBooks to Prompt me to refresh or Refresh automatically by clicking on the button in front of the appropriate response. Choose Don’t refresh—the fastest method—if you don’t want to be interrupted when you’re working with a report. You can refresh when you’re done.
  • Draw graphs in 2D to make them run faster, and Use [black and white] patterns instead of colors to better differentiate between segments.

Each person who has access to QuickBooks can set these Preferences any way he or she wishes.

Setting Up Company Preferences

 Company Preferences Screen Shot

You must be the QuickBooks Administrator to set Company Preferences.

You can decide on your own whether Aging Reports should start the aging process from the due date or the transaction date. Decide how you want Items and Accounts to appear in reports. And if you click the Format button located directly below Default formatting for reports, you can alter their appearance, for example, by changing fonts and indicating what information should appear in the header and footer.

For other preferences, you may need our help. Do you understand the difference between running Summary Reports as Accrual or Cash? And have you worked with a Statement of Cash Flows before so you can assign accounts to various sections? This is a report we should be generating and analyzing periodically for you, so don’t worry about dealing with it on your own.

Note: QuickBooks was designed for small businesspeople, not accountants. But if you really want to get the most out of it to make the best business decisions possible, let us help you with those concepts you don’t understand.

Navigating the Report Center

 Reports Include Company, Financial, Customers, Receivables, Sales, etc.

The QuickBooks Reports menu

Unless you’re working with a very old version of QuickBooks, you have two options for accessing the software’s reporting functions. You can simply click on Reports in the left vertical pane to open the Report Center. Or you can get there by opening the Reports menu (which includes links to other areas, like the Transaction Journal, in addition to lists of QuickBooks’ reports divided by category).

Next month, we’ll look at some reports and their customization options in QuickBooks. In the meantime, as always, we’re available to work with you on enhancing your knowledge of QuickBooks reports and their setup.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

What Are Payroll Items in QuickBooks?

If you plan to process your own payroll using QuickBooks, you need to understand how payroll items work.

Considering processing your own payroll in QuickBooks? Whether you’re moving from a payroll service or getting ready to pay your first employee, you’re taking on a complex set of tasks that requires a great deal of setup and absolute precision. But the reward is complete control over your compensation records and transactions, and constant access to your payroll data.

If you have no experience dealing with paychecks, deductions, and payroll taxes, we strongly recommend that you let us help you get started. QuickBooks simplifies the actual mechanics of setting up and running payroll, but there’s still a lot you need to know.

It goes without saying that accuracy is critical here. You’re responsible for your employees’ livelihoods and for maintaining any benefits they’ll receive. Federal, state, and local taxing agencies will count on you to submit the proper payroll taxes and filings on time; failure to do so can result in stiff penalties and worse.

A Look Around Payroll Items

That said, we’ll give you a brief preview of how QuickBooks Payroll Items work. You must first make sure that payroll is turned on. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences, then click Payroll & Employees | Company Preferences.

Company Preferences

The Company Preferences screen in Payroll & Employees Preferences

Under QUICKBOOKS PAYROLL FEATURES, make sure the button in front of Full Payroll is filled in by clicking on it. If you’re interested in exploring Intuit’s online payroll service, we can tell you about that, as well as advise you on the other options displayed here.

This element of your accounting is complicated enough that QuickBooks has a separate setup tool to guide you through the myriad details you’ll need to provide. You find this tool by going to Employees | Payroll Setup. This is a multi-screen, wizard-like tool that walks you through the process of providing information about employees, compensation, benefits and other additions/deductions, and taxes. Each page poses questions, and you provide answers by entering data and selecting options from drop-down lists. In doing so, you’re creating Payroll Items.

This is a time- and labor-intensive process, one that will send you scrambling for all of the minutiae that make up your payroll system. Once you have your payroll framework established, though, as we said earlier, everything will be in one place and easily accessible.

A Useful List

The information you entered in Payroll Setup is likely to change and need modification. Maybe you forgot to account for something while you were working in the wizard, or perhaps you just want to look up a bit of payroll data. To do any of these, open the Lists menu and click on Payroll Item List.

 New Payroll Item

You can access this menu from the bottom of the Payroll Item List screen.

The window that opens contains a list of the Payroll Items you created. It looks like a checkbook register, with one line devoted to each item. You’ll be able to view, for example, its Type, any Limit imposed, the Payable To name, and Tax Tracking designations. At the bottom of this list, you’ll see three drop-down menus: Payroll Item, Activities, and Reports. When you click on the down arrow next to Payroll Item, you’ll see the menu displayed in the above image.

Warning: There are many options in this menu for altering Payroll Item definitions. QuickBooks allows you to do this, but we would caution you here. If it involves an action that we have not gone over with you, please ask us about it.

This is fairly self-explanatory. To Edit or Delete a Payroll Item or make it Inactive, highlight it in the list and click on the correct option. You can also Customize Columns in the table and perform other related tasks. When you click on New Item and select EZ Setup on the next page, this window opens:

Payroll item type

You can add Payroll Items by working your way through this wizard-like progression of screens.

QuickBooks will help you here by asking questions and building a Payroll Item based on your responses.

There’s much more to know about working with Payroll Items and assigning them to employees. We’re ready to help introduce you to payroll processing in QuickBooks – once you’re ready to take it on.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Setting Up User Access in QuickBooks

The QBC: QuickBooks® Client Newsletter

Setting Up User Access in QuickBooks

Will multiple employees be working with your QuickBooks company file? You’ll need to define their permission levels.

If you ever did your bookkeeping manually, you probably didn’t allow every employee to see every sales form and account register and payroll stub. Most likely, you established a system that allowed staff to work only with information that related to their jobs. Even so, there may have been times when, for example, someone pulled the wrong file folder or was sent a report that he or she shouldn’t have seen.

QuickBooks helps prevent this by setting virtual boundaries. You can specify which features of the software can be accessed by employees who work with your accounting data. Each employee receives a unique user name and password that unlocks only the areas he or she should be visiting.

QBC 0816 image 1_zpsai8phrevTo help minimize errors, maintain data integrity, and preserve confidentiality, QuickBooks lets you restrict users to designated areas in the software. (more…)

Make QuickBooks Your Own: Specify Your Preferences

The QBC: QuickBooks® Client Newsletter

Make QuickBooks Your Own: Specify Your Preferences

Your business is unique. Make sure that QuickBooks knows how you operate.

QuickBooks was designed to be used by millions of businesses. In fact, it’s possible to install it, answer a few questions about your company, and start working right away.

However, we strongly suggest you take the time to specify your Preferences. QuickBooks devotes a whole screen to this customization process. You can find it by opening the Edit menu and selecting Preferences.

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Using Sales Receipts: When? How?

The QBC: QuickBooks® Client Newsletter

Using Sales Receipts: When? How?

Some types of businesses always use sales receipts. Some use them occasionally. Here’s what you need to know about them.

How do you let your customers know how much they owe you, and for what products or services? In these days of ecommerce and merchant accounts, your customers may provide a credit card number over the phone or on a website. Or perhaps you send invoices after a sale and receive checks or account numbers in the mail. QuickBooks can help you both create the invoices and record the payments.

There’s another type of sales document that you can use in certain situations: the sales receipt. You’d probably be most likely to use one of these when customers pay you in full for products or services at the same time they receive them.  (more…)

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