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“Essential” Struggles

While lately the world has been this crazy whirlwind of viruses and riots, I would imagine your life is a lot like mine.  I still live a good distance from dense populations and have not seen a change in my daily activity.  Now, don’t get me wrong I have been struggling through homeschooling children and figuring out which direction I can go in which grocery isle, but otherwise us “essential” agriculture producers are still just trying to figure out how to turn profits and how to either get our operation started if you’re a young producer on their own or how to grow our current operation to sustain children with desires to join us.  Being “essential” doesn’t seem to help us in the struggles we have been and continue to face in our industry. 

With many new assistance programs becoming available, like you, I have been filling out lots of government paper work attempting to utilize these financial assistance opportunities.  This part has been fairly painless for me though because our operation uses QuickBooks to keep ourselves organized so that these things are quick and painless, which is a necessity in a house of 3 kids that are either fighting over Legos or pushing the baby around the patio like he’s a race car.  Have today’s challenges left you wondering how you could improve the organization of your financials to help with making better decisions or quicker decisions?  I’m here to tell you that QuickBooks is NOT your only option in the world, however it is one of the most well-known and one that I have become dependent on in many ways.

Let’s talk about my top 3 things I suggest you try to improve your organization and time spent at your desk.

Bank Feeds

Bank Feeds can be used on both QuickBooks Desktop or Online.  Many of my farmers and ranchers don’t use this because they pay all their bills using a check.  Now if you are printing your checks you are basically entering your transactions as you go.  But if you have any auto pay bills, transfers that happen automatically or use a debit card this tool can be super handy.  You can also connect your credit card to QuickBooks.  Basically, it allows you to download transactions from your bank or credit card account.  Then you simply select which expense or income account you want the transaction posted to.  You can also create “Rules” in QuickBooks that can be set up to have transactions that happen all the time automatically post to a certain account for you without you having to do it.  This makes this process event faster.  I can tell QuickBooks that any transaction that has the description “Maverick” in the text description to automatically post to Fuel Expense.  How you set up bank feeds in QuickBooks Desktop vs Online is a little different and each bank works a little different with QuickBooks.  This makes the initial setup take a little time, but a little leg work in the beginning really frees you up in the long term.

Bill Pay

Now here is the thing on this one, QuickBooks has actually discontinued this service on their Desktop Program.  However, if you are using QuickBooks Online, this can be a super handy and efficient tool.  QuickBooks actually uses a 3rd party to complete bill pay although you do it all through your QuickBooks program.  There is a cost to this service of $1.99 per check.  It’s cheaper if you do bank transfers.  To compare I calculated my costs.  For a check, envelope and postage it roughly costs me $.85 per check.  That doesn’t account for my time for printing, signing, stuffing in an envelope and driving to the mail box.  The difference in supply costs are $1.16.  Understandably this may not be the route for you, but as far as convenience and the ability to pay a bill when I’m not home at my printer can make this option QuickBooks offers one that might simplify your life.  In my life, simplicity carries a value.

Memorized Transactions

Many people have transactions that occur every month or year.  For instance, maybe your health insurance or car payment is on auto pay, your pasture rent is due semi-annually, or rent for an employee’s house every month.  You can memorize transactions that occur regularly and have QuickBooks auto generate the transaction on any date you set.  QuickBooks can automatically post a transfer or transaction that is done monthly like a pickup payment.  You could also have QuickBooks automatically create a check that is set “To Print” twice a year for your pasture rent so that you don’t forget to pay it.  When you sit down to pay your stack of bills during the month you told QuickBooks to create the pasture rent check, you will find that check sitting in your “To Print” que automatically.  I am all about tricks that give me one less thing I have to remember to do.

These are a few of the simplifying program features I use in my personal QuickBooks program as well as on the books I manage for clients.  This crazy market and society has left us “Essential” businesses still scrambling to keep up.  Decreasing the time in your office and maximizing family time, personal time or sometimes, to my husband’s dismay, the time you can spend fixing more fence is important in our lives.  Plus, it is becoming increasingly important to keep an eye on our operations numbers so we can stay competitive in this hard economy.  As always contact me any time for more questions on QuickBooks functions, features and financing options for your farm or ranch.

Cassi Johnson

Pacific Intermountain Mortgage Co  ~  3 Bar Consulting

cassi@pacificim.net

www.pacificim.net  /   3barconsulting.com