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How about a Tip?

QuickBooks is a huge program that can do so much more than many people realize or will even realistically ever use.  It’s a little overwhelming learning about how detailed you can get with recording and analyzing your records.  There are some little things that can make your life so much easier or efficient with the activities you are already using in QuickBooks.  Let me tell you a few things that can smooth out your day at the desk.

Schedule your Backups

Set your QuickBooks file to automatically back up for you without having to constantly try and remember.  We could all use one less thing to have to remember.  Start with going to “File” in your top menu bar.  In the drop-down menu select “Backup Company” and then “Create Local Backup”.  Select “Local Backup” as your option and click Next.  Now you can choose to only schedule future backups or create one right now AND schedule future backups.  Totally your choice.  Once you are in the schedule screen you will click the New button to create a schedule.  Here you can name it anything you want in the description area.  Then choose what location you want it to save to.  If you have an external hard drive that you leave plugged into your computer that is a great spot to save your backups.  I recommend that you keep them somewhere other than your computer in case it ever crashes.  Then you can choose which day of the week, what time of the day and how many weeks to run it.  I usually pick a day every four to five weeks at like 1:00AM when I know I won’t be on the computer to have QuickBooks automatically run my backup.  Now I never have to think about it again.

Change the color of your Check Register

Do you have multiple bank accounts?  Maybe a checking account and also a savings account or other type of account that isn’t your main one, but you keep some sort of separate funds in it.  I can’t tell you how many people have told me how they accidentally input a check or deposit into the wrong QuickBooks register by mistake.  What if you made any checking account that wasn’t your main one a different bold color so that it would help you recognize you were in the wrong account when you opened it?  Changing the color of your check register is super easy and really helpful.  Start with opening the check register that you want to change the color on.  While it is open click “Edit” in your upper menu bar.  In the drop-down list you will see the option “Change Account Color”.  Then you simply pick the color you want.  It is truly that easy!  When you click on write check on the home screen the border around the check will be the same color as the register for the account – it all works together.

Net to Gross Payroll Calculation

For those of you who do payroll in QuickBooks you have probably ran into the mind teasing situation where you are trying to give your employee a bonus and you want it to equal a certain amount.  How do you gross it back up so the check comes out to the particular amount you want him or her to receive?  There is probably a calculation you could use had you gone to college to become a CPA, but the reality is that you didn’t and you really don’t care to learn it.  You have bigger things to get done today.  Now, let’s say you are going to give me an end of season bonus of $3,000.  Now you may want to give me a gross bonus of $3,000 and whatever net amount I get out of that after taxes just is what it is and that is totally fine.  Many people do that, but let’s say you would like me to be able to take home $3,000 after the taxes are taken out.  How do we back into that?  Well open up your payroll and select the employee you are giving the bonus to.  Now once you have opened the paycheck detail and looking at the screen where you enter their hours typically you will put bonus in as the item name.  Then in the very bottom right hand corner of the screen is a little box that says “Enter net/Calculate Gross”.  Check that box.  Now the Check Amount area is highlighted.  Enter the total amount you want the check to be right there and then click tab.  In an instant QuickBooks did that super long calculation for you that you thought you had to be a licensed CPA to figure out. 

My Favorite Reports

One of the big reasons I love QuickBooks is because I can generate reports to get endless information in an instant to help me make decisions about daily operations as well as long term goals for our ranch.  I get asked very frequently what my favorite reports are.  Let me start with the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet Report.  Select “Reports” from the top menu bar.  Then select “Company & Financial” from the drop-down menu.  To the right will be another list of reports.  This can be overwhelming, I know.  My favorite two in this menu are the “Profit & Loss Standard” and the “Balance Sheet Standard”.  The Profit and Loss report is basically a summary of your income and expense for whatever time period you set the report for.  This tells me where our net income is.  I can also play with it in the customization tab and have it show me the current year and the prior year side by side on the same report so I can see if certain income or expense categories are higher or lower from last year.  The Balance Sheet should show you your total assets and liabilities.  Most generally this is fixed assets and cash as well as your debts.  Many people have never been able to get this area of their finances set up.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a portion of your company that you are unable to get quick and accurate information you may need to make decisions about restructuring or expanding your operation.  My other most used report is in the Budgets category of the Reports menu.  I typically review “Budget vs Actual”.  If you have your budget input into QuickBooks I will use this on a regular basis throughout the year to see how our actual income and expense categories are measuring up to the budget we made at the beginning of the year.  This can help you know if you need to change your plan as you are working through the year.  After all, a budget is just a plan and can be changed and adjusted at any point.  There are a ton more reports you can use, create, and customize.  These are simply my most used reports that I find incredibly helpful to operations.

Somewhere on the internet when I was preparing for one of my QuickBooks classes a few years ago I found a quote that said, “I’d rather be behind my desk . . . said no rancher, EVER”.  I have used that quote so many times now and it seems to hit very close to home for me when I am teaching classes or working on our family operation.  My goal with helping farmers and ranchers with QuickBooks isn’t always to teach you every little detail that QuickBooks can do and tell you to use it.  I want to teach you how to realistically apply QuickBooks to the business side of your operation.  Get the information out of your financials that will help you make better educated decisions about the direction you choose to take your operation.  To get that information organized quicker and more efficiently.  The reality of life on a farm and ranch is that there is a lot of work for a few people to do and the part of your job that you love isn’t behind the desk.  That is why many farmers and ranchers are lacking in this area.  I hope a few of these tips help you be quicker, more efficient, and a little less stressed behind your desk.

Cassi Johnson
Pacific Intermountain Mortgage Co.
cassi@pacificim.net