Author Topic: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?  (Read 5341 times)

scrubbyfish

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I am self-employed (homebased, very tiny, maybe 15 transactions a month).
Different places in our life require a different accounting.
For examples:
-Some accept a portion of rent as a legitimate expense, some do not. Some accept internet as a legitimate expense, some do not.
-Some require an annual income/expense report; some require monthly; some require one per last six months.

I currently use YNAB for my personal ins/outs, and only annual bookkeeping for the business (I know this is far from ideal).

I realized this evening that if I were to track the business ins/outs daily or weekly, it would be no problem to generate a report for each. I don't feel able to take on more tracking (inputting), so am considering the following:

1. Ditch YNAB for personal (things are in an excellent place there), and start using it for business instead. OR,
2. Use Mint for business, allowing it to download transactions for me. OR,
3. Other??

Considerations:

1. My bank will not guarantee the safety of any funds to which downloading software is connected. (It says that connecting these violates the terms of my agreement with the bank, and that when it's used I forfeit guarantees of safety, yadda yadda.)

2. Many of my business expenses are shared with personal. i.e., Canada Revenue Agency allows a homebased business to claim a portion of rent/mortgage/shelter, a portion of car expenses, a portion of internet, etc. Because they are primarily for home, I have always had them as personal accounts, simply attributing a minor portion to the business at tax time. For those transactions to download from a business account, I would need to pay them (rent, car fuel, etc) from there. Is that a permitted accounting practice?

3. Again, each program counts different things as a legitimate business expense, so ideally the accounting program would allow me to create a profile for each agency, "tell" the program which items to include in each profile's reports, and let me generate a report with one click of a button per agency. Does this exist?
« Last Edit: October 26, 2014, 11:11:34 PM by scrubbyfish »

scrubbyfish

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2014, 07:39:09 PM »
Wondered if I could do a bit of a hack in YNAB to facilitate the varying reporting. Have read their small business blog posts, and submitted a query.

Prairie Gal

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2014, 08:45:56 PM »
I use Quick Books for bookkeeping. For the amount of transactions you are talking about, it should only take about an hour a month (or less). I would just do it monthly when you get your bank statement. I believe QB lets you download transactions from your bank, but I have never tried it.

As you mentioned, you can only claim a small portion of your personal expenses against your business income. And only if they are business related. For example, if you needed to use your car for business you could claim the mileage. I believe it is .54/km, but it varies by province.  In my opinion, YNAB excels at budgeting, not bookkeeping.

scrubbyfish

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2014, 09:15:17 PM »
For the amount of transactions you are talking about, it should only take about an hour a month (or less).

Thanks, Prairie Gal!

Yeah, punching the transactions in is no problem.
I struggle with:
-remembering or finding different passwords for each service account so that I can print the receipt,
-reconciling those with my statements to determine the actual amount paid (Canadian dollars on a US-based service),
-learning software (I didn't manage to figure out QB after two years of trying),
-remembering which transactions are accepted by which agency (hence my hope for set "profiles"),
-creating reports each month with different data in each

Hmmm... Maybe these issues can't be solved technologically? Maybe I need to consider hiring someone for monthly bookkeeping?

Spondulix

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2014, 09:29:51 PM »
DH and I both operate businesses out of our house. It used to be a big mess for taxes. Here's what we did (we're in the US - so it might be a bit different):

- A separate credit card for business-only expenses
- Use Mint to track everything
- In Mint, use tags or categories for anything in your personal accounts that's business-related
- Export transactions at the end of the year, and sort the spreadsheet for tax write-offs

The reason this works is that you have the ability to see all of your expenses - business and personal - to gauge budgets, spending, etc. Having them separate felt like I was never seeing the whole picture, and like you mentioned, a lot of home-related expenses qualify as both. In the US, you can deduct a portion of improvements to your property that aren't in your home office. Being a sole-proprietor, I don't need a business checking/savings account (so it's ok to do business-keeping in a personal account).

Having a separate credit card for business has cut a ton of time off of taxes because I'm not having to ask, "is this Amazon transaction a birthday present or a business expense?" You can just sort by account, then for business expenses, and delete the rest. It used to take me 15-20 hours to calculate taxes, and now I can get my numbers ready in a couple hours.

I've never had a problem keeping track of invoicing in another program. I was using Paymo, but going to switch to either Wave or Nutcache.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 09:33:13 PM by act01 »

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2014, 10:07:53 PM »
Quickbooks is the best thing out there, but it sounds like you need to get some help setting it up.  If you pay an accountant who knows quick books for a few hours of their time, they can set it up so that the transactions you need to record are easy and easy to find, the you can learn other functions of the program as you go.  I did that awhile back, and initially visited my accountant quarterly.  Then I was able to save money by doing things myself, and now I know more than the accountant does about using quickbooks for my type of business.  I see the accountant only once a year now, and they make any corrections for stupid accounting or coding errors I made.  I just make an "accountant copy" of my year, and they do their thing and give it back.  All very easy and at my ability level.  The initial costs to get someone to help set it up were totally worth it over the long run, and you can get help as you need it afterwards.

scrubbyfish

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2014, 10:17:56 PM »
Quickbooks is the best thing out there, but it sounds like you need to get some help setting it up.

I'm embarrassed to say I did get quite a bit of help setting it up and troubleshooting it! (I've purchased it twice, and I even had a job once, entering someone else's into theirs!) I just could never remember how to use it. I'm not very good at anything on the computer beyond basic word processing, despite Herculean efforts over the years, and training. Eek. I do have a cognitive impairment and that may be interfering.

However, I am finding it very helpful to hear how others (you, Prairie Gal, act01) are approaching yours. Your detailed input is helping me assess the matter further. It's like brainstorming, and I can feel things shifting, new ideas coming... so thank you all!

deborah

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2014, 10:32:21 PM »
Why don't you just set up your own spreadsheet with separate columns for the different types of stuff. Add all the columns up at the top row, and on the side have the different types of funds, where you add the appropriate columns - eg.
Tax = A+B+C
Different Rule 1 = A + D
Different Rule 2 = A+B+D...

Prairie Gal

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2014, 06:11:50 AM »
For the amount of transactions you are talking about, it should only take about an hour a month (or less).

Thanks, Prairie Gal!

Yeah, punching the transactions in is no problem.
I struggle with:
-remembering or finding different passwords for each service account so that I can print the receipt,
-reconciling those with my statements to determine the actual amount paid (Canadian dollars on a US-based service),
-learning software (I didn't manage to figure out QB after two years of trying),
-remembering which transactions are accepted by which agency (hence my hope for set "profiles"),
-creating reports each month with different data in each

Hmmm... Maybe these issues can't be solved technologically? Maybe I need to consider hiring someone for monthly bookkeeping?

Deborah's spreadsheet idea sounds like it might work best for you. Make columns along the top for each expense, and then list each transaction by date. There are free spreadsheet programs if you don't have Excel. I use openoffice.org, or you could use Google Docs. This will be your Main spreadsheet tab.

As far as profiles for each agency, if you use a spreadsheet you could set up a tab for each agency with notes at the top with their rules. For example "Agency A accepts home office expenses, but not internet."

Once you have your tabs set up for each agency, and a template set up for the report you need, it should be easy to pop the numbers into it from your Main tab. 

I keep a little notebook (from the dollar store) with all my passwords so I have them all in one place. I also keep them in a spreadsheet on my computer in case the notebook goes missing.

If you reconcile them monthly it shouldn't be too hard to track them down. It has to be done for taxes anyway, and the sooner you do it, the easier it is to remember the transaction.


scrubbyfish

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2014, 11:18:50 AM »
More excellent-ness, all!! Thank you!!!

While I suck at using fancier programs (except YNAB, after the initial learning curve, it's been 99% doable for me, which says a lot!), I am consistently good with Excel-style spreadsheets, yes. As long as everything is visible on one screenview (and I have a wider screen computer for exactly that reason). I have both Excel and OO Calc, and work well in both. So this is a very real option.

I don't yet know how to automatically suck numbers from one tab into another, but I can look that up.

I'm feeling good about the possibilities, i.e., increasingly confident that it doesn't have to be me in tears for 12 hours at the beginning of every month!

I do record each actual transaction each month, as it appears on my VISA or bank statement -that part is okay. It's the logging in to each account to print each receipt each month that I struggle with. (And then I have to find the transaction on a statement again, and match them up to record the Canadian dollar amount actually paid vs the USD listed on the receipt.)

Hmmm... My internet access is in a different location than my printer is. Wireless printing (vs carrying my laptop across the room, building, or town to the printer for each one) would help with one aspect of that. I've been holding off on spending on that, but maybe it's worth considering again. An adapter might only cost $50, and make everything much more doable.

I do have a written record of all my password hints, so it's incredible that even that parts remains beyond me. Ah! What I need is a separate sheet of the passwords needed just for the work accounts I need to login to each month. i.e., Not searching through a list of 57 passwords to find the one I need, but a short list of just those, to use monthly.

Spondulix

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2014, 01:38:26 AM »
Is there a reason you're not keen on Mint? Your description of recording transactions sounds time consuming (and a lot of possibility for errors). Mint will download all transactions from all your accounts, and it'll start automatically putting transactions into categories after you tell it once or twice where it goes. It's really easy to reconcile. They have great reports, where it's very easy to get year end totals, too.

scrubbyfish

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2014, 08:30:50 AM »
Is there a reason you're not keen on Mint? Your description of recording transactions sounds time consuming (and a lot of possibility for errors).

Yeah, these are some of my concerns, too, for sure.

I used Mint for a bit and three things happened:


1. Mint was unable to download all of my banking transactions -an issue on my bank's end.

2. When I called my bank to resolve this, bank said if I'm not allowed to connect my account with online downloading services, that doing so violates my banking agreement, and that as a result, if I find a way to do it, the bank will no longer guarantee my funds.

3. Possibly because of this major glitch, I didn't quite get the hang of Mint like I did YNAB.

I do love YNAB but I'm open to moving forward to a way to simplify the bookkeeping.

Simplifying ideas I thought of while waking this morning:

-Ask my tax accountant how much I actually save in taxes reporting those percentages of homebased and vehicle expenses. If $0-$50/yr, which is all it probably is, just stop submitting those.

-Go ahead and eliminate the three services I no longer need (need to do that in any case).

-Ask tax accountant if I can direct work income right into my personal account, reducing how many different accounts I'm tracking. i.e., Does CRA (Canadian IRS) care what account I deposit my business income into, as long as I report it all?

-Look into the downloading options -including Mint- that are acceptable to and workable with new bank.

scrubbyfish

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2014, 09:54:51 AM »
2. When I called my bank to resolve this, bank said if I'm not allowed to connect my account with online downloading services, that doing so violates my banking agreement, and that as a result, if I find a way to do it, the bank will no longer guarantee my funds.

Wait, is this another "blame Canada" thing (SouthPark reference! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOR38552MJA)??
Because I Googled TD Mint and got this:

Quote
When I contacted TD to ask them about Mint, their position was, and I quote:
“As a TD Canada Trust Access Card Holder, you’ve agreed to not provide your confidential information to third parties. This would include divulging our password and Access Card number to Mint.com. So, this would include companies that try to aggregate your financial services under one roof.

We view the aggregation of services as a security issue and generally do not support it, so while you may be able to access your accounts initially, there will likely come a time when your information becomes blocked.”

People should be aware that using Mint (or other aggregators) may place them in jeopardy with their institutions should there ever be a need to dispute transactions on their accounts.

I don't want to get going in a service that we've been told in advance may become blocked, as it indeed had with the bank I'm transitioning from. Is this not an issue in the US? I may make a new thread asking about Canada and Mint.

scrubbyfish

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2014, 09:28:14 PM »
I believe I may have reached a balance, thanks to this brainstorm and the help of another thread.

I poked and prodded and tweaked, successfully learned how to download my info from VanCity to YNAB and clean it up in there. It's kind of awesome -I was really surprised at how simple it was, and at how sophisticated YNAB was in handling it! When I reduce my accounts, and as YNAB also learns how I want everything done, it should end up totally doable. I believe at tax time I can export it to a file compatible with Quicken (per my accountant).

Upon consideration and experimentation, I'm thinking I might stick with manual entries for all non-business outgoing amounts, because that keeps me conscious and also lets me break out a generic receipt into details, and info-download for deposits and business expenses. I think that gives me all the benefits of Mint, etc, with none of the risks (or bank crabbiness, or scrubbyfish crabbiness).

Something like that, will keep tweaking. I think I'll consider the final two months of the year time to experiment/tweak, and hopefully have everything super simplified for Jan 1st.

Thanks so much for the excellent brainstorm/input, everyone. I don't have it 100% figured out, but I can see that I'm on my way now!

Spondulix

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2014, 10:16:47 PM »
2. When I called my bank to resolve this, bank said if I'm not allowed to connect my account with online downloading services, that doing so violates my banking agreement, and that as a result, if I find a way to do it, the bank will no longer guarantee my funds.

Wait, is this another "blame Canada" thing (SouthPark reference! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOR38552MJA)??
Because I Googled TD Mint and got this:

Quote
When I contacted TD to ask them about Mint, their position was, and I quote:
“As a TD Canada Trust Access Card Holder, you’ve agreed to not provide your confidential information to third parties. This would include divulging our password and Access Card number to Mint.com. So, this would include companies that try to aggregate your financial services under one roof.

We view the aggregation of services as a security issue and generally do not support it, so while you may be able to access your accounts initially, there will likely come a time when your information becomes blocked.”

People should be aware that using Mint (or other aggregators) may place them in jeopardy with their institutions should there ever be a need to dispute transactions on their accounts.

I don't want to get going in a service that we've been told in advance may become blocked, as it indeed had with the bank I'm transitioning from. Is this not an issue in the US? I may make a new thread asking about Canada and Mint.
What a PITA! Honestly, Mint does have bugs, and I've had a problem with at least one account a year. I started using it years ago when there weren't a lot of other options out there (for free). Does TD allow you to download transactions, at least?

scrubbyfish

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2014, 10:41:11 PM »
What a PITA! Honestly, Mint does have bugs, and I've had a problem with at least one account a year. I started using it years ago when there weren't a lot of other options out there (for free). Does TD allow you to download transactions, at least?

Took me a bit to respond because, as usual, I forgot the login for my new account, had to call them, wait on hold for 20 minutes, reset it, and so on. Anyhoo, the answer is YES! And I crazy LOVE IT! I LOVE my YNAB-for-work now! I just select the time period, click download to Quicken, and YNAB opens and sucks it up. It's awesome. I will do this. It works in my VanCity account, VISA, and TD. What a relief.

Next I'm working on reducing the sheer number of accounts so that I can input everything with one login.

I did two required reports today, and started working on a third. Then I noticed a glitch in what the government wants for that one, and started to cry, so I stopped, but still, two reports! Major progress.

mlipps

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Re: small business accounting: tracking for frequent and varying reports?
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2014, 11:20:50 PM »
Have you looked at the new simplified method for the home office deduction? I think it's $10/sq ft. It's in the Schedule C instructions, just came out last year. Might save you some headache & make very little difference tax-wise in the long run.