Introduction to Bookkeeping Basics: What’s a Journal Entry?

In our educational guide, Bookkeeping Beginner Basics, which you can download from the EzyLearn website for free, you’ll learn how to record journal entries in your accounting software, whether you’re using MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks. Most bookkeeping newbies don’t know what a journal entry is, though, which is what this blog post – the latest in our Bookkeeping Beginner Basics guide companion series – is going to help you to understand.

The journal vs. the general ledger

An accounting journal is the record that keeps accounting transactions in chronological order (i.e., as they occur), while the general ledger is a record that keeps accounting transactions by the account – see our previous post on the chart of accounts [Bookkeeping Beginner Basics: The Chart of Accounts] if you need help understanding what the term ‘account’ means in this context. Before computers, bookkeepers used to log all the financial transactions of a business in paper journals, and then at the end of the month transfer these journal entries into the general ledger, which was divided into various accounts that is now called the chart of accounts, and all the transactions were posted to these accounts using a method called double-entry bookkeeping.

Journal entries using accounting software

Today, however, accounting systems, such as MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks and the like, will automatically record most business transactions into the ledger immediately after the software prepares sales invoices, issues cheques to creditors, or processes receipts from customers, and as such you don’t have to create journal entries for most of your business’s transactions.

That being said, some journal entries still need to be processed, in order to record transfers between bank accounts and to record adjusting entries. You would need to make a journal entry, for example, at the end of each month to record depreciation or to record interest accrued on a bank loan.

Double-entry bookkeeping

If journal entries and general ledgers and the double entry bookkeeping method sound a bit too much, and you think you’d rather stick to the cash-based accounting method instead, prepare yourself for bad news: all businesses, whether they use the cash-based accounting method or the accrual accounting method, use double-entry bookkeeping to keep their books, and all accounting software applications, by default, are set up to adhere to the double-entry method, too. The double-entry bookkeeping method reduces errors and also ensures that your books balance, so as complicated as it may seem, it’s much easier in the long run.

If you still feel a little out of your depth, however, you can hire a reliable bookkeeper to manage your bookkeeping system and deal with all the journal entries and double-entry business for you, instead. Visit the National Bookkeeping website for to find a highly qualified bookkeeper whose experience and skills suit your business needs.

This blog post is part of our Bookkeeping Basics series, which are being published to complement our new educational guide, also titled Bookkeeping Beginner Basics, which you can download for free from the EzyLearn website.

Bookkeepers Need to Know All Cloud-Accounting Systems

GONE ARE THE DAYS when a bookkeeper only needed to know their way around MYOB. Since the internet democratised the accounting software market, abundant MYOB rivals have appeared.

But while there are close to a dozen cloud accounting systems on the market, most bookkeepers — thankfully — will only need to know their way around three: Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks. If you’re looking for a course or training resource on these programs we have a combo offer.

Continue reading Bookkeepers Need to Know All Cloud-Accounting Systems

What Does Lifetime Access Mean for Xero and Excel Courses?

Receive updated course content — for life!

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We are one of the only online learning centres offering access to course updates for the rest of your working life with our Lifetime Access option.

ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS about Excel is that it has so many applications. It can be used to create financial budgets and forecasts, monitor stock levels in a retail shop, roster staff, and also determine how much money an investor can borrow to buy a property.

A lot of the time, however, people enrol in an Excel online training course or Xero online training course because they need to refresh a specific set of skills for their job, which means they don’t have the time to focus on other areas that don’t have an immediate relevance for their work.

Upskill at your own pace

With our Lifetime Access courses for Excel and Xero and many other online cloud accounting and business options, students can continue learning in their own way and at their own pace, either as part of continuing professional development or for their own personal interest — our course content includes real-world case studies, like building a granny flat, to give context to the functions of Excel.

Keep up-to-date across all software versions

The other benefit of our Lifetime Access for Excel online training courses and Xero online training courses is that it means you can quickly brush up on where functions have been moved to when new versions of Xero and Excel are released.

We update our course content every time a new version of software is released, and with Lifetime Access, you’ll be able to access all of this new content, along with previous versions of course — so you can keep learning on the most current versions of Excel and Xero.

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Stop wasting time, and start learning for less. Visit our website for more information about Microsoft Excel training courses and our Xero training courses, and to enrol.


Don’t miss out on our terrific Spring specials

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We are constantly refreshing the content of our online training courses so that you can benefit from all the new information that is always coming in about being in business, or running your own business as a bookkeeper or looking for bookkeeping work.

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses.


 

Is Xero Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

How does Xero stack up in the cloud accounting game?

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Xero CEO, Rod Drury

WHEN XERO FIRST ENTERED the accounting space, it gave MYOB a real run for its money — something Xero continues to do to this very day.

When Xero first entered the market, it was with a bang. You see, even though  Xero and MYOB share many of the same features, Xero was cheaper and easier to use than MYOB, but perhaps even more so, it was also cloud-based. Being cloud-based meant you didn’t have to buy and install pricey software that would be out-of-date within 12 months. A huge advantage.

Since then, however, a number of cloud-based accounting applications have entered the market — QuickBooks Online (now distributed by their US-based parent company Intuit), Reckon One, Saasu, Zoho, and so on.

As business owners have more choice than ever before, it’s got a lot of people wondering about whether the two market leaders (Xero and MYOB) are really all they’re cracked up to be, Xero in particular.

Missing a dropdown menu

Even though Xero was hailed as a breath of fresh air when it first entered the market, it is still a little more complicated to use when compared with other cloud accounting apps, like QuickBooks and Reckon One. For instance, the purchase orders feature is still hidden behind bills, when it could easily be access via a dropdown menu. But it’s not a major quibble.

Xero’s contact profile misses a beat

Although Xero allows you to assign customer numbers for your suppliers or customers in the contact profile, it doesn’t have the functionality to record customer numbers assigned by supplier or customer.

If you’re trying to get in touch with Telstra, for example, with whom you’ll have been assigned a customer or account number, you’ll have to dig around for the paper bill to find that customer or account number.

It’s easy to file bills, though

This feature is available in QuickBooks, and it’s also available in MYOB, but as is often the case with MYOB, it requires more steps to do what you can in Xero in just a few clicks. Rather than keep paper bills on hand, Xero allows you to attach them to you transactions, so you never have to go hunting around for a bill again (very useful given the contact profile issue mentioned above).

In MYOB, you must upload your bills to your in-tray, and then link them to your transactions. This is annoying, because it requires you to leave the transaction window and open the in-tray one.

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Remember that when you select a cloud accounting package for your business, do not choose solely based on price. Make a list of the needs of your business and the functions you’ll require, and then select the accounting package that suits your needs the most. Ask your bookkeeper and other business friends for their recommendations as well.


Announcement: Microsoft Excel 2016 Beginners’ to Advanced courses now available!

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At EzyLearn we include all versions of a software program in our training courses. That means when you enrol into Excel you get 2016 — AND — the older Excel courses which include version 2013, 2010, 2007 and even 2003 (if you really need it).
When you enrol in Lifetime Course Access you get access to ALL versions and ALL FUTURE VERSIONS as we continually update them — at no extra cost!

Can You Trust Online Ratings and Reviews?

How to tell a review is authentic

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If using online reviews to help you work out what to buy, you want to make sure you’re really hearing it from the horse’s mouth, and not just reading fake marketing guff.

IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE most people, rating and reviews are how you probably make many of your purchase decisions. This can be for purchasing white goods, clothing, a holiday, or even choosing a real estate agent.

The OpenAgent example

Take OpenAgent. A core function of OpenAgent, the real estate agent comparison site and lead generator, is its customer reviews, which serve two purposes:

  • The first is to help consumers to make an informed decision when selecting a real estate agent
  • And the second is to recommend top rated real estate agents to new OpenAgent customers.

True and and real ratings and reviews for businesses, whether they’re real estate agents on the OpenAgent site or reviews for OpenAgent itself on third party review sites, are important, because they’re the basis for which many consumers make their decisions.

Check reviewers are real people

So how do you know which ratings and reviews you see online are true, and which ones aren’t? It’s something companies like Google and Amazon and TripAdvisor have had to grapple with, because there are ways that companies can game them.

Lots of review sites don’t allow anonymous reviews or reviews that are left by people who don’t verify their identity by signing in with their Gmail or Facebook account. The theory goes that people are less likely to leave false reviews if they’re using their own name, and can be easily identified.

You can test this further by checking how many reviews, and the kinds of reviews, certain individuals leave on sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.

If the same person shows up multiple times leaving only positive or only negative reviews for lots of different businesses, there’s a good chance this person isn’t real or they’re being paid to leave these reviews.

Likewise, a good test is to see how long the account has been active for. If it’s only recently been set up to give glowing (or negative) reviews to a new business, it’s likely there’s an ulterior motive at play.

Negative feedback is responded to

Not every business will be able to satisfy every customer or do everything right 100 percent of the time. But the businesses that make an effort to respond to negative reviews and criticisms, prove they’re committed to delivering the best possible service to all their customers, and also help show some reviewers for what they really are: baseless complaints or fakes.   

Also keep your eyes peeled for the language used in reviews on businesses websites. If all the reviews say mostly the same thing, mostly the same way, they’re more than likely not legitimate.

Reviews with full names and locations

We believe there’s many reasons you can trust the reviews provided at EzyLearn. All of our student testimonials include their full name and location, and why they chose EzyLearn to study in the first place. We also offer a money-back guarantee and free samples of our course content, so students can trust they’re making the right choice. 

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Looking to brush up your skills in cloud accounting software? Looking to progress to intermediate or advanced levels in MYOB, Microsoft Excel, Xero or another accounting package? Need help with social media? Take a look at our wide range of online course options


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Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

Buying Real Estate For Your Business

The pros of buying a business property

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Buying a premises for your business need not be cost prohibitive and you may enjoy good equity growth.

IN OUR NEW CASH FLOW reporting, Budgets and ROI course for Xero, we delve into the purchase of real estate for your business, which you may use as office space or as a warehouse or as a storage facility and workshop, depending on your line of work.

Why some businesses don’t like buying

Lots of businesses avoid buying premises for their businesses, because you’ll need to have a large capital injection right off the bat, and you may also incur land tax obligations, building insurance, and also be liable for maintenance and repairs.

Renting gives businesses, especially new ones, flexibility, as you’re only locked into a short term lease — not a multi decade mortgage. And if you decide to move or find new premises before your lease term is up, you can often minimise the costs by subletting the premises.

Buying as an investment strategy

However, buying your premises is a good investment strategy, as you’ll be able to access the equity and capital growth in the premises as property prices rise.

You’re also afforded greater freedoms and stability when you own your business’s premises — in particular, protections from rising rents — than you would have if you rented your premises. If you outgrow the space, you can always access the equity and may be able to buy adjacent premises, or rent out your existing ones while you upgrade, providing another valuable income stream.

Running the right reports to help you decide

Of course you can use a cloud accounting program like Xero to run reports that will help you decide whether to buy or rent your business premises and how such a decision will impact your cash flow. There will naturally be capital gains tax considerations and associated deductions. Our Xero training courses go through how to run these kinds of reports to ascertain the financial health of your business.

Low cost pathways to ownership

Industrial units are a good pathway into ownership for your business. If you don’t need to be right in the heart of the city or major town centre, you can often purchase an industrial unit for under $100,000.

In Newcastle in the Hunter region of New South Wales, you can purchase an industrial unit called a Cubbyhole, which can be used as a workshop, storage unit or office space for tradespeople, small and online businesses. These come with amenities such as toilets and showers, car parking (including visitors’ and disabled) and CCTV security, among other things and are worth checking out if you want to buy and only need a smaller business space. 

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In our Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI course for Xero, you’ll learn how to deal with the purchase of business premises just like a Cubbyhole in Xero. Visit our website for more information on our variety of online training courses or enrol today!


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

Cash Flow Reporting in Xero

Show me the money!

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Creating a cash flow report in Xero will tell you more about the financial state of your business than profit and loss statements.

IN OUR BRAND NEW Cash Flow, Budgets and ROI Xero Training Course, you’ll learn how to generate a cash flow report for your business.

Cash flow reports show the money going in and out of the business, so they’re better indicators of a business’s overall financial health than a Profit and Loss statement (P&L).

A cash flow report enables you to make forecasts and budgets for your business based on previous trends — recurring expenses, average time to get paid, seasonal quiet periods, and so forth.

The 3 cash flow categories

Cash flow reports are typically broken up into three categories:

  1. Operating activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from revenue-generating activities
  2. Investing activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from the acquisition and sale of long-term assets
  3. Financing activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from borrowings and changes in equity.

Items in a cash flow report

In our Cash Flow, Budgets and ROI Xero Training Course, you’ll learn how to generate a cash flow report in Xero. That report will show every transaction that’s run in and out of your business, divided among one of the three categories.

In the operating activities category, you’ll typically find things like costs associated with any training courses or seminars, advertising and marketing expenses, income or commissions from your business, subscriptions to any magazines or periodicals, etc.

Under the investing activities category, you’ll find the cost of purchasing office or warehouse space and the capitalised borrowing cost, for example.

The financing activities category will show the loan you’ve taken out to purchase your business’s office or warehouse space.

You’ll learn how to generate and work with cash flow reports in our new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Training Course. ENROL now or read more about the benefits of cash flow reporting to your business. Are you a sole trader or contractor needing to record your ongoing expenses? We cover that too!


cashflow reports in xero and excel

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. Or learn more about our entire suite of online software training packages and social media training packages.


Importing Bank Statements into Xero

Making bookkeeping easier, faster and more accurate

importing bank statements into Xero online learning course training videos
You’d be surprised how many business owners don’t even know how to import their bank statements into their accounting software. Are you one of them?

WE HAVE CREATED A brand new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Course for Xero and one of the things you’ll learn is how to import your bank statements into Xero.

The sales spiels of many of the notable online accounting software packages like QuickBooks, Wave Accounting, Outright, Kashoo, LessAccounting, Clearbooks and even Xero, claim that this feature will save you time and effort as it imports your bank transactions. The truth is, this is not foolproof and won’t work 100 percent of the time (even if it’s just a matter of not being able to get your software and your bank to “connect” just as your mobile phone connection inexplicably doesn’t work sometimes).

Therefore, always double check your bank transaction data has been imported accurately. This said, importing your bank statement into Xero (or whatever accounting software you use) is a really important step in the bookkeeping process that a lot of business owners forget or don’t know how to do. And the technology is only going to get better!

Using the correct format

To import your bank statement into Xero, you must ensure it’s in the correct format. Xero can only work with a CSV file of your bank statement. Depending on your bank, you might be able to download your bank statement as a CSV file from your internet banking, or you will have to create one from scratch.

Creating one from scratch isn’t too difficult. If your bank doesn’t give you the option of downloading a bank statement as a CSV file, you can create one yourself in Microsoft Excel.

You can download an Excel template from Xero. It includes the recommended fields and is already set up as a CSV file, so all you need to do is add in your data.

Set transaction rules

Once you’ve created and uploaded your bank statement to Xero, you’ll need to set up transaction rules for recurring expenses. You’ll learn how to do this in our Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Xero Course.

Setting rules for recurring transactions helps speed up the reconciliation process, which depending on the type of business you operate and how often you reconcile your account, can be the most time-consuming part of the process.

Importing your bank statement and creating rules for transactions that occur each week, month fortnight, year, etc, greatly speeds up this process.

No CSV? Use bank feeds

If your business has lots of expenses every week, and your bank doesn’t let you download your bank statement in a CSV format, you may find that manually creating one in Excel each month is too time consuming.

Set up bank feeds instead. Bank feeds is the process of linking all of your business accounts, whether they’re credit cards or bank accounts, to your accounting software, so that each time you make an electronic purchase, it’s automatically imported into your accounting software.

This will allow you to reconcile your account each fortnight, week or more frequently, if you desire, than once a month when your bank statement comes in.

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Bank feeds save your business time and money. Find out more about setting up automatic bank feeds in Xero and importing bank statements into Xero. You can also read more about our new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Course for Xero, visit our website or enrol today!


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Learn Microsoft Excel from scratch or brush up your Excel skills, at your own pace, with our affordable Excel online training courses — where you get THE LOT (that’s 9 courses in total) for ONE LOW PRICE — everything included! Volume corporate discounts are available and our courses count towards CPD Points. NOW is the time to learn to use Excel, one of the most-used software applications in the world.


 

Is a Certified Advisor or Certified Consultant Better Than a BAS Agent?

Finding the best bookkeeper for your business

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A bookkeeper who’s certified in a particular accounting software may not mean that much for your business. Better to have someone who is simply a good bookkeeper. Period.

IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY to find a bookkeeper who suits your business’s needs. This can be further complicated by the fact that a lot of business owners don’t know too much about bookkeeping.

Now that virtual bookkeepers have become more common, lots of business owners have started selecting bookkeepers based on their affiliation with an accounting application. Such bookkeepers are often called a Certified Advisor (Xero), Pro Advisor (QuickBooks) or Certified Consultant (MYOB). But are they really the best bookkeeper for your business?

What are Certified Advisors, Consultants and Pro Advisors?

In a nutshell, a certified advisor, consultant or pro advisor is just an individual who has been endorsed by a software company because they’ve demonstrated a high level of knowledge and skill with a particular accounting product.

Hiring a bookkeeper who’s been endorsed by MYOB, say, means you shouldn’t have to worry about whether your bookkeeper has set up your accounting package correctly, or whether they’re using the correct codes. What it doesn’t guarantee, however, is that each consultant or advisor is a highly experienced BAS or tax agent, as the certification relates to their software knowledge only.

Find a highly qualified BAS or tax agent instead

Sure, a bookkeeper who’s experienced in your accounting package is important. It’ll help keep your bookkeeping bill down because they’re able to perform certain functions quickly, while your accountant shouldn’t need to fix any errors, either. But that’s only providing that they’re as knowledgeable in Australian tax as they are MYOB or Xero or QuickBooks.

Unfortunately, however, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. So instead of focussing on a bookkeeper’s software experience, it’s more beneficial to ensure they’re qualified BAS and tax agents, with either a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or higher.

If you don’t get a bad reference from their current and former clients, then there’s a pretty good chance they’re proficient in the major accounting packages, and if they’re not, most bookkeepers will tell you upfront.

Get the accounting package that’s best for your business, not your bookkeeper

There are lots of reasons a bookkeeper would choose to become certified with a software company, the biggest being that they get their accounting software for free and receive a commission for each new client they sign up to use the accounting package they’ve been certified with.

However, when you hire an independent bookkeeper who’s well-versed in a few different accounting packages, you’re more likely to get better advice about which accounting package is best suited to you and your business’s needs, rather than the accounting package that will generate income for your bookkeeper.

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Are you looking to brush up your skills in cloud-accounting packages like XERO, MYOB or Quickbooks? We provide a range of online training courses in all of these packages at ONE LOW COST for ALL SKILLS LEVELS. Find out more.


find a local bookkeeper

We feature our own online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free


 

3 Things You MUST Do in Excel!

Business owners and job seekers take note!

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Excel isn’t just for budding bookkeepers; it’s a great tool for all business owners to know.

MICROSOFT EXCEL IS THE most widely used spreadsheet application in modern computing. That said, it’s also one of the more difficult programs of the Microsoft Office Suite to learn, which is why we recently updated the content of our Excel training courses.

A lot of people do our Excel training courses to help them “skill up” to find a job, find a position better suited to them, or develop their career path. However, Excel is a fantastic tool for small business owners as well.

But whether you use Excel to create a pivot table or a database, there are a few things you should do each time you open an Excel document. Here we present you with three:

1. Vertical align: always centre

Always align the text in the cells of your Excel spreadsheet to the centre, or the top in certain circumstances. But never, ever align it to the bottom. It’s hard on the eyes and, when you’re looking at lots and lots of data in lots and lots of cells, it becomes difficult to know which row, column, etc, you’re looking in. Centre alignment, always.

2. Build error-checking into formulas

There should never be an instance where one of your workbooks is showing a #DIV/0, #N/A, #REF, #NAME?, #NUM!, or #NULL! error. This is especially true if you’re sharing these workbooks with your business partners or accountant or whomever.

Seeing an error in a financial report may cause the reader to doubt the accuracy of the entire workbook, so ensure your workbooks remain error free by using the simple IFERROR() error-checking function in Excel.

3. Print preview your work

Again, if you intend to share workbooks with other people, you should always ensure that your Excel workbooks can be printed nicely and easily, even if you don’t intend to ever print the document yourself. This is easy enough to do via File > Print Preview and adjusting the print margins before sharing (or printing) the document.

However, judging by the number of times I’ve printed an Excel document only to collect 87 sheets of paper off my printer to read the contents one 4×4 table, the function is seldom used by anyone else but me!

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For more Excel formatting tips and tricks, download our FREE Beginners’ Guide to Excel, or enrol in our intermediate or advanced online Excel training courses to learn how to create databases, pivot tables, charts, graphs, and much more…

Read more about our beginners, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!


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At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks courses gain employment as a bookkeeper or even start their own bookkeeping business; it’s why we provide you with lifetime access to our online cloud-accounting training courses as part of our commitment to continuing professional development


 

New Financial Year, New Financial Habits

Help us help you get your business financials set up right

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Taking time to set up your accounts correctly at the outset and recording your reconciliations regularly will save you time, money and a nasty, aching headache!

SO WE’RE INTO THE new Australian financial year. With the start of each financial year comes the chance to right last year’s financial habits and avoid repeating them again. You know what they say about people who repeat the same actions over and over again expecting different results …

If you had a crazy end of financial year, try starting off the next 12 months (well, 11 now, can you believe it!) on a positive footing, with these good financial habits.

Check your accounting software is set up correctly

Something that causes businesses and their owners countless headaches at tax time is accounting software that’s been setup incorrectly or not set up completely. Transactions that are coded wrong or bank feeds that are connected to the wrong account — or too few accounts — can leave you in the middle of a bookkeeping nightmare come June 30.

Spend some time sorting this out, or employ a bookkeeper to get you set up correctly. It’s worth that little bit of extra time now to get it right, truly!

Aim for daily reconciliations

Reconciling your business accounts regularly is important for a number of reasons, fostering good habits being chief among them. You may not need to reconcile your accounts each day, but it’s certainly a lot easier to find 10 or 15 minutes two or three times a week, rather than two or three hours once a month. The most often you do your bookkeeper the more unlikely it is that you’ll leave it pile up, eventually requiring costly rescue bookkeeping. You’ll also have a much better picture of your business’s performance with current accounting data.

Monitor cash flow

Positive cash flow is the marker of a healthy business. Negative cash flow is not. There are plenty of seemingly profitable businesses suffering negative cash flow that threatens to put them out of business. Don’t let yours be one of them. Create your own cash flow forecast reports in Excel or use a cash flow forecasting or expense app to determine if you’ll have enough money in the bank to meet your ongoing commitments (which includes paying yourself a living wage to meet your personal commitments).

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Our cloud accounting training courses will show you how to set up your accounting software correctly. Learn how to use Xero, Quickbooks or MYOB with our online training courses and be able to invoice customers on time, reconcile your account and run financial reports, including cash flow statements. Visit our website for more information.


cashflow reports in xero and excel

Xero for less…

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

Is the ATO Getting into the Cloud Accounting Game?

The ATO is helping you keep track of deductions and expenses

ATO expense app learn xero online training course
The ATO’s recently launched app isn’t helping you invoice just yet, but it is good for keeping track of your business deductions.

ALL BUSINESSES CAN TAP into useful cash flow forecasting apps, whether they use Xero, Quickbooks or MYOB. There are also a host of basic expense and budgeting apps that sole traders and contractors can use for similar purposes.

The difference between the two boils down to price and functions: The more functions you need, the higher the price tag. Businesses that require high-level reporting and forecasting tools, such as a “scenarios” function that lets you determine the impact different business decisions would have on your cash flow, before you actually make them, would need to stump up, at a minimum, between $50 and $80 a month for this functionality.  

Free expense and budgeting apps would suit most contractors and sole traders who don’t require complex forecasting and reporting tools, but who do need to see when money is coming in and when it’s going out, and whether there are deficiencies.

The ATO’s tax and superannuation app

ato app my deductions learn xero online training course
Image: Courtesy of ATO website

Looking into the best expense and budgeting apps for small business, we came across the Australian Tax Office’s app, simply called ATO. It works on Windows phones, as well as iOs and Android devices, and it’s updated regularly by the ATO, so you know this isn’t just a passing fling.

Our post on cash flow reporting and forecasting for contractors and sole traders went through the app’s functions, including what we thought were some standout features:

  • Recording expenses and deductions
  • Tracking mileage
  • Inputting income
  • Tax calculators
  • Business performance calculator
  • Lodging income tax returns.

If these features sound familiar, that’s because they’re all the features you’ll find in a basic cloud accounting program, with the notable exception of invoicing. Electronic invoicing is not something the ATO is particularly concerned with because it’s not a requirement. Invoicing, of course, is a requirement, but how you do it — in person, by snail mail, email, etc — isn’t.

Cloud accounting still best and easiest

If the ATO app introduced a simple way to invoice customers, we’d say it was definitely muscling in on QuickBooks and Xero’s territory, since both programs appeal to the small business owner, QuickBooks in particular.

In absence of that, the ATO app is a great tool for contractors and small business owners to use to keep track of their expenses and deductions, and especially to calculate their tax rates (so as to properly keep money aside for tax, rather than being hit with a tax bill you have to pay off). For contractors with a very simply business model, it’s even useful for lodging your tax return.

But otherwise, cloud accounting applications are still the best and easiest way for businesses to run an efficient, compliant business. At the end of the day, for many small business owners, they’re not drawn to Xero or QuickBooks because they want to stay compliant, it’s because they want to be able to easily invoice customers and track their income — compliance is just an added bonus.

Our online Xero training courses meet all skills levels for ONE LOW COST. We will show you how to record deductions, invoice customers, run financial reports, and lodge activity statements and tax returns. Visit our website for more information about our range of online accounting, media and general business courses.


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Need to brush up on Excel? You receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. You can even start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course Workbook. Read more about our beginners’, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow! And all of our Excel courses can be counted towards CPD points.


 

Cash Flow Forecasting for Sole Traders and Contractors

Great expense apps if you’re self employed

expense apps for self employed people
Are you busy and self-employed but can’t afford the higher price tag of some expense tracking apps? Don’t worry, there are cheaper options available.

AS WE’VE WRITTEN PREVIOUSLY, cash flow is one of the most accurate instruments for predicting your business’s financial health. It’s more accurate than profit and loss statements, which don’t take into account any cash outlays, and so don’t show a true picture of your business’s finances.

We have also checked out some of the latest cash flow forecasting apps that integrate with Xero and other accounting packages. These can be excellent tools for businesses that employ staff or are expanding rapidly, but there are still many business owners that don’t fit into that category, and although keeping an eye on their cash flow and forecasting trends remains critical to their financial health, they can’t justify the high price tag of an app like Spotlight or Float.

Expense and budgeting apps

What’s a cash flow app, if not a program that tracks your expenses and income and then tells you how much money you have left in the bank? That’s what FUTRLI and Spotlight, the apps we reviewed recently would do, and then also let you do other things, like create scenarios to determine the particular outcome of a business decision.

But there are other expense apps that sole traders and contractors can use for cash flow forecasting:

Pocketbook

Pocketbook, the Australian personal finances app recently acquired by ASX-listed ZipMoney, is free to use, although a recent deal with 1300HomeLoans means it may analyse your spending data to make commercial suggestions around your personal finances. (For the record, I have been testing it for months and hasn’t been subject to any such suggestions.)

Pocketbook lets you connect your bank account to the app so it can import your income and transaction data. Once you get some initial housekeeping — categorising your expenses and income — out of the way, you can then set up a safety spend limit based on Pocketbook’s analysis of your spending vs. income.

Pocketbook also learns from your transaction history, meaning it can predict upcoming income and bills. It’s very nifty for contractors or freelancers who have more than one income source that doesn’t always run through your accounting software — if you’re working on your TFN and ABN, for instance.

TrackMySpend

TrackMySpend expense apps for Xero online training courseThis free app, by ASIC MoneySmart, lets you connect your bank account to the app, categorise your expenses, nominate a spending limit, and create expense reminders that can be sent to as text messages ahead of their due date.

Like Pocketbook (but without the commercial overtones), TrackMySpend will also learn from previous trends in your income and expense data to predict future income and expenses. Best of all, TrackMySpend can be exported as an Excel file or connected to your accounting software. The iOS app is a bit out of date, though, so it won’t work on more recent Apple devices.

ATO

ato_mobile_app for Xero online training course videosIf you didn’t know it already, the Australian Tax Office has its own mobile app. It allows you to access the ATO’s online services, lodge and track your tax return (yes, right from your mobile phone), work out key tax dates and access tools and calculators.

Its most handy functions: being able to enter your expenses (including a photo of receipts and bills), track mileage, and record your income. It’s not automated, but it does propagate that info directly into your tax return, so you don’t have to do it later. It also accurately calculates your tax liabilities.

The ATO app’s best function, however, is its “business performance calculator”, which, using the data you input, will give you an indication of your business’s ability to pay its debts, as well as a comparison of its performance based on the ATO’s “small business benchmarks” data. Over time, it’ll also show whether your business has improved or declined since you last used the tool.

Understanding your business’s cash flow is critical to its ongoing financial health, and to your ability to make sound business decisions. Use one of these tools in conjunction with your accounting software to ensure your business is running on all cylinders.

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Our Xero training courses, which provide training in EVERY LEVEL for ONE LOW COST, will show you how to run financial reports, including cash flow statements that you can use to create forecasts in Excel. Visit our website for more information about our online training courses.


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Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

 

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Why are there More Expense Tracking Apps for Xero than MYOB?

Less complicated accounting software, like Xero, connects better with mobile apps

accounting-apps-that-link-with-xero-and-quickbooks
The robust nature of MYOB can make it harder to link with mobile apps that track your expenses and cash flow and the like.

WE RECENTLY PUBLISHED A blog examining the different expense tracking apps you can connect with Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks, but during our research it became clear that most expense apps integrate with Xero or QuickBooks, but not MYOB.

That’s not to say there are no expense apps that integrate with MYOB. There are. Receipt Bank is one, Squirrel Street is another, and there are probably a lot more on the MYOB marketplace (or add-ons page). Probably the best expense tracking application we found is ExpenseManager, and it only integrates with MYOB.

MYOB is a robust, yet complicated system

As anyone who’s ever used MYOB can attest, it’s a complicated piece of software to navigate, even if it is a robust one. When Xero came along, it aimed to be both robust and easy-to-use, and for the most part it succeeded (it’s probably not as easy as QuickBooks, but then QuickBooks isn’t quite as robust).

Behind the scenes, there’s also a lot of complicated code driving MYOB that’s not easy to integrate with, unlike QuickBooks and Xero which rely on third-party integrations to deliver payroll and other services, so Xero and QuickBooks can keep the cost of their platforms down.

MYOB is used by accountants and bookkeepers

MYOB doesn’t really go after to same market that Xero and QuickBooks do (small and micro businesses), which is reflected in MYOB’s price. It’s aimed at medium sized businesses, which employ accountants and bookkeepers, and that’s not really the market expense apps like Expensify and Xpenditure are targeting.

Xero is one of our most popular training courses

That’s why Xero has become one of our most popular training courses. It’s robust and once you understand the principles of bookkeeping, fairly easy to use. And it integrates with a tonne of third party applications developed to make the life of the small business owner much easier and more efficient.

Keep an eagle eye on your expenses by using Xero and an expense app, and you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is the most profitable and where it’s not, so you can modify it accordingly.

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Our Xero training courses will show you have to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. You can also brush up your MYOB skills or learn how to use MYOB with our MYOB online training course, incorporating 5 courses and 12 months’ access — all for one low cost. Visit our website for more information covering our ONE LOW COST for ALL LEVELS course options.


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

Cash Flow Forecasting and Reporting Apps for Xero

Do you know how happy your business is?

running cashflow reports in xero and exporting to excel
Cash flow is THE key indicator of your business’ health and happiness so it pays to know the tools that will help you run regular cash flow reports.

AS WE’VE WRITTEN NUMEROUS times before, cash flow is the best indicator of financial health. A cash flow report takes into account the money you have in the bank after you’ve paid all your suppliers, employees, made your loan repayments.

Cash flow represents money in the bank

If, after paying your suppliers, employees, making loan repayments, cash outlays, and so forth, you don’t have any money in the bank (or you can’t make all of your obligations) this is negative cash flow.

Negative cash flow indicates a problem. There’s either a failing in one or more of your processes — your credit management procedures, for instance — or you’re simply spending more money than you’re making.

Cash flow forecasting is critical

You can create a cash flow forecast report in Xero by running a number of cash flow reports and importing them into Excel for analysis. (We’ve written before about how to link a financial forecast created in Excel with your Xero accounting information.) Linking the two in this way is a highly customisable method for seeing what you’re spending your money on, and when. You’ll also be able to track your clients’ payment patterns, so you can put processes in place to speed up the time it takes to get paid.

Forecasting and reporting apps

This Xero-Excel method for creating a cash flow forecast report can be time consuming, however. It also requires a good knowledge of Excel so you can set up formulas that will allow you to forecast 12 months ahead. 

For smaller businesses or sole traders — or even large businesses that just want to glance quickly at their cash flow — a dedicated cash flow app is a good way to track and forecast your business’s cash flow — and in real time. In our last blog we covered some of our favourite expense apps and why we like them.

Float

Float expense tracking app logoAt $79 a month for a basic (or “medium”) plan, Float is on the pricier end of cash flow apps, but its many features — in particular, the ability to create “scenarios” that allow you to determine the outcome of a particular business decision, such as employing two staff members instead of one — make up for it.

Float quickly learns trends in your business and will be able to anticpate upcoming payments, bills, etc. It also integrates with Xero, QuickBooks and even FreeAgent, the free cloud-based accounting app for small businesses.

FUTRLI

Futrli Expense App logoFormerly known as CrunchBoards, this British app, which has expanded into Australia and the U.S., features predictive alerts, KPI dashboards, tax forecasting (so you can accurately estimate your tax bill), trend indicators, forecasts for the next ten years (if you want), scenario planning, and a heap more.

It doesn’t, however, learn from your business, so it can’t predict upcoming payments and bills. FUTRLI will set you back $59 a month, regardless of whether you’re a startup, growing business or established enterprise. It integrates with Xero and QuickBooks.

Spotlight

Spotlight_Reporting-logoA lot simpler than FUTRLI, but with fewer features (although you could argue, it’s a spotlight on the *only* features you need), Spotlight will let you import all your budget data, create scenarios, and create KPIs for your business, making forecast reporting a cinch, but it doesn’t learn from your business.

This means it can’t anticipate upcoming payments from clients or bills coming due, leaving you to create forecasts based on past trends, rather than upcoming ones. Spotlight integrates with Xero.

***

Understanding your business’s cash flow is critical to its ongoing financial health, and to your ability to make sound business decisions. Our Xero training courses will show you how to run financial reports, including cash flow statements that you can use to create forecasts in Excel. Visit our website for more information.


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

Top 3 Expense Applications for Xero, QuickBooks and MYOB

Get your financial software working harder

best-apps-for-myob-xero-quickbooks
There are a number of apps which link with Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks to help you closely and seamlessly track ALL your business expenses.

WE PREVIOUSLY WROTE ABOUT using Expensify and Xero to do the grunt work of your account reconciliations. We’ve also touched on how Expensify works for retail shops, online shops and hospitality businesses.

This time we’re looking at other expense applications that not only integrate with Xero, but other platforms like MYOB and QuickBooks, too. (For the record, every transaction Expensify does with Xero, it also does with QuickBooks; and also for the record, we not only provide online training in Xero [all levels for one low cost] but MYOB and Quickbooks too.)

Xpenditure (QuickBooks, Xero, Fresh Books)

It’s a little more expensive than Expensify, but you also get a little more bang for your buck. From around $4 a month, you can scan 200 receipts per month, plus all of Xpenditure’s core features, such as expense rules, real time reporting, accounting integration, and mileage tracking. Speaking of which, Xpenditure tracks your mileage using Google Maps, which as discussed previously, isn’t the the most accurate way to do it.

However, it does calculate the estimated cost of each trip using the current “mileage rate” — or kilometre rate for Australians — set by the Tax Office. It’s mobile app, however, only has an average 1 star rating in the Australian Apple App Store, while it’s currently rates at 3.5 stars in the Google Play store, so it appears it’s best served on an Android platform.

Abacus (Xero, QuickBooks)

At $9 a month for up to 50 users, it’s on the pricier side for small businesses. And although Abacus lets you give your accountant or tax agent free access to your Expensify account, it doesn’t really make up for the higher price tag (we happen to think the point of an expense app is that you only need to give your accountant or tax agent access to your accounting software).

Yes, it includes all the standard features, such as receipt scanning, real time reporting, multi-level approval workflows, and automatic approvals — plus, an EzyLearn favourite: automatic direct deposits for reimbursing employees once an expense is approved — but features like mileage tracking are absent. It’s rated 4 stars on the Google Play app store, but unrated in the Apple App Store.

Squirrel Street (Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB)

Formerly known as Shoeboxed (they explain name change on their website), Squirrel Street is a rather expensive way to track your expenses and store your receipts. Plans start at $26.95 a month for 50 receipt uploads and 2-5 day turnaround, which explains the steep price: This is a software application that relies on manual labour, rather than machine learning, to import expense data. As a consequence, there’s no other features of note — no real time reporting, no expense reports, no automatic approvals.

There is also a “forever free” five document per month DIY plan available. Of course, they are an Australian owned and operated business, but it’s still not the best service for your dollar. It’s rated 4 stars on the Apple App Store and 4.5 stars on Google Play.

By keeping an eagle eye on your expenses using an expense app that integrates with your cloud accounting software, you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is most profitable and where it’s not so you can modify it accordingly.

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Our online courses in Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks will show you how to track expenses and connect third party apps to your account. Read more about cloud accounting.


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Creating and managing databases is included as part of our Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses — and you receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. You can even start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course Workbook. Read more about our beginners’, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!