Oh Help and Bother! 10 Tips on Organizing Your Bookkeeping Mess

Oh Help and Bother! 10 Tips on Organizing Your Bookkeeping Mess

Is your week going well? Or have you managed to embarrass yourself already? When was the last time you…

- forgot the name of a coworker while doing an introduction?

- couldn’t find your car at the mall because you came out a different door?

Embarrassing moments happen to everyone, but don’t let embarrassment get in the way of making sure your books are in order. It’s ok to ask for help. In fact, asking for help is likely to increase both your bottom line and your confidence. Would you like tips to help you get started? We’re so glad you asked!

1.      Remember that investing time to understand your books now can save you money later.

2.      Brainstorm where you’d like to be in a year. Make a budget. This will motivate you to spend your money wisely.

3.      Find an accountability partner who can check in with you to maintain focus.

4.      Get help sorting out your previous mess. You’ll feel relieved when you have someone who can help you untangle the ball of yarn. Talk to a professional who can educate you as to what needs to be corrected and what you did well.

5.      Start with what you can manage now, then, add to it as you gain experience. For example: tell yourself you will save all your receipts this month. Decide where you’ll keep your receipts. Or better yet, take a photo with your phone and save it in a cloud app, like Expensify.

6.      Do your monthly reconciliations in your accounting software. In most cases, you can attach the receipt to the entry in your accounting system.  If you don’t know how to reconcile, it's time to learn - this is where you catch any mistakes. 

7.      Make sure you have good records for all your accounts, not just checking, savings, and credit cards. You probably also have a 401K, maybe an HSA (Health Savings Account).

8.      If you own a business, do NOT co-mingle funds. Keep everything separate.  Otherwise if the IRS audits your business, you’ll be vulnerable to having a lot more of your financial life under the microscope.

9.  Have a 3rd party review your bookkeeping procedures. It’s useful to get an outside view to help and coach you to keep up the good work.  And if there are errors, it’s better for them to be caught on the sooner side than to delay and create further complications.

10. Now that you've tidied up, follow through on maintaining orderliness. Take bookkeeping classes to educate yourself or hire a professional that can take care of that part of the business for you.

Reward your efforts! Get a new e-book and take yourself out for coffee. Decorate a new set of file folders with your kids. Take a hike to see fall colors.

Bookkeeping IS something you can learn. Set goals but be patient if you’ve never done this before. Decide how far you want to take it before choosing whether to continue it yourself or outsource it.

Do you have a tip for others from your experience? Please share it below!

Lynn Talbott, MBA, PHR, has over 20 years’ experience consulting with entrepreneurs of small to mid-sized businesses in the HR and office management capacity.  Her specialty is Office/Human Resource Manager coaching and training and finding practical solutions for bookkeeping errors and HR blunders.  Lynn has helped manage over 50 business start-ups and many of those companies continue to rely on her expertise today as they continue to grow.

She is currently a mentor in UTC's College of Business Entrepreneurship Program. You can find her bio here.


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