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It the year's end and I am sifting through receipts from traveling, doubling checking mileage and per diem rates for each city and wondering if I am using my accounting program correctly.  I have used Quick Books Pro for several years.  Each year, I find it to be daunting.  It could be that switching from the right brain to the left brain is the hard part.  So, I wonder what others use for keeping track of the necessary accounting that goes along with having a small business.

Do you use Quick Books Pro?

Do you use Quicken?

Do you download your bank statements and credit card transactions into your accounting program?

Do you use paper and pencil with your own method of tracking income/expenses?

Do you use another accounting program?

I have recently started using my smart phone for credit card transactions (My Phone Swipe with Arthur Wedge) and like the records, support and ease of transactions. All those records go into my banking transactions and are easy enough to record from the monthly bank statement.

How do you handle those records?  Download into an accounting program or enter by hand?

Keeping these business records is an important part of having our small business. Traveling and being away from the home office makes it hard to keep up to date.

So, how do you handle your record keeping?

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We use Quickbooks pro.  Love it and have been using it for years.  Yes it can take a little getting use to, but all in all it works out well for us.  We use a regularly credit card machine for those transactions.


Plus our accountant is a Quickbooks advisor so he fully understands our system and aids us in making entries etc. 



So, do you download your banking and credit card transactions and then sort them into categories?

I tried that and did not like that.  So we enter all our transactions into quickbooks, and then check with the bank statement. 

When I was a geologist I got UNOCAL to pay for two semesters of accounting classes. Told them I needed it to better manage monies for multiple projects I worked on when in fact 'twas for my own business. It has served me well. I do accounting quarterly so I know if changes need to be made. Time spent entering data is a pain but it has to be done. I used Peachtree for close to 20 years but am switching to Quickbooks. I got tired of purchasing P. updates.

Quicken Home & Business, running under Parallels on a MacBookPro. Have used both Quicken and Quickbooks Pro. Gave up on QBP when the Mac version didn't download transactions.

Yes, I download transactions from the banks.

I enter customer sales invoices manually to match the batches from the merchant account statement. The deposits are entered automatically from the bank account, but I need to track sales by show, so invoices are created to match MC/VISA and AMEX transactions, per batch. A bit of a PITA.

All cash expenses are tracked in a petty cash account. Those have to be entered manually.

I use mileage and actual expenses on the the truck and trailer.

I also use actual expenses for travel, rather than per diem. For me it works out better that way. Many people use the per diem rate. You can find data on the GSA website, here.

I also use Excel to create a summary for each show. This is a bit of a double entry system, and more for my own information than for accounting. I also track print sales in a separate database. It would be great if both those functions were handled in the database. It would save me some time. I don't need to track print sales in Quicken, just aggregate sales amounts.

I use Excell spread sheets for all types of inventories of materials, finished goods and what goes to art shows. Show expenses, sales, tracking are also in Excel. Show sales are entered as lump deposits but I have details in my show inventories. I enter studio sales in a ledger with sales tax. Checkbook records deposits. Purchases are for the most part on credit card statement or in checkbook. Quarterly everything gets put in computer. Separate Excel sheets for bank reconciliation, utilities, and misc. like vehicle monthly charge plus show mileage. That has been as simple as I could make it, cover all bases and keep my accountant happy. At years end he gets balance sheet, income statement and trial balance to work with and do the home and equipment depreciation etc.

Check out the new outright online software. It looks like it really simplifies things. Here's a link:

I signed up for Outright earlier this week. The first thing I did was go to the forums. One of the topics was the fact that you cannot split transactions. This was a deal breaker to me and loads of other people who commented on the thread. So I continued to look for other free software and found Wave Accounting, which is totally free. As a new startup business, I'll be starting from scratch and using this.

I also found, through reading the forums, this service called Shoeboxed, also free. It's a way to keep all your receipts online, either by you scanning them (free) in or sending the receipts for them to do ($10/mo). It also can keep other records electronically. There's more too. Take a look. It's getting rave reviews.

When using Quicken or quick books ( same program? ) if you enter the transaction or sale as you make them there is almost nothing to do at tax time but make year end reports. The program forces you to put the transaction into a category when you enter them. I have used Quicken since 1992.

Quicken has several different varieties, and is geared more toward personal use. The Home & Business version adds invoicing and sales reporting, plus gathering categories for Schedule C. Quickbooks is a business accounting system, double entry, and has several templated versions for retail, real estate and service businesses. Quickbooks is a bit more complex to set up, but can track inventory as well as sales. The differences are much deeper, but that's the quick version (lol).

Quicken doesn't force you to categorize your transactions. You can choose to do it or not. It can also auto-fill a category at entry time, but its guesses are often wrong. I've been using the products almost as long as you Paul, and there are things in Quicken that Intuit still has never fixed. In their upgrades they do the minimal amount of work for the maximum amount of profit. When it was a Mac only company, it was more customer focused. I still use it, and I still cuss at it.

At tax time, I still find many transactions that aren't categorized properly. It takes me a while to get everything back into place. I think part of it has to do with moving data from one upgrade to the next and not starting fresh with a restricted set of categories. Every once in a while I try to clean it up, and make some progress. But it's thankless work. I'd much rather be working in the studio.

Jim, My quicken is an older Mac version and when I said it "forces you to list transactions" I meant if I wrote a check for paint or canvas to a certain company at one time and placed that payment into a certain category, the program will "suggest" that I put the check or payment I am currently making to the same company in the same category as the first time I made the payment. Usually that is right and you can change it if you want at that point also. If you do that as you use your debit card or write a check, Profit & lost statements are also easy to generate. I can also create invoices and purchase orders. The reports are easy to scan and you can merge your reports into their tax program. I do not do that.

I'm a pretty heavy user of Quicken Home & Business, having switched over from QuickBooks around 12 years ago. Before QuickBooks, I also used Quicken. H&B only runs on Windows, so I run it under Parallels on a Mac. For years I had a Windows machine that only ran Quicken. But it still suggests the wrong category from time to time, even though it should learn. I have lots of reports stored for P&L, Sales Tax by State, customer invoices, you name it. I still find the software clunky though. I do know my way around it. It's much faster on the newer crop of Macs under emulation, as Parallels takes a significant amount of RAM to run concurrently with Mac OS X. But it does work.


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