ProOnGo Blog

Posts are primarily about QuickBooks, Xero, expense reports, and other topics useful to small business owners, CPAs, and ProAdvisors.

 


Posts Tagged ‘expense tracker’

3 Tools to Help You Stop Procrastinating

Friday, March 15th, 2013

It’s a huge challenge for some people to stop procrastinating. No matter how many excuses you might use, in whichever profession you are in, procrastination is procrastination, and leaves you to rush around at the last minute, ultimately producing sloppy work. Putting off work to the very last minute in exchange for some more time on reddit never makes sense in hindsight. But when procrastination takes hold, illogical choices are made and the hole you stand in is dug deeper.

Just as an alcoholic must decide to accept that drinking alcohol isn’t healthy, the first step to stop procrastinating is really admitting that you have a problem, and that you need to do something about it. Once you’ve admitted you have a problem, it’s time to defeat it! Here are three helpful and fun tools that we use around the ProOnGo offices to help us stay on task.

3 Tools to Help You Stop Procrastinating

#1: CARROT

At first glance, CARROT, with its rib-tickling humor turns into more than just an app that is designed to help you stop procrastinating. Simply put, it is a to-do list that you can download from the iTunes Store for your iPhone. You assign tasks, pick a time limit and CARROT will help you stay on task by expressing joy or frustration in how much time it takes you to complete the task.  One word of caution, when using CARROT: do not upset “her”.

#2: RescueTime

As the name suggest, you will rescue your time using this app that is a Web app. RescueTime monitors your activity on your computer so you can see just how much time you’re actually wasting. Seeing the breakdown of what you do everyday should surely be a motivation to change your ways, as well as spot inefficiencies in your schedule.

 

#3: Remember the Milk

We’ve been using this app since the beginning of ProOnGo in 2008. Remember the Milk is a simple task app that let’s you schedule tasks in advance so you’re always up-to-date on the next important thing you should be working on. Signing for a basic account is free but the pro account costs $25 a year. You can sync this app with Microsoft Outlook, Android and Apple devices, as well as Google Mail and Calendar.

 

Set Up Automatic Backups in QuickBooks 2013

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Keep your data! How to set up an automatic backups in QuickBooks 2013:

The fact is – bad things do happen to good people. Man and machine are not perfect and mistakes, even catastrophes happen. One such catastrophe for small businesses are computer crashes.

The business data is the heart and soul of the business, it goes hand in hand in the operation. Loss of data, even if the data is just temporarily inaccessible, can lead to profit loss, hurt your reputation, and even lead to litigation.

Even though most of us business owners know that we need to do regular automatic backups, the fact is that many, if not most, don’t do it. So let’s take a moment how to perform these backups on a regular basis using your QuickBooks 2013:

QuickBooks offers 2 different automatic backups

  1. IDP – Intuit Data Protect (online automatic back-up – subscription based)
  2. Local Backup – automatically backup your data when you close your QuickBooks company  file.

The following will show you how to backup your QuickBooks company file locally and set up a recurring backup, so you can trust that your data is always backed up.

How to setup QuickBooks to automatically protect data locally

Follow these instructions to have QuickBooks back up your company file daily or on specific days and times. You can schedule an automatic backup to a network drive, USB flash drive, or Zip disk.

Important: For a scheduled automatc backup to take place, the computer you use to run QuickBooks must be on, but the company file you want to back up cannot be in use. Be sure to schedule your automatic backups accordingly.

 

First, browse to File->Back Up Company->Create Local Backup to open the backup wizard.

 

Click Options to set your backup defaults (such as where you want to save your local backup) and then click OK. The backup defaults you set when you click Options are for manual and automatic backups only. You will set your options for scheduled backups in the steps that follow.


Select Next, then make sure to select ‘Only schedule future backups” and then click Next.

Under “Back Up On a Schedule” click New.

 

If you don’t want to keep a lot of backups so you can conserve space on your hard drive, click the checkbox to limit the number of backups and enter a number in the field provided. For example, if you choose to keep three backups, QuickBooks deletes the earliest backup when it goes to save the fourth backup. If you don’t specify a number, QuickBooks saves all of your backups.

 

Next, enter a Description for your scheduled backup. This name appears in your list of scheduled backups so you can easily find it later. The description is mainly used by bookkeepers that have multiple company files. Then, click Browse to select the folder where you want to store your backup copies. This can be on a network drive or on portable storage media such as a USB flash drive or Zip disk.

Then, you’ll select the time, weekly frequency, and day(s) for the backup to take place. For example, if you want to run your backups daily, select every day of the week and run the task every “1″ week.

After you’ve set the frequency, click Store Password and enter the requested Windows login information. QuickBooks requires the Windows login information so it can run the scheduled backup. If you don’t enter login information for the backup location you selected, the backup fails due to a Windows permission failure.

Click OK to return to the previous window. The backup appears in the list in the Backup on a schedule section of the window. Click Finish to close the wizard.

Note: Scheduled backups will automatically include the date and time the backup was created in the file name. The date and time stamps are necessary for QuickBooks to manage the number of scheduled backups to retain on the system.

How to Write off Bad Debt in QuickBooks Online

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Having to write off bad debt is one of those common business scenarios everyone. If you find yourself in a situation in which you need to write off bad debt from one of our customers, the first thing you should do is make sure you’ve exhausted all resources in attempting to collect.

Bad debt doesn’t necessarily mean you have a customer that is out to get you. Your customer may be going through a bankruptcy, so it’s important to reach out to your customer, obtain as much information about the situation, and see if you can come to an agreement to pay part of the debt, work out a payment plan, or get in line behind other creditors.

If all of that fails, there are two methods of writing off bad debt. Which one is good for you largely depends on how you currently do your accounting. The two options are:

1) Cash Accounting
2) Accrual Accounting

The following will detail how to write off bad debt for each of these situations.

Write Off Bad Debt – Cash Accounting

Void Invoice

The main difference between accrual accounting and cash accounting when writing off bad debt is how you count your income; with cash accounting, an open invoice is not considered to be income yet.

 

So to write off bad debt with cash accounting, all that needs to be done is to void the invoice.

 

Browse to Customers->Customer Center and select the name of the customer on the left hand side. Next to Show, select Invoices from the dropdown and double click on the invoice you wish to write off. Once you’re looking at the invoice you’d like to write off, just select Void.

 

 

Write Off Bad Debt – Accrual Accounting

Credit Customer with Bad Debt

With accrual accounting, as soon as an invoice is sent out, it is counted as income. So in order to write off bad debt, you must issue a Bad Debt credit to cancel out the invoice income.

Before you do so, you must make sure you have Bad Debt listed as a Product/Service item. To do so, browse under Company->Lists then choose Products and Services List. Then select New and enter ‘Bad Debt’ next to name. Choose ‘Bad Debts – Expense’ (or similar) next to Account and select Save.

Now that you’ve added Bad Debt as a Product & Service item, you’re able to write off the bad debt.  Select the Customers tab, then under More, choose Refund or Credit. In the pop-up, choose Credit and make sure “Give credit for something already billed to the customer” is selected. Then enter in the Customer name and under Product/Service, choose ‘Bad Debt.’ Enter in the description that you’re writing off bad debt and in the Rate column, enter in the amount you’re writing off. Select Save and you’ve successfully written off the Bad Debt!

 

As with all accounting practices, it’s always best to consult your accountant before you make any changes to your books. Speak with your accountant or a QuickBooks Pro Advisor to ensure you’re using the best method for your business.

Standing Desks – Should Your Workplace Have Them?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle, which includes sitting for long hours, is actually just as detrimental to the longevity of life as opposed to smoking and drinking. And for those of us who put in a lot of time at the office, it would be unthinkable to do so without a sitting desk. They’re everywhere, and just as necessary as computers these days.

However, a new trend is taking over in the offices of cutting edge companies like Apple, Chevron, Intel, Allstate, Boeing and Google; introducing standing desks into their office place. While these standing desks may look funny, and at first blush seem uncomfortable, standing desks have proven to be a healthy solution to the growing problem of obesity.

The Facts on Sitting

We’ve all been sitting at our desks for the majority of our working life, but did we know it was so bad for us? Pennington Biomedical Researcher, Marc Hamilton, found that calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. He also found insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, which limits our cells’ ability to allow glucose to be turned into glucogen. This means that we end up storing fat instead of burning it.

An American Cancer Society study found that men who spent six hours or more per day of their leisure time sitting had an overall death rate that was about 20 percent higher than the men who sat for three hours or less. The death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40 percent higher.

Standing Desk – Should Your Workplace Have Them?

With the benefits of a standing desk at work apparent to many, it’s no surprise that there are several companies that offer numerous  models for the workplace. While some of these models include the ability to adjust the desk’s height, there are others that even have a treadmill attached to the standing desk. Popular companies that sell variants of the standing desk include TrekDesk, ErgoDesktop and SteelCase and so on and so forth.

If you don’t want to buy these desks which can range between $1600 to $4000, there are also DIY methods by which you can make one yourself.

But the verdict is out: Yes, a standing desk is the obvious cure to the sedentary lifestyle problem, and it’s probably a good idea for your workplace to consider using these desks. Even if you are unable to incorporate a standing desk, using little tricks like getting up and walking around for 2 minutes every hour have dramatic effects on your long-term health. The improvement in your health might not be life-changing upfront, but small investments have been shown to pay off big dividends in the end.

How to Move From QuickBooks for Mac to QuickBooks Online

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

One of the more common questions in the QuickBooks community is how to make the transition from QuickBooks for Mac to QuickBooks Online. While QuickBooks for Mac is undoubtedly a beautiful program, the upside of having your information stored on a cloud and the ability to use third-party apps from Intuit App Center is just too irresistible for some users.

Moving from QuickBooks for Mac to QuickBooks Online does require the use of a PC for a crucial part of the step. So if you do not have access to a Windows computer or cannot run Parallels, BootCamp or another service that allows you to run Windows inside Mac, you might be out of luck.

The following blog post will detail how to transfer your company file from QuickBooks for Mac to QuickBooks Online.

Convert your QuickBooks for Mac file
Because QuickBooks Online only accepts company files from QuickBooks for Windows, we’ll have to first convert our QuickBooks for Mac into a QuickBooks for Windows file.

To do so, you must first prepare the company file for conversion. Because the move from QuickBooks for Mac isn’t a perfect process, we must fix all the known bugs ourselves so we don’t run into any trouble.

  • Locate the company file in your file system and copy it to the desktop. You can find where your company file by opening up QuickBooks and choosing Help->Product information.
  • Copy the company file to your desktop
  • Remove all special characters from the name of the company file — special characters are the bane of every developer’s existence and generally causes errors, so we’ll have to eliminate all symbols like !@#$%^&*
  • Open up the copied company file in QuickBooks and delete all memorized (i.e. recurring) transactions and reports. To do so, select Lists->Memorized Transactions and select Edit->Delete Memorized Transaction to delete each one of your memorized transactions. To delete your memorized reports, select Reports->Reports Center. You should see your memorized reports so you can highlight and select the red X.
  • Resort your lists
  • After you’ve deleted all memorized transactions & reports and resorted your lists, you’ll have to rebuild the company file.
  • The last “bug” we’ll have to fix is are transactions that have memos longer than 50 characters.  To do so, you’ll have to run a report that enables you to locate these transactions and modify them.
  • Choose Reports->Custom Reports->Transaction Detail
  • Under Date, make sure to choose All and under Columns, make sure Memo has a checkmark next to it, then click OK.
  • Expand the memo column and edit any memos that have more than 50 characters (including spaces) by double clicking on the memo.
  • If you’ve edited any Memos, then you must rebuild your company file again.
  • Now we’ll get to the meat and potatoes: actually converting the company file to a Windows format. Go to File->Back Up to QuickBooks for Windows
  • Choose a name and location for the file and click Save. Simple. No sweat.

The next steps are done from a Windows machine. You’ll have to upload the Windows file from a Windows machine to QuickBooks Online.

  • Move the file from your Mac machine to your Windows machine and save it
  • Open up Internet Explorer and navigate to QuickBooks Online and login
  • Choose Company->Import QuickBooks Desktop Data
  • Choose Other versions of QuickBooks for Windows
  • Follow the wizard to download ActiveX, browse your file system for the company file, and you’re all set!

How to Rebuild Your Company File – QuickBooks Help

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

If you have to rebuild your company file, it’s most likely to fix damage and ensure no damage to your company file & lists in the future. Rebuilding a company file has the potential to do a lot of damage, so before you rebuild your file, you must first make sure you have resorted your lists and that you have a backup copy of your company file. It’s very important to never cancel or abort the Rebuild Data Utility as it will corrupt your company file.

Here’s how to rebuild your company file:

 

  1. Select File->Utilities->Rebuild Data and select OK to create a backup
  2. Select Local Backup
  3. Click Options and locate where you’d like to save the backup
  4. Select Complete Verification and choose OK, then choose Next.
  5. Enter in a name for your backup, making sure you do not include any special characters (!@#$%^&*) and click Save. QuickBooks will begin the backup and automatically start the Rebuild Data Utility.


That’s it! Now, you’ll no longer be stumped if anyone tells you to rebuild your company file in QuickBooks!

How to Resort Lists in QuickBooks for Mac

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

If you’re rebuilding your company file, you may come across the instruction to resort lists in QuickBooks for Mac. Resorting lists in QuickBooks may not seem like something that is necessary as you might not notice any difference in the order of your list items. But resorting lists isn’t for you, it’s for QuickBooks. Resorting is often used to fix any damage to your lists that could hurt the process of Rebuilding your company file.

If you’re given instructions to Resort Lists, there are three lists to be concerned with: Master Name list, Chart of Accounts, and Items and Classes list.

To Resort Master Name List:

 

  1. Go to the Banking->Write Check
  2. Click in the Payee field and select Command (Apple Key) + L. That will bring up your Master Name list.
  3. Make sure All Names is selected at the bottom
  4. Go to Edit->Resort List and click OK.


To Resort Chart of Accounts, Items & Classes Lists:

 

  1. Go to Lists->Chart of Accounts
  2. Make sure All Accounts or Include Inactive is selected at the bottom
  3. Go to Edit->Resort List and click OK.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3, only for Items & Classes.

Once you’ve resorted your lists, you’re ready to rebuild your data!

Credit Card Expenses: ProOnGo Now Supports 19,000 Banks!

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Today, we’re proud to announce a huge revamp of credit card expense integration. Out with the old, and in with the new!Credit card expenses integration with ProOnGo

Back in the day (meaning last week) we were using an industry standard called OFX to access credit card transactions from banking institutions. The OFX standard is about 15 years old and has been a big problem to work with. Banks don’t really pay attention to their integration or the error messages they write. Not to mention, ProOnGo only had banking integration with approximately 1000 financial institutions.

Our new credit card system enables our users to integrate with over 19,000 banks and financial institutions, including brokerage firms and investment accounts in the United States and Canada. A 19x increase in our support should definitely help a few of our customers that were left out in the cold without credit card integration.

In addition to downloading the transactions, ProOnGo will also auto-categorize credit card transactions. This means that as credit card transactions are downloaded to your ProOnGo expense list, the Category of each expense will automatically populate based upon the Merchant of the expense.

Some diligent users will point out that the Category isn’t among the categories they have already set up inside ProOnGo. These may be special categories that correspond to QuickBooks or Xero accounts, or they may be categories that appear in your Custom Spreadsheet. This is because the banking institutions actually categorize the expense before ProOnGo receives the transaction.

However, we have developed a way for users to match the common categories banks use with the categories you require.

Under Settings->Credit Cards, users should see a button labeled ‘Categories.’ Once that is selected, users can map a generic category the banks use to the available categories you have already set up in your ProOnGo account. Once you map the category, the credit card expenses from that vendor will be labeled with your appropriate ProOnGo category.

Credit Card Expense Categories

In the next few weeks, we’ll be expanding our credit card support to include our QuickBooks customers. Coming up, users will be able to properly import credit card expenses into QuickBooks, as well as set up a new card from the iPhone, iPad and Android application.

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates and tutorials regarding credit card expenses!

How to Pick Between QuickBooks ProAdvisors

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Recently we discussed how beneficial it is to hire a CPA who is also a ProAdvisor to handle your books – so, how do you find such a person? There’s no yellow pages section for “QuickBooks Experts,” unfortunately – plus, who uses phone books these days? So, where do you start looking for QuickBooks ProAdvisors?

Intuit provides a slick page for you to search for ProAdvisors in your area! A quick search for QuickBooks ProAdvisors in the Chicagoland area brings up 361 results. That’s three hundred and sixty one people who are certified QuickBooks specialists; talk about having a choice! What happens, though, when there are too many choices? Where do you start? All QuickBooks ProAdvisors are skilled in QuickBooks, but how do you find one who is right for your business specifically?

Thankfully, Intuit helps you out – at the top of the Find a Local QuickBooks Expert page, there are some options for filtering. For this experiment, we’re going to say that we’re using the product QuickBooks Online, that we need help with Book Keeping, QuickBooks Setup, and Income Tax Preparation/Planning. We’re going to select No Preference from the ‘Industry’ drop-down menu, saying that we have no preference as to what industry the QuickBooks ProAdvisors specialize in. As soon as you check mark those filters, they’ll be applied to your search results, so just scroll down to see your results!

Now we’re down to 148 QuickBooks ProAdvisors to choose from. Since you only want the best of the best for your business, we’re going to select ‘Highest Rated’ from the Sort By drop down.

Strategy 1: Use Reviews

While judging solely based on reviews can be flawed – grumpy customers are far more likely to take the time to write a review then satisfied ones – they’re still extremely useful. You can see what real people have to say about their experiences working with each QuickBooks ProAdvisor.

So, when you’re going through the list of results, jot down the names of QuickBooks ProAdvisors who have a high number of reviews. Then, once you have your top twenty or so, go back and read those reviews. This isn’t as daunting a task as it may seem. Most reviews are short and easy to read, as they’re written by regular people. Look for certain key words in these reviews. Is the ProAdvisor knowledgable? Is he or she patient? Maybe they’re even fun to work with!

Now, use that knowledge to narrow down your results to a top ten list. Email all ten people asking for quotes and more information. It’s not uncommon for QuickBooks ProAdvisors to offer free initial consultations to potential clients, so you can take your QuickBooks ProAdvisor for a test drive before committing to using their services (just don’t get a consultation without the intent to hire; it’s never cool to waste someone’s time).

I wouldn’t recommend meeting with all ten, but maybe meet with two or three. You’re going to be working closely with this person, and they’re going to be teaching you about QuickBooks, which is a program you may or may not be comfortable using already. So it’s okay to ask yourself, do I like this person?

Strategy 2: Use the “Help Me Choose” Button
On the Find a Local QuickBooks Expert page, you’ll notice a big orange button that says “HELP ME CHOOSE.” It’s there to do just that! Intuit will take a look at the preferences you set and generate a list of four or five QuickBooks ProAdvisors that they think are a good fit for you! Just fill out the form and click ‘Submit,’ and pow! You’re done! You’ve contacted all of those ProAdvisors, and all you have to do is hang out and relax until they get back to you.

You’ll notice that the QuickBooks ProAdvisors listed there aren’t the same as are listed on the first few pages, and this isn’t always a bad thing! All QuickBooks ProAdvisors are qualified to help you; they all have to take the same certification test, which requires that they know QuickBooks in and out. An advantage of contacting a QuickBooks ProAdvisor from somewhere other than the first page of results is that they have fewer people contacting them, meaning that their response times are going to be quicker, and that with a lower volume of inquiries they’ll be able to really focus personalized attention on your business and QuickBooks needs.

Strategy 3: Use Social Media
Is your QuickBooks ProAdvisor also your Facebook friend? Do you follow them on Twitter? QuickBooks ProAdvisors who use social media are up-to-date and technologically savvy. Plus, maybe more importantly, they’re actively trying to communicate with you, the client. By reading their blog you can not only see their knowledge and smarts displayed, but you can also maybe learn something about QuickBooks and accounting!

There are several Facebook groups dedicated to ProAdvisors and QuickBooks, as well as groups on LinkedIn. Just type “proadvisor” into your social network of choice’s search bar and see how many people come up! Even if you’re not a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, you can still join those groups and ask questions. Maybe that’s where you’ll find your new QuickBooks ProAdvisor!

Or, take your top 25 list from Strategy 1 and see if you can find them on the social networks you use. That can help you further narrow down that list.

 

Your business is important, so it’s important to hire the best possible QuickBooks ProAdvisor forthe job. With these strategies, you can narrow down the bulk of search results and really focus on finding that person. Remember, they’re going to be handling your company’s finances, so choose wisely!

Import into QuickBooks: IIF v. QBWC v. Intuit Anywhere

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Various Ways to Take Information & Import into QuickBooks

In the early days of QuickBooks, for importing there weren’t a lot of options for importing information into QuickBooks. The earliest version of importing information – excluding  manual entry – has been the IIF file, but since has evolved to the QuickBooks Web Connector, and now, 3rd party applications are taking data and importing into QuickBooks using Intuit Anywhere.

IIF Files – The early days.

IIF files were first introduced into the QuickBooks universe sometime before 1997 (here is the oldest mention we can find).  Remember 1997?  Sales of 3.5″ floppy disks were still going strong.  Dial-up internet was all the rage.  The Netscape browser was hot stuff.  And, yes, the IIF file was considered a quite acceptable way to shuttle data from a 3rd party app, into QuickBooks.

IIF files were a manual process for importing information into QuickBooks. They were essentially CSV files, called Intuit Interchangeable Format, that contained your information in a format Intuit would be able to recognize.

The common process would be to have all of your information in a Excel document using a particular IIF format, then save the file with the .IIF extension. The next step is to import the information in QuickBooks; opening File->Utilities->Import IIF Files… then your information would appear in QuickBooks

However, there were major problems with IIF files (see IIF vs Cloud comparison) and knowing how to use IIF files and their intracies became cultish-like club (we were guilty of drinking the Kool-aid, too). IIF files didn’t let users export transactions, import/export Payroll data, and didn’t allow users to import linked transactions (e.g. a customer invoice matched w/ a customer payment of that invoice).

It was also very common to import the ‘wrong kind’ of IIF file. There were many different types of formats depending on what you wanted to do: add information as Write Check, Vendor Bill, Credit Card transaction, etc. all had their own unique format. Mixing up a format could result in some transactions being added to your books, while leaving others out – and of course no real way to tell what went wrong or how to clean up the mess.

Forutnatley, Intuit graduated to the next medium of importing data into QuickBooks; the QuickBooks Web Connect.

QuickBooks Web Connect – A Step in the Right Direction

QuickBooks Web Connect (QBWC) was first launched later in 2002 to make up for the problems of IIF files, but was never supported in QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks for Mac. QBWC allowed 3rd party applications to access QuickBooks to send/receive information over the internet.

For the most part QBWC worked as designed, although set-up problems plagued users with rough initial user-experiences. Up until recently, ProOnGo was supporting the QBWC in order to update credit card transactions from QuickBooks desktop versions and we had numerous problems with clients attempting to setup their QBWC and running into some type of error. While up and running, it did the trick, but the initial setup process was so painful for some users, they were turned off to using 3rd party applications with QuickBooks.

Intuit Anywhere

Finally, in August of 2011, Intuit announced Intuit Anywhere; a new method for 3rd party applications to import/export data from/to QuickBooks without having to convert information into a particular file type, or having to setup a new program.

This is when ProOnGo really joined the QuickBooks party. We first demonstrated our mobile and web application connecting to QuickBooks using Intuit Anywhere at the Intuit Apps Showcase on August 12th. Intuit Anywhere allowed us to connect to QuickBooks desktop versions, as well as QuickBooks Online, from a very simple SDK published by Intuit. Using Intuit Anywhere, we are able to interact with nearly every facet of QuickBooks, which truly turns our offering into a QuickBooks “application” because of its native interaction.

Instead of a program that just integrates with QuickBooks, where you would create a certain type of file, or you had to install another piece of software and keep running on your computer at all times, Intuit Anywhere let’s ProOnGo publish data to the Intuit Cloud and the cloud is responsible for updating the information to the user’s QuickBooks file. This makes the interaction between ProOnGo and QuickBooks feel much more natural.

Hopefully, this brief rundown of the various methods used to take information and import into QuickBooks was helpful.  If you have any questions, you’re always more than welcome to shoot an email to Support@ProOnGo.com