The hardest part of creating a budget is getting started. QuickBooks Online provides tools that can jump-start the process.
You know you should have a budget. You’re aware that it can help you stay on track with your company’s income and expenses throughout the year. Maybe you’ve even tried to make one before, but you got discouraged by the mechanics or by the difficulty of estimating money in and out for the next 12 months.
June may not be the beginning of your fiscal year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a serious effort to start building a budget that can help you rein in expenses and set revenue goals.
Here’s a look at QuickBooks Online’s budgeting features.
Creating the Framework
Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure that your fiscal year is set correctly in QuickBooks Online. Click the gear icon in the upper right, then click Your Company | Account and Settings | Advanced. If the First month of fiscal year isn’t correct, click the pencil icon over to the right and change it. Then click Save and exit out of this window.
Click the gear icon again and select Budgeting, then click Add budget in the upper right.
QuickBooks Online asks you the questions that need to be answered before you start filling in your budget grid.
The first thing you’ll do is give your budget a descriptive name by entering it in the Name field. Next, open the drop-down list under Fiscal year and select the correct 12-month period. You can create your budget in one of three intervals: Monthly, Quarterly, or Yearly. If you want to populate your budget with numbers from this year or last, make that selection in the Pre-fill data? field.
There’s one more option at the top of the Budgets Grid screen that’s not shown in the image above. You can Subdivide by Customer, Class, or Location. This can be useful if you want to view budget data specific to a subset of entries in each of those categories. You could, for example, choose three customers and view only their numbers in the grid individually, one at a time.
Providing Your Numbers
Once you’re satisfied with the selections you’ve made, click Create Budget in the lower right. The screen will refresh and display a grid that you can edit.
Let’s say you’re working on a budget for the second half of 2018. QuickBooks Online brought in your numbers for January-May. You see that the numbers don’t vary much from month to month on one specific line item, so you’re going to assume that they will continue to be true (unless you know something that will affect it after May). You could enter a rough average of the first five months in the JUN field.
Hover your cursor over the arrow to the side of that field, and this sentence appears in a small bubble: Click to copy the value across on the row. QuickBooks Online will then enter that number in the JUL through DEC fields.
QuickBooks Online can save you some time as you enter data in your budget grid fields.
When you’re done entering data in all of the fields relevant to your business, click Save in the lower right and close the window. Your budget will now show up in the list.
Tip: If you have multiple blank rows and don’t want them to be displayed, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of your budget page. Click in the box in front of Hide blank rows to create a checkmark.
The Hard Part
QuickBooks Online simplifies the mechanics of creating a budget, but it’s up to you to supply the numbers. There’s lots of common-sense advice that experts offer for this process, like:
• Remember seasonal upswings and downswings.
• Make your goals as realistic as possible. You might want to create separate budgets for “needs” and “wants.”
• Track your expenses carefully for a period of time so you can estimate more confidently.
• Create reports regularly that compare your budget vs actuals.
QuickBooks Online can help you with that last piece of advice; it offers a report called Budget vs. Actuals. You’ll find it in the Business Overview group.
We can help, too. Once we understand a little more about your business structure and goals, we can take a look at your income and expense history and make some personalized recommendations. Connect with us soon, and we can start you on the path to a more focused financial future.
Last month, we created QuickBooks Online service items. This month, we’ll explore how they’re used on the site.
If you ever did your accounting manually, you probably remember how tired you got of writing or typing the same things over and over. You may have had your customers’ addresses practically memorized, and your product price list was always close at hand, though you knew that by heart, too.
QuickBooks Online eliminates that duplicate data entry, saving time and reducing errors dramatically. Because of the service records you’ve created, completing sales and purchase forms can now be an easy, accurate task. You’ll also have fast access to information about your inventory levels and the profit you make on items. You’ll know what’s selling and what’s not, and when it’s time to reorder.
Much of your accounting work probably consists of filling out forms. Whenever you create one of these invoices or sales receipts or purchase orders, you already know that you can open a drop-down list and select the name of a customer or vendor. QuickBooks Online lets you enter data about what is being bought or sold in the same way.
To see how this works, open an invoice form and complete and/or verify the fields at the top (customer, date, terms, etc.). Click in the first PRODUCT/SERVICE field, and then click the down arrow to see the list of items and services you sell.
When you create a sales or purchase form, you’ll be able to select the appropriate service item from the drop-down list – or add a new one.
When you select an item, the description and price will fill in automatically. You’ll have to add the quantity and click in the box below the column labeled Tax (if applicable). QuickBooks Online will calculate the total cost of the service item on that line. If you need to enter additional sales, proceed to the PRODUCT/SERVICE field in the second line and repeat those actions until you’re done and can save the transaction.
Working with Items
What do you do when you need more information about a specific product than just its description and price? Do you have to return to its individual record?
No. QuickBooks Online includes a great tool that provides real-time updates on your inventory items and lets you work with them. Click the Sales tab in the left vertical menu, and then on the Products and Services tab at the top. The table that opens displays numbers for every item’s quantity on hand and reorder point. Look at the end of each line, and you’ll see a drop-down list labeled Edit that looks like this:
QuickBooks Online’s Products and Services page provides real-time inventory updates, as well as item-management tools.
As you can see, there are a number of actions you can take here on individual products.
Warning: If you think there’s a reason you should Adjust quantity or Adjust starting value, please talk to us first. Your inventory records need to be precise. We can schedule a session to go over this and other concepts you need to understand in order to keep inventory counts accurate.
You can take some of these actions on multiple items simultaneously. Click the down arrow in the Batch actions field above this Edit menu. Click the boxes in front of the products you want to work with and select the desired activity (unavailable ones will be grayed out in the list). Take extra care with this mass modification tool.
QuickBooks Online contains templates for numerous inventory-related reports that you can customize.
QuickBooks Online’s Product and Services screen may be all you need in your daily work, but there will be times when you need more analytical assistance. You can turn to the site’s specialized reports for more in-depth scrutiny. Click the Reports tab in the left vertical pane. Make sure the All Reports list is active and select Manage Products and Inventory to see what’s available, including:
- Inventory Valuation Detail.
- Sales by Product/Service Detail.
- Physical Inventory Worksheet.
Reports are easy to run but can be difficult to customize correctly and interpret. If we’re not working with you already on the complex standard financial reports that should be reviewed monthly or quarterly, talk to us. The more you understand about the financial status of your company, the better your decisions will be.