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QuickBooks 2004 for Dummies

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Build your business, create a budget, and pay your bills

Improve your business processes while making accounting and financial management easy

Drowning in debits and credits? Bogged down in bags of paperwork? It's time to break free of the daily accounting grind and focus on making your business grow! With this book to help, QuickBooks 2004 will get your finances in order so you can get down to business.

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Overview

Build your business, create a budget, and pay your bills

Improve your business processes while making accounting and financial management easy

Drowning in debits and credits? Bogged down in bags of paperwork? It's time to break free of the daily accounting grind and focus on making your business grow! With this book to help, QuickBooks 2004 will get your finances in order so you can get down to business.

Stephen L. Nelson, MBA, CPA provides accounting, business advisory, and tax preparation and planning services to small businesses. He is the author of over 100 books on computer and business topics.

The Dummies Way
* Explanations in plain English
* "Get in, get out" information
* Icons and other navigational aids
* Tear-out cheat sheet
* Top ten lists
* A dash of humor and fun

Discover how to:
* Balance your books and print checks
* Generate comprehensive financial reports
* Design your own invoices and statements
* Determine which customers owe money
* Estimate projects and track expenses

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764555251
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/5/2004
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition number: 11
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.72 (w) x 9.76 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen L. Nelson, MBA, CPA, has a simple purpose in life: He wants to help you (and people like you) manage your business finances by using computers. Oh, sure, this personal mandate won’t win him a Nobel Prize or anything, but it’s his own little contribution to the world.
Steve’s education and experiences mesh nicely with his special purpose. He has a B.S. in accounting and an MBA in finance. He’s a CPA in Redmond, Washington. He used to work as a senior consultant and CPA with Arthur Andersen & Co. (er, yeah, that Arthur Andersen — but hey it was 20 years ago). Steve, whose books have sold more than 4 million copies in English and have been translated into 11 other languages, is also the bestselling author of Quicken 2003 For Dummies (from Wiley Publishing, Inc.).

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Table of Contents

Introduction.

Part I: You Gotta Start Someplace.

Chapter 1: The Big Interview.

Chapter 2: Lots of Lists.

Chapter 3: Sharing QuickBooks Files.

Part II: Daily Chores.

Chapter 4: Invoices and Credit Memos.

Chapter 5: Reeling In the Dough.

Chapter 6: Paying Bills.

Chapter 7: Inventory Magic.

Chapter 8: Keeping Your Checkbook.

Chapter 9: Paying with Plastic.

Part III: Stuff You Do Every So Often.

Chapter 10: Check Printing 101.

Chapter 11: Online with QuickBooks.

Chapter 12: Payroll.

Chapter 13: The Balancing Act.

Chapter 14: Reporting On the State of Affairs.

Chapter 15: QuickBooks Dirty Work.

Chapter 16: Building the Perfect Budget.

Part IV: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 17: (Almost) Ten Knowledge Nuggets about Web-ifying Your Business.

Chapter 18: (Almost) Ten Tips for Business Owners.

Chapter 19: Tips for Handling (Almost) Ten Tricky Situations.

Chapter 20: (Almost) Ten Little Ideas for Saving Big on Business Taxes.

Chapter 21: (Almost) Ten Secret Business Formulas.

Part V: Appendixes.

Appendix A: Installing QuickBooks in Ten Easy Steps.

Appendix B: If Numbers Are Your Friends.

Appendix C: Project Estimating, Billing, and Tracking.

Index.

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First Chapter

QuickBooks 2004 For Dummies


By Stephen L. Nelson

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-5525-1


Chapter One

The Big Interview

In This Chapter

* Getting ready to do the big interview

* Not getting discouraged about the big interview

* Surviving the big interview

* Telling your friends all sorts of war stories about the big interview

* Making the accrual-accounting adjustment

* Supplying the missing numbers

I know that you're eager to get started. You've got a business to run. But before you can start using QuickBooks, you need to do some upfront work. Specifically, you need to prepare for the QuickBooks EasyStep Interview, and then you need to walk through the EasyStep Interview. (The EasyStep Interview is just a thorough question-and-answer session that QuickBooks uses to set itself up for you.) After you finish with the EasyStep Interview, you also probably need to fiddle with QuickBooks to get everything working just right. In this chapter, I describe how you do all this stuff.

REMEMBER

I assume that you know how Windows works. If you don't, take the time to read Chapter 1 of your Windows User's Guide. Or try the appropriate edition of Windows For Dummies by Andy Rathbone (Wiley Publishing, Inc.).

Getting Ready for the Big Interview

You need to complete three tasks to get ready for the EasyStep Interview:

  •   You need to make an important decision about your conversion date (the date you convert from your old accounting system to QuickBooks).
  •   You need to prepare a trial balance as of the conversion date.
  •   You need to go on a scavenger hunt to collect a bunch of stuff that you'll need or find handy for the interview.

The big decision

Before you start fiddling with your computer or the QuickBooks software, you need to choose the date - the so-called conversion date - on which you want to begin using QuickBooks for your financial record keeping.

This decision is hugely important because the conversion date that you choose dramatically affects both the work you have to do to get QuickBooks running smoothly and the initial usefulness of the financial information that you collect and record by using QuickBooks.

You've got three basic choices you can make:

  •   The right way: You can convert at the beginning of your accounting year (which is almost certainly the same as the beginning of the calendar year). This way is the right way for two reasons. First, converting at the beginning of the year requires the least amount of work from you. Second, it means that you have all the current year's financial information in one system.
  •   The slightly awkward way: You can convert at the beginning of some interim accounting period (probably the beginning of some month or quarter). This approach works, but it's slightly awkward because you have to plug your year-to-date income and expenses numbers from the old system into the new system. (If you don't know what an interim accounting period is, read Appendix B.)
  •   The my-way-or-the-highway way: You can convert at some time other than what I call the right way and the slightly awkward way. Specifically, you can choose to convert whenever you jolly well feel like it. You create a bunch of unnecessary work for yourself if you take this approach, and you pull out a bunch of your hair in the process. But you also have the satisfaction of knowing that through it all, you did it your way - without any help from me.

I recommend the right way. What this choice means is that if it's late in the year - say, October - I suggest that you just wait until January 1 of the next year to convert. If it's still early in the year, you can also retroactively convert as of the beginning of the year. (If you do this, you need to go back and do your financial record keeping for the first part of the current year by using QuickBooks: entering sales, recording purchases, and so on.)

If it's sometime in the middle of the year - say, Memorial Day or later - then you probably want to use the slightly awkward way. (I'm actually going to use the slightly awkward way in this chapter because if you see how to convert to QuickBooks by using the slightly awkward way, you know how to use both the right way and the slightly awkward way.)

The trial balance of the century

After you decide when you want to convert, you need a trial balance.

"Yikes," you say. "What's a trial balance?" A trial balance simply lists all your assets, liabilities, and owner's equity account balances as well as the year-to-date income and expense numbers on a specified date (which, not coincidentally, happens to be the conversion date). You need this data for the EasyStep Interview and for some fiddling around that you need to do after you complete the EasyStep Interview.

TIP

Creating a trial balance doesn't have to be as hard as it sounds. If you've been using another small-business accounting system, such as Intuit's simpler Quicken product or Computer Associates' Simply Accounting program, you may be able to have your old system produce a trial balance on the conversion date. In that case, you can get the balances from your old system. (Consider yourself lucky if this is the case.)

If your old system is rather informal (perhaps it's a shoebox full of receipts) or if it tracks only cash (perhaps you've been using Quicken), you need to do a bit more work:

  •   To get your cash balance, you need to reconcile your bank account or bank accounts (if you have more than one bank account) as of the conversion date.
  •   To get your accounts receivable balance, you need to tally up the total of all your unpaid customer invoices.
  •   To get your other asset account balances, you need to know what each asset originally cost. For depreciable fixed assets, you also need to provide any accumulated depreciation that has been claimed for that asset. (Accumulated depreciation is the total depreciation that you've already expensed for each asset.)

REMEMBER

By the way, refer to Appendix B if you have questions about accounting or accounting terminology, such as depreciation.

  •   To get your liability account balances, you need to know how much you owe on each liability. If you trust your creditors - the people that you owe the money to - you may also be able to get this information from their statements.

You don't need to worry about the owner's equity accounts. QuickBooks can calculate your owner's equity account balances for you, based on the difference between your total assets and your total liabilities. This method is a bit sloppy, and accountants may not like it, but it's a pretty good compromise. (If you do have detailed account balances for your owner's equity accounts, use these figures - and know that you're one in a million.)

If you're using the slightly awkward way to convert to QuickBooks - in other words, if your conversion date is some date other than the beginning of the accounting year - then you also need to provide year-to-date income and expense balances. To get your income, cost of goods sold, expenses, other income, and other expense account balances, you need to calculate the year-to-date amount of each account. If you can get this information from your old system, that's super. If not, you need to get it manually. (If you suddenly have images of yourself sitting at your desk, late at night, tapping away on a tenkey, you're probably right. What's more, you probably also need to allocate half of another Saturday to getting up and running with QuickBooks.)

Just for fun, I've created the sample trial balance shown in Table 1-1. This table shows you what a trial balance looks like if you convert at some time other than at the beginning of the accounting year.

If you're converting at the very beginning of the accounting year, your trial balance looks instead like the one shown in Table 1-2. Notice that this trial balance doesn't have any year-to-date income or expense balances.

The mother of all scavenger hunts

Even after you've decided when you want to convert to QuickBooks and have come up with a trial balance, you still need to collect a bunch of additional information. I'm just going to list these items in laundry-list fashion. What you want to do is find all this stuff and then pile it up (neatly) in a big stack next to the computer.

  •   Last year's federal tax return. QuickBooks asks which federal income tax form you use to file your tax return and also about your taxpayer identification number. Last year's federal tax return is the easiest place to find this stuff.
  •   Copies of your most recent state and federal payroll tax returns. If you prepare payroll for employees, QuickBooks wants to know about the federal and state payroll tax rates you pay as well as some other stuff.
  •   Copies of all the unpaid invoices that your customers (or clients or patients or whatever) owe you as of the conversion date. I guess this is probably obvious, but the total accounts receivable balance shown on your trial balance needs to match the total of the unpaid customer invoices.
  •   Copies of all unpaid bills that you owe your vendors as of the conversion date. Again, this is probably obvious, but the total accounts payable balance shown on your trial balance needs to match the total of the unpaid vendor bills.
  •   A detailed listing of any inventory items you're holding for resale. This list should include not only inventory item descriptions and quantities, but also the initial purchase prices and the anticipated sales prices. In other words, if you sell porcelain wombats and you've got 1,200 of these beauties in inventory, you need to know exactly what you paid for them.
  •   Copies of the prior year's W-2 statements, W-4 statements for anybody you've hired since the beginning of the prior year, detailed information about any payroll tax liabilities you owe as of the conversion date, and detailed information about the payroll tax deposits you've made since the beginning of the year. You need the information shown on these forms to adequately and accurately set up the QuickBooks payroll feature. I don't want to scare you, but this is probably the most tedious part of setting up QuickBooks.
  •   If you're retroactively converting as of the beginning of the year, you need a list of all the transactions that have occurred since the beginning of the year: sales, purchases, payroll transactions, and everything and anything else. If you do the right way conversion retroactively, you need to reenter each of these transactions into the new system. You actually enter the information after you complete the EasyStep Interview that I describe later in this chapter. But you may as well get all this information together now, while you're searching for the rest of the scavenger hunt items.

TIP

If you take the slightly awkward way, you don't need to find the last item that I described in the previous list. You can just use the year-to-date income and expense numbers from the trial balance.

Doing the EasyStep Interview

After you decide when you want to convert, prepare a trial balance as of the conversion date, and collect the additional raw data that you need, you're ready to step through the EasyStep Interview.

Before you begin the interview, you have to start QuickBooks 2004. To do so, choose Start, Programs and then click the menu choices that lead to QuickBooks. (For example, I choose Start[right arrow]Programs[right arrow]QuickBooks Premier[right arrow] QuickBooks Premier.)

REMEMBER

QuickBooks comes in several flavors. The most common flavors are Quick Books Basic, QuickBooks Pro, and QuickBooks Premier. These three programs differ in several significant ways: QuickBooks Pro adds the advanced jobcosting and time-estimating features. It also includes the ability to share a QuickBooks file over a network, as I describe in Chapter 3. QuickBooks Premier adds features to QuickBooks Pro for accountants and auditors who want to use QuickBooks for rather large small businesses. I used QuickBooks Premier for writing this book, by the way, so the figures you see here may look a wee bit different from what you see on-screen in one or two special cases. But other than minor cosmetic differences, the three programs work the same way.

If this is the first time you've started QuickBooks, QuickBooks displays a message box that asks you how you want to start. For example, you can click a button that indicates you want to open a sample data file. What I suggest you do, however, is jump right into the fray. If you've never used QuickBooks before - the likely case if you've started your reading here - click the Set Up a New Data File for a Company button, which starts the EasyStep Interview. (If you've already been using an earlier version of QuickBooks or Quicken, click the buttons corresponding to these choices. QuickBooks then starts an abbreviated version of the EasyStep Interview.)

The real fun begins at this point. The EasyStep Interview starts automatically, displaying the dialog box shown in Figure 1-1.

REMEMBER

If you're not starting QuickBooks for the first time but you want to step through the EasyStep Interview to set up a new company anyway, choose File[right arrow]New Company. Or, if you want to step through the interview for a company you've already set up (but perhaps set up incorrectly or incompletely), choose File[right arrow]EasyStep Interview.

To begin the interview, click the Next button. The next page of dialog box information asks whether you're upgrading from a previous version of Quicken or QuickBooks. You're probably not (or you wouldn't be reading this chapter), so click the No, I'm Not Upgrading option and then continue with the interview by clicking the Next button. Each time you finish a page of the interview, click the Next button to continue.

After QuickBooks starts, you may also see a message box that asks whether you want to register QuickBooks. You can use the product roughly a couple dozen times and then - whammo - either you register it or you can't use it. I don't like being forced to do something, but getting worked up about having to register QuickBooks is a waste of time. The simplest option is to just register.

Continues...


Excerpted from QuickBooks 2004 For Dummies by Stephen L. Nelson Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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