Kristina's Bookkeeping Blog

My favorite Quickbooks & Xero addons

Quickbooks and Xero are pretty powerful programs on their own, but it can still take a lot of time getting information into and out of your accounts. So when you start using addons to streamline the administrative side of bookkeeping, things really start to take off. With that in mind, I thought I would run down my top three addons that work with Quickbooks and Xero.


TSheets is a web-based scheduling and time tracking software. You can set up employee schedules and they can clock in and out directly through the website. This can be done with the automated time tracker or by manually entering hours into the timesheet. TSheets also has a GPS tracker.  This is very helpful to employers that have employees that are working offsite (i.e: construction).  It shows where the employee was when they logged in and out.  It helps cut down on the truth stretching that happens out in the field.  It can be set up to go to Managers first for approval before it is imported into QB to be recorded as billable hours and payroll hours.

For the independent contractor TSheets is an excellent way of tracking billable and non-billable hours. Having a quick and easy way to track which clients you’re working on allows you to make sure they’re getting billed correctly. You might even find out it’s time to offload some non-billable hours to an assistant. However you end up using TSheets, that information can be imported directly into your Quickbooks or Xero file. You can then run that as payroll or accounts receivable. A lot better than tracking hours in an excel spreadsheet, that’s for sure!


As you might have guessed, Expensify helps streamline expense reporting and reimbursement. Two things that we all want done as quickly as possible! Like TSheets, Expensify is web-based. It makes it much easier for employees to submit expense reports and for you to review and approve them. Employees are able to take pictures of expense receipts directly on their phone through the Expensify app and it will scan for matching information. On the company side you can quickly review expense or even set up automated reimbursement rules. Just like TSheets, Expensify syncs with your accounting software and imports expense and reimbursements to the appropriate accounts. All this means that both you and your employees spend more time working and less time shuffling through boxes of receipts.

So once you have hours to bill and expenses to pay, what then? Well,! This last web application centralizes your accounts payable and accounts receivable into one location. Vendors and business owners can send bills directly to this portal to be processed and paid, instead of needing a paper copy sent to their office.

Once the bills are received, they are processed by the bookkeeper and then the authorized approver on the account is notified that there are bills ready to be signed off on. You can see PDF copies of the bills and approve them immediately or wait to pay them at a later time. Once the bills have been approved, the bookkeeper processes them for payment and they are paid by manual check or E-payment through All of this is automatically synced to QuickBooks and Xero without any need for manual entry!

Another benefit of is that it functions as a easy to use virtual filing cabinet. The business owner and the bookkeeper have access to the company’s entire history of bills in PDF format and the remittance information filed by vendor in It really does keep things simple!

So there’s my top three suggestions for applications to integrate with your accounting software. These will save you time whether you do your own bookkeeping or you need to get your professional bookkeeper all the information they need. Either way, the less time you have to spend entering data, the more you can grow your business!

If you’re looking for a bookkeeping services to help you with your all your bills and expenses, contact us today!

Summer Financial Check Up!

As the summer months come rolling in, the last thing people want to think about is their taxes. Didn’t we just finish those anyway? The thing is, as you find out every tax season, your CPA gets pretty busy. That means that right around now is a great time for a mid-year check in with your tax accountant.

Just like you, at this time of year accountants and financial planners are happier and less stressed out. That means they can give you some real attention that you might not get at year end. Rather than just trying to get everyone out the door by tax day, your CPA can actually give you some more personal advice about your financial standing.

Checking in mid-year is also a good way of avoiding any nasty surprises when your tax deadline approaches. If there’s something wrong in your books, finding it now can save you a lot of headaches later down the road. It can be rough when your taxes end up being way above estimate. If you’re lucky it’s because you’re having an unexpected good year, if not you’ll need some time to prepare. Either way by reevaluating your tax estimate now, you have plenty of time to budget for a higher total. Having to do all the adjusting at the end of the year can feel like running into a brick wall.

I know that talking with your CPA is not the top of everyone’s summer to do list, but try it out. It’ll give you confidence knowing your business is on track and you’ll thank yourself later this year when the job is already halfway done!

If you’re looking for a bookkeeping services to keep your books clean and keep your year end costs down, contact us today!

Bookkeeping Software for Contractors

It’s the time of year when QuickBooks Desktop clients need to upgrade their license to the newest version. Some of my clients begin thinking about moving to one of the online accounting services, so I get a lot of questions on QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online, Xero and others. In the last couple years the online bookkeeping solutions have really closed the gap on the offline versions, but there are a few areas where the desktop version still has its advantages. This is particularly true for industries that use progressive billing with estimates and job costing.

I happen to work with a number of contractors so I wanted to give some specific advice on what contractors should look for when choosing their bookkeeping software. Contractors spend a lot of time creating estimates and invoices for current or prospective clients. Whatever can make this process easiest can be a big time saver. Quickbooks Desktop and Quickbooks Online both allow you to create estimates which can later be converted into invoices for you client. Xero also includes this feature, but there they are called “Quotes” rather than estimates.

Another feature that I see contracting clients overlook is transaction classes. This little feature allows you to categorize expenses from various vendors under a single job. Quickbooks Desktop and QBO allow you to set classes for income and expenses. Once again, Xero has a very similar feature under a different name, in their service it is called “Tracking.”

So, once you’ve given the client an estimate and completed the work it’s time to bill the total right? Well not so fast! As anyone working on a longer projects knows, you need to maintain cash flow. That means progressive billing, also known as progressive invoicing. As you hit milestones in the project you need to bill you clients for that portion of the work. Just because it’s a multi-month project doesn’t mean you don’t have bills to pay!

QBO and Xero both make it incredibly easy to turn an estimate or quote into an invoice and send that off to the client. The problem is that they only let you turn the entire estimate into an invoice. This is where classic Quickbooks Desktop still shines. When working in the desktop version you can bill a set amount or percentage of the total estimate you created at the beginning of the job. This allows you to conveniently draw down from the total until the job is complete.

So, when contractors ask what software they should use the answer is…it depends!

If your jobs are single-stage projects or you don’t work from estimates, then it doesn’t matter all that much. But if you need to bill regularly for longer jobs, Quickbooks Desktop is still the way to go. The developers behind QBO and Xero have both acknowledged that progressive invoicing is somewhere on their list of features to add, but they’ve been saying that for years. Personally, I’m not expecting big changes anytime soon.

Please let me know if you have questions about progressive billing or anything else I mentioned in the post. If you’re tired of handling the bookkeeping yourself, contact us to schedule a free consultation!

“Hey, How Long Do I Have to Keep These Records?”

I’ve had many business owners ask me how long they have to keep their business records and receipts.  Sadly, the answer is not as simple as we might have hoped; it really depends on what type of document it is.  Here is what I found out:

It is not only the IRS that might ask for your documents from prior years.  Other agencies that may need records include the Federal Trade Commission, National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and many more on the national, state, or local level.  Different states and agencies have slightly different retention policies so the following is just a general guideline and is not meant to take the place of legal advice.

  1. Entity Organizational Documents – save permanently
  2. Legal Contracts – save permanently
  3. Finance & Tax
    • Annual Financial Statements – save permanently
    • Asset Ledgers and Depreciation Schedules – save permanently
    • Audit Reports – Save permanently
    • Bank Statements – 7 years
    • Cancelled checks for major asset purchases – save permanently
    • Cancelled checks for (not major asset purchases – 7 years
    • Check Ledger – 7 years
    • Subsidiary Ledgers – (A/R, A/P etc) – 7 years
    • Tax Records (Income tax returns, Quarterlies, W-2’s) – permanently
    • Inventory Records – 7 years
    • Customer Invoices – 7 years
    • Vendor Invoices – 7 years
    • Sales Records – 7 years
  4. Employee Records
    • Employee Accident Documents and Logs (after settlement) – 11 years
    • Employee Medical Records related to exposure of toxic substances – save permanently
    • Employee Procedures Manual – 11 years
    • Job Descriptions – 11 years
    • Non-Hired job applications – 1 year
    • Personnel Files (after termination) – 7 years
    • Time Cards – 7 years
    • Reimbursement Vouchers – 7 years
    • Payroll Checks – 7 years
    • Workers Compensation Documentations – 11 years
  5. Routine Correspondence, Including Email – 4 years

Even if your business does not last as long as the required record keeping, you must still keep those records. Get a storage facility and box them up. Or, if you have an efficient way to scan documents, I suggest scanning all documents as they come in, putting them in the appropriate computer file, separated by year, and then shred the paper form. If you opt for the digital storage option, make sure your files are secure! This means keeping redundant back-ups of everything.

A good system might include a set of local copies on your computer, a back-up on a secure cloud storage service, and set of hard copies stored on an external hard drive. To be safe against some kind of catastrophic event, make sure this hard drive is not stored in the same place as your work computer. For example, if your office floods, you don’t want your computer and the hard drive back-up to both be ruined.

It may seem a little extreme, but the whole idea is better safe than sorry!

I hope that helps you in deciding what to keep, what to toss, what to scan and what to shred.  If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. If you’re looking for help with your bookkeeping, contact us at Kristina’s Abacus!

3 Ways a Bookkeeper Can Help You Survive Tax Season

Every year, as the tax season nears its end, I get contacted by business owners who suddenly remember a very important deadline is approaching. Many business owners, especially new startups, put off finding a bookkeeper because it doesn’t feel like the most pressing issue. If you don’t need to get your bookkeeping sorted out until tax season, why worry about it now?

The fact is that this mentality ends up costing business owners in a number of ways. So whether you’re thinking about starting a business this year, or you’re constantly wondering why tax season is such a headache, here are three reasons why you should get a bookkeeper before tax season rolls around.


If your books are kept up to date throughout the year, you can know for sure that your balances are correct. There’s no guestimating your assets and liabilities. Rather than ignoring everything and then figuring it out at the end of year, you have a consistent, precise picture of the state of your company. By the time you get to the end of the year, most of the work is already done. Working with a bookkeeping service year round means that your books are always prepared.

This is also a big plus if you are looking to attract buyers of investors. Outsiders are much more likely to get involved with your company if they can clearly see what’s going on internally. Showing up with a jumbled box of receipts and bank statements is a great way to scare off potential business partners.

Even if you are keeping up with your own books throughout the year, it’s a good idea to have a professional double check them at least quarterly. In my experience it’s very rare for owners to get everything exactly right. That’s why we do what we do, so you don’t have to!


If you haven’t spoken to a bookkeeper all year and show up at your CPA’s office, you’re going to pay. A lot! As I’ve discussed in one of my older posts, a CPA is much more expensive than even a highly qualified bookkeeper. On top of that, CPAs don’t really like doing the work that bookkeepers do. They would much rather you hire a bookkeeper to ensure your records are clean and up to date before they dive in and sort out your taxes.

If you rely on a CPA to clean up your books, you’re going to be unnecessarily overpaying thousands of dollars! Keep your CPA and you bank account happy by working with a professional bookkeeper!

Less Stress

This is what I meant when I said waiting to come up with a bookkeeping solution will cost you in more ways than one. While the monetary cost is substantial, the amount of stress I see business owners go through to get their taxes prepared at the last minute is no small thing. The worst part is it’s almost entirely avoidable.

By working with a bookkeeper throughout the year, there is much less left to do at year end. This means fewer questions from us about missing statements and uncategorized expenses. Most importantly it means fewer surprises. Altogether that means while your competitors are scrambling, you’re more than ready for the new year!


Hopefully this has given you some insight into why I like to work with clients year round. If you’ve been thinking there must be an easier way to get through tax season, contact us today!

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