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10 useful tools for bookkeepers

Just like any good trades person, a bookkeeper will collect and use certain “tools” during his career that generally make his work easier. I have certainly collected a few tools along the way during my 16 years as a bookkeeper, about 20 to be exact! Today I’m going to share 10 of these tools with you and then next week I’ll share the remaining 10 tools in part 2 of this blog.

Old Tools

Here are 10 useful tools for bookkeepers, used by me (in no particular order of preference):

  1. Dropbox – a fantastic app which many people use, not just bookkeepers, to store and share documents across many devices. I find Dropbox to be of great assistance in terms of allowing me to access my interstate clients’ documents easily and securely. Read my blog called How to use Dropbox with your bookkeeper to find out how I work with my clients using Dropbox.
  2. ATO mobile app – this app is fantastic! It’s available on iOS and Android and includes calculators (fuel tax credits, tax withheld, super guarantee contributions), tools (ABN Lookup, employer/contractor decision), key dates and much more. Makes it so easy to grab important information quickly no matter where you are, on any device.
  3. Auskey on USB – Sometimes I have to work onsite in the client’s office. If I need to access the BAS Agent Portal to check on client details or lodge a BAS, I need my AusKey which generally resides on my laptop. Rather than drag my laptop to the client’s office, I just take my USB drive which holds the AusKey software and plug this into my client’s computer and use as needed. So convenient!
  4. BAS Agent Portal and/or Business Portal – An important tool used to lodge various forms with the ATO on behalf of my clients. I also use the Business Portal to lodge my BAS and interact with the ATO about my own business.
  5. Amortisation calculator – When clients purchase capital assets e.g. a car, they usually don’t have a problem providing invoices and lease or chattel mortgage details but often they fall short of being able to supply the amortisation schedule. For years now, I have been using this online tool to assist me to create schedules as needed. I highly recommend it and it’s updated regularly. Best of all, it’s free!
  6. PayPal Here – Several of my clients pay me via credit card. As I don’t have hundreds of clients, it was hardly worth my while investing in a mobile EFTPOS device. Instead, I use the “PayPal Here” app. It allows me to take credit card payments and also PayPal payments via my mobile phone. The app does have its own mobile card reader that pairs with the app (purchased separately for about $139) but isn’t compulsory so payments can be taken directly via the app without any fuss. Love it!
  7. Adobe Echosign – I used to send out forms such as the “authority to lodge BAS” to clients as a pdf via email, wait for the client to sign the form, scan it to their own computer and then email it back to me. This process was time-consuming and didn’t always go to plan with me often having to chase clients for the signed documents which annoyed me and probably drove them nuts too! Now, thanks to Adobe Echosign, this is all a thing of the past. Echosign allows me to send documents to clients for signing electronically which they can do straight from their email client or mobile device. It’s super convenient for both me and my clients and has also assisted me in maintaining my paperless office!
  8. LastPass – Bookkeepers and BAS Agents have to remember many passwords, pin numbers, user names etc and that’s just for their own businesses. Add to the fray the details provided to them by clients such as software passwords, user names and even online banking details and the password issue becomes a nightmare. I use LastPass to solve this problem. All I need to remember is one password to open LastPass which holds all of my sensitive data in one convenient “vault”. The app is browser-based and so is accessible on any device with an internet connection. This is awesome because it means I have all of my passwords etc with me everywhere I go. The best thing is the app is 100% secure and certainly beats any spreadsheet or Word document for password storage!
  9. ABN Lookup – As a BAS Agent, I am continually checking Australian Business Numbers on behalf of clients. This is necessary to ensure that not only are my clients dealing with legal entities but also to check whether or not these entities are registered for GST. This assists me to enter accurate supplier and customer data into my clients’ accounting programs and ultimately ensures that the BAS is completed correctly. I use ABN Lookup tools to check ABN’s. See my blog How to check if an ABN is the real deal to find out more information about the various ABN Lookup tools available.
  10. Timer – For some time now, I have being using a technique to help me stay productive. The technique involves working on client tasks in 90 minute intervals followed by a half hour break in between. I find that this really works and helps me ensure that I bill out 6 hours of client work each day which is what I need to do to reach my weekly income goals. It also keeps me on task and on target. I use the clock app on my smart phone, specifically the “timer” feature of this app, to time the 90 minute intervals. Once the alarm goes off, it’s time to down tools and take a break. Works really well for me.

Well that’s the first 10 tools done and dusted! Next week, I’ll share another 10 tools I use in my bookkeeping business which hopefully, if you’re a bookkeeper (or even if you’re not), you’ll find useful too.

What tools do you use in your bookkeeping business? Do you mainly use online apps or other sorts of tools, like text books or spreadsheets, or perhaps a combination of the two? Feel free to share your favourite tools below in the comments section.