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Are Your Accounts An Alien To You?

So it’s the New Year. I wonder if one of your resolutions was not to leave your accounts until the last minute this year. We’re nearly all guilty of it; even I do sometimes and I’m an accountant.

I thought you may like some tips to make your life easier and help you to stop viewing your accounts like an alien. This can also help your accountant for when you give aforementioned “alien” to be completed.  Obviously the more of these tips you follow the better but we aren’t expecting miracles so don’t worry.

Most importantly

  • Keep all the information you think will be needed.
  • Do not throw out the old cheque book or paying in book, invoices or bank statements.
  • Keep a box or filing cabinet especially for the paperwork you want to keep.  Just keeping it is good but if you break it down into different files or one big file with dividers, then all the better. For example, separate purchase invoices, sales invoices, supplier statements, bank statements, credit card statements. Remember that a supplier statement is not an invoice and just keeping statements is no good for your accounting records – invoices are needed. Especially if you want to claim the VAT back.
    If you are like me then you may not file daily or weekly. You’ll get your post and it gets left in a pile to sort out some other time. At least if you have a box or special place just for your accounts it can be kept together ready for your monthly filing blitz.  Do it weekly and you’ll find it’s not so much of a chore though.
    Bank statements are easily accessible online now so if you are missing some it’s not the end of the world. Do get them before giving your “alien” to your accountant though so he/she doesn’t have to wait on them.
  • Keep a record on each cheque stub of the date, amount and payee, same for your paying in book and money coming in. If you want to go one step further even write on the supplier invoice the cheque number and date paid and on the sales invoice the date banked
  • You may have an accounting package and need to raise sale invoices regularly. I recommend Online Web Accounting online accountancy software as your accountant can access the accounts from his/her office. This means he/she doesn’t need your computer with its stand alone accounts package to complete the accounts. Your online accounts can be accessed from any computer.
    If you are adding information to an accounts package please make sure you definitely know what you are doing or it will mean more time taken checking or undoing what has been done. Therefore more cost for you.
  • If you are Vat registered and are doing the returns yourself make sure you keep all the calculations and invoice lists as back up with a copy of the VAT return.
  • Maybe you don’t have an accounting package and all your records are to be kept on Excel. If you really want to help and cut down the work your accountant has to do then you can always list the invoices on a spreadsheet. Check with your accountant how they want it laid out.  You’re really cruising now if you’ve got this far.

If you are keeping everything up to date then there is no reason why you can’t hand over the “alien” to your accountant for completion a couple of months after your year end. Less pressure for you and the accountant than with a tax deadline looming.

Makes sense doesn’t it?

Sian Phillips is the Managing Editor of and Content Editor on Sian is also the accountant for her clients and but is moving more and more into the content editing world; proofreading and editing blog posts, eBooks, novels and anything that is written. With over 25 years’ worth of experience in business and accounting Sian provides help to her clients with accounting and credit control. The other half of Sian’s day is spent working in the Social Media space; proofreading, copyediting, sharing posts and advice or conducting interviews for She is a qualified Accountant with an Honours Diploma in Journalism too.

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  • Of course it does! I’m glad to hear that even accountants sometimes pile their paperwork. Thanks for the reminders Sian.

  • Nice post Sian. In a previous life I was a bookkeeper and the simple task of having everything in orderly piles/folders make so much sense. Of my specialities was to go in to a sole trader’s office and set up all the systems so that they could easily be followed after I left. A mechanic rarely forgets to check the oil and water on a car and good habits like the ones recommended above DO make everyone’s life so much easier.

  • Thanks Mairead. I know it’s a real chore to get accounts in order – hate doing my own – but I hope this post helps make life a bit easier for some. I had a carpenter friend once and his idea of getting his accounts ready for the accountant was to get a box and empty his van out of all paperwork into the box

  • One of the biggest mistakes I made (or things I would change) was not getting an Accountant sooner.nnIt freed me up to do other things and he found ways to claw back over payments 🙂

  • Thanks for the comment Ivan. We do train for many years to know the trade and I always think it’s best to delegate to someone else what they are good at and then you can concentrate on your expertise.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with this article Adam! I’ve never heard the word “ambassador” used before in reference to a small business owner, yet this is the absolute best word to use! Thank you! When I think about it, I am always representing my company 24/7 and that’s what an ambassador does indeed. This is valuable information that any small business owner should take a moment and reflect on (even if it stings a bit). ;)n nMuch kindness,n nElena

  • As a new business owner, it is always good to get good information. We do wear many hats at many different times, but need to remember we are our business!

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