Real Estate Bookkeeping: A Basic Guide

Many people from different walks of life have strived to buy or invest in properties. However, the real estate industry has witnessed some of the major crises, leaving many people nothing but significant damage to their assets. 

The most destructive one was the collapse of the U.S. housing market due to the financial crisis in 2008. After almost a decade later, when the real estate industry has gradually recovered, and people have started to feel a sense of stability, there comes another wave hitting the industry once again – the Corona pandemic. 

Hence, understanding the driving factors that change the price of real estate is helpful in improving your real estate bookkeeping. You can make better financial analyses and more rational decision-making for your properties. 

Real estate bookkeeping guide 

What can impact the growth of real estate?

Demography

The baby boomers born from 1946 to 1960 have been ending their working careers. The number of people heading to retirement will then go up dramatically. These people tend to sell their houses after that, resulting in an ample supply and lack of demand in the housing industry. The price of your properties might go down eventually.

Moreover, the U.S. will have a smaller workforce, and production will decrease. As a result, fewer people invest in the market, foresaying another financial disaster in the near future.  

Technology

It goes without saying that technology has constantly been growing in recent years. The advancement of blockchain technology has transformed the whole real estate industry. Instead of conducting offline transactions, blockchain has allowed us to trade real estate on digital platforms in many ways. This can lead to a cost down due to eliminating intermediates, saving a lot of dollars, and changing the properties’ price. 

Optimistic forecast by analysts

Analysts place an essential role in shaping investors’ perception of real estate and changing their decision-making. One of the most valuable things we can withdraw from the financial crisis in 2008 is not to always trust the analysts because they also make mistakes. They were confident that investing in mortgages was the best of the best, with nearly no risks involved and high returns. The credit rating agencies also overrated the mortgages with poor credits, making the investors throw loads of their money into the housing market in the U.S. Then, when the housing bubbles popped, not only the investors but the whole economy had to suffer. 

Real estate is a very capital-intensive industry. Every wrong decision would cost you thousands to millions of dollars. Therefore, you must equip yourself with fundamental financial knowledge to predict the changes in real estate, adopt rational thinking, and make a more accurate decision. Let’s start with the basics: bookkeeping. 

What is bookkeeping? 

Bookkeeping is the process of recording all the transactions. In simpler terms, it means that whenever you purchase, sell, borrow or loan something, basically everything monetary, you have to jot down the details, such as the name of the transaction, the date, or the amount of traded money. The products of bookkeeping are financial statements. These statements are then analyzed to understand your financial performance and plan the next moves. 

Let’s look at this example: You have $100,000. You borrow a bank $400,000, and you then buy a $500,000 house. 

How many transactions are there in this example?

The answer is two: transactions between you and the bank and between you and the house-seller. In reality, the trades are more complicated with more accounts that you need to take into more consideration. 

Why do you need efficient real estate bookkeeping? 

Easy reporting to the externals

The creditors (such as banks) or the IRS need to view and get updated about your current net worth and gains from your properties to quantify appropriate interest rates or tax rates. All the financial statements, including the balance sheet, income state, or cash flow statements, demonstrate all the value of your real estate. 

Better Decision-Making

The bookkeeping provides you with organized financial statements, helping you with more straightforward at-a-glance checking. An efficient bookkeeping process can lead to accurate information, assisting you in better analyzing your current net worth and real estate performance. Besides understanding current financial capabilities, bookkeeping makes you review past transactions and figure out what works and what does not. Therefore, you can have better planning for the next moves in the future. 

Tax preparation

You have to pay taxes on your properties based on your financial statements withdrawn from the bookkeeping process. Real estate is taxed at ordinary rates, but fortunately, with deductions.

You need to file a tax return every year, whether you are just an individual or a business owner. Having bookkeeping functioning in place can save you a lot of time and effort. But it is not an easy task for everyone. Millions of business owners have to scramble all-around their offices to track down all the bills and record the transactions. Does it sound familiar to you? If so, don’t worry. You can outsource to a third party to record your expenses. Shoeboxed is a very reliable service, using both A.I. and specialists to track your bills, helping you get rid of paper receipts in your desk drawers. All you need to do is scan your receipts, then you can get access to organized documents containing accurate data for your at-a-glance expense tracking. Moreover, the bills are kept in “digital forms” on the cloud for 3 to 5 years with Shoeboxed, so you don’t have to be afraid of missing paper bills anymore. 

Real estate has become a symbol of one’s affluence and power, especially in the United States. If you get married, the first thing that may come up in your mind is buying an ideal and cozy house where you can raise your kids. And if you are a business owner, investing in real estate is the first step to grow your business. Last but not least, if you are a financial investor, real estate is a good bet, as it can bring you passive income, freeing yourself from exhausting labor hours, and gives you a lot of tax advantages. Prepare yourself with sufficient financial knowledge to make the best out of your investment in those properties. 

Bookkeeping For Entrepreneurs Best Practices

As an entrepreneur, to be honest, is good bookkeeping your priority when running your business? While it is not the most exciting work, organizing records and tracking transactions are essential parts of every business, however small it is. 

What should entrepreneurs know about bookkeeping? Are there simple tips on proper bookkeeping that business owners can follow? 

This article will help you to answer these questions.

Bookkeeping for entrepreneurs: A basic guide

1. Choose a business model

Before having your first books, as an entrepreneur, you should register your business and select a suitable business model that fits your needs. Depending on what you choose, the requirements for filing tax may be different and you don’t want to mess around by being ignorant. Many entrepreneurs start off as the only owners of their companies. Apart from the easy registration procedure, sole proprietorship also allows them to pay business taxes as part of their personal income tax. For those who would like a clear boundary between them and their business to avoid the risk of company debts, a limited liability company or a corporation can provide better legal protection. 

Although in these cases, separate tax filing tends to be a complicated process which makes bookkeeping more demanding with multiple financial documents to prepare, the tax benefits that they offer, including lower tax rates, are among the reasons for their popularity with entrepreneurs.

2. Adopt a suitable accounting and bookkeeping method

For aspiring entrepreneurs who are new to managing finances, taking on accounting and bookkeeping is quite a problematic quest, even to the bravest of all. They need a reliable map that guides them through this adventure. In other words, we can say that finding out an exemplary method for each task and being consistent with it is highly important. When it comes to accounting, there are two options to choose from:

  • Cash-basis accounting: To put it simply, under the cash accounting method, you record what you receive and pay right at the moment the money exchange occurs. It is quite straightforward, so even beginners can try this method to keep track of their business revenue and expenses.
  • Accrual-basis accounting: The timing of recognizing revenue and expenses in the accrual accounting method is not as immediate as in cash basis accounting. It documents revenue and expenses when transactions occur even if cash hasn’t been paid out yet. Since accounting for items such as unearned revenue and prepaid expenses is involved, many entrepreneurs find the accrual method helpful in providing an accurate portrait of a company’s profitability in the long term.

After deciding on an accounting system to stick to, you will also need to ensure you are doing proper bookkeeping. Tracking all business transactions by keeping every receipt and invoice in order is not easy work. But without it, you won’t be able to see the income and expenses of your business, let alone make informed decisions on financial matters. Most solo entrepreneurs may have the first-hand experience of becoming their own bookkeepers, and that’s certainly beneficial in several ways when the business owners acquire some bookkeeping knowledge. However, as their business grows and the bookkeeping workload increases, at some point, they won’t be able to manage it by themselves. 

The best possible option would be to have a full-time bookkeeper. Hiring a part-timer may cut down some fees, but nothing compares to having someone dedicated to the job and who knows your business. If you wish to integrate technology into accounting, it’s a good time to opt for a cloud-based solution. With a variety of accounting services available nowadays that help you to manage bookkeeping online by, for example, linking to your business bank account, you can save so much time on tracking transactions.

3. Track your expenses

One of the basics of bookkeeping is to track all business expenses. It involves developing a filing system for your receipts and financial documents, ranging from tax returns, bank and credit card statements, office bills (utilities, internet, phones, supplies, etc.) to receipts from travel, travel, and business meals. Keeping all that paperwork in place, either by storing its physical or digital copies takes a lot of effort as it is piling up every day. It will be too late to start preparing these records only when the tax season comes near. So ideally, you should organize everything regularly.

4. Monitor payment

As there are many payment options to meet the demand of both payers and payees, entrepreneurs need to develop flexible tracking methods to maintain good bookkeeping. If you are just used to paying by checks and cash and accepting paper receipts, you may need to consider other payment ideas to broaden your clients’ choices.

Credit card and debit card payments are becoming the norm, and we are also increasingly familiar with online payment. Managing all transactions manually will no longer suffice in this digital era, so businesses everywhere are going paperless and automating their bookkeeping process.

5. Know your tax obligations

As mentioned in the first section, tax requirements for each type of business vary based on how you register it. In fact, tax obligations also depend on other factors, such as different state regulations and characteristics of specific industries. Here are some typical taxes that most entrepreneurs will need to cover:

  • Self-employment tax:  If you start out as your own boss, this tax is obligatory because you will need it to pay your medicare and social security fees.
  • Employment tax: Once you become an employer, you are responsible for covering your employees’ Medicare and social security expenses through your contribution to employment tax.
  • Income tax: You can file your business tax as part of your personal income taxes if your company is a sole proprietorship. For complex entities like a corporation, business income tax is filed separately. A limited liability company provides an in-between option where you can choose to pay taxes either as your own or as a business cost.
  • Sales tax:  To collect the accurate amount of sales tax and submit it to the government, you need to refer to how your state of location regulates it. As a rule, sales tax is charged to the end-user of a good or service, so if your business is only part of the manufacturing chain, make sure to obtain a resale certificate to avoid paying the sales tax.

Why bookkeeping for entrepreneurs is important to know? 

  1. To manage budgets

Bookkeeping lets you know where and how much money is coming into or going out of your business. By keeping records of revenue and expenses, entrepreneurs can understand the financial situation of their business and look for ways to improve its overall performance. Specifically, business owners can evaluate how efficiently budgets are allocated at that moment based on past records, invest more in activities that are working well and make necessary changes to those that are not as profitable. Managing budgets and financial planning becomes easier when you have a functional accounting and bookkeeping system in place.

2. To prepare better financial reports

No one can underestimate the importance of financial statements in the business field. Accurate reports can tell your company’s financial health and play a crucial role in the decision-making process that dramatically impacts its growth. If there is a key to creating good reports, it must be the accuracy and reliability of the input data. This is when bookkeeping comes into play as its records contain precious raw data, which is then consolidated and analyzed in financial reports. Entrepreneurs will have to work with the following documents frequently, and even when they are not always supposed to write such statements, they must know how these are created and what bookkeeping records they use.

  • Income statement: The income statement reports the revenue and expenses of a business over a period of time, based on which you can see whether the company is making a profit or how much loss it is generating.
  • Balance sheet: The balance sheet shows details about a business’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific time. You will need this report to know whether what your company owns and owes are on balance.
  • Cash flow statement:  A cash flow statement gives you information about the cash and cash equivalents coming into and going out of your business. The cash flow may fluctuate daily, so it requires constant updates on everyday transactions.

3. To get ready for tax season

Keeping all the records organized will make filing your taxes so much easier. With every earning and expense accounted for, the preparations for tax season will go smoothly, and entrepreneurs can rest assured that they are compliant and ready for the visit of the IRS anytime.

Bookkeeping for entrepreneurs: Amazing tips!

We’ve combined some of the most amazing tips on bookkeeping for you right here! 

  1. Create a separate business account

To do proper bookkeeping, you may need to consider opening a business bank account different from your own, which helps you legally separate your business and personal finances. Even if your company is incorporated and you can pay business expenses with your personal account, this adds more complications to bookkeeping and claiming tax deductions. When the line between personal and business data is blurred, it won’t be easy to track the progress of your business and plan for the future. It is expert advice that you should also apply for a business credit card for the same reasons.

  1. Keep all receipts

Not only receipts but also invoices and proofs of all payments are needed to back up the validity of your tax deduction, which helps you reduce the amount of taxable business income. Providing such evidence is not a problem for credit card purchases because you can get receipts and bank statements every month as supporting documents. With cash expenses, the conventional way would be manually recording them in a notebook or spreadsheet while keeping the paper receipts for rechecks. Or you may wish to use an accounting app, snap photos of your bills, and store them safely in the cloud-like what Shoeboxed mobile app offers. Shoeboxed also helps you keep physical copies of crucial documents at your request.

  1. Digitize your financial data

The most apparent advantage of going paperless is probably saving space in your office. A digital bookkeeping system allows entrepreneurs to work more effectively with less paper to store and easily retrievable data. Since a growing number of businesses are now interested in this trend, it may be too late if you persist in the old way and resist changes. However, there are some vital paper documents that you will need to retain for legal purposes. Hence, it is best to keep both physical and digital copies of such records as contracts and licenses.

  1. Pick the right tools

Not many entrepreneurs are trained as accountants, so there is no need to use an accounting system that requires expert-level knowledge to begin. Do some research and choose a program to fit your business needs and bookkeeping practices. Similarly, you should pick the software whose features are compatible with your current system. For example, Shoeboxed’s receipt scanning and expense tracking services are designed to work well with major accounting programs like QuickBooks and Xero. The combination of these wonderful tools will help you finish the daunting work of data entry, categorization, and organization in no time!

  1. Take advantage of professional help

Although entrepreneurs can make do with bookkeeping and accounting to some extent, most businesses will need someone committed to the job if they are to thrive. Find a professional accountant who you can trust and let them be your best business partners. Learn from their specialized knowledge and experience to facilitate your plans. It is not always about financial reports and tax prep; a good accountant can offer insight into the business that helps to guide its development and success.

Conclusion

People say that a successful business should make a lot of money, but that is incomplete. A business can’t grow unless it manages the money earned well. More focus must be placed on adopting good bookkeeping practices. This is not a duty of only bookkeepers and accountants – entrepreneurs should be part of it too, for the sake of their company.

How To Track Business Expenses 15 Best Tips & Tools

You can’t run a business without spending money. No matter which industry you’re in, expenses come up. 

Some expenses are inevitable, but they are not always necessary and don’t always benefit your bottom line. 

One way to find out if they do is to meticulously track your business expenditures. Although this process can be complicated and time-consuming, it doesn’t have to be.  

In this guide, you will find the best 15 tips & tools to simplify and improve your expense tracking systems. 

How to track business expenses guide

What are business expenses? 

Business expenses are the money you spend on running your business. Salaries, inventory, equipment rentals, or phone and Internet fees are all business expenses.

Companies have to show their expense details in a statement of profit or loss. In other words, they are a deciding factor in determining your net income and taxes. Mistakes made while recording expenses could lead to serious consequences. 

Why tracking your business expenses? 

Being aware of your spending is one of the most effective ways to manage finances. Knowing how to track business expenses gives you an insight into what brings results and what doesn’t. Additionally, keeping a close eye on expenses can help your business:

Prepare for tax time

Tax season – these two words can be a nightmare for many business owners. However, a good system of how to to track business expenses can reduce a vast amount of work going over receipts and bills come tax time. More importantly, many business expenses are tax-deductible. Incomplete and poorly categorized expenses could make you overlook potential deductions. This means you’d be paying more taxes than necessary. 

In other words, monitoring your expenses closely can help you save both time & money and be ready and prepared for tax season.  

Stick to your budget 

If you have a monthly budget, learning how to track business expenses is essential to keep you within your financial limits. It lets you know if you’ve been over or under-spending, and more importantly what causes the differences. You then can easily come up with solutions to cut or reallocate resources for better results.  

Improve internal control 

A lot of business expenses are produced by employees. Tracking this spending by keeping receipts or bills can give business owners an overview of why the costs were incurred and by whom. Being aware of how to track business expenses not only prevents fraud like faking numbers, but also helps companies become more proactive in internal control.

10 best tips to track business expenses 

Knowing how frustrating it can be to keep track of all expense records, we’ve listed 10 helpful tips on how to track business expenses that make the process easier.

1. Keep business and personal expenses separately

It’s important to keep your expenses separate from business-related ones. 

However, some freelancers or small business owners neglect this and claim it all as an expense. This mindset would cost time and money. Especially during tax season, when you eventually have to distinguish the expenses for tax returns and any mistakes could draw attention from the IRS for an audit. So the simplest way to avoid lots of hassle is to record these two types of expenses separately.   

2. Get a business credit card

Get a dedicated business credit card if you’re struggling with separating your personal spending from business expenses. It will simplify the process of tracking your expenses by digitally storing all of your transactions. You can quickly verify the money going out and into your business by looking through the credit card history. Additionally, credit card providers also offer rewards such as travel packages or discount vouchers for businesses.  

3. Keep receipts organized

Properly storing your receipts helps keep essential financial records in order while also taking away the fear and stress of tax preparation. 

Keeping your receipts organized also eases the auditing process and enhances the accuracy of your accounting.

Folders, files, and storage cabinets are great ways to store and keep your receipts accessible. You should also label and sort them into different categories. It’s also helpful to set up a weekly or biweekly check to organize the receipts. 

Yet, the best way is to digitize paper receipts. You can use software like Shoeboxed to scan and store all your receipts in the cloud. Shoeboxed can also automatically categorize and extract necessary data, making your life much easier. 

4. Record expenses promptly 

Make sure to keep track of your spending as soon as possible. Make it a habit, too. It will save you time in the long run since you won’t have to deal with paper clutter later. 

You don’t want to go through your company credit card and discover transactions that you don’t remember making. This also reduces the risk of forgetting or losing expense records.

5. Use an expense spreadsheet

If you’ve started your business and know how to track business expenses without using an expense tracker apps or accounting software, consider making a spreadsheet to keep track of your expenses manually. You can make it on free programs like Excel or Google Sheets. 

In this case, you can design the spreadsheet template based on the nature of your business. Here is a basic example of using a spreadsheet to record expenses:

Date  Category Vendor Amount PurposeMethod 
10.9.2021Advertising & Marketing Facebook$10Promotion for a new post Credit card 

You can add any relevant columns or categories to match your business model. 

6. Hire a bookkeeper 

When you don’t have accounting skills or simply just don’t want to deal with the hassle, employing a bookkeeper can be handy. The bookkeeper will take care of all of your financial records, including expenses. They can also give you professional advice on how to optimize profit and cut unnecessary expenses. 

7. Integrate your software

Many businesses choose tools or software to automate as many daily tasks as possible. This sometimes leads to various databases, and you have to manually insert or move data for different jobs and processes. It’s reported that 40% of productivity is lost to multitasking and task-switching. After all, it’d defeat the original purpose: automation.  

That’s why you should use software that can integrate with the others already working in your system. For example, if you’re looking for a receipt scanning tool, use one that links with your accounting software. It optimizes time, increases productivity, and centralizes work.   

8. Clearly categorize your expenses 

Some of the most common expense categories include utilities, travel, office supplies, and rental expenses. However, every business has different types of costs. Breaking down expenses and classifying them can help you understand and manage your company’s spending habits better.   

We recommend you follow the categories listed in the Schedule C form from the IRS if you run a sole proprietorship. Developing categories that match your business and a tax return file can make the tax filing process more straightforward and smoother and ensure you get all the deductions you are entitled to.  

9. Have a backup of expense records 

Things can go wrong at any time, no matter how strong your internal system is. You may face problems like vital financial records missing, damaged files, or accidental deletion of data.

To avoid such issues, keep a backup of all expense transactions. You may physically maintain a backup by making extra copies for essential contracts or files. However, it’s best to store backup data on a cloud which can be from your software/tools or popular free files storage like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.  

10. Review your performance frequently 

Tracking expenses only is not enough. You should often review the process to see if the system is functioning well or not and what needs changing. This will also reduce the risk of bounced checks or unpaid invoices. By going over your expenses, you can identify unnecessary costs that should be cut.

Top 5 tools to track business expenses

Software automation is an investment. Pure and simple. Technology has made it essential that businesses eliminate manual, repetitive tasks to focus more on profit-driving sectors. 

In accounting, almost 75% of tasks can be automated with software or tools. In other words, there are many apps available to speed up your accounting workflow. However, not all of them are good.  

We’ve listed below 5 of the best software to streamline your tracking expenses process:  

1. Excel 

Excel has been with businesses forever. It’s a good old-fashioned method to record and manage business expenses. You can find plenty of Excel bookkeeping templates on the Internet. Choose the right one for you and insert all expenses weekly.  

The best thing about Excel is that it’s free. If you’re a freelancer or start-up owner, Excel will be an ideal choice to save costs. However, you’d still need to manually put in data, categorize receipts, and so on. 

Though it doesn’t help you automate much, Excel is still an excellent tool to organize and record your business spendings.   

2. Quickbooks

QuickBooks is a household brand when it comes to accounting software applications for SMEs. It allows you to issue invoices, monitor cash flow, track profit & loss, and control payroll. Basically, Quickbooks can handle all of your finances. 

It’d be a bit challenging to take advantage of all its features when you’re unfamiliar with accounting. But you can always learn! Countless tutorial online videos can instruct you step by step to make use of the software. 

In the event that you’re only looking for an app specifying tracking expenses, Quickbooks may not be the best choice. You might end up paying a large sum of money for little use. 

3. Xero 

Xero is an alternative to Quickbooks. Employees can capture receipts on their mobile devices using the Xero expense claims app and submit their work expense claims. It also can assign staff a specific user permission so you can decide whether they have access to submit claims, approve claims, or both. Besides expenditure tracking, Xero offers many other capabilities like cash flow tracking, payment processing, bank reconciliation, inventory management, and financial reporting. Xero is easy to use for non-accountants.

One downside of Xero is that most of their plans don’t include this function, so you may need to add it as an optional extra. If you’re adding it as an extra, you may have to pay an additional monthly fee. 

4. Bench

Bench can take care of your bookkeeping, importing, reviewing, and categorizing your expenses every month. They provide you with a dedicated bookkeeper supported by a team of knowledgeable small business experts. It’s a huge relief come tax season and makes the process of filing easy!

However, Bench limits the number of financial accounts you can have and operates on proprietary software that doesn’t sync with other popular accounting software. That’s why Bench may not be a good fit for businesses that need to expand or transfer providers in the future. Plus, it’s pretty pricey compared to other bookkeeping tools in the market. 

5. Shoeboxed 

If you don’t want to install a professional accounting application just to simplify your expense tracking process, Shoeboxed is perfect for you.

Receipt management is vital in managing expenses. Shoeboxed helps you transform stacks of receipts paper into digital and categorized data in just one click. Your data then will be easy to search and stored in a secure cloud. Shoeboxed also integrates with almost all popular accounting software. 

The most significant advantage of Shoeboxed is the human-verified data feature. Wrinkles on the paper, faded print, or damaged receipts can make it really difficult for AI technology to read receipts, leading to inaccurate extracted data. 

With Shoeboxed, every receipt is scanned thoroughly by a team of data experts to verify and make necessary corrections. 

Say goodbye to manual entry, missing receipts, and erroneous data with the help of Shoeboxed! 

Conclusion

Tracking expenses can help you improve the overall financial performance of your business. 

It improves your money management, makes you more aware of your spending, and allows you to cut costs and save money.

Complete and accurate expenses records provide vital data on your finances and drive you to make better decisions for the future growth of your business. It also prepares you for tax season with accurate financial statements, reducing stress and saving time when dealing with the IRS.

You can choose to track your expenses manually or invest in reliable, time-saving tools and services like Shoeboxed to smoothen the entire process, saving you time and giving you peace of mind.