Contact Us I Subscribe I Advertisers


Harvest goes on even when disaster rages across Lake Roosevelt on the Colville Reservation. This was taken in 2019 with S.P. Jensen harvesting.
Photo by Daleen Jensen

WestBred

FARMER'S TOOLBOX

A quick trip through QuickBooks

April 2020
By Trista Crossley

The last Agricultural Marketing and Management session of the 2020 winter series was an accounting of the popular financial software program, QuickBooks.

Presenter Cassi Johnson, a financial consultant and QuickBooks super user, gave growers tips and tricks to increase their productivity when using the software and answered growers’ questions. Everyone, no matter their level of experience with QuickBooks, walked away with something useful. Johnson has practical experience using QuickBooks in an agricultural setting—she is part of a multigeneration ranching family in Oregon.

“In all my classes and sessions, people will see I share a lot of family stories and struggles and real life experiences because I find people generally don’t want to talk about private things, and I want my participants to know that their struggles aren’t unique, and they are not alone,” she said after the session. “Not everybody is experienced in bookkeeping and QuickBooks, and nobody loves to do bookkeeping. We didn’t get in this business to do that. We got in it to raise crops and livestock and be outdoors. I hope growers get out of my session that somebody like me who may know a little more about QuickBooks still isn’t perfect and still has the same struggles they have. It’s all a work in progress.”

For beginners, Johnson had three recommendations. First, start with the basics: writing checks, entering deposits and setting up a chart of accounts. Next use any and all tools available to learn more, from taking classes to watching YouTube videos, and finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for a little help.

For more advanced users, Johnson said it’s possible to get so detailed that tracking financials becomes hard to keep up with and accuracy can become compromised.

“You are never too old to learn something new,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to do continuing education. QuickBooks is always adding new features. There’s always tips and tricks we can pick up to make life easier.”

Here are some of the QuickBooks tips Johnson shared in her presentation.

Setting up the home screen. Users can customize their shortcuts bar so the items they use most are quickly available, even reports. Users can also rearrange the shortcuts bar so the most accessed items are at the top.

Chart of accounts. The basis to any good reporting and retrieval of useful information is figuring out an effective chart of accounts, which should mirror main sales points and expenses, such as crop sales and crop expenses. You can also use subaccounts.

“All of these are going to differ between everybody because it depends on what you want out of it. Are you going to go back and look at exactly how much you spent on protein tubs? How much you spent on hay? How much you spent on minerals? Or are you going to just look at total supplements?” she asked. “It’s completely dependent on what you are going to do. If you aren’t going to go back and look at that, don’t do it. It’s just making more work for yourself.”

Classes. Johnson uses classes and subclasses to help segregate her family’s enterprises and more easily track expenses and income. For example, in a wheat and cow operation, a user could set up wheat and cows as separate classes, and then subclasses under cows, such as cow/calf and finishing. But Johnson cautioned against overusing subclasses.

“At some point, it can get so detailed that it’s not even accurate, and you’re going to sit there and beat your head against the wall. Don’t make it harder than it has to be,” she said. “My end product and goal is that I can do a profit and loss by class. I can get the information out to make better choices. Always think very practically. Money in and money out. Keep it basic.”

If a user has too many classes or old classes they wish to remove, they should be marked as inactive rather than deleted. That way, the information from the past is still available, but going forward, that class won’t be an option to use or include in reports.

Custom fields. These can be added to accounts so users can track additional information. Custom fields can be included in reports.

Notes. Notes can be attached to just about anything. Some of the examples Johnson gave were to scan a receipt and attach it to a check, attach a contract to a vendor or attach an annual review or updated W-4 to an employee’s account.

Transfers. Johnson recommended using the transfer function to transfer funds between accounts, such as when drawing funds from your operating loan to your checking account, so it doesn’t mess up the profit and loss statement.

Invoicing. Users can use invoicing to track payments received and outstanding balances for customers. QuickBooks provides invoice templates that can be easily customized. Most versions of QuickBooks can also talk to a user’s email program and email invoices directly from the software.

Reports. Johnson gave a list of the QuickBooks reports she finds most useful:

• Standard profit and loss report;
• Standard balance sheet report;
• Budget vs. actual report;
• Payroll summary; and
• If using classes, profit and loss by class.

Besides offering QuickBooks consulting services, Johnson is also a loan officer for Pacific Intermountain Mortgage Company. Her company, 3 Bar Consulting, can be found at 3barconsulting.com.

The 2020 Wheat College is currently scheduled for June 16 at the Wheat Land Community Fairgrounds in Ritzville. “Real Agriculture” agronomist and podcast host Peter Johnson, also known as Wheat Pete, is scheduled to talk about maximizing yields. Corteva Agriscience will be discussing nitrogen stabilization and WSU Extension will present on topics yet to be determined. Watch wawg.org/ammo-workshops/ for more information.