The Lazy Person's Guide to Low-Effort Bookkeeping

By Ryan Smith on April 26, 2018

If you consider yourself a lazy person—or a hard-working person who’d rather be doing something slightly more entertaining than bookkeeping—you’re probably looking for a shortcut to shave time off your accounting duties.

Well, ask and ye shall receive. Here’s a lazy person’s guide to low-effort bookkeeping, just for you.

Let robots do your recordkeeping

The days of stuffing receipts in accordion folders are over. We have robots (aka software) to do that for us.

Here are the most helpful tools for automating your recordkeeping process:

  • FileThis automatically records information from paperless statements, so you don’t need to scan and upload invoices one by one.

  • Expensify lets you create expense reports by sending an email to Expensify, or taking a picture with the app. We recommend this if you’re always on the go, and like working from your phone.

  • Evernote’s ScanSnap printer lets you scan receipts and physical documents, which are then converted into searchable digital documents. The ScanSnap printer is the fastest option for bulk scanning receipts.

Bring clarity to the invoicing process

Sending invoices into the ether without a system to track them will cause you more work and stress in the long run. Why worry about invoices when you could be doing something lazier?

There are two ways to make invoicing easy:

  1. Use a tool like FreshBooks. It’s not free, but it will manage the invoicing cycle for you and make your life easier.

  2. Create a simple system for tracking every invoice you send, including who’s paid you and who hasn’t. When you can quickly see who owes you money, you don’t have to spend time worrying “did that person pay me yet?”. Make invoicing even simpler by creating one invoice template (here’s one from Freshbooks) that tells your customers when payment is due.

    Invoicing pro tip: If you have cash flow problems, consider a small discount if customers pay their invoice early. They save some money, and you get paid faster.

Man in a tie at a table with paper on it holding a pencil and using an adding machine

A Beginner's Guide to Stress-Free Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is tedious. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a stress-free guide to doing your own bookkeeping (that you’ll actually want to read).

Don’t mix business with pleasure (in your bank account, at least)

We recommend always keeping your business and personal finances in separate accounts. If you keep your finances mixed in the same account, you’ll waste valuable time separating personal and business transactions, making tax prep and bookkeeping an administrative nightmare. Plus, you’ll run up your accountant’s hourly bill if they have to comb through your bank statements and ask “was this for work, or pleasure?”

Running a business from your personal bank account makes it harder to deduct business expenses and, in some cases, it removes your liability protection from being a corporation or LLC. This process is known as “piercing the corporate veil.”

Manage your business finances in a business bank account. You’ll keep your personal assets protected and make bookkeeping easier in the long run.

Further reading: How to Open a Small Business Bank Account

Do some bookkeeping every week. The bare minimum.

Our advice here is simple: don’t wait until March for a mad rush of catch-up bookkeeping. Smart lazy people don’t rush, they relax. Even at tax time.

If you don’t keep up with bookkeeping, you will face some negative consequences:

  • Difficulty measuring cash flow and gauging your current financial position
  • Payroll errors like incorrect compensation and late payments
  • Problems filing taxes, which could lead to expensive penalties and late fees

The smart lazy person doesn’t put off bookkeeping until the end of the year. Instead, they spend a few minutes every week inputting and categorizing transactions, at the very least.

Don’t have a solid bookkeeping system in place yet? Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Bookkeeping.

The laziest bookkeeping tip of all time

We saved the laziest option for last: get someone else to do your bookkeeping for you.

If you get Bench to do your books, we’ll pair you with a real in-house bookkeeper and an app to track your finances.

Not sure exactly what kind of bookkeeping solution you need? Start by reading What’s the Best Bookkeeping Solution for Your Business?

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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