What to Do When Your Books Are a Mess

Bookkeeping Tips

What to Do When Your Books Are a Mess


Heather Pranitis

What to Do When Your Books Are a Mess

Overwhelm. Stress. Anxiety. Urgency. Worry.

Is this how you feel about the state your finances are in?

All too often, people avoid looking at their bank statement and just pray their card is approved when they go through the check-out lane. And it’s not for a lack of income.

If your books are a mess, you’re putting unnecessary stress on yourself and your business. Ignoring them won’t magically fix them. But, yes, it will take a little bit of work on your part.

So what does it mean, if your books are a mess? (I know, you’re trying to figure out if you’re in this boat. Here’s a tip: if thinking about your finances makes you sweat, your books are probably a mess.)

  • You don’t know how much you’re spending each month.
  • You have a wallet (or file folder) full of receipts.
  • You’re not sure if your business is profitable.
  • You’re afraid to log into your bank’s online system.
  • You have leftover funds in your account every month.

If you’re suffering from any of the above, read on!

Journal it Out

Before you make any kind of move, you need to get your feelings down on paper. Finances can be stressful, but they don’t have to be. So journal about how you feel about your books—right now. Where do you think you are? Where do you want to be?

Take Stock

You can do it. Gather all those old receipts, log into your banking system. Figure out where your books really do stand.

Find a Program

Nope, not a 12-step program (though you may need that for your spending habits). I’m talking about a bookkeeping program. Find a cloud-based program that is intuitive and easy to use. If you’re lost on what might work best for your business, check out this list of free programs. Or give me a call and I can walk you through a few of my favorites.

Set it Up

Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many clients come to me with a bookkeeping program they’ve been paying for (for months), only to find they haven’t even started using it. So connect it to your bank feed, input your categories and set up a budget.


Probably the most important step in getting your books in order (and keeping them there!) is reconciling your bank statements. Every month. There’s really no reason to use a bookkeeping system if you’re not going to keep up with it. Schedule an appointment with yourself once a month to reconcile your bank statements and set your budget for the coming month. You should also check in weekly to code your transactions (making your monthly reconciliation that much faster).

Overwhelmed yet? Yes, keeping your books in line can be time-consuming. But it’s a necessary part of business ownership. If not done correctly, your business (and your bottom line) will suffer. If you’re finding that you’re not up to the task, it might be time to hire a bookkeeper.


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