Stop Using Excel for Your Bookkeeping!

by Stacy Kildal

5 min read

Exporting reports to Excel from QuickBooks® Online (QBO) is totally viable, and in many cases, necessary to get more critical information on the health of your business. I can also see still using Excel for scheduling purposes. However, small businesses should no longer be leveraging Excel for accounting or business activity. That is what accounting software is for, and Excel is not enough of a collaborative platform to address small business bookkeeping needs in any kind of efficient manner.

I am not saying spreadsheets no longer have their place; after all, we’ve used them for simple cash flow tools, to calculate commissions and other tasks. However, the data on the sheets is from a proper accounting system such as QBO. The actual accounting work and tracking of business transaction events is always being tracked inside the QBO file, so why bother inviting someone to my Google sheet, for example, when I can just invite them as a restricted user to my QBO file? They can log in to see and do what I hired them to see and do.

If you’re a new business owner, you will use Excel to keep track of startup expenses and what was used to pay them. You might even list a chart of accounts in a tab and label columns debit and credit, and try to create some old-timey general ledger book to show what happened today in the business from an accounting standpoint. But, soon, you will have hundreds of lines, often requiring manual edits and updates. It won’t take long before the rails come off the tracks.

When you book an entry inside of QBO, it auto debits one account and balances it by auto crediting the offsetting account. For example, I can create items (products & services) to track what I buy and sell in QBO, and those items are connected to a chart of accounts. When I post the transaction, both sides of the transaction or accounting event will be booked, and the entry balances itself. You don’t even have to use products & services in QBO; you can just track business activity at the account level.

In my example below, I need to track a purchase I made for advertising and will also need to not only pay it, but also pay it as of a certain date. Below is my advertising purchase for some marketing work Baxter Associates did for my Pet Shop and Boarding business. On the one form, which represents what I owe this vendor for work performed, I can track the vendor, terms and due date, address, and amount paid, as well as accounts payable and expense incurred – just by filling out a few fields, and then clicking Save & Close. You can see the appropriate debit and credit in the second screenshot below, too.

I can also keep track of my payables for all vendors running a related report, or by clicking into the vendor list itself. This is WAY faster getting to a report in QBO than using my spreadsheet, and even better, I can even customize reports and save them for other colleagues to peruse and leverage. Why share a Google sheet?

Finally, when I am ready, I can pay the bill, and I can use an echeck or Vendor ACH/Online BillPay. How could I do that using Excel???

In addition, QBO supports the ability to connect my checking account and credit card feed to my file. My goal for using QBO and bank feeds is to reduce data entry. Each morning when I log into QBO, I can see what expenses and payments have cleared the bank, and add them into my register. Credit card expenses? I do not even bother entering them into QBO; I let the feed do it for me. I can create rules to auto-categorize the transactions, too, so that I don’t make mistakes. There is even a setting to auto accept into the register after a rule is applied, which basically is auto data entry. I cannot do that with Excel – and the errors trying to do this in Excel … oh, the errors!

I just cannot comprehend using Excel to save time and money. Just think of the hours and weeks, or work, you will save using QBO, just in the first hour alone, vs. trying to maintain your sanity inside of a spreadsheet. Is this not worth $50/month???!

And, I am only talking tracking one side of my business. I can apply the same approach to tracking my sales and customer payments. I can track every single sale I make to my customers by using sales receipts and invoices. As these forms are item-based, I can then track all my product and service activity, and quantity, on hand – and really know what I have to sell. These sales forms can be emailed to my customers, even auto sent, and there are settings to pick up unbilled activity so that no effort is lost or forgotten, or goes unbilled. Using QBO, nothing will go unaccounted for.

Can you honestly say that about Excel spreadsheets? Come on! Let them go. Sure, you can also use Excel to export data and run your unique formula reports, but to be fair, I even have a replacement of that. It’s called Qvinci. Look that app up. I don’t want to say it, but you don’t need Excel anymore.

Not to mention, the data is on Intuit® servers and we have the same security compliance as any large bank. Did you know 20+ percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product flows through Intuit servers? Intuit takes your security incredibly and impeccably seriously. How secure is an Excel spreadsheet in a folder or on Google drive, in comparison? I think of QBO as flexible, mobile and secure. Oh, your phone … I forgot to mention the phone: I can keep track of my business using QBO on my phone!

I want to leave you with something, too. Below is a recurring sales receipt I set up in my QBO file. I bill this customer monthly for services provided. The receipt gets auto sent to him, his bank account is auto drafted, I get paid in five days and I do not have to enter any data at all. Do that in Excel … yeah, right!

I challenge you to move away from Excel and use all the features you can in QBO. If you don’t know how to get more out of QBO, ask your accountant, find a new one here or simply contact the support line. It’s time move away from Excel!

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