I’ve learned the hard way in some cases, not to rely on bills coming in the mail as my trigger to enter and pay them. Bills get lost, and when that happens and I don’t pay them on time, my clients don’t want to hear that I didn’t get the bill. This is why I use recurring transactions in QuickBooks Online for every bill.
Back when I was still dealing with paper, there was a simple process for managing accounts payable. You get a bill in the mail, and it goes into an inbox. A real, physical inbox. Remember those? Then you enter the bill, and it shows up on an unpaid bills report. That report is then reviewed and decisions are made about which ones to pay. We’ve come a long way since those days, but I still see clients.
Even then, bills would get lost or missed. Now it’s almost worse, because they get emailed to my clients, and I have to rely on them to forward them.
Actually I don’t.
We have our clients give us their logins to almost every service they pay, and we set up our systems to make sure nothing gets missed while we have access to everything. We don’t need to wait for emails.
Recently I was working with a client who is more involved than most in the decision making process about which bills to pay. He kept a list in a spreadsheet as I’ve often done, but now he was asking me to update his spreadsheet as well as in QuickBooks Online.
This was double work. There had to be a better way.
I set up recurring transactions in QuickBooks online for every monthly bill.
I set up a recurring bill for each monthly bill that he pays, working backwards from the due date. Each bill is now automatically posted 30 days before it is due. This gives us plenty of time to pay them, from the time that they show up.
In fact this is another problem I’ve seen.
You get a bill from your credit card company and it’s due in 10 days. That’s not enough notice, and now you’re scrambling to get the bill paid, often at the expense of other bills that need to be paid.
When the bill is for a different amount each month, you set up a default, estimated amount. The in the recurring bill description you put in a note to “get the right amount.”
If you are reviewing the unpaid bills report weekly, then you will have plenty of time to log in, get the actual bill, and update the amount.
If you use recurring transactions in QuickBooks Online to manage your bills, you will never miss a bill. And when we’re using a service like Bill.com (soon to be replaced with billbeez), the bills sync over to bill.com. When bills are sent in there we add them to the existing bill that synced over from QuickBooks Online.
Here’s our process for paying the bills.
Either the client or I will run the unpaid bills report.
Then we export it to Excel (would love to be using Google Sheets but there is no direct export).
In a column off to the right I will either set a cell equal to the open balance, or I will key an amount if I want to make a partial payment.
At the bottom of that column I will total up the amount to pay.
Once my client confirms or edits this, then I go into Bill.com and schedule the payments. This means I also have a document and either an email or a conversation in Slack confirming my client’s approval to pay these exact bills.
If you want to see what this looks like taken several steps further, sign up for a $25 monthly subscription right here on my site, and review this course:
Remarkable Reports for Bookkeepers