There was a time during the foreclosure on my family land where I couldn’t bear to open my mail. The business mail didn’t come to me, but I was under such suffocating pressure that even my own mail was too much to deal with.
I would get it from the mailbox, take a cursory glance through it, and then throw it on a pile on the little desk on my kitchen. Then it would be time to have a party, and I would gather it all up, put it in a garbage bag, and throw it in my basement. My saint of a husband was annoyed, but understood the fragile emotional state I was in, and he generously mostly kept quiet about it.
I was terrible about throwing out what I didn’t need, like copies of statements for bills I paid online, but I couldn’t find anything I did need and want, like gift certificates I won at a charity auction, or my IRS e-file pin. Heaven forbid I got audited for those years. It would have been a paperwork nightmare.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015, when we incorporated under the WGC brand and got our bank account set up. I swore this was going to be different, and I was going to go back to what felt like my usual self….one who was organized, and knew where my important items were, and had things set up like a breeze.
I find it hilarious now, but my nerdy self was acting like picking a bookkeeping software was the be all end all decision of my business. I was asking all my business friends what software they used, and the pros and cons of it, and I spent several weeks agonizing over the decision because I know what a pain in the keester it is to switch. I have an MBA, and I have done some work in forensic accounting, so I was familiar with Quickbooks, but I also really liked the clean interface of Xero.
In the end, I decided to go with Xero, and it’s been 18 glorious months and I haven’t looked back.
Here’s what I believe: Software for your business and life should support your freedom and make your life easier.
Systems should do the same. Create more ease.
After my endless back and forth, I started off straight away with using Xero, and I’ll be honest, in the beginning, I didn’t have much coming in through this bank account, so it was pretty easy. Xero has an intro plan for tiny businesses, and that was all I needed until we started moving more clients under this brand. It was so easy, that for several months I just let the unreconciled transactions build up until one day I looked down and I had 300 to reconcile. I felt my sliding back into the same habits that landed me with bags of mail endlessly emerging out of my basement, so one afternoon I sat down to finally figure it all out and getting all the automation in place that would help.
My friend Dawn Marrs is a business and marketing systems automation genius, and she has a rule that I now live my life by and it goes like this. Don’t do the same thing twice you can automate.
Now I don’t know about you, but something in my 36 year old brain sometimes feels a resistance to learning new tech things. I can spend hours down a rabbit hole on Wikipedia, but to sit down and learn a new software…well, there are 10,000 things I would rather be doing, which is how I wound up with 300 items to reconcile.
As I sat down that particularly cold and rainy afternoon to get my finances in Xero straightened out, I was conscious of tax time coming up and not wanting it to be a frantic, last minute mess.
The beauty about Xero is that once you set your rules, it makes bookkeeping a breeze. I watched a few tutorials on Xero’s extensive help base, and in a few minutes, I had all my rules set up so that reconciling 90% of my transactions is just hitting one button. The other 10% are from vendors I haven’t used before, so sometimes I just select a category and reconcile, but if I know it’s going to be reoccurring, I make a rule for it.
I now login every morning on my mobile and reconcile my books.
This one little habit has transformed my finances. It’s not just that tools that have worked…it’s the daily act of being present. It’s the act of not ignoring.
I set aside about an hour every day for the business of my business kind of tasks. The first thing I do when I’m ready to start working in the morning is check my bank balances and reconcile my books. Now that I have all the rules set up, it takes about 3 minutes, five days a week (five because the banks don’t update on the weekends, so no new transactions Sunday/Monday).
One thing that stands out about Xero is they are a full cloud based software. There’s nothing to install on your computer. They were built on the cloud from the ground up, so everything plays nicely together, and as my life gets more and more mobile and complicated, I have liked being able to keep up my daily habits, even when travelling or in Canada or wherever I have found myself waking up. I have their app on my phone, and I can do 90% of my tasks on the app.
I love being able to attach receipts directly to the transactions, so I can shred the receipts and have the digital file completely in the cloud and I never have to worry about my computer crashing and losing my books.
I have also created beautiful invoices in Xero in about two minutes. Everything about Xero is pretty intuitive.
And because I’m a nerd, I actually looked up to make sure that Xero is storing data redundantly and has a high level of encryption, because that stuff matters if you are going to store your whole life on line.
Now, you can totally pay a bookkeeper to this for you, and there are lots of bookkeepers who use Xero, but I find that it’s so simple that I can do them myself, even with WGC growing at a pretty steady clip.
I generated WGC’s income statement and sent it to my CPA at January 9th this year, and I think she was SHOCKED.
Always in the back of my head is this….how is the customer service if something goes haywire? Xero syncs automatically with my bank, and at some point, the bank feed process switched. I was messing with the rules and they weren’t doing what I expected, so I wrote to customer support. I gave Steve at Xero access to my books and he fixed my rules and everything worked again.
Xero is in New Zealand, but you choose the country you are in for setup. My only complaint is I wish that I could hear their Kiwi accents through my computer. Email just isn’t the same.
When we are building new relationships with money, I think it’s important to look at what feels the most uncomfortable to be with. For me, I have always hated the tedium of book work to the point where I have let it swamp me. It feels really good to have my systems in place, and it really only took about an hour one afternoon to get all the rules in place so that I can easily spend 5 minutes a day doing my book work.
It certainly given me less anxiety about end of the year taxes, and for me, that is worth 3 minutes a day.
Xero is running a great special right now, with a free 30 day trial and 30% off the first six months using the code XERO30.
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