The very first post on this blog, after introducing ourselves, was one titled 5 Reasons You Might Need An Accountant. It’s taken a while to follow it up with another post on what accountants can do for you.
Let’s start with a disclaimer. Not all accountants do all of the things mentioned in this article. Some do more, some do less; some train, some do the work for you. All will help you with both your basic accounting needs, which includes bookkeeping and taxes. It’s always best to speak to someone you’re thinking about using to do your accounting to see all the things they might provide.
With that said, here are 10 things in general accountants can do for you:
1. Handle all your bookkeeping.
If you keep all your records in a shoe box and groan whenever it’s time to put all that stuff together in some cohesive way, you know what I mean. Accountants don’t expect all your receipts and invoices to be in order when you give it to them; they’re going to piece it all together for both your reports and taxes.
2. Do your taxes.
Since we mentioned taxes above, let’s talk about them now. Accountants won’t pay your taxes, but they will calculate what you owe, total up what you’ve already paid, take care of all your itemization and even file them electronically for you.
If you’re in business or self employed, they’ll they’ll try to find legal ways to get the amount of taxes lower. You might need to have more than one conversation with them to discuss things like home offices, services you pay for even around your house while you’re working on your business, education, organization dues… everything’s on the table.
3. Help you budget your money.
Whether you need help learning how to budget for your business or in your personal life, budgeting your money helps it go a long way. We talk a lot on here about the reason people should have budgets, while acknowledging that it’s not easy for everyone. Accountants know how to budget and know how to show others how to do it, especially if you feel like you’re in trouble.
4. Make recommendations on how you can get your money to help you.
Accountants aren’t financial advisors in the way that means they’ll invest your money. Still, they can offer advice on who to talk to in investing your money, advise you on whether you should incorporate or not, offer banking advice, etc.
They often know a lot of investors you can talk to if you’re interested in something like that. They can also give you recommendations on whether your business might need more capital to help your business grow and where you might go to ask for it.
5. Show you charts, graphs, etc, letting you see how you spend and earn your money.
This goes along with budgeting if you’re more of a visual person. You can’t control your money if you’re unsure how you’ve been spending it.
If you’re in business, you never really know where you should be concentrating your business efforts without knowing what makes or loses money and what you should be concentrating on.
6. Work with you on learning how software can help you track your money.
TL Wall Accounting works with Quickbooks and can teach you how to use it so you can manage your money better. Other accounting companies might use other software or teach you how to track things using Excel spreadsheets. Either way, they’ll give you tools you can use to help yourself. It’s easier to have accountants and bookkeepers to do the work for you, but if you’re someone who likes better personal control of your finances, learning how to use software like Quickbooks is the way to go.
7. Accountants can pay your bills.
If you’re so inclined, many accounting companies will actually pay your bills for you; using your money of course. They’ll either help you set something up where bills are paid automatically through electronic transfers from your bank or you can give them your checkbook and they’ll handle that for you. You can even have them give you an allowance if you feel you can’t trust yourself, though this part isn’t something most accountants like to offer.
8. Accountants can negotiate payment arrangements for you.
Not all accountants will do this for you, but if you’ve gotten yourself in trouble either before you hire an accountant or while having one, some will contact your creditors, be they credit card companies or the IRS, and set up payment arrangements for you, based on their assessment of your ability to pay. They will also tell you if you need to go to someone like Consumer Credit Counseling for more extensive assistance, though CCC isn’t available everywhere.
9. Accountants know a lot of professionals they can recommend to work with you in many areas.
Accountants aren’t tip clubs, but they know a lot of people who might be able to work with you in different ways. They know lawyers, investors, money managers, even people who offer non-standard services that they work with as clients or even as a customer. You can bet that if an accountant is recommending them, they’re probably pretty good at what they do.
10. Peace of mind.
Many of our clients feel a sense of relief when they work with us, knowing we’ve reduced their financial worries when it comes to record keeping and taxes. All accounting companies will do something like this that calms your mindset. If you’re a business and your accountant offers bookkeeping services, it’s even more comforting. Most won’t do payroll for you, but they’ll know someone reasonable who can do it for you. This is valuable financial advice; you’ll feel better taking it.