Bean counting for profit and not much else
January 3, 2011 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Bookkeeping for dummies?

I'm searching for a resource to teach me the basics of double entry bookkeeping. The sources I've found so far tend to get into hardcore accounting pretty quickly, leaving me in the weeds. I would like to be able to handle payroll, balance sheets, sales, and some purchasing, without having to discuss larger issues like depreciation, GAAP, or too much jargon. The company has already contracted with an accountant, but they just need someone to keep things straight until tax time. Is there a website? A book? Should I just bother the accountant for an hour or two?
posted by Gilbert to Work & Money (3 answers total)
I would ask the accountant. In my experience (apart from the very basics) bookkeeping is not as standardised as one would think. Let thus the accountant tell you how they want you to do it. Standard advice might not be the answer, in particular if the advice is not catering for your legal requirements.
posted by oxit at 12:44 PM on January 3, 2011

Best answer: ditto oxit. I have done (on the side) bookkeeping for three different companies and they all wanted it done differently. The end of year accountant at my most recent job was ecstatic that I asked her how she would like me to handle things. I self-taught myself bookkeeping through a combination of asking the boss how he wanted (easy) things done, asking the accountant (the most helpful), and asking my mom (an accountant) about best practices.
posted by magnetsphere at 1:07 PM on January 3, 2011

Does the company use software - like Quickbooks - to manage its accounts or does it really do it old school ledger style? Depending on that you'll probably want to learn differently. QB kind of does the work for you, but it does help to know a bit of how accounting works. If you're using ledgers then you probably need a lot more. You will definitely need to sit with the accountant to find out how they're managing their books and exactly what tasks you can do (for example, you talk about wanting to do balance sheets, but doing balance sheets actually requires a reasonable amount of knowledge.) I'm not sure what you mean by "sales" either.

It would not be a waste of your time or the accountants to hash out exactly what your tasks would be and then pinpointing your learning towards those.
posted by marylynn at 6:38 PM on January 3, 2011

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