I’m behind on my bookkeeping. How do I get caught up?

By PRETTY BOOKS ON May 4, 2021
DEAR ABACUS is an advice column where local bean counter Abacus the Accountant answers your small business accounting questions.   Hi, I'm Abacus the Accountant, your local bean counter and small business management whiz. In this series, I'll use my accounting know-how to answer real questions you have about running your small business, from how to price new products to hiring employees and more. Got a question? Email me:, subject line "Dear Abacus."

Dear Abacus,

My buddy does his own bookkeeping, and he swears by it. He says that doing his own bookkeeping is easy and has saved him a ton of money, so I tried it this year. I think it’s safe to say that it’s not for me. Now we’re nearing the end of the year, and I am so behind on bookkeeping that it feels like I haven’t done any at all. What should I do?


Behind on Books



Hello Behind on Books,

Everyone finds it hard to do things they don’t enjoy. It’s easy to direct your attention towards the fun parts of your business and away from the parts you don’t want to do. Unfortunately, those unpleasant parts are often the most important—bookkeeping included.

Don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed. There are a few tips and tricks you can use to get caught up on your bookkeeping. Start by making a checklist detailing the tasks that need to be done on a monthly basis. (If you have a lot of volume, I suggest doing your bookkeeping weekly.) Block out one or two days a month on your calendar, and dedicate them to completing everything on this task list. Forming this habit will ensure you don’t get in over your head in the future.

To tackle the bookkeeping you’re already behind on, import your bank transactions directly into your accounting software. If you have recurring transactions, make a rule for them—that’s one less thing you have to code. Make rules for rent, utilities, monthly services, etc. The more accurate rules you make, the fewer transactions you will have to record manually. For instance, say you have 1,000 transactions in a given week. If 80% of those charges are repeating, your rules will automatically code 800 transactions. That leaves you with just 200 to do yourself. These rules will repeat for all data you input, saving you time in the future.

Lastly, if you are really in over your head, it might be a good idea to seek out a professional. Professional bookkeepers can help you get caught up quickly, saving you time and anxiety. From that point on, you just need to maintain your books. If you make a habit of doing your bookkeeping every month, you won’t get behind again. That way, you’ll be able to focus on the parts of running a business that you love.

Good luck in your bookkeeping journey,

Abacus the Accountant


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The information provided in this post is for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Consult your financial, business, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Pretty Books assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon this information.
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