Friday, October 20, 2017

[WATCH VIDEO] See your business’s health in this free tutorial.

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Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

21 Signs You Need Help Managing Your Money

Find out how to manage your money, according to the experts.

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Whether you're suffering from credit card debt or just a general lack of cash in your bank account, you might be looking for some money management tips. If so, you're not alone.

"Last year, 25 percent of Americans missed a credit card payment and paid more than $77 billion in penalties -- ouch!" said Kimmie Greene, head of communications for Mint, a financial management company that helps consumers with budgeting and bill paying. "That’s money that could otherwise have been used to pay off debts, save for the future or go on a dream vacation."

Luckily, money management is a skill that anyone can learn. However, the first step is admitting you need help. If the following statements ring true, you might have a money management problem.

1. You worry your card will be declined. 

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If you’ve ever stood in line at the supermarket mentally subtracting the cost of the items in your cart from your bank balance, then you might just need a little help with your money. Worrying about being able to pay for essentials could indicate you don't have control over your finances.

"So, as people are looking for ways to take the work (and worry) out of staying on top of their money, paying bills on time is an important first step," said Greene. "Doing so makes it a lot easier to stick to a budget and save for the future.”

Use a money management app like Mint to stay on top of your transactions and bank balances. Your spending is updated in real time, and you can instantly see how much money you have available with a quick glance at your phone.

2. Your card is declined regularly for purchases.

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If you’re always swiping your debit or credit card and getting declined, this could be a sign of more serious issues with your money management. Whether you’re spending on things you can’t afford or just struggling to stay within your budget, a professional can help you find ways to tackle your financial issues more effectively.

3. Your bank balance is less than $100.

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If you have sufficient funds left in your bank account just days before payday, congratulations. But if you’re regularly finishing up the month with $100 or less in your account, that could be a sign that you need to learn how to manage money.

If so, you're in good company. A recent GOBankingRates survey found 49 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. If this is you, it’s essential that you put aside some of your cash as soon as it hits your account. Depositing money into an emergency fund to save for unexpected expenses is a good place to start.

4. You’re not saving for the future.

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It's great that you’re dutifully saving for your next holiday or a new car. However, it’s also important that you save for those longer-term goals, like a new house or your retirement.

According to GOBankingRates' 2017 Retirement Savings survey, more than 50 percent of Americans are on track to retire broke. Further, 55 percent of U.S. adults have less than $10,000 saved for their golden years.

The fact is, the earlier you start saving for retirement, the better your financial position will be when the time comes. A financial planner can help you create a plan to reach your retirement savings goals.

5. You only save what’s left at month’s end.

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You’re putting money into an investment or retirement account. But how much you set aside depends on what you’ve got left in the bank at the end of the month. Sometimes it’s $200, sometimes it's $20.

Saving for your future should be a top priority when you get your paycheck, along with paying rent and other necessary expenses. Some experts recommend saving about 13 percent of your gross income. If that seems unattainable, start with 5 percent and work your way up. If you still don't know where to start, here's how much you should have saved at every age.

6. You tap savings for daily expenses.

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Even if you’re dutifully saving money each month, regularly drawing on those funds to pay for daily expenses will slow down your savings growth. It could even cause you to slip backward.

“Oftentimes, as people set up budgets, they do so with an ideal world scenario in mind -- one that often requires more restraint than is realistic," Greene said. "So, people should consider tracking expenses for one to three months at the start to see where their money is going. And with that information, establish a budget that is highly personalized, including some unspeakables, such as avocado toast, fresh-pressed juice or a tried-and-true latte habit."

Additionally, you should analyze why you need to access your savings for non-emergencies. Are you trying to save too much, leaving you short in other areas? In that case, reduce how much you save and commit to not accessing those funds. Are you regularly receiving big bills for which you haven’t budgeted, such as annual auto insurance? Budgeting tools like YNAB (You Need a Budget) can help you figure out how to avoid getting surprised by bills.

7. You carry a credit card balance.

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Carrying a lot of credit card debt is a sure sign that you need help managing your money. According to a 2016 survey by GOBankingRates, the median amount owed by individuals with credit card debt was $2,000. However, the amount of debt rises with income levels. In fact, the median balance carried by those in the $100,000 to $149,999 income bracket was $6,944.

If credit card debt is a serious issue for you, seek help from a financial counselor who can provide money management tips to help you pay it off. Perhaps an advisor can help you negotiate with your creditors to reduce your interest rate.

8. You haven’t thought about your ideal retirement scenario.

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Even if it seems far off, your retirement will come around eventually, and it’s important to be prepared. First, consider the type of retirement you’d like to have, and then figure out how much money you’ll need to make it happen. A retirement calculator can give you a rough idea of how long your retirement savings will last. And a financial planner can help you create a plan to make your dream retirement a reality.

9. You’re planning your retirement.

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If retirement is looming, you’re likely dreaming of European holidays, days spent with the grandkids and taking up hobbies. One thing you surely don't want to do is reenter the workforce in your 70s due to insufficient savings.

If you’re nearing retirement and you haven't done so already, sit down with a financial planner to ensure that you’re on track and socking away enough cash to retire comfortably. How you save and manage money in the 10 years leading up to retirement can mean the difference between taking exotic cruises and watching "Love Boat" reruns.

Additionally, a financial planner can help ensure that you're making the most of what are often your highest-earning years.

10. You’ve lost track of investment accounts.

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According to a 2016 survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 40 percent of baby boomers have remained with their employers for two decades or more. Given millennials' penchants for job hopping, the younger generation will likely have worked in far more roles by the same age.

Frequent job hopping raises the possibility that you might forget about your employer-sponsored retirement plans or investment accounts. Even if you think it’s not worth chasing an account worth a few hundred dollars, consider that in 35 years the earnings on those funds could be a significant boost to your retirement savings.

Visit the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits to find out if you have lost or missing funds.

11. You track spending but lack growth.

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Perhaps you think you’re staying on top of your finances because you're tracking your spending. While that's a good start, tracking your transactions isn't enough to make positive changes to your finances. Use that information to make smart decisions about how you spend, where you can cut spending and how to improve your situation.

12. You switch between budgeting strategies.

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If you’re constantly pinning budgeting tips on Pinterest and creating new budgets, then you likely need help with money. Just like yo-yo dieting often leads to weight gain, constantly switching your budgeting method could leave you with bigger debt.

If you’re finding it hard to stick to a budget, seek assistance from a professional who can help you stay on track, be accountable and grow your net worth.

13. You take out personal loans to make purchases.

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Have you been sucked in by those late-night television commercials promising cash for a tropical holiday at a low rate?

Personal loans are appropriate to consolidate credit card debt at a lower rate, to pay medical bills or to cover other expenses you couldn't afford otherwise. But using them to treat yourself to a new wardrobe or pay for cosmetic surgery is just another way to go deeper into debt.

Before you consider taking out a personal loan, chat with a financial planner to see if better options exist.

14. You earn more and spend more.

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A pay increase is a boon for your finances. But often those extra funds get eaten up by a hike in household spending. If you were given a wage increase, seek advice from a financial planner or investment advisor and put the extra money to work for you.

15. You received a windfall.

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An inheritance or sudden windfall promises opportunity -- unless you get careless and follow in the footsteps of lottery winners who end up broke years later. Rather than letting your emotions fuel your spending, turn to an advisor and an accountant to make the most of the cash.

16. Your life situation has changed.

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Having a baby, getting married and divorcing are just a few of the life circumstances that can have a dramatic impact on your personal finances. You might also have less time during these events to devote to money management. Getting help with your finances ensures that, as your life changes, your financial situation adapts in the best possible way.

17. You don’t understand your investments.

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If your financial statements are confusing and you’re not certain if your investments are growing -- or you're unclear about the fees you might be paying -- find a financial professional to help you sort it out.

Even the man some consider to be the best investor in the world, Warren Buffett, advises against investing in a business you don’t understand (think Bitcoin). A good financial planner should be able to explain clearly what you’re investing in, the expected returns and the risks involved.

18. You’re fearful of a stock market crash.

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Does roller coaster stock market volatility keep you up at night? Investing involves a certain amount of risk, but you should keep in mind that stocks have historically performed very well as investment vehicles. And if you're in your 30s or 40s, time is on your side to recover losses.

But if your concerns are deep, seek a professional to manage your investments and make recommendations based on your age and goals. You can invest more aggressively in your younger years and gradually become more conservative as you near retirement.

19. You’re stressed about debt.

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If you flinch every time the phone rings or avoid opening your mail because you assume it’s another debt collection effort, you aren't alone. According to GOBankingRates' 2016 survey on financial stress, paying off debt was the No. 1 worry among respondents in all 50 states and D.C.

A financial counselor can work with you to make a plan to tackle your debt, which will help you feel empowered about your financial situation.

20. You’re worried about funding your kids’ education.

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Higher education costs continue to soar, outpacing inflation and wage growth. According to the College Board, the average price of in-state public college was $24,610 in 2017, while private school rang in at a whopping $49,320.

It's best to start saving for your kids' education early. Check out state-sponsored and institution-based college savings plans, and ask a professional which option might suit you best.

21. You have no estate plan.

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According to a 2017 survey by, just 40 percent of Americans have a will or living trust.

When you die without a will, the laws of your state determine how your property is distributed. This includes bank accounts, securities, real estate and other assets. As a result, dying without a will has significant legal and tax consequences for your family.

Consult a financial planner, an accountant and an estate lawyer to advise you in this area and ensure your family members get everything they deserve once you're gone.

Source: | GoBankingRates

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

BEWARE: A New Phishing Email Scheme Impersonates IRS and FBI

Scammers are duping U.S. taxpayers by sending malware-ridden emails and demanding ransom

The Internal Revenue Service issued a warning about a new scam that is tricking taxpayers into downloading malware and paying a ransom for the criminals to remove the virus.

According to an IRS spokesman, the new phishing email scheme is made to look like an email from the IRS and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The victim is asked to download an FBI questionnaire by clicking the hyperlinked word "here." But, there is no questionnaire--it's actually ransomware that encrypts a computer's hard drive. The criminal will then demand payment to decrypt the data.

"This is a new twist on an old scheme," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. "People should stay vigilant against email scams that try to impersonate the IRS and other agencies that try to lure you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. People with a tax issue won't get their first contact from the IRS with a threatening email or phone call."

A spokesman said the IRS was not able to provide numbers on how many people have been affected by this specific scam.

"There are so many different variations of scams, so we get the word out once we find a new one," the spokesman said.

The IRS says that victims should not pay the ransom. Paying the ransom will only encourage the criminals and most victims do not receive the decryption key after making the payment, the IRS said in a release about the scam.

Other scams, including one that dupes companies into sending employee W-2's, have also been on the uptick, the FBI reports. According to the FBI, there was a 1,300-percent increase in monetary losses from this scheme--businesses wired $3 billion to scammers since January 2015. Businesses in all 50 states have been affected.

According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, there has been an influx in callers impersonating IRS employees and demanding taxpayers buy iTunes gift cards, Green Dot prepaid cards, and other pre-loaded cards to pay off tax debt. These are fraudulent calls, the Treasury Inspector General said in a statement. The IRS will never ask for payment over the phone nor will it ask for payment via gift card.

Source: | Will Yakowicz
Image Credit: Getty Images

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

8 Ways to Save Time in Bookkeeping

If you’ve recently decided to start a business, you’re probably finding that it’s a lot of hard work. From funding your idea to marketing it to customers to hiring new employees, things can get a bit hectic. Therefore, it’s important to save time whenever possible so you can get to it all without sacrificing quality. One area you can most likely cut down time in is bookkeeping. While bookkeeping is an essential part of keeping your business running smoothly, there’s no reason it should be taking an extended amount of time to manage.

How to Save Time in Bookkeeping

Use Automated Payroll

Sitting down at your computer and manually processing all of your employees’ paychecks can be extremely time-consuming. You’ll have to go through each employee, approve their hours, print the checks, sign and date them, and then put them in the mail. There’s an easier way to handle all of this, and that’s through automated payroll.

Automated payroll systems handle all of the printing, signing, and dating work for you. All you have to do is approve the payment, and checks will be sent out right away. Your employees will appreciate getting their checks faster, while you can enjoy spending your time elsewhere in the business.

Use Business Factoring Loans

If you’re spending too much time tracking down customer payments so your business doesn’t go under, you may want to consider a business factoring loan. Business factoring is when you sell your customer invoices to a financial company. The company then pays you 75 percent of the invoice total immediately, giving you quick access to capital. When the customer finally pays, you’ll receive the rest of your money minus factoring fees.

Create an Online Banking Account

Nowadays, it’s hard to find an institution that doesn’t offer online banking. Make sure you are taking full advantage of these services, as it can drastically cut down on your trips to the bank. Instead of driving out of your way to withdraw funds or deposit checks, all you have to do is click a few buttons to move your money around.
This especially makes it easy to pay vendors or issue refunds to customers, as all you have to do is set up automatic payments in your account. You’ll also have instant access to account balances, debits, and credits, which can be good if you want to double check your bookkeeping.

Invest in Accounting Software

Having reliable accounting software, such as QuickBooks, is essential to keeping your bookkeeping to a minimum. This type of program can help you track your bank accounts, create reporting data, record deposits and debits, and much more. You’ll never have to create a manual report again.

However, this software will only be effective if you know how to use it, so consider taking a class on the software to become more familiar with it. Yes, this will take away some of your precious time, but you’ll save infinite hours in the future by having balanced and accurate books. Additionally, make sure you dedicate regular time to bookkeeping, otherwise you might find you’re falling too far behind.

Keep Track of Business Write-offs

Whenever it’s time to do your taxes, you want to make sure that you have everything in order. That’s why you should keep track of all of your business write-offs as you spend them. Trying to create a list in April will only give you a major headache and waste valuable hours in your workday. Instead, keep all of your documentation for these write-offs in a safe place, and start a document that clearly defines the purchases you made and what they were used for in your business.

Hire a CPA

If you are terrible at numbers and find yourself making frequent mistakes on your bookkeeping, you might want to invest in hiring a CPA to manage your business’ finances. These accounting professionals know exactly how to document charges, balance accounts, and calculate estimated expenditures.

If you don’t have the capital for a full-time CPA bookkeeper, you should at least hire a CPA when it comes to tax season. Unless you studied accounting, chances are that figuring out business taxes might not be as simple as it sounds. A CPA knows exactly what and how to file, freeing up your time and keeping you safe from the IRS.

Stay on Top of Your Finances

Make sure that you aren’t putting bookkeeping on the backburner to attend to more pressing issues. While it might seem like you can put off creating that new financial report, it’s important that you don’t. Neglecting to record your business spending can make it a nightmare to try and catch back up. If you fail to catch up in time, you might not be able to get an accurate picture of how much money your business is actually making.

Instead, try to dedicate at least one day a week to balance the books and make sure all of your recent transactions are recorded in your accounting software.

Separate Your Personal and Business Finances

While this might seem obvious to some, it’s important to point out, as many entrepreneurs don’t create separate accounts until things get irrevocably intertwined. Make sure you have separate savings accounts, checking accounts, and credit cards. This way, you’ll be able to more accurately track how much you’re spending on your business without getting it muddled with how much you spent at the bar last weekend. Always carry a personal card and a business card with you at all times, as you never know when you’ll need to pick up something for the business.

At the owner and founder of a new business, bookkeeping shouldn’t be one of your primary responsibilities. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. By walking the line between quality record keeping and faster production techniques, you’ll save valuable time that can be spent elsewhere.

Source: | Megan Totka
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Quickbooks Online Review: Best Small Business Accounting Software

Our 2017 research and analysis of accounting software leads us to again recommend Intuit QuickBooks Online as the best accounting software for small businesses. We chose QuickBooks from dozens of accounting software options. 

Why QuickBooks Online?

QuickBooks Online is the best accounting software for small businesses. It's intuitive to use, competitively priced, connects to your business bank accounts, and is packed with features such as invoicing, expense tracking, inventory management, purchase ordering, and reporting.

The software is scalable, and you can upgrade your account between the top three tiers as your business grows. Companion apps for Android and iOS devices are available, and the software integrates with hundreds of third-party applications.

Competitively priced

Of all the accounting software we reviewed, QuickBooks Online offers some of the best pricing, with four service tiers designed to accommodate the needs of different business types. The company offers a 30-day free trial, but if you skip it, you can receive a 50 percent discount on your subscription for six months.

The Self-Employed plan is the most basic and costs $10 per month. Designed for independent contractors and freelancers, it allows you to track mileage, income and expenses, create invoices, accept payments and run reports. This is the only plan that can't be upgraded to a higher tier, requiring you instead to set up a new account.

Simple Start is the next plan. It supports a single user and it costs $15 per month. In addition to the features included with the Self-Employed plan, it allows you to send estimates, and it tracks sales and sales tax. The Essentials plan supports multiple users, costs $35 per month and includes the features of the previous plans, along with bill management and time tracking. The Plus plan costs $50 per month and can help you track inventory, create budgets and pay independent contractors that use the 1099 form. You can add payroll features to these top three tiers for an additional monthly fee.

Test QuickBooks Online with a free 30-days trial

Ease of use

To find out exactly how easy it is to use QuickBooks Online, we tried the accounting software ourselves by signing up for a trial business account. During the registration process, QuickBooks first asks several questions about your company so the software can customize the dashboard to suit your type of business.

It was simple to get started with the software and add information to the system. There was no need to fuss with different menus or go in circles trying to navigate the software. For instance, it was very easy to connect bank accounts and credit cards straight from the dashboard as well as enter operational data for vendors, employees and customers.

The dashboard interface feels intuitive. It has a top navigation bar and a side menu that makes it easy to find the features you're looking for. It displays a snapshot of your financial status, with information such as income, overdue and paid invoices, expenses, profits and losses, and even a to-do widget. This gives you a quick overview of the health of your business as soon as you log into the system.

Timesaving features

When we asked small business owners what the "perfect" accounting software should do, there was one resounding requirement across the board: save time. QuickBooks Online easily lives up to this expectation.

QuickBooks Online is all about automating tasks, making accounting less time-consuming and less stressful for small business owners. The software can automate recurring invoices and bill payments, sync data from bank and credit card transactions, and reconcile and categorize expenses, which eliminates the tedious, time-consuming task of manually doing so for every single transaction. QuickBooks can also spare you the task of creating financial reports from scratch thanks to the software's wide collection of built-in reports. In addition, it automatically backs up your data so you never have to worry about whether your books are safe and up-to-date.

Another timesaving feature that QuickBooks offers is electronic invoicing, which helps you get paid more quickly. You can email invoices to your customers through the system, track them and accept online payments and electronic signatures.

QuickBooks Online integrates with hundreds of third-party applications, such as those designed for email marketing, ecommerce, customer relationship management (CRM), payment processing, time tracking, payroll services and more. This can save you time by connecting the software to the business programs you already use, allowing you to automatically import, export and sync data in real time among the different services.

Customer service

QuickBooks Online provides several support channels to its customers. It offers both phone and chat support, which you can access directly throughout the company's website. Or, if you prefer to troubleshoot problems yourself, the support page has a searchable knowledgebase and a collection of articles, guides and videos. QuickBooks also offers a blog, a user community and training classes. If you want in-person assistance, QuickBooks gives you access to local certified Intuit advisers who can give you one-on-one help on using the software and advising your business.

When we contacted the company as a small business owner looking for new accounting software, the QuickBooks sales rep we spoke with was pleasant and helpful. He answered our questions, asked about our business and recommended a software plan based on our specific needs. He directed us to areas of the company's website where we could find the information we were looking for and informed us about current discounts and special promotions we could take advantage of, without pressuring us to sign up for an account.

Other benefits of QuickBooks Online

One of the biggest benefits of using QuickBooks Online is that it's "accountant approved." Not only does it have all the features accountants deem as must-haves for small businesses, but it eliminates the learning curve since most accountants already use QuickBooks, so you won't have to teach them how to use the software.

If you use an outside accountant, you can avoid compatibility issues since the software allows you to give him or her access to the system. Whether your accountants are helping you take better control of your finances or assisting only with tax prep, using accounting software that they're are already familiar with makes the process easier for everyone involved.

The QuickBooks sales rep we spoke with also noted that your accountant receives access to your QuickBooks account for free. In other words, your accountant doesn't count toward the number of users allowed by your plan.


A major drawback to QuickBooks Online is that its mobile app lacks features. Most accounting software products offer a mobile app so you can do your accounting and view your business's finances on the go. However, QuickBooks' free mobile app offers only very basic features on iOS and Android devices, limiting what you can do on your phone and tablet. Here's what you can do on those devices:

  • Send invoices
  • Reconcile transactions
  • Take photos of receipts and attach to expenses
  • View customer information and add new customers
  • View dashboard data, such as your account balance, profit and loss report, and open and past due invoices.

If you prefer to do most of your accounting from your mobile device, check out our review for FreshBooks and Xero below. Both apps are packed with features and offer the best mobile experience for on-the-go accounting.

You should also be aware that if you download the 30-day free trial, you forfeit the six-month, 50 percent discount.

Source: | Sara Angeles
Image Credit: Intuit QuickBooks

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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