Looking for bookkeeping tips

3 Replies

Hi everyone,

I received a job as an Accountant for a small rental property management company in Richmond, VA. I was invited to interview even though I have no accounting background, and was ultimately given the position because of that. My supervisor feels that it's too simple a process to get someone with an accounting degree, but I know there is more I should know.

We currently use Buildium AppFolio for the Rental Properties (Escrow and Security Deposit Accounts) and use Quicken for the general operating account for the company. Where should I start in terms of taking this over and being able to own it? I have some knowledge of Quicken, but not when it comes to determining what categories should be connected to Schedule A, etc. I've also become very familiar with Appfolio and its accounting processes, but I'm not sure how to tie it all together and see the big idea.

Further, the company has been using categories in quicken incorrectly, or rather, inefficiently. What categories are you all using that I might be able to culminate into our list so that it's effective and efficient?


Thanks in advance.

@David Lucas I know it's not your fault, but this post blew my mind. 

"I have no accounting background, and was ultimately given the position because of that. My supervisor feels that it's too simple a process to get someone with an accounting degree, but I know there is more I should know."

Your supervisor (and you if you agree with him/her) will be in for a world of hurt if they honestly believe the accounting process is easy. If accounting were easy and straightforward, CPAs wouldn't be held to such high standards.

A lot of people think accounting is easy - right up until they have their first major mess up that costs the company thousands in penalties and litigation. 

You need to know GAAP, Tax Accounting, how GAAP and Tax Accounting create differing basis, how to reconcile that basis, how to prepare partnership/s-corp tax returns, how to issue K1s, how to create monthly and quarterly reports and reconcile those reports, how to close the annual books, etc etc. You can learn all of that with a solid 4-5 year educational program and then another 1-2 years of CPA testing. 

On top of that, you will need to know how to defend the company during an audit, defend the steps you have taken to the company's leadership, develop reports that are meaningful and actionable for leadership, and best of all - defend your positions when outside investors hire a CPA like me to come in and question everything you've done in the past. You can learn all of this through several (many?) years of experience. 

That said, it can be done. You need to know exactly what is required of you. If you are just bookkeeping, your job will be relatively simpler as you won't have to reconcile with the tax basis. If you are reporting taxes as well, you're going to have your work cut out for you (Schedule A will likely not be utilized by the company). 

Honestly, I'd enroll in a part time accounting program. It will be a shame to lose your job in a year or so when an experienced accountant comes around and points out all the errors and the subsequent value they can offer the company should they be hired (and you fired). 

Accounting is the lifeblood of a company. Do it right, and the company will grow beyond expectations, do it wrong, and you'll be a "going concern" in no time. 

Bookkeeping in general is a position you don't need to be an accountant to perform.  However, just like any other job, you need to have some basic accounting knowledge in order to properly record information.  The company isn't hiring you as a controller, just a bookkeeper.  Some companies have a bookkeeper to do 80% of the work, then have their CPA review the books monthly to make sure things are looking good.  You don't need a CPA to do basic data entry.

Originally posted by @David Lucas :

Hi everyone,

I received a job as an Accountant for a small rental property management company in Richmond, VA. I was invited to interview even though I have no accounting background, and was ultimately given the position because of that. My supervisor feels that it's too simple a process to get someone with an accounting degree, but I know there is more I should know.

We currently use Buildium AppFolio for the Rental Properties (Escrow and Security Deposit Accounts) and use Quicken for the general operating account for the company. Where should I start in terms of taking this over and being able to own it? I have some knowledge of Quicken, but not when it comes to determining what categories should be connected to Schedule A, etc. I've also become very familiar with Appfolio and its accounting processes, but I'm not sure how to tie it all together and see the big idea.

Further, the company has been using categories in quicken incorrectly, or rather, inefficiently. What categories are you all using that I might be able to culminate into our list so that it's effective and efficient?


Thanks in advance.

 Hello David,

First off congratulations on joining the REI world! Speaking from experience AppFolio is a very good program in terms of accounting. I highly recommend getting used to it. That program will come in handy as you grow in your career.

Please take a few moments to use it and see how you feel. You'll find it very user friendly. 

Good luck to you on your new position.

Please let me know if you have any questions.