Bookkeeping For Canadians For Dummies
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Bookkeepers take care of all the financial data for businesses. Accurate and complete financial bookkeeping is crucial to any business’s decision makers: owner, outside investors, creditors, bank and even its employees. Keeping a close eye on your day-to-day business operations can help you be a Canadian small-business success story.

The nuts and bolts of bookkeeping

Every bookkeeping system has a few consistent elements. Here is a list of what your business requires to ensure that it’s bookkeeping by the book:

  • Chart of Accounts: Lists all accounts in the books and is the road map of a business’s financial transactions

  • Journals: Place in the books where transactions are first entered

  • General Ledger: The book that summarizes all a business’s account transactions

Accounting for debits and credits in double-entry bookkeeping

In double-entry bookkeeping, you enter all transactions in the books twice: once as a debit and once as a credit. This chart shows you how debits and credits affect your various business bookkeeping accounts.

Account Type Debits Credits
Assets Increase Decrease
Liabilities Decrease Increase
Equity Decrease Increase
Drawings Increase Decrease
Revenue Decrease Increase
Expenses Increase Decrease

Current ratio: a valuable tool for bookkeepers

Bookkeepers use the current ratio to compare the current assets of a business to its current liabilities. This ratio provides a quick glimpse of your business’s ability to pay its bills. The formula for calculating the current ratio is

Current assets ÷ Current liabilities = Current ratio

The following is an example of a current ratio calculation:

$5,200 ÷ $2,200 = 2.36 (current ratio)

Lenders usually look for current ratios of 1.2 to 2, so any bank would consider a current ratio of 2.36 a good sign. A current ratio under 1 is considered a danger sign because that indicates that the business doesn’t have enough current assets to pay its current bills.

Best bookkeeping practices to help you manage your business

Regardless of the size of your business, efficient bookkeeping practices are essential to keep any business running smoothly. Here are some helpful hints to help you streamline your bookkeeping process:

  • Set up a chart of accounts that best keeps track of all your bookkeeping information.

  • Balance and record daily sales and cash receipts daily.

  • Reconcile your bank account.

  • Watch closely your accounts receivable from customers.

  • Pay your bills accurately and on time.

  • Set up sales and revenue targets and monitor your progress closely.

  • Budget for all your expenses and compare your performance to budget regularly.

  • Watch for unusual changes in sales or expenses.

  • Monitor your gross profit closely and make any necessary pricing or purchases decisions.

  • Take care of slow moving inventory.

  • Pay your employee withholding taxes and GST/HST when due.

  • Take physical counts of your inventory and compare to your bookkeeping records.

How to control your business cash

Bookkeeping is all about keeping tabs on where your business’s cash is. Here are a few handy tips that will ensure that your bookkeeping doesn’t require too much red ink so your small business can thrive:

  • Separate cash handlers. Be sure that the person who accepts cash isn’t also recording the transaction.

  • Separate authorization responsibilities. Be sure that the person who authorizes a payment isn’t also signing the cheque or paying out cash.

  • Separate the duties of your bookkeeping function to ensure a good system of checks and balances. Don’t put too much trust in one person — unless it’s yourself.

  • Separate operational responsibility (actual day-to-day transactions) from record-keeping responsibility (entering transactions in the books).

  • Reconcile the bank account. Assign this task to someone who is not handling cash or making bookkeeping entries. Review the reconciliation carefully.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Lita Epstein, who earned her MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, enjoys helping people develop good financial, investing and tax-planning skills.
While getting her MBA, Lita worked as a teaching assistant for the financial accounting department and ran the accounting lab. After completing her MBA, she managed finances for a small nonprofit organization and for the facilities management section of a large medical clinic.
She designs and teaches online courses on topics such as investing for retirement, getting ready for tax time and finance and investing for women. She’s written over 20 books including Reading Financial Reports For Dummies and Trading For Dummies.
Lita was the content director for a financial services Web site,, and managed the Web site, Investing for Women. As a Congressional press secretary, Lita gained firsthand knowledge about how to work within and around the Federal bureaucracy, which gives her great insight into how government programs work. In the past, Lita has been a daily newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and fundraiser for the international activities of former President Jimmy Carter through The Carter Center.

John A. Tracy, CPA, is professor of accounting, emeritus, at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Earlier in his career, he was a staff accountant with Ernst & Young.

Cécile Laurin, CPA, CA, is a professor of accounting at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ottawa. She has been chief financial officer for three engineering firms and a law firm.

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