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10 Simple Tips For Do-It-Yourself Bookkeeping

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

You’ve started a business and you’re making money and spending it, but what next? Here are my top 10 tips on getting started with setting up your bookkeeping systems.

Tips for Business Registration

1. Determine what type of business you are

Sole Proprietor - All of your income and expenses are recorded on your personal taxes

Partnership - Two people who own a business together, income and expenses are split on both owner’s personal taxes as per their business agreement

Corporation – a separate entity that is responsible for reporting its own revenue and expenses

For more information on business types, visit the CRA website here:

2. Register for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) business numbers that apply to your business.

Business Number (BN) – a unique number assigned to your company to identify your activity

GST (RT) – If you plan to earn $30,000 or more in one year, you will need to collect GST. If you have any doubts about registering for GST, refer to my GST / HST series.

Payroll (RP) – If you hire employees and pay them a wage, salary or commission, you will need this number

Corporation Income Tax (RC) – for corporations that pay Income Tax

Import / Export (RM) – applies to Import and Export businesses

Note: You need to register for each account separately, you do not automatically receive a GST or Payroll number. Be sure to let your CRA client representative know which programs you need when you are registering your business number.

For more information on business numbers and account programs, visit the CRA website:

The CRA Business enquiries phone number is 1-800-959-5525. For more contact information:

For information regarding on registering for GST / HST:

3. Understand your monthly or quarterly filing deadlines.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the separate tax filings that need to be done. Here are a couple key deadlines:

GST – GST can be filed monthly, quarterly or annually. Filing is due on the last day of the month after your filing period ends, ex. your filing period is January – March, the deadline is April 30th.

For more information on GST filing:

Payroll – Payroll is filed every month and is due on the 15th of the month after your filing period ends, ex. January payroll is due on February 15th.

For more information on general filing guidelines:

Tips for Record Keeping

4. Keep a copy of all your receipts

If you go out for a coffee, purchase a piece of machinery, pay for accounting services or incur any other expense, keep the receipt or invoice. It will be harder to collect receipts and invoices at the end of the year when you are filing your taxes.

It will also prevent you from missing out on potential deductions if you can’t remember what expenses were incurred.

Tip: Keep a copy of both the debit card / credit card receipt and the detailed receipt with the tax information noted.

5. Keep the right documents

  • Government letters

  • Expense receipts

  • Client Documents

  • Insurance documents

  • Loan documents

  • WCB Documents

  • Banking Documents

  • Payroll Documents

If you are unsure if a document is business related, hold on to it and contact a bookkeeper, accountant or the CRA for clarification.

Download a Document Check List to get organized here.

6. Regular Maintenance

Set a regular time to organize your bookkeeping documents. It can be once a week, once a month, once a quarter, whatever works for your schedule. The more regularly you maintain your documents, the easier your bookkeeping will be.

It’s okay to break down the maintenance in to parts, one day you gather receipts, the next day you gather statements. Take this in small steps if it’s overwhelming.

Tips on Documentation Organization

7. Create a simple storage system

The CRA now allows businesses to keep electronic copies of receipts as well as hard copies. Electronic receipts only need to be presented in hard copy as requested. The key is to be able to produce a receipt when it’s requested.

Hard Copy Receipt Storage Ideas:

  • Use a 12-slot folder – assign one month of the year to each slot, put all documents related to the same month in one slot

  • Use a binder with dividers

Binder 1: General Bookkeeping Documents – Bank Statements, Credit Card Statements, Government Documents, Insurance Documents, etc.

Binder 2: Vendor Receipts – use alphabet tabs to divide vendor receipts and invoices by name.

Tip: Vendors that use their name as their company name should be filed by first name. Ex. Jane Smith will be filed under “J”.

Binder 3: Customer Documents – use alphabet tabs to divide customer documents by name. Customer documents will include contracts, purchase orders, invoices and any other documents relating to your customers.

Electronic Receipt Storage Ideas:

It’s easy to lose track of electronic receipts because they come from many places – email, online accounts and transferred through file sharing programs. Keeping track of them is important to ensure you claim all your expenses during tax time.

  • A lot of accounting software programs allow you to upload a picture of your receipt and attach it to the transaction in the system. Once the image is securely saved to the transaction, the receipt can be discarded. If you are new to record keeping, hold on to the hard copy until you are comfortable with this process.

  • A folder storage system – Dropbox, Google Drive, your computer hard drive

One folder each for

  • Bank Statements

  • Credit Card Statements

  • Insurance Documents

  • Government Documents

  • Customers

  • Vendors

  • Payroll Documents

  • Other Items

For any of these folders you can create subfolders to organize your documents in more detail.

  • Keep documents at their original source – emailed receipts in your email, online invoices online, etc. Keep a list of where you can find each receipt so you don’t lose track of them. Just remember, some websites restrict the time period for which you can view / download invoices so it will be important to store those invoices in a reliable place if needed.

Tips on Other Items

8. Organize your spending

Minimum Bank Accounts Required:

  • Chequing account – this will be used for direct debit payments, cheques, deposits and online transfers. The chequing account should have as minimal transactions as possible.

  • Savings account – used for a tax savings account

  • Business credit card – put as many transactions as possible on your credit card. This will be the main document source if an expense item needs to be verified.

9. Create bookkeeping processes and procedures as soon as possible

When a company is small and there are not many documents to manage, it’s easy to put off the organization until later. This is where bookkeeping can go astray quickly as there is usually more to do than expected.

10. Take the time to research an Accountant, Bookkeeper or take a class

Even if your bookkeeping is minimal, it’s important to understand the basic fundamentals so your books are completed correctly from the beginning.


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