Maintaining a positive cash flow is the name of the game as you get ready to close down the year. You’re undoubtedly trying to collect on unpaid invoices before December 31 and minimize expenses.
But you probably also have open payables, bills that must be paid this month. Letting them slip means your January obligations will be doubled – and possibly increased with late fees. So make a plan to take you through to 2018.
Create a report. Do it soon – like, today. Know the total of all your unpaid obligations. If you’re using QuickBooks, this will just take a few seconds. If not, do it on paper or in a spreadsheet. Remember these fixed expenses as unplanned—and maybe unnecessary—expenses come up this month.
Pay the ones you can now, and schedule the rest. The more you can get on top of things now as this busy month flies by, the less last-minute panic you’ll feel as the holidays approach. Even if you’re used to waiting until close to due dates to pay bills, take care of them early this month if possible. Your suppliers are fighting with year-end tasks, too, and you want to be sure your payment gets applied on time.
If you can’t pay everything right now, know when the rest have to go out and schedule them on a paper or electronic calendar.
Can’t pay? Communicate. If you absolutely can’t meet an obligation or two, talk to your suppliers. You may be able to recalibrate your payment schedule if you’re paying installments or make a partial payment. If a regular bill is affected, like a utility, your vendor may allow you some flexibility.
Use a triage system if you have to. Consider:
- Your payment history with the vendor, and that specific obligation.
- Whether you can make a double payment in January.
- The consequences of missing a payment.
Consider automating your bill-paying tasks. You probably won’t have time to do it this month, but if you’re still managing your payables manually, start thinking about making a change in the New Year. QuickBooks handles bill-pay quite well and should help you avoid this last-minute crunch next year. You’ll enter information about bills once and be able to quickly dispatch them when they come due. Reminders and other automation ensure that you don’t miss payments.
The Long Game
How you handle any shortfalls now is about more than this month’s bill. It’s also about maintaining good, long-term relationships with your vendors. They may not catch missing payments immediately because of the December holidays and employee vacations. But once the New Year starts, everyone will be playing catch-up, and your absence will be noted.
You might take a little time this month to evaluate the effectiveness of your accounting system. Would you like to improve your workflow and keep a closer watch on the status of your finances? Let us know if we can help. Contact your MarksNelson professional at 816-743-7700.