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Chapter 6

How to manage accounts payable

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Accountant & bookkeeper guides > How to do bookkeeping > How to manage accounts payable

Paying bills isn’t very glamorous, but it’s important work. They’re debts and need to be managed closely – with one thought for your suppliers and another for your bank account.

What is accounts payable?

If you have bills, you have accounts payable. It’s the opposite side of accounts receivable and the aim is to pay bills on time, without running your bank balance too low.

Why does it matter?

You want to maintain good terms with suppliers – if you’re slow paying them, they may stop your credit or delay deliveries. You also need to think about cash flow. Your bank balance could take a beating if you paid everyone at once. And that would leave you with little cash to cover other expenses, unexpected costs, or to fund business growth.

How to manage accounts payable

Bills from vendors are first recorded as money owed. They’ll then go through an approval process, to make sure the goods or services were received. Once approved, payment is scheduled according to the vendor’s payment terms. The longer your payment terms are, the better for your cash flow. On the other hand, it’s nice to take advantage of early payment discounts if they’re on offer. When payment is made, the books are updated to show the bill isn’t owed anymore. Remember your balance sheet? It’s also called your statement of financial position. It’s best to ensure the amount of money owed to you as accounts receivable is more than what’s owed by you as accounts payable.

Modern accounts payable management

You can enter bills into your ledger by typing them in or by emailing them to your accounting software. There are also clever software apps that read and extract data from bills and automatically send it to your accounting software. The accounting software creates the book entry and helps you schedule payments, then updates your ledger when the bill is settled.

Accounts Payable

Figure 5, What’s involved in managing accounts payable.

Chapter 7: How to create monthly financial reports

Financial reports help you see how your business is doing. Find out what the main types are, how they’re made, and what they can tell you.

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