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Payables How-To (Part 1): Entering Bills in QuickBooks Desktop

Updated: Mar 13

Learn just how easy QuickBooks can make keeping track of your accounts payable.

Managing your bills without automation can be a practice that's time-consuming and even risky. Paper invoices can be hard to locate and keeping mental tabs on a vendor list and due dates is an overwhelming process at best.

The solution is a system that allows you to pay your bills on time every time with as little hassle as possible. QuickBooks can provide the infrastructure necessary to accomplish this. By entering bills into QuickBooks as they arrive and then designating them as paid as soon as you submit payment via paper check, credit card, or ACH, you'll avoid any uncertainty around making your monthly payments. Besides making these records available, the platform offers other ways to stay informed about the status of your accounts payable through QuickBooks' Bill Tracker and assorted reports.

Keep reading to learn more about the features within QuickBooks Desktop that allow you to manage AP with ease.

Creating a Record

To use the bill management features in QuickBooks’ most effectively, you'll need to instate a few new habits. The first involves entering information about your bills as they come in. This process may take additional time upfront as you first record each vendor and bill, but it will save time recording bill payments and entering bills in the future – along with paying them.

To do this, open the Vendors menu and select Enter Bills. A window like this opens:

QuickBooks allows you to create a record of each bill as it comes in.

To record a bill, simply fill in the missing information and make your selections from the drop-down lists provided. Below the bill itself, you'll see a table containing two tabs. If the bill involves Expenses, like a utility bill, you click on the corresponding tab, choose the Account (Utilities: Gas and Electric), and enter the Amount. If it’s an expense that should be billed to a Customer:Job, select the name from the drop-down list and click in the column under Billable.

If the bill is for Items, click on that tab and choose the item(s), completing the rest of the fields for each line (Quantity, Customer:Job, and Billable). Should you get a bill that is for both expenses and items, you can split the amounts between the fields under the two tabs.

Memorizing Bills

Before you save the bill, take a look at the vertical pane on the right. QuickBooks uses this to display any Open Balance with that vendor, as well as Related Transactions. This is one way QuickBooks Desktop keeps you up-to-date on the status of your accounts payable. You’ll notice, too, that the toolbar at the top of the window contains links to related actions, like Attach File, Enter Time, and Pay Bill.

Another icon is labeled Memorize. To save time down the road, you can ask QuickBooks to “memorize” the bill you entered. This way, the next time you have to pay that vendor, you can go to Lists | Memorized Transaction List, find it, and make any relevant updates (QuickBooks will change the date). This works best for regularly-scheduled bills that only vary in amount.

When QuickBooks memorizes a bill, it gives you several options for managing repeat occurrences.

The window pictured above will populate when you click Memorize. If you want a reminder in advance of that bill’s due date, click the button in front of Add to my Reminders List. You can opt not to have a reminder, or to add the bill to a Group of related bills. If you select Automate Transaction Entry, QuickBooks will enter the bill automatically on the date you specify and the interval you choose, like Monthly. It will also stop the recurrence on a specific date if you enter one.

Note: Don’t have Reminders set up? Go to Edit > Preferences > Reminders > Company Preferences.

Entering bills is just the first step in QuickBooks’ bill-paying process. In Part 2, we’ll talk about the next step--paying bills--and show you how to track them easily. In the meantime, contact us if you have questions about what we covered in this column or about any other element of QuickBooks.

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