Making time to keep farm accounting records

MSU has tools available to help with farm bookkeeping

A woman sitting at a desk and looking at a computer, looking very stressed.
Keeping farm accounting records can be overwhelming, but help is available. | Photo by Florencia Colella

Bookkeeping is important for a farm not only to comply with IRS requirements. It helps us tell how our farm is doing in terms of money. It can answer the question of how much we need to keep running. It can reflect how close or far a farm is to achieving its goals, and what things can be changed to doing so successfully. However, even for a farmer that understands the importance of keeping good accounting records, and who wants to make time for it, and who is experienced in it, sometimes it just seems impossible to make time for inputting journal entries.

If you need a hand in making time to make your journal entries, or if you are feeling demotivated, you can can get support from Michigan State University Extension. In this article we are going to outline some of the tools you can use to improve your bookkeeping time management.

Your Michigan State University Extension Farm Business Management educator, in particular the West-Central Michigan educator Florencia Colella, can set deadlines for you, hold you responsible for meeting them, and create a system of rewards that motivates you and works in your particular situation. Get in touch with her for more information about one-on-one mentoring programs.

She can put you in touch with a group of farm bookkeepers who are in the same boat. If there is interest, she will set up a series of in-person bookkeepers meetings. To get on the list of bookkeepers interested in this, call or email Florencia Colella.

If you are tech savvy, you can also join silent video conference meetings. These meetings are like a virtual room in which you enter to work, for as long as you need, as long as the room is open, usually a couple of hours. Think about it as a library room. Attendees can’t talk, but they can see each other. The goal of these meetings is not to share knowledge but simply enjoy, from your very home or office, the company and the comfort that you are not alone while making your entries. These scheduled meetings are also helpful in setting time aside, sticking to it, and telling others that you are busy. They decrease interruptions and keep farm bookkeepers focused and accountable. To join these meetings you will need a computer with an internet connection and a webcam, or a cell phone with an internet connection and a front-facing camera. Get in touch with Florencia Colella to get the details.

If you also happen to have a Facebook account, you can join the “Farm bookkeepers” Facebook group for support and conversations about everything from bookkeeping systems to farm and family life.

Whether you decide some of these tools are for you or not, remember that recordkeeping is hard work, and that many other people are also doing it more or less successfully every month. You are not alone, and Michigan State University Extension has resources to help you. Contact your Extension Educator if you need help finding the right resources for your particular situation.

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