December 5, 2023

5 ways to automate your Xero bookkeeping for a stress-free Christmas break

Hey! I'm Alana

Number nerd, Xero expert, detail-driven, soy matcha fanatic. I'm also the founder and lead bookkeeper at Honeybooks. My mission? To help NZ small business owners to have more confidence and clarity in their bookkeeping so they can increase profit and decrease stress.

You started your own business to be your own boss, to have more flexibility and work on your own terms. Though, at times, it feels like your business is the boss of you. With only a few weeks away until Christmas, the chaos is real. It’s hard to get into the festive spirit when your to-do list keeps growing by the minute.

For small business owners, shutting off during the holidays feels nearly impossible, especially when bookkeeping is looming over our heads. But guess what? You don’t have to spend your break worrying about paying bills on time, sending invoices or processing payroll. With a bit of planning and some nifty automation in Xero, you can achieve that well-deserved stress-free break that you’ve been craving. Picture it: more time, simpler processes, and that victorious feeling when you set that ‘out-of-office’ message!

So, here’s the lowdown on 5 simple (but genius) ways to automate your Xero bookkeeping and make this Christmas break a breeze.

1. Automatically send invoices from Xero while you’re away

Planning to be holidaying somewhere where there’s no Wi-Fi signal? No worries! You don’t have to rethink your holiday plans or scramble for a signal just to send out invoices. With Xero, it’s easy to create and set up invoices in advance to be sent to clients while you’re away. Whether it’s a monthly recurring invoice for retainer clients on fixed-fee packages or a one-off project.

Setting up monthly recurring invoices for retainer clients on fixed-fee packages is as simple as setting up repeating invoice templates in Xero.

Now, if it’s a one-off project or service that you’re invoicing for, Xero doesn’t currently have a default option for sending invoices on a future date. But hey, we’ve got a simple workaround for you: create a repeating invoice template and match the end date with the invoice date (which will generate just one instance of the invoice), ensuring your invoice gets automatically sent to your client on the chosen date. Voilà!

2. Set up Xero email reminders for overdue invoices

Save the hassle of chasing up invoices and turn on automatic invoice reminders in Xero when a payment is due soon or overdue. You can create and send up to five invoice reminders to your customers and have Xero do the heavy lifting for you while you’re on break. View the steps on setting up invoice reminders in Xero here.

3. Set up and schedule bill payments

You’ll be happy to know, that you can schedule your bills in advance to be paid while you’re on holiday to avoid missing due dates and incurring late penalty fees.

To do this, ensure that you load all of your upcoming bills into Xero, then use the Batch Payments feature to pay multiple bills in one go on a certain date.

Click here to view the full step-by-step guide on how to schedule batch payments in Xero.

Also, here’s a quick heads-up on a couple of important tax dates you might want to get ahead of:

  • 15 January 2024: October/November 2023 GST return and provisional tax due.
  • 20 January 2024: December’s PAYE due

4. Set up and schedule payroll in advance

Paying staff on time during the holidays is critical. They won’t want to be left in the lurch with pending payments, especially over the festive season when expenses are running high with gift buying and celebrations.

One way to ensure payroll doesn’t go amiss is to have your team members apply for their leave in advance so you can schedule these payments pre-holidays. 

For casual staff like contractors, plan anticipated projects so you can account for the number of hours they’ll be working over the break.At Honeybooks, our go-to payroll platform is PayHero. Through their app your team can apply for leave, view payslips, submit timesheets and claim expenses and, our favourite feature, it also files your PAYE return for you – meaning less time spent on payroll admin for you!

5. Set up a system to collect bills and receipts ready to reconcile

Stress shouldn’t pile up when you return from your break. Keep your business ticking while you’re away by setting up a system to collect bills and receipts ready to reconcile when you get back to the office. Here are some pointers on how to make things easier for you to reconcile:

  • Get receipts emailed to you if possible. For paper receipts, take photos of them and email them to yourself.
  • Make a note of the business purpose on the front of your physical receipts before taking a photo. This is useful for entertainment expenses, as you’ll need to record the name of the person you were entertaining to claim the expense. This will be very useful during the hectic Christmas period when you’ll likely be entertaining more often. Check out our latest blog to find out more about what business expenses you can claim this Christmas.
  • Set up a folder in your emails to store all of your emails with receipts until it’s time to do your bookkeeping.
  • At the end, if you’re using Xero, attach digital copies of your receipts to your transactions (you’ll need to keep records of all purchases over $50 for 7 years)

At Honeybooks, we use the bookkeeping automation tool Hubdoc for our clients. It’s a centralised hub for receiving bills and receipts of different formats and then it magically converts them into usable data and sends the info through to Xero. Our clients love how easy it is to use. Plus, it drastically cuts down our data entry time, allowing us to focus more attention on interpreting their numbers.

Claim your stress-free holidays back

Remember, you didn’t start your business just to have work consume your life, right? I’m willing to bet that this Christmas break, you’d much rather be spending time with your loved ones, hanging on the beach (surely we’ll get a summer this year?!), or enjoying some much-deserved downtime than working through seemingly endless bookkeeping tasks. 

Give the automation tips above a shot. But hey, if you’d rather free up more of your time, get in touch with Honeybooks to take care of it for you. We’re your bookkeeping pros who thrive on organisation, details and automating processes. If we know an easier way to complete a task, we’ll opt for that any day. 

Check out our bookkeeping services or get in touch with us to arrange a call to chat about our done-for-you bookkeeping packages.

I'm a number nerd, Xero expert, detail-driven, soy matcha fanatic. I'm also the founder and lead bookkeeper at Honeybooks.

My mission? To help NZ small business owners to have more confidence and clarity in their bookkeeping so they can increase profit and decrease stress.

Hey! I'm Alana

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