What is the difference between a bookkeeper and a CPA, and which one do I need?
What is money coaching, and what is involved?
Where are you located? Will you come to my office or home?
What systems do you use?
What do you charge?
What should I look for in a bookkeeper?


What is the difference between a CPA and a bookkeeper, and which one do I need?

A bookkeeper helps you keep track of where your money is going, helps you stay current on the money in your business, and ideally helps you watch for more potential tax deductions you may be missing. We do the every day money maintenance that gives you the updated data to make decisions and file your taxes.

Many Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Enrolled Agents (EAs) focus almost exclusively on filing Federal taxes (though some also have bookkeepers onsite). If you need to file current or past-due Federal income taxes, go with a CPA or an EA. We have several we can refer.

After all the mistakes (and resulting extra taxes!) I’ve seen, I think every business should have a great bookkeeper. But you definitely need a bookkeeper if you:

  • dread the annual tax-season-information-gathering struggle;
  • are behind in your taxes and don’t know how to organize the info you need;
  • can’t seem to save for your taxes as you go, and end up desperately pulling money together (or setting up another payment plan);
  • aren’t able to plan or make decisions because you don’t know what is happening with your money;
  • need help setting up or running payroll, paying bills, collecting money owed to you, or filing state or local taxes; or,
  • hate doing your own books and always find yourself putting it off!

If you are interested in learning more about our bookkeeping, check our Bookkeeping Services page.


What is money coaching, and what is involved?

Money coaching can mean different things to different people. At Clear Sky Bookkeeping, our money coaching guides you through an in-depth, proven three-part process that will help you:

  1. Get Clear – identify who you are and what is most important to you, so you have the foundation to make decisions that move you closer to your dreams.
  2. Get Control – figure out exactly where your money is going, and set up and maintain a simple system to keep your finger on the pulse on your finances.
  3. Get Aligned – connect the “Who I am and what I want” with the “What is currently happening?” and move forward!

These three steps work on small businesses, large businesses, non-profits, individuals, families, and couples – and on more than just your money. Having used these exact same steps with thousands of people over the years, I have drilled down to the most valuable and efficient exercises so you make more, save more, and spend less – easily and happily. Check out our Coaching Services page for more information on our coaching packages.


Where are you located? Will you come to my office or home?

We are in gorgeous Seattle, but we work exclusively in the cloud so we can work with clients anywhere in the United States. We do sometimes meet in person locally to see if we are a good fit, but we do not provide in-house services. No point in you paying for travel time – and us getting stuck in traffic – when there are so many simple and efficient systems online. Even if you aren’t tech-savvy, we will find systems that work for you and your team!


What systems do you use?

At Clear Sky Bookkeeping we love systems, and test new options often. Everyone is different has different needs, so it best serves us and our clients to know what is available and how it works.

Having said that, our go-to business bookkeeping system is Xero Accounting. Xero is user-friendly, effective, efficient, and has great trainings, reference materials, and customer service. It connects happily and easily to hundreds of add-ons, making it flexible and expandable. We are Xero Pro Advisor Certified. We also sometimes use and do DIY training programs for Wave Accounting.

We do not use Quickbooks for many reasons, but are happy to help you move your data to Xero if you would like to switch. We can also refer you to awesome Quickbooks bookkeepers, if you are already in Quickbooks and would like to stick with it.

On the personal side, we recommend Mint as the simplest and easiest solution to track where your money is going. We do not recommend Mint to track your business information.


What do you charge?

At Clear Sky Bookkeeping we charge a flat rate per month (for bookkeeping) or per coaching program, so you know what your costs will be up front. We worry about our time, and you don’t have to. 🙂

Bookkeeping rates depend on how much support you would like, what tasks you would like us to take over, (for example, payroll, local taxes, accounts payable), and how many transactions go through your business. Our monthly rate also includes an hour of coaching/overview time each month, to discuss, plan, brainstorm, about your personal or professional money – whatever your heart desires! It’s all related, and we love it all.


What should I look for in a bookkeeper?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fixed the books for someone who hired a friend or amateur to do their bookkeeping – sometimes costing them thousands of dollars in over-paid taxes. But what should you look for?

Your bookkeeper should be:

  • Insured. Errors and Omissions insurance will protect you in case there is a mistake.
  • Helpful. Want to figure out how much you’re paying for Facebook ads, if you can afford to hire an employee (and how much it will cost), or how to start taking more money home? You should expect your bookkeeper to happily help (and even teach you how to access or evaluate some of that on your own, if you want to know!). Bookkeeping isn’t just about categorizing transactions to file your taxes – they can also help you find and analyze info to make informed decisions.
  • Open. You should feel comfortable asking any and all questions – if the bookkeeper makes you feel stupid or uncomfortable, move on!
  • Involved. Bookkeeping doesn’t require a degree or certification, but it is a complicated skill that requires continuing education. Look for someone who is an active member with one of the national bookkeeping associations, and is always learning and keeping up-to-date in both the systems they use and in changes in tax laws and compliance issues.
  • Happy to work with your CPA. Your CPA is filing your taxes, and each has their own preferences about how your books are kept. Your bookkeeper should be happy to communicate with your CPA to make things as smooth and easy as possible for you.

If you would like to chat with Emily about our bookkeeping, schedule a chat here. We look forward to learning more about you and your business!