By Ashley Preen
May 2, 2022
Cloud-based accounting has revolutionised the way freelancers and small businesses do their bookkeeping, accounting and year-end taxes.
Over the years, these tools have grown so sophisticated that many costly accounting functions of the past are now within the hands of small business owners and freelancers.
Here at Pearl Accounting, we are official partners of several popular accounting systems and can therefore assist anybody using these systems so that they can get the most out of them in the shortest amount of time.
One extremely popular tool is Xero.
As with all accounting tools, there is a bit of a learning curve to start using Xero proficiently, especially if you have no prior accounting training.
Here are 22 tips that we can help you get more out of your Xero accounting and bookkeeping experience!
1. Use Xero’s built-in calculator directly in fields. Yes, you read that right: Xero is able to calculate values directly inside fields. For example, if you have a £39.99 receipt of which £27.32 were actually personal expenses, you could simply type in “37.99 - 27.32” into the field and Xero would calculate the value for you.
2. Configure automatic invoice reminders so that you don’t have to worry about chasing up slow debtors.
3. Configure automatic invoice reminders so that you don’t have to worry about chasing up slow debtors.
4. Customise your invoice reminder emails with your own, personalised message.
5. Don’t worry about recreating an invoice from scratch, just copy it, and all the new fields will be filled in with the values from the original invoice.
6. If you have items that you invoice repeatedly, you can set it up that these get created and sent automatically at a predetermined schedule.
7. Xero has numerous data entry shortcuts, for example, “Tab + t” inputs the current date.
8. Type “yes” to input yesterday’s date into a date field.
9. Typing the minus symbols (-) and then a number. This subtracts that number of days from today’s date. For example, typing in “-3” would input the date of three days ago.
10. Typing the minus symbols (-) and then a number. This subtracts that number of days from today’s date. For example, typing in “-3” would input the date of three days ago.
11. You can connect your Google account to Xero and then export Xero’s data to Google Sheets where it can then be manipulated using’s Google Sheets’ built-in formulas.
12. Use the forward-slash (/) to open up the search box from any screen (except Fixed Assets, Reports, Projects, and Expenses screens).
13. Use single-word shortcuts from the search box to quickly navigate to other screens. For example, typing “c” into the search box when you are in the “All” or Dashboard screen will take you to “All Contacts”.
14. Similarly, typing in “f” in the search box will show you an option to go to the File library.
15. Type “r” into the search box to take you to the “All Reports” screen.
16. Typing “s” into the search box will take you to the “Organisation Settings” screen.
17. If you are in the “Add New” Screens and type in “b” into the search box, a shortcut will appear to add a new bill.
18. Type in “c” into the search box from the “Add New” screen to be shown a shortcut to add a new contact.
19. You can export budgets into a spreadsheet, edit them, and then import the edited budget back into Xero. This can save plenty of time by leveraging the spreadsheet’s innate ability to easily manipulate numbers and datasets. Also, by “favouriting” the budget, you can access it quickly and so make similar edits in the future rapidly.
20. Xero allows you to group contacts, thereby making it easy to identify relationships. Some examples of contact groups could be Clients, Suppliers and Subscribers. Grouping contacts also gives you the ability to send identical invoices to each member of that group.
For example, if you sold 100 items of “Widget X” at a recent sale, you could group those contacts under “Widget X Buyers”, generate a single invoice and then have the invoice sent to each contact as a separate invoice! Do you see how accounting tools can start paying for themselves as a result of the ton of time they can save you?
21. Probably one of the biggest time-savers in Xero is the ability to set up automatic bank feeds. This is so unbelievably useful that it might even be an option to switch banks if your particular bank doesn’t support bank feeds.
22. By configuring as many Rules as possible in Xero, the system will then start matching bank feed items with your rules, thereby saving you time (and possible human error) when doing your bookkeeping.
23. If you want to look at multiple Xero screens at the same time, just hold the Ctrl key down while left-clicking the respective link on Xero to open that screen in a separate tab.
There are dozens if not hundreds of other time-saving tips you can use when working with Xero. But the above should get you well on your way.
The best teacher is practice and regular use. By using Xero regularly, you will start to pick up many tips yourself and really saving time (and, hence, money) on your accounting.
(And, who knows? You could then even use that saved-up cash for more advanced services that accountants specialise in, such as specialist tax-optimisation advice.)