Accounting
Bookkeeping
|
9 min. read

How much does a bookkeeper cost?

Hiring a bookkeeper can cost around $200 to $2,000 per month depending on what type you work with. Here are the costs of hiring an in-house bookkeeper, a virtual bookkeeper or an accounting firm.

You’re likely looking for a bookkeeper because you just started your business or you’re tired of doing your own bookkeeping.

Before you hire a bookkeeper, you should have an idea of what bookkeeping services you need and how much they cost. The cost can range from about $200 to $2,000 per month.

You can choose between an in-house bookkeeper, virtual bookkeeper or an accounting firm. The costs associated with each type of bookkeeper, along with other factors like your business’ size and needs, can help you decide which one is best for you.

 

What does a bookkeeper do?

Every bookkeeper or accountant might define their jobs differently. For the purposes of this article, these are the three main functions of bookkeeping you’ll hear from most people: reconciling, handling accounts receivable and accounts payable. Here’s what each of them mean:

  • Reconciling: Reconciling is the process of combing through your accounting software and your bank statements and ensuring your transactions appear the same way on both.
  • Handling accounts receivable: Accounts receivable are accounts that are owed to you, like invoices. Bookkeepers can help with creating and distributing invoices.
  • Handling accounts payable: Accounts payable are accounts that you need to pay, like bills from third parties. Bookkeepers can make sure that you’re paying bills and recording them correctly.

In reality, accounting tasks can go beyond basic bookkeeping. Here are a few other accounting tasks you likely need done that aren’t necessarily bookkeeping:

  • Sales tax filing: You need to file sales tax returns on a quarterly or monthly basis as a business in Florida. You also need to know how much to charge for sales tax, and how to record it.
  • Payroll: Payroll is more than just handing out paychecks to your employees. You need to withhold FICA and income taxes, file payroll tax returns and actually deposit payroll taxes to the IRS.
  • Budgeting and forecasting: Planning your finances ahead is essential for every business owner. It helps you prepare for the future and see whether your business is sustainable.
  • Reporting: Reports like your profit and loss statement and your balance sheet are important looks into your business’ financial health. You need to regularly pull these reports and learn how to read them so you can make adjustments as needed.

Not every bookkeeper or bookkeeping service will offer that range of accounting services. They might just offer just cleaning up your books, leaving you to handle tasks like payroll and sales tax on your own. So before you hire a bookkeeper, you should know exactly what they do, what they don’t, and what you need.

Cost of an in-house bookkeeper

Range: Around $900 to $2,000 per month (for a part-time bookkeeper)

An in-house bookkeeper is one that’s on staff in your company. They’re generally best for businesses with a larger number of transactions, so small businesses usually don’t opt for one.

They can sometimes be costly because there are unique costs of hiring employees. As a small business owner, you probably don’t need a full-time bookkeeper. Hiring someone part-time is usually enough to fulfill your needs — and it saves you money.

Price factors

  • Salary: A salary will end up being more expensive for you than outsourcing a bookkeeper on an hourly basis. So before you hire someone in-house, you should have enough transactions to warrant one.
  • Taxes: In-house bookkeepers aren’t 1099 contractors, they’re employees — which means you need to pay payroll taxes on their salary.
  • Benefits: You’ll have to consider the cost of benefits, if you offer any, on top of the bookkeeper’s salary and payroll taxes. The amount varies between every company, but just make sure you’re not overlooking the cost of PTO, sick days and more.

Pros

  • More involved: Someone who’s working in your office and with your team — even if they’re part-time — will have a deeper understanding of your business, which helps with the bookkeeping process. An on-staff bookkeeper probably won’t be working for any other businesses, so most of their time is spent helping you.
  • There when you need them: Because they’re right there, you can ask them a question or get information from them whenever you need it. There’s no need to wait 1-3 business days for an email back.
  • Control over how much they work: You can choose whether to make your on-staff bookkeeper either part-time or full-time. Even with a part-time bookkeeper, you still have control over their hours and can create a schedule that works best for your bookkeeper and your business.

Cons

  • Increased overall cost: As we mentioned above, you have to pay payroll taxes on employees’ wages. You also have to pay more in benefits, if you offer any, or anything else you wouldn’t offer to a contractor or third party.
  • Only one set of eyes: With only one person looking over your books, mistakes could easily slip by. Outsourced bookkeepers — both accounting firms and virtual bookkeepers — usually have multiple people looking at your books to check for errors.

Cost of a virtual bookkeeper

Range: Around $300 to $500 per month

Virtual bookkeepers are real humans that will do your books for you — just online. Some popular virtual bookkeeping services are Bench, QuickBooks Live and Bookkeeper360. They usually specialize just in bookkeeping, but will sometimes offer tax and other accounting services as well.

It’s easier to budget ahead for the price of these because they typically offer flat monthly rates. Virtual bookkeepers are typically best for people who are solely looking for bookkeeping services instead of full-service accounting services like payroll, budgeting and forecasting. They’re also best for people who are OK with not meeting their bookkeeper in person.

Price factors

  • Monthly costs: The biggest chunk of your virtual bookkeeper costs is the monthly fee. The pricing method is straightforward: You pay a fixed amount per month — and the more services you need, the more you pay.
  • Additional features: You can opt for other features and services from your virtual bookkeeper, like taxes and accounting. These usually come with additional fees that will increase the cost.
  • Your business’ activity: Some virtual bookkeepers may increase the cost of your monthly fee depending on the size and frequency of your transactions. QuickBooks Live, for example, starts at $200 per month if your business makes an average $25,000 or less per month. But if you average anywhere over that up to $150,000 a month, QuickBooks Live’s price starts at $400 per month.

Pros

  • Standard pricing: You know how much you’re paying each month, regardless of your services. This makes it easier for you to budget and keep your cash flow steady.
  • On time: Virtual bookkeepers are more likely to keep your books up-to-date. Many of their processes are automated, so they spend less time doing some basic tasks.
  • More automated: Instead of using accounting software, virtual bookkeepers may use their own sets of internal processes, which may require less work on your end.

Cons

  • Less advisory: Virtual bookkeepers are focused on cleaning up and managing your books. This approach can be great if you’re looking to be as hands-off as possible, but not so great if you want to learn more and understand your business’ finances.
  • Less accounting: Virtual bookkeepers are primarily focused on bookkeeping, not accounting. This may require you to handle accounting tasks you don’t know how to do like payroll or sales tax filing — or outsource another company to do your accounting for you.
  • Less flexibility: Because virtual bookkeeping is a relatively hands-off process for business owners, you may not be able to customize your experience as much. You can still gain a greater understanding of how your business is doing, but you may not be able to go into some of the finer details.

Cost of a firm bookkeeper

Range: Around $200 to $1,000 per month

Accounting firms can offer a wider range of services than a virtual bookkeeper, at sometimes a lower cost than a part-time bookkeeper. Instead of being focused solely on bookkeeping, they can offer you those broader accounting services like payroll, sales tax and budgeting.

Accounting firms are best for business owners who are looking for more personalized advice, want to understand their finances on a deeper level, or prefer to meet with a bookkeeper in person.

Price factors

  • Volume of transactions: The amount of transactions you have or the amount you’re earning from your transactions can affect your price. The higher volume of activity you have, the more complicated your bookkeeping will be.
  • Specific services: Unlike virtual bookkeepers that charge a flat rate for all their services, accounting firms often charge you based on specific services. Depending on what services you’re looking for, this pricing method may lower or increase your costs.
  • Complexity of your books: If your books are more complex, you could end up paying more for a bookkeeper. For example, you may have to pay more if you have an extensive chart of accounts (which could be a mistake) because it takes your bookkeeper more time to complete.

Pros

  • More customizable: You can add or take out a wider variety of services with a firm. Namely, they usually offer more accounting services so you’re not just limited to bookkeeping resources.
  • Easier to reach: Compared to virtual bookkeepers, a firm bookkeeper can be easier to reach. You can simply call them or even meet with them face-to-face — which can solve your problems faster.
  • More advisory: Working with a firm bookkeeper is usually a more interactive experience than working with a virtual bookkeeper. This provides more opportunities for you to learn about and understand your business’ finances better.

Cons

  • More expensive: Firms can be more expensive than virtual or part-time bookkeepers because of the wider range of services. And unlike having just one in-house bookkeeper, a group of people may be evaluating your books to make sure they’re correct — which could increase the cost.
  • Time delays: Since firms work with a number of clients at the same time, your books might not be looked at every day.

The bottom line

A bookkeeper can be a valuable expense for businesses of any size and industry — so you should explore the costs of all your options.

In-house bookkeepers are usually the most expensive option at around $1,000 per month. Virtual bookkeepers can cost $300 to $500 depending on the platform you choose. Accounting firms cost anywhere around $200 to $1,000 per month and can meet with you in-person and develop a relationship with you and your business.

If you want peace of mind knowing your books are being handled accurately, schedule a free call with a DiMercurio Advisors team member to weigh all of your options.

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