If the life of your business depended on it, would you trust the numbers in your accounting system? For those who say no, how long do you think it would take to get your actual position in line with your books? Taking care of your back-of-house is the way to ensure that these questions don’t raise your blood pressure.

So, what are some signs that your books might be a big mess?

  • You don't run financial reports because they're not accurate.
  • You're not reconciling your bank statement every month.
  • You have a big garbage bag of receipts that need to be sorted and entered.
  • You never know exactly how much money you have in your account.
  • You can never pay your bills on time.
  • You have significant cash flow issues.
  • You're missing out on deductions because you’re scrambling to find tax paperwork.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that having solid reports and statements will require hard work — at first. As I tell my own clients, the level of effort needed to maintain good books depends on the systems you are able to put in place. Sometimes a system can be as simple as a binder, other times third parties have an app for that.

I always say the best way to run a household is like a business, and this advice applies to both situations: It's really important to have a professional help you with your books. The most obvious reason is their expertise, but they can also work closely with your accountant so you don’t have to. A professional bookkeeper has experience, and there are things that you might not catch that they know because they do it every day.

A bookkeeper can help you categorize your expenses beyond anything any credit card company or bank can do. (Those categorizations are often vague or just wrong.) Accurate books help you make better financial decisions — whether you're looking for a personal loan; want to do a refi; contemplating divorce; or doing an estate plan.

Technology is on our side, too. There are apps that track everything, all in one. I can see exactly what I have in my checking account, what I have in my retirement account, what my house's mortgage is worth, or if I have any loans. It doesn’t put together my net worth, but there are apps for that.

If you're going to borrow money for your business, or you just need to have some kind of financial statements for any number of reasons, you don't want to be in a situation where you have books that show you're always putting out fires. And besides all that, it's really important to stay financially organized to achieve any kind of personal growth.

There's value in consistently handling your money and staying on top of things.

Judy Heft is the CEO/founder of Judith Heft & Associates, a Financial and Lifestyle concierge celebrating 26 years in business helping people stay financially organized. She is a Certified Money Coach and the author of “How to Be Smart, Successful and Organized with Your Money” and the co-author of “Mastering Your Financial LifeCycles.” She is the host of the podcast “Mastering your Financial Life.” For more information visit www.judithheft.com.

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