Save time and money by giving the petty cash box a break

Alex Mankowitz •

Petty cash boxes – those battered metal cases kept ‘safely’ in the corner of offices everywhere. Technology and banking has come a long way, but the design of an average petty cash box hasn’t changed in decades. They might be good enough for holding the float for school fairs, village fêtes, car boot sales or impromptu ice lolly sales.

But do we really want to be keeping precious company cash in a case with a lock even a beginner could break? And even without the lock being broken, the case itself can easily be whisked away.

Needless to say, security concerns are not the only issue raised by the ubiquity of petty cash boxes in offices. But security remains a theme that runs through all petty cash processes. Beyond the issue of risk itself, one universal truth remains:

If company funds are not properly managed, the security of the company itself is at risk.

It’s obvious, isn’t it?

We did some research to uncover the main petty cash box nightmares. Some are obvious, but some are shocking. Don’t worry – at the end we have some tips for how to erase this common risk from your company books.

Theft from the petty cash box

We’ve covered this already, because it’s obvious. One person we spoke to recalled the police arriving at the office where she used to work. Everyone was sent home because the premises had to be searched. Finally, the company accountant was arrested, because she had been falsely signing out petty cash to herself.

Not only did her company face an actual loss of funds, but the ‘clean-up’ tasks were immense. All of the spreadsheets and books that the culprit had worked on since her join date two years previously had to be combed through thoroughly. Auditors were called in, and the company’s funders understandably became jittery.

All because of the vulnerability and temptations of a petty cash box, which should have been consigned to history long, long ago.

Theft of the petty cash box itself

This one is the really shocking one, but again, it’s obvious when you come to think of it.

We spoke to a man who has worked in risk for the last two decades, who said that he’s come across two circumstances where people carrying petty cash to or from the bank have had the box physically stolen off their person.

Thieves often study the regular movements of targets before they strike, and it therefore follows that they might notice a regular trip between the bank and an office, that happens (for example) towards the end of the day every Friday.

As a result, people tasked with carrying the petty cash box to and from the bank are usually advised not to do so alone. This causes staffing challenges, not to mention time-tabling issues, since it’s not always easy to fix a time during daylight hours, when at least two people are available to make the journey.

The real risk is not a risk at all. It’s a certainty

If you’re using a petty cash box, you are wasting both time and money. And, in the 21st century, you no longer need to be doing either.

How petty cash boxes waste time

Cash, by its very nature, is impossible to track. It’s not as though we can insert GPS chips into every single coin or note, to find out where it’s got to. And even if we could, we wouldn’t have any more information about why the coin (or note) is sitting in the till of a particular shop.

Instead, we have to rely on the little information we can reliably obtain: receipts.

And here we come again to something which is impossible to track…

Those little pieces of paper, the only truly ‘objective’ record of where an amount of money has got to, are not only without GPS functionality. But they are also fragile. They can easily get wet, or crumpled, or torn.

How many time have you had to search for a lost receipt? Perhaps it’s even turned up in the laundry – post wash and illegible.

Even if receipts don’t get lost, they still have to be reviewed and filed away – perhaps stapled to the relevant petty cash docket.

All of this takes time. And in a business, time literally is money.

Do you really want employees to be searching for receipts on your time?

Do you really want to be paying a company accountant or accounts department to decipher the meaning of each white scrap of paper, with faint dot matrix markings on it, to find out what the petty cash was spent on and why?

And as for the receipts themselves, some of them aren’t even itemised, and don’t bear the logo or name of the shop in question. You’ll just get a list of transactions and item codes. About as much use to your accounts department as the back of a cereal packet.

How petty cash boxes waste money

The first part is easy because we’ve covered it. Petty cash boxes waste time, and time is money.

But think of the psychology of money, and of spending itself.

You don’t have to be in business to understand that people are often more likely to spend cash that’s jingling about in their pockets, rather than to take out a card and make a purchase that will be instantly tracked and monitored.

Every time you give someone say £10 to make a simple purchase, they are far more likely to then go and add some smaller items to the bill. It seems that money does burn a hole in even the smartest of pockets.

And each little purchase adds up.

You can’t control cash.

Once it’s out of your hands it’s, well, it’s out of your hands

The wonderful news is that there’s a smarter alternative to petty cash, and it will save you time and money, instantly.

Soldo Business is a multi-user spending account that shuts the petty cash box once and for all, thanks to free instant money transfers between users. You won’t have to make any more last-minute bank runs, and you’ll always know the exact location of every single penny of company funds. Day and night, Soldo Business works in real time, all the time.

How does it work?

Once you open an account for your company, you can order Mastercard cards (both plastic and virtual) for your employees and departments. Thanks to Soldo Business’ bespoke limits and controls, you can tailor settings for each card to suit the individual needs and trust levels of each user. This means you finally have a safe way to give a card to contractors or junior staff. These controls completely eliminate the risks that plague companies who are still using cash.

As well as letting you set spending rules for everyone, the Admin Dashboard also gives you an instant and accurate overview of the exact whereabouts of company funds. You’ll always know who has what, and you can change all balances instantly.

Then, at the end of the month, instead of chasing down receipts and pouring over time-consuming expense reports from your employees, you can export all the statement data you need with just a couple of clicks.

Now, back to those receipts. One of the best things about Soldo Business is that your employees can take photos of receipts at the point of sale, and attach them to the relevant transaction. It takes less than 20 seconds, and it means that you’ll never lose another receipt.

So, if you’ve had enough of that time-leeching and money-wasting petty cash box in the corner of your office, why not start using our prepaid corporate cards and join Soldo Business today?