If there is one thing freelancers and creative entrepreneurs need to run their business smoothly, it’s good financial software.
Many creatives suggest using HoneyBook or FreshBooks to send invoices, collect payments, and track spending but those programs aren’t cheap!
Four Months into freelancing, I managed to find a software that does all of those things for free!
Financial Software is a Must for Freelancers
When I first started freelancing, I didn’t want to invest a lot of time into the basic stuff like tracking payments or sending invoices. So, for the first few months, I tracked my work using a spreadsheet and made a basic invoice using a Word document.
Let me tell you, that got out of hand real fast!
I kept forgetting to write down my work and would forget to send invoices for days. That was a big fail on my part! Not sending invoices in a timely manner meant it took even longer for me to get paid. Plus, I wasn’t tracking how much money I was making, which meant I had no concrete idea how my business was doing.
I started researching bookkeeping software and found a bunch of options like the super popular QuickBooks as well as FreshBooks and HoneyBook. The problem I kept running into is that they all cost money:
- QuickBooks – starts at $10/month
- FreshBooks – starts at $15 month (and costs more as you gain new clients!)
- HoneyBook – $34/month
So, I did what anyone on a budget would do…utilized the free 30-day trials before making an investment!
(FYI, I didn’t actually learn about HoneyBook until a few months ago, so I didn’t try that one. I still wanted to include it as an option, though, and give an idea of the range in cost for bookkeeping software.)
I’m going to keep this brief because I want to get to the good stuff, but I really disliked FreshBooks. I found it a little clunky and I knew I wouldn’t want to pay more as my business grew.
I did like QuickBooks, however. It was easy to use and had some really great features like mileage tracking and estimating quarterly taxes. Just as I was about to take the plunge and pay for an account, I heard about Wave.
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Wave is the Best Free Financial Software for Freelancers
When I heard Wave is 100% free to use, I was a little skeptical but I thought I would take it for a spin before pulling the trigger on a QuickBooks account.
I am so happy I did!
I’ve mentioned Wave before and it’s something I’ve continued to recommend to other freelancers and creatives since I started using it at the beginning of this year.
Wave does almost everything QuickBooks does and the only time it costs me money is if a client makes an online payment via their invoice. Even then, it’s just a small fee of 2.9% + $.30/credit card transaction or 1% for ACH payments but that’s right on par with QuickBooks, PayPal, Stripe, and other services.
Wave vs. QuickBooks
Like I mentioned before, Wave and QuickBooks offer a lot of the same features, but to give you an idea of what their plans look like, here’s QuickBooks’ pricing guide:
My timing for taking this screenshot happened to be while QuickBooks was having a 50% sale but you can see how much a plan’s cost is determined by what you need to do.
When I tried the 30-day free trial, I chose the Self-Employed plan because that’s all I really needed.
Now, here’s Wave’s plan and pricing:
Here’s what both financial software plans offer:
- Connecting multiple bank accounts and credit cards
- Tracking income and expenses
- Sending customizable invoices
- Collecting online payments through invoices
- Receipt scanning
- Creating financial reports to track where money is being earned and spent
Wave takes it one step further, though, and offers more for free where QuickBooks requires you to upgrade to a more expensive plan. For no extra cost, Wave lets users:
- Run multiple personal and business accounts under one account
- Add collaborators to your account, including an accountant
- Send estimates to clients, which then get automated to invoices once they’re approved
Where QuickBooks Wins
There are only a few features QuickBooks has that Wave doesn’t, but they aren’t make it or break it for me because there are ways to work around them. The top three are:
Estimate Quarterly Taxes – I really liked this feature of the free trial because it helped me figure out how much I should set aside for taxes after each project. I’ve found a workaround for this, though, with this free tool which estimates your take-home pay after taxes.
Time Tracking – To get the time tracking option requires an upgrade from the Self-Employed plan, but it’s nice to know where you’re time is spent when it comes to setting prices. However, it’s not a must-have tool in my opinion.
Mileage Tracking – If you aren’t tracking your mileage for client meetings or any trips you take related to work, you need to start now! As a freelancer, mileage probably isn’t something that comes up often but if it does there are a lot of different apps you can get to track your mileage. Or, you can do what I do – keep a mileage log in the notes app on your phone. Works like a charm!
My Favorite Wave Features
The #1 thing I appreciate about Wave is the reminder feature for invoices. All I have to do is select a time frame for an invoice to be paid and once I send it, Wave does all the work. If a due date is approaching, I get a reminder the invoice is still unpaid and then I can tell Wave to send a reminder email to the client.
Once I send an invoice, it’s impossible to forget it’s out there just waiting to be paid. There’s absolutely no need to send one of those awkward, “Can I have my money, please?” emails. It makes that aspect of business so much less stressful!
Wave also keeps track of client information. Once a client is on-boarded, their information is easily populated when creating an invoice. You can even use the “Income by Customer” report to see which clients generate the most income for you or view a personalized statement for each client’s account.
Tracking expenses is super easy and I can categorize them based on what they were for. There’s a nifty pie chart that shows where my money is being spent over a specific period of time, so setting a quarterly or yearly budget for those expenses is simple.
With Wave, users have the option of connecting bank accounts and credit cards to easily track purchases. If you don’t have a bank account set up specifically for your business (you should, by the way – I recommend Ally) the other option is to set up expense accounts. That way when you make a purchase, all you have to do is change the expense account to match how the purchase was made.
What’s Stopping You?
There you have it, all the reasons I think Wave is superior to QuickBooks when it comes to financial software!
Not only is Wave a great software for budget-conscious freelancers, it legitimately provides the tools needed to run a business responsibly.
Visit Wave today for a completely free way to take control of the financial aspects of your business!
Grab the FREE Pitch Perfect Checklist and the bonus pitch tracking template to learn how to create client-winning pitches for your freelance business!
Katie Jenison is a freelance writer offering copywriting, blogging, and ghostwriting services. She works closely with home builders, remodelers, interior designers, real estate and property management professionals to help them create content marketing strategies, improve their digital presence, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. Katie also helps freelance writers and creative entrepreneurs pursue their dreams of working from home by providing tips and advice, business strategies, and writing tips on her blog, The Quiet Type. Download her free workbook, A Freelancer’s Guide to Setting Rates, here.