There are a lot of accounting options out there. Here are some thoughts on the ones I’ve given a go over throughout my biz.
Please. Don't ask me to do accounting. It's my least favorite part of being a "one man band." Prepping invoices and tracking expenses seems to take years off my life, although I've slowly figured out a system that works for me. This system is my go-to to keep myself organized (and sane come tax time.)
When I first dipped my toe into the waters of freelancing, I used PayPal to collect fees and send invoices. It worked for me at the time, but didn't have what I needed as my business grew and I ventured into more contract style design gigs.
The next step in my numbers journey took me to Outright/GoDaddy bookkeeping. Honestly, I really appreciated the numerous reports, the ease of invoice creation and most importantly, the price tag. For a trip or two to Starbucks, I could pay for my accounting software and have professional invoices, credit card payments and expense tracking. Things were good, but there was something missing. I got tired of spending countless hours recreating invoices for recurring charges, manually entering credit card information and reminding clients that my invoices might be in their junk mail folder.” (Not. Professional.) Like a comfortable pair of sweatpants that has holes and needs to be tossed, I reluctantly began searching for a better system.
Oh holy bells and whistles Batman. If you enjoy numbers and sorting and graphs about numbers and sorting, this is the accounting platform for you. For me, it makes my head spin and I just can’t wrap my brain around all of the different ways to organize a single transaction. It’s overly complicated for what I need. I gave the self-employed option a 30 day trial and just couldn’t get myself accustomed to all of the madness. The price tag on this one was not favorable either (as was Freshbooks… seriously? $30 per month. Get outta here.)
During my search I asked several other designers and small business owners what accounting system they used and “Wave” continued to be a favorite. I set up my free (yes, you read that right) account and started by organizing my recurring invoices, which this system allows. I figured it would be the best way for me to see if the site would work for my biz. The user friendly dashboard helped me as well as I set everything up in under 20 minutes. I found that I don’t care for the expense tracking side of the software (but I haven’t found one I like YET for that), so I created a little something of my own. (More on that in a minute.) After using Wave for 45 days, I can say that I’m a fan. The invoicing is quick, simple and my clients are enjoying it so far. I would LOVE if they would add a “deposit” feature where we could request only the deposit amount BUT, beggars can't be choosers, right?
Now, for my favorite expense tracking of all time… my OWN system that I created. Yes, this anti-number chick has developed a system that will keep me totally organized and ready for taxes at the click of a mouse. I’m pumped y’all. I opened up a Google Sheet (or use Excel if you prefer) and made columns for “date”, “paid to”, “description”, “category” and “amount”. That’s it! I’ll record all of my expenses here for the year and sort by the category when it is time to record them to the tax guy. BOOM. I’ve also set up a separate sheet for mileage because that is kinda important too.
So you may be wondering, “what kinds of things can I report as expenses on my taxes as a small business owner.” I have a little something for you. Click here to download a pretty little PDF that will give you lists of items that you can claim. I got the tax information from a TAX professional and just made it pretty for you. Enjoy!
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