What do you use to track expenses and estimate quarterly taxes?

I am a freelance writer and I have yet to find a pain-free way to track my business expenses. Excel spreadsheet: Got unwieldy. Receipts in shoebox: No. Outright: Too much work for not enough flexibility. Expensify: Same problem.

I am thinking of trying QuickBooks. Has anyone used QuickBooks as an independent contractor? It'd be convenient to have income, expenses, invoices, and taxes all in one place. But it might be overkill for such a small business.

  • Hi Eavan. I have used QuickBooks and it is a good option, however Quicken is equally effective for an independent contractor without employees. It is also much less expensive than QB.

  • It's all about the apps
    Check out Expenses OK or Expenses Tracker in the Apple Store

  • I currently use an Excel spreadsheet for my business too. Its been working fine for me. But I have to admit, I use Quicken for my household and its perfect for managing my personal taxes, income and expenses. Im thinking of making the switch.

  • I use Freshbooks for everything - invoicing, time tracking, expenses. I know others who simply use an Evernote notebook, snapping images of each receipt. It's a searchable digital shoebox.

  • As someone who's looking to get into freelance writing within the next year, I'm glad to see this question followed by some good ideas.

    I've just started looking at Freshbooks and QuickBooks. I haven't looked at Quicken.

    Thanks for the question, Eavan; and for the nice suggestions everyone 😃

  • Thanks for the leads, everyone!

  • Eavan, I'm thinking of trying Less Accounting. I think it's $20 a month - but could be worth not having the headache of keeping track of expenses, etc. http://lessaccounting.com/accounting-software-f...

  • If you're doing freelance work, the first thing I would actually do is open up a separate account for your business stuff. So when money comes in from clients, you would deposit it into the business account, pay for all your business expenses out of it and then transfer money to yourself like a paycheck.

    If you don't keep your stuff separate and everything is running out of your personal accounts, for keeping track of expenses, check out the apps Xero Tax Touch as well as Quickbooks Self-Employed. They are going to be some of the easiest and most convenient ways you can keep track of expenses. It's a lot like Tinder for your expenses, meaning, the interface is easy to use on the app - swipe one way for business and one way for personal.

    Expensify is a great one too, but the other two are really the best. Xero Tax Touch even lets you plan for taxes. Pretty sexy, huh?

    Paco
    Founder, The Hell Yeah Group
    www.thehellyeahgroup.com

  • I swear by the online service Freshbooks and have had a great experience with them. At first I pushed back on using them - the platform required me to figure things out, and was fussy in the beginning. But, I've adapted and for the scale of my work (I am a one-person IC that does corporate writing/consulting), it works really well. The time tracking tool is good (although you can't really multi-task and switch easily between clients), and the invoicing service is great. I think I pay about $10-$15 a month for the service - and it is tax deductible. They also have a report-generating tool that I've found invaluable for end of the year financial reports as well as client specific time reports (e.g. how much time have you spent on a specific client project).

    I also keep a separate checking account for all my freelance work. I am not an LLC or incorporated, so it is just a personal checking account - but it makes the process of keeping track of my personal income and tax deductible expenses easier.

    Good luck! - Mary

  • I'm going to join the Freshbooks chorus. I've been using it for a couple of years as a one-person freelance writing and editing business, and I've upgraded my plan as my business has become more complex. It's excellent for tracking expenses, and it allows me to give my tax accountant a password so she can see those expenses herself. She only has access to the reports she needs, and she loves it now too.

    Freshbooks sends out invoices to clients for me, and it tracks how long it takes each client to pay each invoice. It's way easier to log into my dashboard and see who's late rather than scrolling through a spreadsheet to see who owes me money.

    It's not cheap; I pay a couple hundred dollars a year for it. But it has been so worth it as an upgrade from the Excel spreadsheet I used for years to track income and expenses.

  • Hi Eavan. I have used QuickBooks and it is a good option, however Quicken is equally effective for an independent contractor without employees. It is also much less expensive than QB.

  • It's all about the apps
    Check out Expenses OK or Expenses Tracker in the Apple Store

  • I currently use an Excel spreadsheet for my business too. Its been working fine for me. But I have to admit, I use Quicken for my household and its perfect for managing my personal taxes, income and expenses. Im thinking of making the switch.

  • I use Freshbooks for everything - invoicing, time tracking, expenses. I know others who simply use an Evernote notebook, snapping images of each receipt. It's a searchable digital shoebox.

  • As someone who's looking to get into freelance writing within the next year, I'm glad to see this question followed by some good ideas.

    I've just started looking at Freshbooks and QuickBooks. I haven't looked at Quicken.

    Thanks for the question, Eavan; and for the nice suggestions everyone 😃

  • Thanks for the leads, everyone!

  • Eavan, I'm thinking of trying Less Accounting. I think it's $20 a month - but could be worth not having the headache of keeping track of expenses, etc. http://lessaccounting.com/accounting-software-f...

  • If you're doing freelance work, the first thing I would actually do is open up a separate account for your business stuff. So when money comes in from clients, you would deposit it into the business account, pay for all your business expenses out of it and then transfer money to yourself like a paycheck.

    If you don't keep your stuff separate and everything is running out of your personal accounts, for keeping track of expenses, check out the apps Xero Tax Touch as well as Quickbooks Self-Employed. They are going to be some of the easiest and most convenient ways you can keep track of expenses. It's a lot like Tinder for your expenses, meaning, the interface is easy to use on the app - swipe one way for business and one way for personal.

    Expensify is a great one too, but the other two are really the best. Xero Tax Touch even lets you plan for taxes. Pretty sexy, huh?

    Paco
    Founder, The Hell Yeah Group
    www.thehellyeahgroup.com

  • I swear by the online service Freshbooks and have had a great experience with them. At first I pushed back on using them - the platform required me to figure things out, and was fussy in the beginning. But, I've adapted and for the scale of my work (I am a one-person IC that does corporate writing/consulting), it works really well. The time tracking tool is good (although you can't really multi-task and switch easily between clients), and the invoicing service is great. I think I pay about $10-$15 a month for the service - and it is tax deductible. They also have a report-generating tool that I've found invaluable for end of the year financial reports as well as client specific time reports (e.g. how much time have you spent on a specific client project).

    I also keep a separate checking account for all my freelance work. I am not an LLC or incorporated, so it is just a personal checking account - but it makes the process of keeping track of my personal income and tax deductible expenses easier.

    Good luck! - Mary

  • I'm going to join the Freshbooks chorus. I've been using it for a couple of years as a one-person freelance writing and editing business, and I've upgraded my plan as my business has become more complex. It's excellent for tracking expenses, and it allows me to give my tax accountant a password so she can see those expenses herself. She only has access to the reports she needs, and she loves it now too.

    Freshbooks sends out invoices to clients for me, and it tracks how long it takes each client to pay each invoice. It's way easier to log into my dashboard and see who's late rather than scrolling through a spreadsheet to see who owes me money.

    It's not cheap; I pay a couple hundred dollars a year for it. But it has been so worth it as an upgrade from the Excel spreadsheet I used for years to track income and expenses.