How I handle my bookkeeping
When I first started freelancing, bookkeeping felt pretty scary. I was always worried that I:
- Wasn’t keeping the right records
- Wasn’t keeping enough records
- Was making mistakes with the numbers
I’m not going heavily into the ins and outs of bookkeeping because I’m a designer, not an accountant. But over three years I’ve tried a LOT of bookkeeping systems and I’ve learned a lot. So I’m going to explain:
- What bookkeeping systems I’ve tried in the past
- What I use now
- What I recommend
The bookkeeping systems I’ve tried
There are two ways you can do your books: manually, or using online software.
First, I tried Freshbooks, which I loved in the beginning but swiftly realized it didn't fulfill all my needs. I didn’t want to use Freshbooks for invoicing my clients (because I use Pancake for that), but to add payments to Freshbooks I HAD to add invoices. It was a waste of time creating two sets of invoices and clients in both Freshbooks and Pancake. I loved the easiness of Freshbooks reports so much that I contemplated using their invoicing system instead of Pancake, but then realized that Freshbooks doesn’t allow you to create payment plans for clients. That’s when I cancelled my plan and looked elsewhere.
I tried Kashflow but I didn’t like the interface (call me a design snob!) so I stopped using it when the trial ended.
I tried Quickbooks but encountered some currency problems, and their support was no help whatsoever. I would have liked to continue using Quickbooks, but their support was so slow and rude that I cancelled.
I finally threw my hands in the air and gave up. I decided it was much easier to manually keep my records in spreadsheets. Looking back, I’d only recommend this if your income isn’t very high and you don’t have many transactions to record. If you want to give the manual approach a try, you can download my Profit & Loss template here.
What I use now
Until this month I was still a little lost when it came to bookkeeping. My income has been increasing by hundreds per month, so this month I started panicking about my books and almost hired a bookkeeper to handle it for me.
That was until I found Wave.
I’ve been trying it throughout April and I really like it so far. It’s totally FREE, it’s easy to use, and it offers the exact same accounting features as paid software like Freshbooks and Quickbooks.
If you need a little more info on Wave then check out this review.
I want to make sure I’m getting the most out of Wave and recording things accurately, so next month I’m going to invest in a consultation with an accountant who can walk me through Wave and check that I'm recording things correctly. I’m also going to hire someone at tax time to complete my tax return for me- that’s one thing I won’t ever attempt myself!
What I recommend
If you’re totally useless with numbers and bookkeeping scares you, just hire someone to do it for you. I've been working with Melissa who specializes in Wave. She's lovely and really knows Wave, so I totally recommend her!
If you don’t create payment plans for your clients, try Freshbooks! It wasn’t quite right for me, but I still love and recommend it.
And last but not least, give Wave a try. It’s free, it’s easy, and there are lots of bookkeepers who work with Wave if there comes a time when you want to stop handling your own bookkeeping and hire it out.