I always get a little nuts this time of year, nuts in a good way, in a “I am going to OWN next year” kind of way. I revisit my goals for the existing year and assess my success. I analyze how I can be and do better next year, not just as a writer, but as a business owner (because, you know, writing is a business). I take a close look at how I’m managing finances and at my overall systems, not only for money (expense receipts, invoices, and the like) but also for communication and task management.
As I started the process of assessing 2014, I realized that I really needed to get some new systems in place before 2015 rings in. My accounting system, in particular, needed an overhaul; it was scattered and inefficient. By drawing up original invoices every time I needed to bill a client, I was wasting a lot of time. And by doing this in Word or Excel and simply storing invoices in a folder on my desktop, I was creating extra and unnecessary work for myself with respect to tracking payments.
I started talking with colleagues, asking them what systems or software they are using. Some said Quickbooks or Freshbooks; others sang the praises of Harvest. I took a quick look at each of these, but was discouraged by the fee-based structures. I’m always looking for ways to trim my expenses, not add to them, so despite the glowing recommendations for some of these services, I was more inclined to look at free apps. Sure, I could try Quickbooks or Freshbooks free for two weeks or a month, but did I really want to go through the hassle of setting up accounts, inputting my financial information, and then shutting down the accounts in a few weeks? Instead, I decided to set up a new system on Wave, a free service.
It took about 30 minutes to establish an account and link several of my bank and credit card accounts to Wave. The interface was fairly easy to use, though I had difficulty with one bank account, and it was clean and uncluttered, too. The dashboard is a one-stop-shop for useful information.
I set up the invoicing system right away, as that was my primary reason for signing up for a Wave account. Creating an invoice is easy enough, but I wish the “Memo” section was offered in the default template as opposed to the customized one. When attempting to edit the invoice, the system got hung up and I had to refresh the page, which cleared the invoice, requiring me to start all over again. I’m also not thrilled about receiving daily (so far) emails from Wave informing me about features or services that I could be taking advantage of; perhaps I need to play around with my settings to turn these emails off.
I’m a little bit concerned about having all of my accounting information in the cloud rather than on my own desktop, but overall, I’m happy with the service. Wave tracks what I’d rather not, which is whether invoices have been paid, and has helped me to create a standardized system for billing clients. There was widespread agreement among friends that each accounting program has its pros and cons, and if the choice is between a paid service and a free one, I’ll take the latter.
What system do you use for accounting? Pros and cons? Share in the comments.