Should You Use QuickBooks to Track Expenses as a Freelancer?

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Antti

14 years of experience in software consulting. CEO for SparkReceipt.
Quickbooks for freelancers

Table of Contents

If you’re a freelancer, you’ve likely encountered the financial juggling act that comes with the territory. Invoicing clients, tracking expenses, and preparing for taxes are just a few of the many financial chores that freelancers must handle. Many entrepreneurs turn immediately to comprehensive accounting solutions like QuickBooks to manage these tasks, but is it really the best choice for everyone? In our opinion, QuickBooks may not always be the right fit, especially for freelancers who usually have simpler financial needs.

The Allure of QuickBooks

There’s no denying that QuickBooks is a dominant force in the accounting software space. It offers a suite of features like invoicing, payroll management, and detailed financial reporting that can be invaluable for small to medium sized businesses. But as a freelancer, do you really need all that firepower?

Why QuickBooks Might Not Be Ideal for Freelancers

Complexity and Overkill

The most significant point against using QuickBooks as a freelancer is its complexity. While features like payroll management, inventory tracking, and more advanced features can be beneficial for larger businesses, they often become extraneous for a freelancer. The straightforward nature of freelancing often does not require the comprehensive financial management tools that QuickBooks offers. It’s like having a fancy sports car but only driving it to the grocery store. Using QuickBooks can be confusing because it has so many options. Also, you have to pay for features you might not even use. Learning to use all these features takes time, and QuickBooks often updates with new things you’ll have to learn. If you’re a freelancer doing many things already, your time is valuable.

Cost-Effectiveness

As a freelancer, every dollar counts. While QuickBooks provides a robust array of features, these come at a cost. For those who don’t need the full suite of accounting tools, the monthly or annual subscription fees can seem rather steep. Many freelancers can find free or low-cost receipt organizer apps that perform the basic functions they need without the financial burden.

Learning Curve

Navigating through QuickBooks’ great number of features can be an intimidating experience, especially for those who don’t come from a financial background. This steep learning curve can take time away from what you do best: your freelance work. Simpler apps usually have more intuitive interfaces and are much quicker to learn. It is best to leave accounting to accountants and get a receipt scanner app to organize your receipts for effective preaccounting instead.

Flexibility and Specialization

While QuickBooks aims to be a jack-of-all-trades, some freelancers may find that it doesn’t quite meet their specialized needs. If you have unique invoicing requirements, for example, you might find a simpler tool tailored specifically to your niche to be more suitable.

Vendor Lock-In

Once you start using QuickBooks, transitioning to a different platform can be both complicated and costly. Not all features and data translate easily to other software, making you more dependent on QuickBooks for future needs. Simpler receipt scanner apps usually allow for extensive export options, in Excel, CSV or PDF, making them very versatile when there is a need to move to an another platform.

What Would Be a Better Alternative?

For freelancers with straightforward accounting needs, a simpler expense tracker and receipt scanner can often suffice. These tools focus primarily on helping you keep track of income and expenditures, making tax time less stressful. They offer user-friendly interfaces and quick set-up, so you can hit the ground running without the hassle of learning a complicated system. Some of these tools even offer basic invoicing and integration features, rounding out the essential functions a freelancer would need.

Final Thoughts

QuickBooks definitely has its place in the world of business accounting, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. For freelancers, especially those just starting or those who operate on a smaller scale, the cons might outweigh the pros. Instead of jumping on the QuickBooks bandwagon, consider your actual needs, the time you can invest in learning a tool, and how much you’re willing to pay. You might find that simpler, more specialized tools offer a more streamlined and cost-effective solution for managing your freelance finances.

What kind of solutions do you use as a freelancer to manage your business finances? Is Quickbooks worth it for freelancers? Leave a comment below.