One of the best parts of being self-employed is that you can deduct legitimate business expenses when you file your taxes. Since self-employment taxes are so high (remember, you’re being taxed as an employer and an employee), it’s important to track your expenses carefully so that you can accurately file come April.
Tracking your business expenses will not only help you save money on your taxes, it can also help reduce the chance of an audit, or at least leave you well-prepared to fight back if you are audited by the IRS. Tracking expenses isn’t just about getting tax deductions, however. Depending on your client, you may be able to bill those expenses directly to them.
Since we live in a digital age and all, it doesn’t make sense to keep your receipts in a big box while you track your expenses in a paper ledger. Instead, check out one of these multi-purpose apps for freelancers that can track your expenses, your time, and even invoice clients.
While Harvest is primarily a time tracking tool, it is a full-featured piece of software for anyone with clients. You can easily create invoices and integrate with other workplace tools like Slack, Trello, and QuickBooks. Additionally, you can quickly log expenses using Harvest’s iOS and Android apps by snapping a picture of the receipt. You can even choose to mark some expenses as billable and they’ll automatically be added to your next invoice.
Cost: $12/month for Solo, $49/month for Basic, $99/month for Business
Wave is a popular accounting solution for freelancers and small-business owners. Its apps can create and send invoices, process credit card payments, and even set up payroll for your employees. If you’re just looking to track individual expenses, start with Receipts by Wave, a free tool that's one of the best receipt apps to track your purchases. Like Harvest, you can snap a pic from your phone, or you can enter them manually or by email. If you’re looking for a more full-featured business tool, check out their accounting software.
Cost: Mostly free with special offers in the app. Payroll and payments cost extra.
Like Harvest, BillGrid is focused on tracking time and creating invoices. It’s entirely organized around adding everything you need to create the most accurate invoices possible. It can even accept online payments directly from your client.
Cost: $8/month for Professional, $20/month for Company
If you’re used to keeping all of your receipts in a shoebox and dealing with them later, you need Shoeboxed. Shoeboxed will help you digitize your receipts, either through their app or their "magic envelopes." You can throw all of your receipts into one of these magic envelopes and they will digitize and organize them at their offices — perfect for people who just want to collect receipts and deal with them later. Shoeboxed also features some pretty advanced OCR tech. Basically, OCR allows it to read the words in an image and make them searchable, just like any other document -- a huge benefit to any self-employment expense tracker.
Cost: $9.95/month for Lite, $29.95/month for Classic, $49.95/month for Business
Evernote is basically just a database that you connect to from your phone, computer, or pretty much any web browser. However, like Shoeboxed, it has some pretty powerful OCR tech if you’re willing to pay for a premium plan. Otherwise, you can just take pictures of your receipts and file them in Evernote’s database according to your project. Simple, clean, easy.
Cost: Free for Basic, $24.99/year for Plus, $49.99/year for Premium
Image: Ben Osteen