Best tools for tracking freelance income/expenses/deductions
August 26, 2015 7:25 AM   Subscribe

In addition to my regular 9-to-5 day job, I do a lot of side freelance work, generally around music teaching & performance. I'm trying to do a better job of tracking my income, mileage, expenses, deductions, etc., and my old Excel spreadsheet isn't really up to the task anymore.

The sort of things I need to track are:
- got paid $100 for a gig
- drove 100 miles for a gig
- spend $100 bucks on equipment for work

I've tried web-based programs like Freshbooks and Harvest, and they seem more oriented around time-tracking and invoicing on projects. I don't generally have ongoing quotes & projects, I just go do thing X, and then get money for it. My expenses are sometimes attached to a certain gig (like mileage and meals) and sometimes not (new keyboard.)

Any suggestions for tools to help be be a little more organized & legit about this at tax time would be appreciated!
posted by jeffjon to Work & Money (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I keep my mileage in a google doc (haven't found something that integrates that as well) but I use waveapps for the rest of it.

The best part is really the receipt service. I can upload a receipt via the app (taking a picture) or forward from my email and it stores it and categorizes it, I go through every once in a while and fix any mistakes and approve all of them.

I just create an invoice for income and then show it being paid. Comes in handy for those few times that people want a receipt.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:04 AM on August 26, 2015

I use wave apps to keep photos of my receipts. The app is more powerful than what I need it for, so I keep a google sheet with the details I felt I needed.

Basically, I followed this article for creating my book keeping sheets. I can send my templates to you if you memail me a google account. I've been using them for about 8 months and it took a month to keep straight, but now I'm in a routine and its been a breeze.
posted by lownote at 9:48 AM on August 26, 2015

Also, after talking to a few people who have been doing this longer than me, I stopped worrying about how directly linked my expenses are connected to jobs. If you're good about dating things, you can deal with explaining that to people if it comes up. The exception, of course is if you're having clients pick up your expenses.

I also referred to a second article for some stuff, but I can't find it at the moment. I'll come back when I have access to my pocket. I'm sure I starred it in there.
posted by lownote at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2015

Intuit Quickbooks has an online version just for this . I think it was $5 a month, and totally worth it.
posted by COD at 9:59 AM on August 26, 2015

I take a photo of each business receipt and save it in a "finances" folder in Evernote, tagged with both the year and either "income" or "expense."

I have a Google spreadsheet that I list all expenses in and it includes a column with a pulldown menu with all the possible IRS expense categories, plus my "other expense" categories, so I can add up all expenses by category automatically.

For mileage, I send myself an email with the subject "Miles" when I reach every destination, and search for those & add them up when I need to.
posted by univac at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2015

Regular old $30 Quicken will do the job. You can use the same software to track all of your income and spending including from your day job, if you like.

What you do is tag each appropriate income and spending item with a "Business" tag to distinguish it from personal items. At the end of the year you can print out a report of only your tagged business related items.

The Quicken Home and Business version, a little more expensive, also has a Vehicle Mileage Tracker. Might be worth the extra expense for a small business.
posted by JackFlash at 12:36 PM on August 26, 2015

I use a smartphone app called TripLog to keep track of my mileage. It uses GPS to keep track of where I go and then I fill in details of what I was doing. It automatically starts when I drive anywhere so I can use it to remember where I was and how long when I do my statement. There's a free version & if you want to use it on the computer it's 25 a year I think.
posted by Melsky at 7:58 AM on August 27, 2015

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