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Ask HN: As a freelancer, what's the best app to track finances?
211 points by nunodonato 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 132 comments
Hi everyone!

  I've been working as a freelancer practically my whole life. Although I'm not a very finances-oriented person, I do like to keep track of my spending and income, do some basic forecasting, budgeting, to also plan my time and activities.

  One thing I've noticed is that most apps are really not oriented for people who, like me, dont have very fixed/stable sources of income. One month I'm doing something, next month I have very little work, next month I may be working on 3 different projects, with different wages.

  I miss a simple way to track this, and to somehow allow me to plan my future, minimizing working hours and maximizing life (4hr work week anyone? ;)) But so far I haven't been able to find a finance management app that responds to the needs of freelancers like me.

  Being in IT and software dev, I'm begin to think I should probably scratch my own itch and develop something that really suits my needs. So I'd like to ask you two things
1 - Is there any app I'm not aware of, that you guys might use and that suits these needs?

2 - If you are somehow like me, would you give 5min of your time so that I could get more feedback from other freelancers about what would be useful for them, and other tips and strategies you might use for yourself for your own finances?

thanks so much!




I'm a freelance myself (since 2005). I ultimately scratched my own itch and created an app specifically for this:

https://www.wisecashhq.com

I built it pretty much for what you describe: to plan my future (it computes your runway & "time wealth"), adjust working hours as needed, "make time" for other topics, negotiate based on data etc.

The goal is not to "track all expenses", but rather to make a reasonable forecast of your situation.

You will likely find those articles useful:

- https://www.wisecashhq.com/blog/knowing-your-cash-runway-a-k...

- https://www.wisecashhq.com/blog/case-study-how-to-increase-f...

- https://www.wisecashhq.com/blog/recurring-revenue-matters-vi...

Hope this helps & let me know if you have further questions!


interesting! the features do sound similar to what I'm looking for, unfortunately the monthly cost is too high for me :(


Just a general comment for those reading: this app is very likely a business expense for any freelancer or business owner. Cashflow planning is a core business job and allows you to determine how much you can invest, what jobs you need to seek when, etc. So this significantly cuts the cost of the service.

Btw, to the maker, something like $15 USD would be a no brainer purchase price for me personally. This price, roughly $25 USD, is something I'll have to think about, but may get. (That might make $25 USD the right price! This is just one data point)

Also, you may wish to consider setting your prices in USD instead of Euros, depending on where your customers are located for the most part. A lot of non-US business owners will nonetheless operate in USD. For example, I'm Canadian but the US is my largest market so all of my prices and most of my online expenses are in USD, I have a USD credit card, etc. Likewise, my developer lives in Asia, and takes all of his payments in USD.

If your customers are mostly European this probably isn't worth it, but it could gain you some extra sales through reduced friction in other markets.

------

I had subscribed several years back, but didn't have a need then, so I cancelled. Now, I've moved to a higher sales higher expense model and had large cashflow swings in the low season. Which is why I'm quite likely to do it at $25 USD now, when I didn't before: I'm aware of how horrible cashflow crunches are.

Does wise cash do multi currency actually?


Thanks for the feedback on pricing, this is useful :-)

I initially handled both USD & EUR for payment, and it turned out to be a pain to handle from the seller perspective, at least at the stage where I am.

I haven't necessarily seen a difference in sign-ups after removing USD, btw!

I will definitely revisit this for the next version, though (will move to Stripe Billing, which doesn't impose an extra price when you add more currencies).

WRT multi currency support, it's not the case: this is only supporting a single currency at the moment (the largest use case by far for current customers).

But again this is typically something that will be covered in a future version.


I wrote this almost a decade ago but it's free and very simple: https://zetabee.com/cashflow/


I'm always looking for feedback, including on similar topics :-)

What would be a "good" price for you?

(asking because when I'll make a complete rewrite, I want to have various price ranges, including a lower starting price).


The idea sounds great but the landing page could be so much more informative. Ignoring the testimonials and the looping video that's hard to discern concrete information from you are left with very little in the way of information to justify the expense. That's not to say the product isn't worth what you charge, it most likely is, just that I believe it's doing itself a disservice in convincing me to use the trial. If each one of your selling points from that 3up column section where it's own section with more details on how it works and how easy that particular feature is to use etc I think would do a much better job at convincing people.


It's useful feedback, thanks!

There is actually a lot more detail right under each of those sections (see the "learn more" link).

For some reason it's not underlined, so I guess I have to fix this!

Example link:

https://www.wisecashhq.com/help/setting-up-a-recurring-trans...

This is, by the way, and git-backed knowledge based & source is available here:

https://github.com/wisecash/wisecash-support


I saw those pages, but they read like tutorials for people already sold into the idea and just needed help implementing some of the features. What I thought was really missing was selling the benefits of those features before trying to explain to someone the steps needed to use them. I think that's where the gap is on the landing page. As currently it goes from Short Definition of Feature -> Tutorial on How to Use Feature. I think what potential users really need to more content about why the feature is beneficial to them and a very succinct overview on how it works.

Good luck!


A lot or freelancers are from non-EU/US countries. 22€ can go from "food for a week" to "half of the minimum wage".


If you are suggesting free or 1$/mo, then know it's not sustainable for me, at least in current conditions.


this is the challenge with a global marketplace, where prices are set based on where the developers live, but are paid by people living in different economic conditions :)

I use Buxfer at the moment, which has a simple paid plan at 4.99, and a more complete one at 9.99 (with advanced features). I think offering more than one plan is a good idea, to catch different users at different price points. Unless your price is low, but at 20$+, its a really high-entry point for me


I would argue the opposite. I run a small business and find it hard to trust something at $4.99 a month, especially if it solves a real business problem.

Intuit is what, $50 a month? I don't see why this product doesn't capture a similar amount of value.

I'd be careful with a lot of these comments, because (generally speaking) HN users are very technically competent, but extremely tight fisted when it comes to money.

If you're a consultant who charges out $100 an hour for work, then having a tool that relieves your monetary stress for the equivalent of 15 mins work is a no brainer.

Why you'd cut your margins so heavily for an audience who will not value your work (if they won't pay $25, I'd bet you a pain in the ass they probably won't buy at $5, and if they do, they'll be extremely annoying and demanding).

Charge more, not less.


Thanks for your input! Indeed the global aspect if this makes this challenging...

In some places, too low a price will send the wrong signal too.

It's probably easier to target a single large country, for many reasons!


Wow this is really cool, well done!


Thank you!


There's a slight learning curve but I've been very happy with GnuCash. It supports multiple accounts and containers, has decent reporting, invoicing, categorizing, etc. I also really like that it's offline.

https://www.gnucash.org/


Yes to GnuCash, but for none of the reasons OP wants.

GnuCash is, let’s be honest, crap. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it, it’s totally free, but it’s crap.

However, it forces you to learn how to do proper double-entry bookkeeping. You’ll get it wrong a bunch of times before you get it right. You’ll Google stuff and be frustrated that you can’t find an answer. You’ll just learn, somehow. But then...

...one day something clicks. And that day, you realise why this system has been the way that accountants do things for literally half a millennium [0]. It’s extraordinary. It’s impossible to lose track of money. The benefits are far too many to explain here, but just trust me when I say that when you ‘get it’, it’s like a transcendental moment.

So how do I plan my future? I put in speculative transactions. I forward-plot my income based on work done, invoice payment dates, and known tax office obligations. I play with the future, what-if this, what-if that. This is all really manual, in this software that will undoubtedly frustrate you, but the control you have is unmatched by any smart online Web 2.0 software. It’s like being in the Matrix of your money.

So yeah. GnuCash. Shite, but amazing.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-entry_bookkeeping_syste...


Looks like you might posses valuable knowledge that some are Googling in vain, just as you said. And you have quite pleasant writing style. I would strongly encourage you to document at least some of the endeavours you had with GnuCash, in your free time, for future generations.

Not that I'm using GnuCash or even consider it, heck, I'm not even freelancing. However, people like you, sharing knowledge, are what keeps the Internet alive ;).


Kind words, which mean a lot. Thank you.


I have problem with double entry, in fact the webapp I wrote is using it as well.

The reason why I disliked GnuCash was the lack of an undo together with a frickly date entry.

I recommend reading up on https://plaintextaccounting.org/ for those who like double entry but with text files


Just been switching to beancount from ynab. Apart from minor annoyances it's so much more powerful. If you're up for some programming and customization it's hard to beat (your choice between beancount/ledger/hledger matters less).


Are you trying to import YNAB's budgeting philosphy into Beancount? If so, how? I've considered the same transition but was unsure how to handle having budgetary categories dissociated from physical accounts.


Actually, not really. I found out I never used the budgeting functionality other than to keep track of my previous spending.

I haven't found an existing tool to budget in beancount so you'd have to write it yourself. Other people have successfully used Ledger's virtual postings (which doesn't exist in beancount) for budgeting though[0]. It might be a way forward for you?

[0]: https://emacs.cafe/ledger/emacs/ynab/budgeting/2018/06/12/el...


I'm fine with speculative transactions, I actually did a draft webapp to do that. I used Gnucash for years too. what I really miss is a more visual way to understand the flow of money and make predictions. Like, seeing a chart where those predictions make a dent in things.

Last time I checked, gnucash sucked in charts :p


There's work pending to improve Charts :P and a responsive devteam who fixes bugs, and a passionate user community who keeps pushing the envelope :)


I have all my transactions in GnuCash (i keep thinking it'll be useful one day), but i've never bothered to learn to bend the reports to my will. Do you have to write code? Are there good examples anywhere? Because i find the default reports... Terribly clunky.


I'm a freelancer and I use GnuCash. It isn't flashy, but it is a solid, reliable implementation of Double Entry book-keeping.

Learning to use GnuCash also gives you a good basic knowledge of accountancy principles which are useful skills to have both professionally and in general.


I'm running a company on ledger-cli [1], emacs and org-mode [2]. Sure, there are some additional scripts that will pull banking logs or do repetitive tasks, but these are basic building blocks.

Tried GnuCash few times - first time I failed because I didn't know how to work with double-entry accounting [3]. Second time failed because GnuCash isn't flexible with currencies (maybe things got better now).

All these tools has steep learning curve, but things pays back with extreme flexibility and longevity over time. Everything is a text, which means I can access it from everywhere (scripts, editors, phone). I'm keeping everything on git (invoices, payment details, project status, todo list), so every change is recorded and, most important, I'm not dependent on external company's product that can go bankrupt tomorrow.

As I'm doing business with customers from different parts of world, I'm trying to be flexible by accepting currencies whatever is suitable for them. This is nightmare for ordinary accounting tools and AFAIK only ledger-cli and derivatives are able to handle it properly (eg. cryptocurrency payments and transactions). Hell, I'm even using ledger-cli to track my car fuel consumption and expenses which shows level of flexibility (try that with GnuCash).

Emacs/org-mode is for everything else ;) Invoices, project planning, drawing charts, coding, calculating and preparing tax reports, forecasting (you'd be surprised how powerful Emacs calc [4] is).

[1] https://www.ledger-cli.org/

[2] https://orgmode.org/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-entry_bookkeeping_syste...

[4] https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/html_mono/calc.htm...


I kept track of all my personal expenses in ledger for I think 4 years. And then I had twins (plus a 2 year old) and my free time to keep it up to date went out the window.

I learned a heck of a lot about our spending habits during that time though. Super useful and nice that I could look back on cumulative effects of things over time and mix and match the queries different ways to answer different questions.

One of the main things I learned is that cars are really expensive. I brought up the numbers one time to some co-workers and they all insisted they spent nothing near that on their cars, even though I lived closest to the office and had the oldest car in the group.


Can I ask you some questions about how you manage invoices in org-mode? I'm in the process of turning my bunch of elisp hacks into a proper org-mode based invoice generator, and would love to learn more about your workflow.

(My e-mail is in my profile.)


hi! i'm using org-mode for my projects, tasks and general info & planning. Didnt occur to me to use it for finances as well. Will take a look :)


I recently moved my ledger entries to an org-mode file - attaching metadata and things like file links are much easier inside org - chunking them by date and using org-babel to tangle them out.

It pretty much works as expected, except for the fact that (at least on my emacs) tangling ledger blocks is much slower than other languages (18+ seconds for 151 blocks, vs <1 s for a comparable amount of elisp).


It doesn't really have forecasting capability and isn't targeted at business, but just for personal budgeting and finance tracking, I love YNAB, and it works fine for variable income. It has actually changed my life (coming from no budgeting ;)

There's a public API too, so you could probably build forecasting and more detailed reporting on top of it.


Can't second this enough. YNAB was really difficult to "get" at first, but it has removed nearly all the stress I used to feel about money.


How many hours a week do you spend in YNAB?


Reviewing cleared transactions that automatically download into YNAB takes me under 3 min/day (they’re auto-categorized based on past inputs). I usually do this on desktop but it can all be done on iOS (and Android?) as well.

Initial setup of budget categories took me about an hour of reading docs and playing with the app. Historical transactions mostly aren’t available for import, so over the first 1-2 months of use you’ll fiddle with things as you get more data.

From there I found myself just reviewing the reports every so often as needed.


AFTER the learning curve, I spend less than 5 mins per day in it. On payday I spend maybe 10-15 mins.

There is a learning curve though; you have to think of money differently and that's a process. However, YNAB has no-joke changed my life. I don't stress about money. I know where it is. It's the best thing I've ever done for myself and my future.

I spend my money daily, it makes sense I should spend some time PLANNING my money daily. Can't recommend it enough.


I can relate to you in verbatim, except never had the courage to ask publicly. I ended up going with excel and then ended up hating any tool in the browser.

Updates with startups take too long and your nit-picky features to increase your productivity probably do not directly correlate with these payment software companies business goals. I prefer full control / or the possible option for extensibility. Most importantly, looking at the data, no matter [or my several failed experiments/finance tool investments past year] ... I would eventually go back to excel. You just don't get the mental massaging that you are the shit in the UI.

Anyways, if this sounds interesting, I hope it saves you some time. I spent way too much time wasting my determination to find the perfect tool that actually never existed in the first place.


If you are using Excel, I made a frontend wrapper on top of it to add expenses/incomes easily. For analysis you can use whatever methods you are already using.

Check it out: https://github.com/mitul45/expense-manager


I like GnuCash and wrote about it at: https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/using-gnucash-as-a-freelancer...

It was also discussed here last year at: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16857884

Been using it for a few years now to track finances as a freelancer and I don't see a reason to switch. It works really well.

But I wrote my own Bash script to calculate invoice amounts. I run 1 command per month and it spits out the number of hours I worked for each client and then shows how much I should invoice them for.


I use You Need A Budget to track my personal finances and budget for the future. I also use it my my company to know exactly how much profit I have. It’s the only app I’ve found that lets me prepare for the future and allow me to make proper decisions.

Whenever I spend money, I record the transaction in the app and import my bank statements to reconcile once a month.


Tried it, looks interesting for being different. One thing I didnt like is the inability to plan future months, it doesnt account for future income flows, although it lets you spend money. Obviously I get the red alert because I'm spending money I do not have (but I will, at that time of the month)...


Yeah, it is very strict that you budget the month's spending on the money you have right now. It took me a while to get into that mindset and I now prefer it. It means that if your income fluctuates you always budget on the money you have, not the money you don't have.

Not ideal for everyone, but works great for me. Aside from that, I like the ability to set goals for yearly expenses and making sure you are putting enough away. This is great for insurance, tax, etc. I use Xero for my official business accounts, and being able to look to the future is the single biggest thing missing.


ledger: https://www.ledger-cli.org/

and its haskell clone hledger: https://hledger.org/index.html

I use hledger - but I bellieve both would work.


+1 to that. I wrote about my use of the tool here when I was freelancing http://nibrahim.net.in/2015/11/07/ledger_and_personal_financ...


I'm a big proponent of learning how to do this with old-fashioned ledger books. Paper is always more flexible than the electronic solutions, and going straight to electronic tracking risks locking in a poor process for the sake of efficiency -- never spend time optimizing until you know you'll actually use the result.


Since I started working as a freelancer, I'm using PaymoApp [1], it's great for managing projects and tracking time for these projects. You can easily invoice these hours to your clients, with based on the projects you have defined. The best part for me is the ability to easily track time for my projects, as I'm working on different projects.

For accounting, PaymoApp doesn't offer full accounting services. I just started using Snelstart [2] a by and for Dutch market developed accounting platform. The best part of this application, is the integration with my accountant, he can monitor my administration 24/7 and this saves me time and money.

[1] https://www.paymoapp.com/ [2] https://www.snelstart.nl/


I don't know what's the best, but, on the desktop, among other things I tried, I used GnuCash.

In addition to tracking personal/business finances in GnuCash, I used the invoicing feature to track billable hours and notes for each chunk of time. I had a custom invoice format that generated PDFs without the notes, and then I used the notes as reminders of what to put in periodic work reports.

A drawback to GnuCash, though, is that you can spend a lot of time getting your accounts and transaction splits just right, and tracking every little transaction. One of the best things I did was to move to doing less categorization and itemization in GnuCash (e.g., unless an expense was was tax-relevant, it got moved to "Misc.", and paper-money expenses weren't even tracked, but reconciled monthly).


I'm using Firefly III [1]. Mostly because it's open-source, self-hosted and had nice import feature that I could use to upload CSV from my bank. It's a webapp, so no need for mobile applications. Although few people created some I think.

It has tags, bugdets, categories, multiple currencies, reports. Author is regularly publishing new versions and is very responsive.

[1]: https://firefly-iii.org/


I've personally tried several different online services but ultimately landed on Wave (https://waveapps.com - no affiliation). I used it for personal consulting and lately have used it for somewhat more formal (bit still fairly straightforward) corporate accounting. I'm a big fan - just my two cents.


+1 for Wave. I started an LLC to do contract work and so far it's been great.

I do have one minor gripe: I have my Wave linked with my Azlo bank account, and when I'm scanning and uploading a receipt Wave creates a separate transaction, in addition to the one from my bank feed. You have to go in and manually select both txns and click "Merge". Seems like a pretty big miss, but still very usable. Especially on my small scale.


Completely agree - being able to just add rote attachments to a journal entry is a huge miss. Hoping they rectify it soon.


+1 for Wave. I only ever do part time work but Wave works really well for me. I use the free tier because at most per year I send out 10-20 invoices.


I've used Simple https://www.simple.com/ as my primary checking for years and love it. I create "Goals" as buffer money pockets for things like "Savings", "Investment", and "Credit Card Buffer", and then use their expenses feature to automatically deduct certain bill amounts every payday. Their features are open enough to where you should be able to flex it to your needs. For example the "Goals" also has an auto-fill, but I just use them manually since I don't usually have a set amount I'm trying to save, just a certain percent per payday.


Not a freelancer, but I wanted to track my everyday finances since long. I tried lot of different tools but in the end ended up using simple Google sheet with some formulas.

The only issue with this approach is – adding expenses is pain. When I am shopping for something, opening Google Sheet (on phone) and adding an expense/income is too cumbersome. So I built a UI for it – https://github.com/mitul45/expense-manager.

I have been using it since last couple of years and have an idea of my monthly/weekly expenses.


I use Google Sheets as well to track stuff like finances, calories, workout stats. And I too have wondered about a nicer way of inputting data.

Have you looked into Google Forms? I really wish it supported custom types like list of items from named ranges. A custom UI app (in Haskell/reflex!) is what I may end up writing too.


I use ledger myself, but the issue I always run into is my wife is much less likely to keep track of what she buys and let me know so I can record it. Where that gets especially tricky is when she goes someplace and leaves a tip. Resolving tips is a real pain in the butt, especially since it comes through in the checking account at the original price and is then later processed at the tip-included price. Matching those up is a real bear.


I also had a similar issue, but then it became like a habit – every night I would check my accounts and add day's expenses (it's difficult if you have a lot of cash transactions). For the tip, wouldn't you round off to nearest full digit? You can just add that as an expense.


I used to reconcile our purchases against our online checking account every night, but the issue with tips happened when I would do that but then a few weeks later I would go through and actually balance everything out and suddenly I'd be off by a dollar and change and have to go on a deep dive to find out where I went wrong.


I second Paymo, which is basically designed around client work. You can create multiple projects with different billing methods and track time on them, which can then be pulled into an invoice for a client. This way you have a concrete idea of how you spend your time vs. how much you get paid for it.

The free plan should be enough for planning and tracking project progress. It's limited to 3 invoices though, so you might need to buy a paid plan for advanced accounting features.

https://www.paymoapp.com/


Just a note about your posting format- don't use the `pre` tag or backticks to quote long lines of text. They'll overflow and it's essentially impossible to read on mobile.


Why haven't ycombinator fixed this problem yet?

It's bizarre that a programmer focused discussion board doesn't support code or quote formatting. And even worse, doesn't strip out formatting that breaks!?


I didn't, but I copy&pasted from a different post and apparently there were blank spaces in some lines... sorry :(


Frappe Accounting is an electron based app exactly for this (GPL v3). We have pushed an alpha version and would love to find collaborators. Out of the box you can setup chart of accounts, make bills, payments, get basic accounting reports.

https://github.com/frappe/accounting

https://frappe.io/accounting

Anyone willing to collaborate, please drop me a mail.


I have been tracking my expenses in one form or another for my entire life. How long well before we had computers and I used columnar paper spreadsheets. Its always been a pain, Excel, whatever when you need data at the end of the year.

Now I use a database with my own application that handles table entries just like a spread sheet, has analysis, and charting, import/export of data.

Need income tracking, project time tracking whatever add a table(s).

It will read whatever schema you define and works with MySQL, MariaDB, SQLite and others. If you want something a little extra then it supports plugins. Make your own. Videos, docs, and plugin tutorial see website. Its free open source.

My Expenses:

http://ajqvue.com https://github.com/danap/ajqvue http://dandymadeproductions.com/temp/GeneralExpenses.html


Manager is free for desktop / paid for cloud https://manager.io

It has all the things you need, and the interface is pretty good.


I'm a huge fan of Manager too. It does the manual task of balancing the books very well, and exports everything as TSV so it's easy to port out if it no longer fulfills one's needs.

I'm a bit concerned that it stores attachments (receipts, invoices, etc) as blobs in its SQLite database, but users on its forum [1] seem to keep large databases without any problem.

Since it's one SQLite file per business, it's also easy to automate file backups on my end.

[1] https://forum.manager.io/


I have used Manager for three years now. It has everything I want, except for good automatic syncing of bank transactions. I can import them from my local bank using a custom converter I built. Afterward, I need to match the transactions with invoices. I wish that manager could do this automatically based upon invoice number.


Over the years, I've tried Quicken, Quickbooks, and other 'mass market' finance tools for my freelancing. I gave up the search for a silver bullet. Spreadsheets are excellent for these types of niche application with one-off requirements. From a development perspective, spreadsheets excel for nailing down the business logic without getting bogged down in frameworks and tooling and UI design. Until the data flow is understood, hard coding may just get in the way.


Thanks everyone for the comments. I should have tried to explain a little bit better, I'm not searching for expenses trackers or time trackers. Its really more about forecasting and having bird's eye view on things, in order to plan work.

I'm really tending to scratch my own itch and do something different. Cushion app comes close to what I what, but still misses a few spots and its a bit more expensive than what I'd like to afford.


The answer for this will be different for everyone. None of the answers will be sure to fix your problems.

Dealing with your finances (or anything else you deal with more than once) is a process. Figure out what your process needs to be and then automate the most painful parts with the tools you can find. Rinse and repeat as you locate more pain points.

You'll likely find that a general tool such as Excel is the best way to start. As you gain a further understanding of your problem, then you can trial other tools. As I mentioned above, the best app for you will likely be the one which best handles your greatest pain points.

Apps can still be helpful as a starting point for your processes. Apps have workflows which you can steal for your own workflows. You'll then likely tweak to the point where the tool is no longer a good fit.

The exception to the above is when your greatest pain point is some combination of time and collaboration. It may be best to pick among the leaders in the space and force yourself to adapt. I can track things in Excel, but I may be forced to pick something else if I need other people to use it.

The above is from someone who goes through loads of apps and always ends up going back to basic tools.


I was also having the same dilemma, although not a freelancer. I wanted to track my finances and tried lot of different tools but in the end decided to use plain excel.

But then adding expense on Excel from mobile is real pain, so I wrote a frontend client for it. I've been using it for about 1.5 years now, works like a charm.

I have expense history of almost every cent I spent in last 1.5 years :)

Check it out: https://github.com/mitul45/expense-manager.


I like it! Thanks for sharing.

The best thing is that you have been using it for 1.5 years. The hardest part is making something stick. Even just entering stuff into a spreadsheet.


I am on Harvest on which I track small freelance gigs, longer consulting engagements and time spent on side projects.

I like the way I can split up projects into multiple roles and track/bill differently for dev time vs admin work.

I also generate all my invoices through Harvest but I don’t use their builtin online payments.

There is a desktop tracker for MacOS and Windows and some open source Linux clients but I prefer to use a pinned tab in Firefox.


I use beancount [1] for double-entry bookkeeping. It's similar to ledger/hledger, but it enforces correctness of your ledger a bit more, and it's written in Python which suits me well. You keep a ledger in a plain text file (easy to keep under source control), and then run various commands for analysis. Fava [2] is a web interface that gives you some stats. There's also a Vim plugin [3].

For analysis and filing taxes and stuff, I've written some custom analysis scripts that take the ledger file as input. Pretty easy to write, since the tool already gives you a large and reasonably well documented Python API.

[1] http://furius.ca/beancount/

[2] https://beancount.github.io/fava/

[3] https://github.com/nathangrigg/vim-beancount


YES. Thank you for thinking of developing something to address this.

1. Most banking apps segment spending, but they don't perform analysis in an actionable way.

2. Most banking apps allow you to automatically budget for goals, but they don't help you actually structure your budget; usually they relegate customers to siphoning money automatically, at best.

Solution

1. Create an app that not only performs both actions above, but also adds in a platform that caps/limits spending by category in order to reach monthly goals.

e.g. monthly rent is x. App suggests/limits spending on y + z.

e.g. planning for baby requires $x. App suggests/allocates n per week while limiting spending on y + z.

e.g. finances are unstable. App performs analysis of income patterns to determine safe threshold for discretionary spending or whether discretionary spending is even feasible.

Probably an app like this would need to have some sort of AI that not only leans on spending analysis algorithms but also can adapt to predictive behavior and set boundaries for the user.

(Does anything like this exist??)


https://waveapps.com

IMO you need to know the ins and outs of bookkeeping anyway and Wave has been such a joy to work with. It has great apps for snapping photos => OCR receipts and sending invoices (if you require all your clients to pay invoices via Wave, accounting will be much easier).


Something like Cushion might help - https://cushionapp.com


I personally use Harpoon: https://harpoonapp.com/

The tracking and forecasting it provides are absolutely excellent. It absolutely lets you specify income, expenses, budgeting, existing and proposed projects, and since it lets you add estimated income for the future, you can get an excellent view of what your actual needs are in terms of future work and income.

For example, with my most up-to-date data I know that I'm booked solid with good income for the next two months, but for the rest of the year I need at least 1 project a month to meet my financial goals. I'm abstracting a bit, but it actually gives you hard numbers for where you're at and what you need in the future.

Feel free to toss me an email if you'd like to discuss this further. My email is in my profile.


I love Gnucash. I love it so much I've learned Scheme to be able to write my own reports. I am now hacking Scheme, fixing bugs, and dragging this application forward into the 21st century. There's a lot to love about it, and the user community is superb.


For invoicing and tax, I do everything through Google sheets. Accessible anywhere, link any cells/tab from any other one, complex formulas, it has all you need.

For purchasing and receipt collection, I take a picture of the receipt with my phone, always on me, and put it in a folder.


Do any of the apps mentioned in this thread have Business scenario planning/forcasting.

ex. I have my current and future expenses in the system, I want to see what will happen to my cashflow given an extra $25 a month expenses for 6 months but also between $20 and $50 a month in revenue. I'd like to see some sort of best case/worst case report and maybe show the current "scenario" at the top with a toggle button to switch between scenarios or current projection.

Cool factor would be to lock in a scenario and later report on projected balances with and without scenario. ex. If I hadn't made that decision where would I be at.


exactly! this is the kind of thing I'm looking for. Years ago I did an app for the blackberry playbook that played with this idea. You dont micromanage stuff, just insert the averages, and then play with estimates, future scenarios, and see how the charts change.

this is more or less what I'd like to have, but with a little bit more of micro-management to be able to track income and plan work accordingly


I've found a net worth tracker to be awesome, and wish I'd started using it earlier. Every month I actually look forward to logging my new net worth that takes into account all my assets and liabilities. I view myself as a business, and net worth is a KPI. This is the app I use https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wealthplus-net-worth/id93353...

For invoices, time-tracking etc., I use Freshbooks Cloud which is great.


I am not sure about freelance, but I am obsessed with keeping track of my finances. I tried many many apps and I have certain requirements that are sometimes hard to meet.

For me it's important that:

- There's a website

- Multiple wallets in multiple currencies and conversion on as much as possible.

- Export/Import Data

The only one I found that I am satisfied with is Spendee[1]. It's not perfect, actually far from it. But It's got what I need, it's flexible enough and it seems to be getting enough updates.

[1] https://spendee.com


I've been using the free version of Toshl for a couple of years and it ticks all your marks. Great UX too.

https://toshl.com


Interesting! I'll give it a try! Thanks for the suggestion!


Honestly, what you're looking for is Monzo or Revolut.


There is an app my wife made that I use: it's for expense ticketing. It's available here: https://spendtrim.com


I found these guys during my last stint of consulting/freelancing before building another startup:

17hats.com

I really liked it and my wife uses still today for high end cakes and stuff she does. I’ve also gotten quite of few of my buddies that do trade jobs on the side (plumbing, electrical, low voltage, etc) to use it and they love it as well.

Probably more than what your asking, but it’s a great AIO platform. I particularly like the built in contract and digital signing abilities.


I don't use finance tracking apps anymore. Using Tim Ferriss's advice "how can I throw money at this problem to solve it?", I pay my accountant 200 to 300 euros every month and as part of their job they handle my financial tracking. I just upload my invoices & expenses to their online tool or forward it via email, they process it and hand me quarterly and yearly reports with suggestions for optimisations.


I guess that works fine when you have money to throw at :) My current status is to know the money you have at any point in time (or estimates), to know more or less what is throwable and what is not ;)


I'm using defter.net (ios name should be defter). It's actually an iOS app with a web companion. It can handle from personal licenses to middle-sized businesses.

- It can do double-entry accounting and inter-account transfers.

- It can generate reports about your accounts and money flow, hence allows you to see trends and plan your finances.

It's very straightforward, hence very powerful, and allows me to track my finances very accurately and see my situation clearly.


QuickBooks online from Intuit is big in European countries. Works also good in Android and iOS. If you go really big use Xero (but not cheap).

If I would live in the US I would use Freshbooks (not so good for Europe if you need to handle VAT taxes in my opinion).

It's also good to speak with your accountant what to use (if you have an accountant).

Personally I use Google Spreadsheets but only because I only write invoices 1-2 times a month and I don't have ton of expenses.


For the UK, I’d really recommend Freeagent. Not sure how rest of world coverage is, but Freeagent will cover most things you need to do (invoicing, taxes etc)


This will depend a lot on where you are.

In the UK, many FinTech startups have started launching current accounts targeted to freelancers and small businesses. Some examples:

https://getcoconut.com https://www.tide.co/

Obviously if you're in the US this won't work, but you haven't mentioned explicitly.


Dave Ramsey, - Every Dollar App.

Dave Ramsey is probably the biggest expert in helping people get out of debt and stay out of debt. While its a 8 step program, he requires you to sit down and budget.

Just one more accolade. He is known in circles as the best program to get people out of debt and fast.

Along with his program he offers an App called Every Dollar.

Its a must have if you know anything about budgeting personally.


I built a Telegram Chatbot for this, mostly to keep receipts backed up, but it also tracks your month to month finances. Check it out: https://accountgram.com

Use Accountgram if: 1. You do not want to install yet-another-app (other than Telegram) 2. Your workflow revolves around backing up receipts


I highly endorse Cushion for this purpose - it helps you estimate revenue, and understand how you're tracking so far. It's the only good solution I've found that helped avoid 'freelance anxiety' leading to bad business decisions https://cushionapp.com



I've been using the Everlance iOS app for a few months now, which tracks miles driven, revenue, expenses, and receipts. It supports having various types of work that need to be tracked separately. I also like that it stores receipts in the cloud. For me, tracking expenses is easier when it is right on my phone.


I've experimented with quite a few, and personally I think there is only one right answer: ledger-cli


In Sweden, Bokio is pretty good (https://bokio.se). It calculates VAT reports and templates for filing taxes pretty well. I haven't tried any of they alternatives but I'm pretty happy with it. (No affiliation)


I personally use Prism https://www.prismmoney.com/ Helps me make sure I have enough money for bills without me having to input anything (after initial setup).


Try: https://www.gotruffle.com

Edit: although the app is marketed as finding deductions, we show spending breakdown by category and are in the process of adding automatic revenue tracking.


I used Google Sheets to create my accounts. It means I can create different views easily and I am in full control of my accounts without having to pay anything.

I can use Google Finance to pull in FX rates and I save my receipts to folders on the cloud.


I can recommend Cushion (https://cushionapp.com). For me it's a great suite of tools in one intuitive and easy to use platform.


Http://Albert.com is best for tracking your finances (also gives advice and saves money etc)

http://track.tax for managing freelancer taxes


Get a bank like Monzo or Revolut. The rest follows pretty easily I found.


youneedabudget.com


https://Catch.co

For tracking and putting aside money for freelance withholding, retirement and planned time-off.


I’m a freelancer and I keep track of my finance by using iOS Numbers default app. I switched to Airtable but it is too slow on the iOS and their offline caching sucks.


I have a bunch of Excel spreadsheets that I use to handle invoicing and expenses; they're easy enough to feed into tax software at the end of the year.


Numbers for iOS, or just a spread sheet App. The reason is because you know what you want to track instead of having a specific App tell you


As a freelancer, I used fresh books, and it did everything I needed for the most part. When I incorporated, I switched to Xero and Receipt Bank.


Excel (well, Google Sheets actually). I manage most of my freelance business in spreadsheets, also timesheets and invoicing.


I use FreeAgent, and it's always worked great. My accountant can deal with it from her side which makes tax easier.



PocketSmith for personal but can also work for biz. Or just the budget tools in Xero



I used a hybrid approach with mint and spreadsheets.

Not a huge fan of mint, but I have about a decade of history in there. The UI is awful but every transaction continues to show up. So I export all to a spreadsheet every so often and manage everything in that sheet.

I've tried plenty of tools. Quicken, QuickBooks (online and offline), msn money when that was a thing, a few online services, etc. None of them got it right as far as I'm concerned.

Mint doesn't get it right either. And my spreadsheet isn't very good. But it gets the job done with very little hassle.


Mint requires that you give them login credentials to your bank, credit cards, etc.


Excel ala Martin Shkreli.

I’m not trying to stir the pot, but excel will do everything and more.


Freeagent is good.


My wife is the best financy tracking “app” indeed. When I buy something, she is screeming like alarm :)


Xero


Excel? LibreOffice Calc?


Emacs all the way. With orgmode, org-tables.

It will take a while, especially if you start out with emacs, but it is very rewarding. Some day I'll try ledger-mode and maybe up my level even further.

TLDR: Try Emacs/Orgmode with dynamic tables


Those little paper sleeves you put coins in.


GnuCash.


beancount.




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