Free accounting software provides businesses from sole proprietors to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a cost-effective solution for their accounting needs. The accounting process tells how well the operation is doing, how much money is coming in, and where the money goes. In this article, we compile a list of 6 Free Accounting Software Programs.
Free accounting software
While it’s not too difficult to find free versions of some business software, truly free accounting software (not just a free trial) is something of a rarity, with most popular accounting vendors charging a monthly fee for even their most basic version. These two accounting solutions, while not as advanced as their paid counterparts, are built on a foundation of features capable of meeting the needs of most small or midsize businesses.
Wave (Editor’s Pick)
Wave Accounting is one of the more tested, reliable options listed here. It’s an accessible, intuitive program that doesn’t require much — if any — training to understand.
Its entire suite of accounting features is available for free — including unlimited income and expense tracking, the ability to run multiple businesses from a single account, and unlimited bank and credit card connections.
Wave’s Key Benefits
- Accessible setup and interface
- Unlimited bank and credit card connections
- Unlimited income and expense tracking
- Exportable accounting reports
ZipBooks is a web-based financial software with a solid suite of accounting features. The company offers a free plan called ZipBooks Starter — an option that includes basic bookkeeping functionality, along with profit, loss, and balance sheet reporting.
It also covers certain invoicing and quote-related bases — plus the ability to accept payment via credit card or PayPal. It’s a powerful, easy-to-use solution, but its free plan is extremely free plan-ish.
The program’s features you can access with a free plan are restricted to the point that it might be easy to outgrow. You can only link one bank account and view basic reports with its starter option. Should your needs extend beyond that, you’ll need to upgrade to one of its premium plans.
You should also consider a free accounting software called Akaunting. This option offers many of the most necessary features that a small business accounting software should. Within this technology, you’ll be able to invoice, sync accounts, track expenses, set up recurring bills, manage customers, and manage vendors.
However, to access more advanced features like online payments, for example, you’ll have to download third-party apps that will cost you a yearly fee on top of whatever fees you have to pay for this third-party account.
The free accounting software SlickPie is also worth looking into for your small business finances. The free version of this accounting software allows for unlimited automated receipt entries, 10 different companies on one account, and email support. It also allows you to create quotes and estimates that can easily become professional invoices.
SlickPie also allows you to connect your PayPal and Stripe accounts for free. That means customers will be able to fulfill their invoices with card or PayPal payments online—and you’ll simply have to pay the standard transaction fees that PayPal and Stripe charge.
One feature that this free accounting software seems to be lacking is reports—the SlickPie website doesn’t highlight any built-in reporting capabilities. If you’re hoping to extract valuable, high-level insights from your accounting software, then you might want to consider options other than SlickPie.
If you’re looking for the best free accounting software to automate your invoicing workflows, then Zoho Invoice will be a top option. With the free version of Zoho Invoice, you’ll be able to invoice customers and manage payments through a single account. You’ll also be able to customize and brand invoice templates, track expenses and interact with customers through a client portal. Not to mention, you can run integrated time tracking for yourself and employees for project billing.
This on-premise accounting solution offers a robust set of features—recurring transactions, bank reconciliation, and financial reporting among them. What’s more, it’s as affordable as it gets (i.e., free) and endlessly customizable.
The GnuCash register is like a digital checkbook of sorts, with the ability to split transactions, display multiple accounts in a single window, and tailor the appearance to your liking. But the software’s signature quality is its “double-entry” feature, which mandates that all transactions must debit and credit accounts in equal measure—keeping your books balanced at all times.
Other features include:
- Track individual stocks and portfolios
- Regularly updated stock and mutual fund quotes
- Check to print
- Payroll management
- Auto-fill frequent transactions
- Income and expense categorization
Free Accounting Software: What You Might Miss out On
Free accounting software is great—avoiding a monthly cost can seriously whittle down your business’s bottom line. And especially when you’re just starting up, $0 a month can be a non-negotiable budget for accounting software.
However, if you opt for free accounting software for your small business, you’ll likely be missing out on a few things that other accounting software options offer. And, in some cases, the features that free software doesn’t offer could end up saving your business money.
All in, more powerful accounting software often ends up paying for itself, so be careful to weigh the potential costs that you could incur—be it bookkeeping backup or tax fines—from using free accounting software. Check out these features that free software options typically leave out, and see if it’s time to make room in your budget for a more powerful technology:
Payroll and Tax Capabilities
Many accounting software options that cost a monthly fee will offer tax support for your business. They also often offer full payroll services that allow you to integrate your payroll seamlessly into your business’s books.
Though many free accounting software options will offer small businesses entry-level reports, other accounting software options typically open up even more sophisticated reporting options. Whether this includes data visualizations, more customizable numbers, or all of the above, reporting through accounting software that isn’t free usually allows users to get at more valuable insights.
Forecasting usually isn’t a feature that free accounting software options provide. If you want to be able to project financial numbers to more effectively set goals and budget, then you might want to consider upgrading.
Inventory and Order Tracking
Most free accounting software options won’t offer inventory or order tracking, either. If you’re looking for accounting software for a small retail business, then this feature will be crucial.