When I decided to embark on a freelance career, I had dreams of cool client projects, a flexible schedule and being able to focus on the work that excited me most. But there was one big grey cloud hanging over my head. Finances. I was prepared to earn inconsistent paychecks, but I knew I was going to struggle more with tracking my income, expenses, miles and getting ready for tax season. A few month before I began freelancing full time, I started using QuickBooks Self-Employed* and it seriously made such a difference in organizing my finances. I’m going to walk through how to use QuickBooks Self-Employed to manage your freelance finances. It will make managing your finances way easier and hopefully save you a trip to the accountant, because you probably have way more interesting things to do.
*Click here for 50% off Quickbooks Self-Employed for the next 12 months. That means you’ll have access to all the features I reference below for only $5 per month. This article is not sponsored, I sincerely use and recommend this product.
How to Use Quickbooks Self-Employed
When I first embarked on my freelance career, I did so while also working a full-time job because it sounded fun and it was nice to have a little extra cash coming in. Which is why when my first tax season rolled around, I was at a loss when it came to tax deductions. It wasn’t until I began using QuickBooks Self-Employed that I was able to successfully write off my expenses. This tool makes tracking your spending and miles so easy.
This tool allows you to separate business and personal expenses, which is super helpful. I don’t bother with entering business expenses as soon as I make a purchase. Every other week I pop into the program and quickly mark my business expenses. For purchases that I need to break down by item, I use the “snap and store receipts” function to take a photo and properly store a receipt. Paper receipts pilling up in my file cabinets drive me absolutely crazy, so this has been a great solution for me. The program can actually pull the data from the receipt and either matches it to an expense or creates a new one. Very futuristic.
According to Quickbooks, “by categorizing transactions, customers may find potential tax deductions that could cut their tax bill by 36%.”
You have to keep up on tracking your miles, no excuses. Trust me, it isn’t fun trying to tally up miles at the end of the financial year if you haven’t been keeping a reliable record. Now, I use the automatic mileage tracker that uses my phone’s GPS to track all of my mileage correctly. If I forget to use this function, it’s also super easy to add miles in manually. As long as you don’t forget how far your drove and on what date.
Paying Freelance Taxes
Is there anything worse than filing taxes? Yes, filing freelance taxes. Oh wait, filing freelance taxes quarterly. I kid! It’s not that bad. But staying organized in advance really helps. There are a few aspects of this program that really helped me stay organized for tax season.
Preparing for Quarterly Taxes:
A friendly reminder about quarterly taxes never hurt anyone. And having Quickbooks Self-Employed estimate what you’ll owe quarterly really never heart anyone. As a freelancer or small business owner, your income probably isn’t super consistent. Having this estimate means you can set aside the proper amount of money and not be hit with any nasty surprises come tax time.
Sending Client Invoices:
Chances are not every client sent you a 1099 form. For those clients who didn’t, it’s important you know the amount of income you actually earned from them, that way you can accurately state your income. I keep track of my individual client income in a spreadsheet I’ll be sharing in the near future, but one way you can play paycheck detective is by looking at old invoices. QuickBooks Self-Employed let’s you create and send personalized invoices for free and informs you when your invoice is viewed and paid. Which will hopefully also make sure you never miss a payday from a disorganized, or untrustworthy, client.
This is a brief overview of how to use Quickbooks Self-Employed to help manage your finances, but of course everyone’s financial and business needs are different. I’d be happy to answer any questions about how I use the program.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a financial expert. This is simply how I’ve found the program to be useful. And I hope you do too!