There are many free bookkeeping software apps that can help you keep on top of your finances.
But which ones have the features you need and work for Aussie businesses.
Shellys Bookkeeping Reviewed The 5 Best Free Bookkeeping Software Apps for Aussie Businesses.
Here’s What We Found
Businesses are spoilt for choice at the moment with lots of great cloud based bookkeeping software packages specifically designed for small business and sole traders eg Xero , Quickbooks , MYOB. Whilst choice is great, the downside is deciding which one suits you and your business type.
For a startup business who wants to keep costs to a minimum, many may be looking at free bookkeeping software for their accounting and payroll needs.
Key Factors To Consider When Choosing Free Software
Whilst there are many good offerings out there, you do need to consider some of key factors.
Shellys Bookeeping Top 5 Free Bookkeeping Apps for Small Business
Wave is Cloud hosted software, that looks very similar to some of the paid offerings. Easy to use and can setup live bank feeds, including Australian banks.
The major disadvantages of this software for Australians is lack of BAS integration and Payroll (it does support US and Canada payroll). You do need to manually set up all your tax rates, so make sure you seek advice if your not sure about this. Advantages are that it supports integration with Shoeboxed, PayPal and Etsy through third party apps if they are important to you. Wave also has a downloadable app for the iphone / ipad, for mobile accounting.
If you are based in Australia, this free software does claim to provide BAS integration to directly send your forms to the Australian Taxation Office, so might be worth considering if that is important to your business. There is no fancy dashboard interface, you can upload invoices but it doesn’t generate invoices. If you are a relatively small business with few transactions then this might suit you.
Turbo cash 5 Has all the standard features such as invoicing, expenses, general ledger and reporting. This program is not cloud based, but can be installed on your own server or downloaded locally onto your computer, so you need to ensure you have a regular backup system in place. The program is configurable, but not very intuitive. How much time do you want to spend learning the software? If you want a cloud based option, but control over the server that stores your details, this program might suit you.
Lots of features are included in GnuCash with no limitations, however its not so easy to set up, and finding where to change the default settings is not always straightforward. The tax reports are setup based on US taxation, and it might be possible to configure these manually but i found no easy way for setting up for Australian GST reporting. No BAS integration, so you need to fill out your BAS based on your other reports. It does have an android app allowing for accounting on the go, although i didn’t test this so i don’t know how it syncs back to your computer. As this software is desktop based, you will need to have a regular backup plan.
Manager is reasonably easy to use and comes with Australian tax codes already built in, you do need to set these as default when you first set up the file. Once the file is setup, you will need to enter all your customers and suppliers. These cant be entered on the fly when generating an invoice or bill. The software has a GST worksheet report to make completing your BAS easier. It also has a basic payroll option, but you will need to refer to the ATO tax tables to determine the correct amount of tax to withhold. The free version is desktop based. If you want cloud based software you will need to sign up for the paid version.
Reasons To Consider Commercial Software Over Free Software
Before you decide If free accounting software is your thing check some of the reasons why you should choose to pay for commercial accounting software
You only need to learn one software package
Changing software means converting your data – often this will be at an extra expense
You often lose your historical data in a conversion or it is only accessible in the old software.
Robust and Secure
Modern Cloud based accounting software is robust, secure and feature rich.
Do you need invoicing or are you only tracking expenses?, do you need payroll and integrated bank feeds. If you want to take advantage of the latest industry innovations and time saving add-ons you should consider an online system like Xero
GST and BAS
In Australia, if you are a sole trader earning less than $75K / year you do not need to register for GST, however if you think your business will grow and earn you more than $75k than you should consider what GST reports does the software produce, does it handle your BAS for you? Can it submit your BAS? Most of the free software packages fail to have any provision for BAS reporting.
Support and Training
What support / training does the software service provider offer?
For ease of use, intuitive interface and the number of features Wave and Manager are the pick of the free accounting applications, for Australians, but one size certainly does not fit all when it comes to deciding on which software to use.
There are other free bookkeeping software options available, but you really need to do your homework before deciding which one is best for you. Many bookkeepers and accountants can offer discounted prices for the big names such as Xero and QuickBooks online, so its always worth asking your bookeeping professional for a deal.
Free accounting software sounds appealing, however as with most things in life you get what you pay for. Some of the free software was not easily configurable for Australian taxation laws and was not intuitive to use. Other disadvantages to free software, is a lack of support when something doesn’t work right, is there local phone support or only online forums ?? Does your accountant support the package?
Not sure if free Accounting or Bookkeeping software is the right choice for your business ?
our article on benefits of commercial bookkeeping software may help.
You can also give Shelly a call and we’d be happy to discuss your requirements.
Need Help Deciding?
Shelly can help you to make the right choice for your business now and into the futureYes I Want To Streamline My Business Now
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