The 10 Best Self-Employed Accounting Software of 2021

Working for yourself is hard enough. Accounting software takes some of the hassle out of freelance finances so you can spend more time on the “work” part of “working for yourself.” Business.org reviews the year’s best accounting software solutions for freelancers like you.
Best overall
Fresh Books
FreshBooks
4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Customizable invoices
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Automatic late payment reminders, late fees, and recurring invoices
Best automation
Zoho
Zoho Books
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Client portal for easy collaboration
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Automatic expense tracking and recurring invoices
Best for inventory management
Xero
Xero
4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Built-in inventory tracking with every plan
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Automatic sales tax tracking and reporting
Most affordable
Wave
Wave
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Completely free accounting software
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Solid receipt scanning and payment acceptance apps
Most user-friendly
Quickbooks
QuickBooks Self-Employed
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Built-in mileage tracking
  • Icon Check  Dark
    Thorough tax deduction assistance

Self-employed accounting software helps freelancers, solopreneurs, and sole proprietors invoice, track profits, and much more. Starting prices range from $0 to upward of $30 a month—so how can you find accounting software that fits a freelance budget? Business.org reviews the year’s best software options, from FreshBooks to QuickBooks Self-Employed.

The best accounting software for the self-employed

The best accounting software for the self-employed in 2021

Brand name
Starting price
Free trial
Standout features
Learn more
FreshBooks$15.00/mo.30 daysCustomizable invoices, automated recurring invoices, client portal
Zoho Books$9.00/mo.14 daysAutomated recurring invoices, client portal
Xero$11.00/mo.30 daysInventory management, time tracking, purchase orders
Wave AccountingFreeN/AUnlimited invoices and bills, receipt scanning, online payment acceptance
QuickBooks Self-Employed$15.00/mo.30 daysMileage tracking, tax deduction assistance
Sage Business Cloud Accounting$10.00/mo.30 daysBank reconciliation, expense tracking, custom invoicing
GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping$4.99/mo.NoneInvoices, online payment acceptance, mileage tracking
Sunrise by LendioFreeN/ACustom invoices, small-business loan application
AND.COFreeN/ATime tracking, project management, proposals, contracts
Kashoo$16.65/mo.14 daysAutomatic bank reconciliation, unlimited users, fast setup

Data effective 1/26/21. At publishing time, pricing, and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Best overall: FreshBooks

Fresh Books

FreshBooks’ fantastic invoices are easy to customize to your business, and its automated recurring invoices and late payment reminders help you get paid quickly and easily. Its $15 a month starting price is a bit higher than average, but if your business relies largely on invoices to get paid, give FreshBooks a hard look anyway.

FreshBooks started out as an invoicing software company in the early ‘00s. Once it transitioned into fully fledged accounting software, FreshBooks’ invoicing features remained the best of the best. Unlike QuickBooks Self-Employed, FreshBooks’ invoices are customizable with your business’s name, colors, and logo. You can also schedule automated recurring invoices, send late payment reminders, and set automatic late fees to accrue on overdue invoices.

FreshBooks has one key drawback, though. (Doesn’t everything?) With its cheapest plan, you can invoice only up to five clients a month. You can send those five clients an unlimited number of invoices each month, but that’s a perk only if you work on multiple projects with the same recurring customers. If you have a larger client base, you’ll need FreshBooks’ Plus plan, which costs $25 and lets you invoice up to 50 customers a month.

Best automation: Zoho Books

Zoho

Zoho Books helps automate some of the most tedious accounting tasks, including invoicing and expense categorization. Its lower starting price and client-friendly collaboration make it a good FreshBooks alternative.

Want accounting software that minimizes the amount of time you have to spend on finances? Zoho Books’ basic plan includes automated recurring invoicing, expenses, and payment reminders. (Pricier plans let you set automatic recurring bill payments too.) Like FreshBooks, Zoho Books includes a client portal so your customers can quickly approve estimates and pay invoices.

But if you sell inventory or plan to hire employees later on, we recommend looking elsewhere. Zoho Books’ inventory-friendly features start with its $19 a month plan, and you’ll pay an extra $9 on top of that to integrate with Zoho Inventory. Plus, Zoho doesn’t offer its own payroll plan or integrate with any payroll providers. If you end up hiring a worker or two, you’ll have to enter their payroll data into Zoho Books by hand to make sure your accounts are accurate.

Best for inventory management: Xero

Xero

Xero excels at managing goods and tracking sales: its built-in inventory tracking syncs seamlessly with its accounting features.

If you sell handmade products on Etsy or plumbing supplies out of your home, try Xero. It’s one of the only accounting software providers to offer inventory tracking with each plan. Xero also helps sales-based businesses stay afloat with features like customized purchase orders for fast, clear communication with suppliers. Its automated sales tax calculations streamline end-of-year tax reports, and its 24/7 live customer support means you won’t be left hanging if you’re hit with a tech problem mid-invoice.

While Xero doesn’t limit the number of clients you can bill, its Early plan ($11 a month) lets you send only 20 invoices and enter only 5 bills a month. If your monthly workload and expenses are higher than that, you’ll have to scale all the way up to Xero’s Growing plan, which includes unlimited invoices at a pricey $32 a month.

Most affordable: Wave Accounting

Wave

Is saving money on software your top priority? Wave’s completely free accounting software includes unlimited invoicing, expense tracking, and receipt scanning.

Some free software plans sacrifice features for price. Not Wave Accounting. With Wave’s free accounting software, you can send invoices, scan receipts, and accept online payments. And you won’t pay anything more than standard transaction fees. And unlike FreshBooks and Xero, Wave doesn’t limit your invoices, bill payments, or customers. It doesn’t limit you to just one user either. If you eventually expand your business to include a bookkeeper or business partner, Wave is just as free for four users as it is for one.

While Wave’s invoicing and receipt scanning apps measure up, it still lacks a mobile accounting app for you to check cash balances on the go. Customer support is available via email only—real-time tech support is basically a no-go.

Most user-friendly: QuickBooks Self-Employed

Quickbooks

QuickBooks Self-Employed tracks your miles for easier tax reimbursement at the end of the year. Its expense categorization also simplifies tax deductions, and the software’s quarterly tax estimates keep you on top of fees so you aren’t caught off guard come April.

Freelancers and solopreneurs who travel frequently for work are eligible for tax reimbursements per miles traveled. If you drive for hours each month, you’ll want to capitalize on that reimbursement—and QuickBooks Self-Employed can help. With built-in mileage tracking and report generation, QuickBooks simplifies the reimbursement process so you can get that gas money back a little faster. Other tax features, like quarterly tax estimates and tax date reminders, ensure you’re ready for tax time. Like other QuickBooks products, QuickBooks Self-Employed has a highly user-friendly dashboard and low learning curve, so you won’t struggle to dive into finances for the first time.

But while QuickBooks Self-Employed helps you avoid late tax fees and make the most of your tax return, that’s about all it does. Its invoices are particularly lacking: they aren’t customizable or automated. And while its expense tracking is fine, QuickBooks Self-Employed offers fewer accounting features than FreshBooks, Zoho Books, Xero, and Wave.

Find Your Money—and Keep More of It

With plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBooks is well-suited for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike.

  • Track time and expenses
  • Create custom invoices
  • Accept online payments

Best self-employed accounting software honorable mentions

The five accounting software picks listed above are our favorites, hands down. But if you didn’t find your match, you aren’t out of options—our self-employment honorable mentions each have something to offer.

Best customer service: Sage Business Cloud Accounting

Sage

If tech support outside the regular 9 to 5 is a must for you, try Sage. It’s one of the only accounting software companies with 24/7 customer service, and it starts at just $10 a month.

Just a handful of accounting software companies offer round-the-clock, on-demand customer service. Sage Business Cloud Accounting is an exception, and unlike Intuit-owned QuickBooks, it actually has a solid customer service reputation. Seriously: Sage earns 4.7 out of 5 on review site TrustPilot, while QuickBooks scores a deeply unfortunate 1.6.1,2

Sage Business Cloud Accounting starts at $10, falling right between Zoho Books and Xero. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer as many features as either competitor. While you can send invoices and reconcile bank transactions with the $10-plan, you can’t capture receipts, send quotes or estimates, or thoroughly monitor your cash flow.

Best for the basics: GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping

GoDaddy

Do you want basic bookkeeping and invoicing, no more, no less? GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping starts at a little under $5 a month for a streamlined bookkeeping experience.

If you’re selling on Amazon or Etsy, you likely don’t need the full slew of bookkeeping and accounting metrics. Instead, you need invoicing, basic financial tracking, and payment acceptance—and that’s just what GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping offers.

But if you’re planning to hire employees one day, we recommend that you don’t choose GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping. It absolutely doesn’t have the features to support growing businesses with employees. If affordability is your biggest concern, try Wave instead—it’s completely free, but its features are better suited than GoDaddy’s to a small business with employees.

Most affordable runner-up: Sunrise by Lendio

Sunrise by Lendio offers invoicing and basic cash tracking at no cost. And if you’re planning to apply for a future small-business loan, Sunrise is the perfect place to start: it’s owned by Lendio, a solid small-business loan provider.

Sunrise by Lendio offers customized invoicing with its free plan, which puts it a step above QuickBooks Self-Employed for a full $15 less per month. But Sunrise’s biggest perk is the fact that it’s owned by Lendio, a small-business loan provider. To qualify for a small-business loan, you need to submit several financial documents—and Sunrise stores all of them for you, trimming the application process to 15 minutes or less.

Bear in mind that Sunrise by Lendio is a fairly new entrant into the self-employed accounting software field. Its features are still pretty basic. And while using Lendio-partnered accounting software takes some of the time and hassle out of loan applications, most accounting software providers generate the same forms and track the same stats. In other words, you don’t have to have Sunrise by Lendio to get a small-business loan from Lendio or anyone else.

Best for freelancers: AND.CO

Want an accounting solution geared specifically for freelancers? Try AND.CO. Unlike many competitors, this freelancer-specific software includes project and time tracking together with custom proposals and invoices.

AND.CO was developed primarily for freelancers, and it shows. The app includes more freelance-friendly features in one package than many other providers on our list, including time tracking, project management, and customized proposals and invoices.

If AND.CO is so great for freelancers, why is it so low on our list? Mainly because the free plan limits you to just one client a month and doesn’t include any meaningful customer service. For tech support and unlimited clients, you’ll need the $18-per-month Pro plan—which makes AND.CO the priciest provider on our list.

Simplest setup: Kashoo

Kashoo

Kashoo takes just two minutes to set up. The software immediately gets to work learning your expenses and begins automating accounting tasks right off the bat.

QuickBooks might be the most user-friendly software on our list, but Kashoo requires the least amount of time to set up: the whole process should take just two minutes. The software will immediately get to work understanding your business: who your most frequent transactions are with, what you spend your money on, and what tax categories your expenses fall under. However, Kashoo comes to $16.65 per month if you pay annually and jumps to $19.95 if you pay month to month.

Self-employment accounting software FAQ

Is QuickBooks good for the self-employed?

QuickBooks Self-Employed can work for freelancers and solopreneurs, but its main selling point is its built-in mileage-tracking feature. If you don’t travel frequently for work, QuickBooks Self-Employed doesn’t have much to offer. Most importantly, its invoicing feature is subpar. Plus, it tracks miles and tax expenses but not sales tax.

If you’re set on using QuickBooks as your accounting software provider, we recommend QuickBooks Online over QuickBooks Self-Employed. At $25 a month, QuickBooks Online includes mileage tracking, cash flow management, and sales tax tracking. It also lets you manage 1099 contractors, so if you subcontract out any of your business’s services, QuickBooks Online is a good pick.

What is the best accounting software for sole proprietors?

The right accounting software for your sole proprietorship depends on your business’s needs and budget. For instance, FreshBooks might work best for you if you depend on frequent invoicing. If your business sells products rather than services, you might prefer Xero, which includes inventory tracking at no additional cost. (FreshBooks doesn’t.) Nearly all accounting software providers offer free trials—we highly recommend taking software for a test run to maximize your chances of finding the best accounting software for you.

Which accounting software for the self-employed is easiest to use?

All of the self-employed accounting software we’ve recommended here have fairly straightforward user interfaces. For example, QuickBooks Online’s dashboard is simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate. Its app is similarly easy to use and offers the same features as the cloud-based software. But while we love QuickBooks, its interface isn’t all that different from FreshBooks or Xero. All three options have a low learning curve and solid instructional videos to help you get set up.

What is the best free accounting software?

If you’re looking for the most fully featured accounting software, Wave Accounting is a good bet: it includes expense tracking, sales tax customization, and bill payment reminders. And unlike some paid software, Wave doesn’t limit the number of clients you can invoice per month. On the other hand, if you run multiple businesses (like an Etsy shop and a family restaurant), SlickPie could be a better choice. Different free accounting options have different benefits, so we recommend looking over our list of the 10 best free accounting software for small businesses to find the right one for you.

The takeaway

Self-employed accounting software can’t do your job for you, but it can free up time and energy you’d otherwise spend worrying about cash flow.

One last note: on your quest for the right self-employed accounting solution, don’t be afraid to take advantage of free trials and discounts. It’s 2021, and you absolutely deserve all the help you can get. Good luck!

Are you planning on hiring employees in the near future? Your financial needs are likely too complex for freelancing accounting software. Instead, read all about the best accounting software for small businesses.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources
1. Trustpilot, “Sage.” Accessed January 26, 2021.
2. Trustpilot, “Intuit.” Accessed January 26, 2021.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie spent two of the last four years writing for and with small-business owners—from dentists in Australia to plumbers in the Midwest. She spent the other two writing in depth about internet and security. She’s passionate about reading, hiking, and dedicating every spare second to writing for fun (at lunch, between meetings, on the train, before breakfast . . . ). Her content helps small-business owners tackle the logistics of running a business so they can focus more on their passions too.
Related Articles
Worker uses a metal cutting grinder
7 Best Workers Compensation Insurance Companies for Small Businesses 2021
Safeguard your business with our top seven picks for best workers compensation insurance companies. Best...
The 10 Best Virtual and Outsourced Accounting Services for Small Businesses in 2021
Don’t waste time agonizing over your books—choose outsourced or virtual accounting services and get back...
Feature image of a white man typing on a calculator
Gross Pay vs. Net Pay
Your employee’s gross pay is the total amount of money they make prior to paycheck...
The Ultimate Guide to POS Systems
The point of sale (POS) is a crucial moment in the success of your business....