If you’re a freelancer, you’re well aware of the awesome perks of solopreneurship—working in your PJs, freedom and flexibility over your schedule, and the potential to earn more. Conversely, self-employment also comes with downsides. Primarily, the extra financial housekeeping that’s involved. Sending and managing invoices, saving for self-employed taxes, and budgeting on fluctuating income can all make you want to tear your hair out.
These days there are plenty of tools to help you manage your finances. And if you’ve just started your freelance business, or are operating on a tight budget, you may not want to spend too much at first. We’ve rounded up the top money tools for freelance survival. Not only do they have great features to help you with your finances, but they’re free!
Here are our top picks for the 8 best free money tools for freelancers:
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1. Small Business Checking: Radius Tailored Checking
When I took the leap to full-time freelancing, I walked into the branch of my main bank to inquire about small business accounts. To my dismay, I’d be charged fees for a small business account. For obvious reasons, I walked out in search of better options.
To minimize fees, look for a free small business checking account. For instance, Radius Bank’s Tailored Checking offers unlimited transactions, free bill pay, and no ATM fees worldwide. And if you keep a minimum balance of $5,000, there’s no monthly fee and you’ll enjoy an Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of .75%.
Remember: Money you save from not having to pay bank fees is money you can invest back into your business.
2. Saving for Self-Employed Taxes: Qapital
You know those pesky self-employed taxes that you owe to Uncle Sam each quarter? We all know what a pain in the rear it is to have to sock away a portion from each paycheck. The easiest way to save for self-employed taxes is to “set it and forget it” with Qapital.
Qapital’s Freelancer Rule enables you to save a percentage of every deposit that’s over $100 into a designated account. That money can be used to sock away toward self-employed taxes or other business-related expenses. Come quarterly tax time, you won’t come short, and have to pay penalties.
3. Emergency Fund Savings: Radius High-Yield Savings
Because a freelancer’s income can shift wildly from month to month, you’ll need a robust savings account. While the typical recommended amount is anywhere from three to six months of living expenses, it certainly couldn’t hurt to save more when you work for yourself. If you can, aim to auto-save a portion of your income each month. Look no further than Radius Bank’s High-Yield Savings.
While the average Annual Percentage Yield (APY) for savings accounts in the U.S. is a measly 0.08%, with the Radius High-Yield Savings, you’ll enjoy 1.50% APY on balances of $2,500 to $24,999.99, and a generous 1.86% on balances of $25,000 and up. Plus there are no monthly service fees, no minimum balance after the initial $100.00 to open, and best of all, no fluff!
Yup, the IRS has jumped on the app bandwagon. Through its official app, IRS2Go, you can check your tax refund status, make a payment, and look for free tax prep services. While it’s probably an app you’ll only tap into a few times of the year, anything that makes paying taxes easier get a gold star in my book.
5. General Budgeting: Toshl Finance
I love budgeting—said no one, ever. If you are someone who needs a budget to stay on track, look no further than Toshl. With Toshl Finance you’re able to monitor what goes in and comes out. What’s neat and different about Toshl is that you can get very specific with your savings goals.
Features include setting specific amounts for each spending category, such as for health insurance, and business expenses. You’ll get a “nudge” once you near your spending limits.
We, freelancers, know how bills can creep up on us, especially when we’re waiting on client payments to come in. Toshl will ping you with reminders for when your bills are due.
6. Invoicing: AND Co
If you’re looking to send out invoices to your clients, look no further than AND Co. I haven’t run into any problems using AND Co; the only downside is that there’s no ACH option. So your clients will need to pay you by check or credit card (fees apply).
Acquired by Fiverr, AND Co is a simple, no-frills way to send invoices to your clients, and track payments. Other features a simple project management feature, where you can track time and send invoices per project, and a basic template for proposals. You can also track your expenses by linking different accounts.
7. Expensing: Expensify
While there are a slew of financial management tools for expense tracking, if you want an a la carte app solely to track expenses, Expensify does the trick. The free version lets you log in your expenses, and scan up to five receipts or invoices per month.
8. Time Tracking: Toggl
I personally track all my work-related tasks, even if I’m not billing by the hour, but if you want a simple way to track your tasks and projects, I highly recommend Toggl. The basic version is free, and you get reports based on project, client, or within a time period.
While a lot of other tools do offer time tracking, Toggl remains my go-to because it’s easy to use. It also has an aesthetically pleasing interface and the reports help you gain insights on the time you’re actually spending on tasks.
Managing your finances as a freelancer is a tough thing to tackle. Taking advantage of all the neat existing tools out there can help you avoid headaches, time, and money.
Have I missed any? What are your favorite tools?