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A Freelancer's Guide to Bookkeeping

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Being a freelancer can be both exhilarating and challenging, and keeping track of your finances can be one of the more daunting tasks. But don't worry, bookkeeping doesn't have to be as intimidating as it sounds. In this post, we'll guide you through the essentials of bookkeeping for freelancers, so you can stay on top of your finances without the headache.


As a freelancer, you are effectively becoming a one-person business (known as a sole proprietor), whether you officially create a business or not. This means you can deduct business expenses from your income and decrease your tax burden since you only owe taxes on profit. Side note: Registering a business is a topic for another post, but it would be prudent to do so.

First things first, you need to save your receipts and track your expenses. This is important not only for tax purposes but also for understanding where your money is going and where you can cut costs. As a freelancer, some common expenses you'll want to track include travel expenses, office supplies, cell phone, internet, software subscriptions, and any professional development or training costs. Be sure to keep all receipts and invoices, either in physical or digital form.

Now, onto the tools. There are plenty of bookkeeping tools available to make your life easier, even if you don't have a background in accounting. One popular tool is QuickBooks, which allows you to track expenses, send invoices, and generate financial reports. Quickbooks is expensive, but it offers a lot of features and is the industry standard bookkeeping tool. Another option is Xero, which is similar to QuickBooks but also offers bank reconciliation and inventory tracking. For those on a budget, Wave is a free option that can handle basic bookkeeping tasks. Each of these tools offers bank account integration, receipt capture (for paper receipts), and digital receipt upload (by email and direct upload).


Many companies offer bookkeeping services, but they are very expensive. They usually cost upwards of $200 per month. While I highly recommend hiring a CPA to submit your taxes, it is not worth it for bookkeeping as a sole proprietor. Once you establish your system, it should take you just 1-2 hours per month.

To ensure success with your bookkeeping, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • First, make sure you set aside time each week or month to update your records. This will save you from the headache of trying to remember expenses from weeks or months ago.

  • Second, separate your personal and business finances. This will make it easier to track expenses and determine your business's profitability. It's a good idea to get a business credit card and/or business checking account.

  • Third, be consistent with your categorization of expenses. This will make it easier to generate financial reports and identify any areas where you can cut costs.

In summary, bookkeeping doesn't have to be a daunting task. By tracking your expenses, using the right tools, and following these tips for success, you'll be able to stay on top of your finances as a freelancer. Happy bookkeeping!

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