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As a freelancer you have to wear many hats. That’s part of the magic of it – you get to experience all facets of running your own career, but that’s also the challenge of it – there’s no one to bail you out if times get tough, and if a task has to be done it’s up to you and no-one else…which brings me to accounting. I don’t know about you, but every time I tried to keep my eyes open during accounting class it was an epic battle to say the least.

No matter how dry the subject may seem, however, accounting is absolutely essential for freelancers, so how can we minimize the pain and maximize the gain? Well, thankfully over the past few years personal accounting software has improved to the point that you don’t need to have a degree in nuclear physics to use it. To save you some frustration I’ve put together a list of 5 of the best accounting tools that streamline the day-to-day process and ensure that you won’t feel out of your depth when tax-time rolls around!

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1.) Kashoo – Cost: Free + Premium Options ($10 – 20 per month)

Details: While Quickbooks was traditionally the go-to software for freelancers, recently there have been a number of cloud-based solutions that leave it in the dust, both in terms of usability and accessibility. Enter ‘Kashoo’. Created for freelancers without a high-level of technical accounting knowledge, Kashoo is easy to set-up and start using almost immediately.

You can integrate all of your bank accounts and statements into the system, and it also makes it easy to set up income and expense categories. Add in a really streamlined invoice and report-creation feature plus a beautiful iPad app, and you’ve got a real winner! Oh yeah – did I mention that it’s free for the basic version?

2.) inDinero – Cost: Free + Premium Option ($30)

Details: Designed to take some of the confusion out of doing your own books, inDinero is a cleanly-designed web-app that can pull in your financial data and lay it out in an easy-to-understand way. An outstanding feature is that inDinero can automatically categorize your income and expenses into the right channels so that personal expenses aren’t muddled up with business expenses, something that a lot of inexperienced freelancers may find confusing to do on their own.

inDinero can also pull data from your bank and credit card accounts, saving you the time and effort needed to constantly sort receipts, and comes with an auto-budgeting feature that suggests easy-to-implement ways that you can save money!

3.) Xero  – Cost: From $19 per month

Details: Xero is a cloud-based accounting solution that manages to find a nice balance between ease of use and professional features. It includes standard features such as income / expense and payroll management, and it also includes the ability to invite people to view various sections of your accounts without opening up everything to them, something that can come in handy if you decide to outsource your accounting every once in a while.

4.) Freshbooks  – Cost: From $19.95 per month

Details: There’s a reason that Freshbooks is one of the most popular names in the accounting software market – they offer a full-range of features and add-ons that extend the functionality of the software and provide an additional layer of flexibility for virtually any accounting scenario.

You can integrate with a number of platforms including SalesForce and Basecamp as well as access it on practically any mobile device. While the add-ons do cost money, you have the choice to purchase them only if you find yourself needing the additional functionality, and it’s nice to have that option.

5.) Outright  – Cost: $9.95 per month

Details: Outright is built to focus more on pure income and expenses rather than personal budgeting, but they have built up a loyal customer base with some really solid features. One way that they benefit you from the get-go is by identifying tax-breaks and helping you to make sure you make the most of your potential deductions (it should be noted that as of the writing of this article the tax-break system is only for the US market).

Outright also has a feature (like Xero) where you can give people access to your books via an invitation, so that if you have an issue or need help then it’s a fairly painless process.

There you have it – 5 excellent tools that make accounting simple and painless, so that you can spend more time perfecting your skill set and drumming up business! Have you used any of these programs for your own accounting needs? Do you think we’ve missed a couple? Let us know, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Posted by Jacob E. Dawson

Jacob E. Dawson works with Delivery Hero, the best platform for quick and easy pizza delivery, and is an entrepreneur and inbound-marketing consultant with a passion for creating value! Follow Jacob on twitter @jacobedawson and on Google+.

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