When you're self-employed, every minute of your day counts.
Because when you're wearing all the hats, it's easy to get sucked into tasks that don't actually earn money. A couple of these tasks are accounting and invoicing.
Tamara writes in-depth and unbiased profiles of software every day for TechnologyAdvice. With a background in education, she's an expert at helping people get the most from the software they are using.
Her side business is writing, editing, and SEO consulting, so she's intimately familiar with the pains of tracking freelance income and getting paid.
This article was sponsored by Xero, but all opinions are 100% our own.
What is Xero?
Xero is accounting and invoicing software designed specifically for small businesses who need to track expenses, invoice customers, calculate payroll and tax expenses, and generally run their own financials.
It features beautiful branded invoices, mobile capabilities, online-ready payments, and powerful tax features that work for any size small business.
Xero has simplified their software to make it super fast, while still retaining some of those features that small businesses with a couple of employees really need.
We've covered several features here, including importing balances, invoicing, file attachments, and budgeting that should prove most useful for freelancers.
Import Your Balances Instantly
I use a separate bank account to keep track of all of my freelance earnings and payments. I worried Xero wouldn’t be able to connect as I’ve had trouble connecting that account to other apps like Mint.
While Xero couldn’t find my little credit union, I worked around that little glitch by using the qfx file download and import process.
Xero immediately imported my statement history for the last 2 years. I didn’t expect it to go back that far or so quickly! The program immediately prompted me to reconcile every payment from that account.
Save Time with Easy Invoicing
Xero’s invoicing features are really helpful for freelancers. The invoices look super professional, and it took only a second or two to set up the invoice once I got my account information filled out.
What I would suggest is that you leave the “Welcome to Xero” introduction segment in your Dashboard at least until you get a hang of things, because otherwise it may be tough to remember where to create an invoice.
As you can see, the invoice looks clean and has all the pertinent information. There’s even an option within Xero to connect your credit card to receive payments via Stripe or connect directly to PayPal.
That really ups the convenience level of Xero, because you can track all of your request and payments right in the tool.
Bonus Features for Xero
Xero has a couple of cool features that may help you stay organized.
The first is the “Files” section. Your Files section has its own email address where you can send images and files from your mobile device directly to your account.
Use this to take a picture of a receipt when you make a purchase and immediately send it to your Xero account, rather than digging the receipt somewhere out of your bag later.
Xero also gives you a budgeting view to help you keep within your limits. You can add expected expenses for each of your categories to compare with your actual expenses.
The setup here is super easy as well. Enter in your expected expense, and click the little green arrow pointing left. A lightbox will pop up that gives you options for filling out the remaining months in the year for that category.
Really helpful, and much better than copy and paste!
How Much Does Xero Cost?
Xero pricing plans range from $9 per month to $70 per month.
All plans include:
- Ability to invite others
- Financial performance reports
- iPhone & Android apps
- Tools to get closer to your cashflow
- Easily connect bank accounts
- Integration with 500+ apps
- 24/7 support
- Updates every 3-6 weeks
- Secure SSL encryption
Xero offers a 30-day free trial (no credit card required) if you would like to try it.
Or you can start now with 30% off all plans for the first six months with promo code XERO30NOW. You can see their complete pricing plan here.
The Final Verdict on Xero
Freelancers who use a major national or regional bank might find the automatic transaction transfer especially useful. I can also see Xero helping those who are running their own business who need to keep a careful eye on taxable income every month.
The invoicing and online payment system is beautiful, but it’s probably only worth it you are also using the accounting features.
Readers: What's your go-to accounting and invoicing solution?