When you’re an independent contractor, payments come from all directions throughout the month. Checks. Direct Deposits. Third-party payment services … It can be a lot to juggle and funnel into your business bank account. But, of course, there’s an app for that. Many apps, actually.
As a freelancer, you have to stay organized, especially when it comes to invoicing, receiving payments, transferring funds, setting aside money for self-employment tax payments and planning for the future. Here, I’ve offered up a few of my go-to digital helpers, and some of the best budget apps that I really need to look into downloading ASAP.
This third-party payment verification and distribution service is one of the primary ways I receive payments from clients. I don’t have to give out my personal bank account information to every new client (just my email address) and PayPal works as an intermediary between me and the people I work for. There’s no wondering whether a payment was sent because there are reports galore to document current and past transactions. With a few clicks of the app, I can transfer an incoming payment on an invoice to my business checking account.
Do you make a lot of purchases for your business or put miles on your vehicle during work hours? Then chuck that mileage log notebook and folder stuffed with receipts. The Shoeboxed app helps you keep digital records of all your receipts and mileage. It even integrates with QuickBooks so you can log your expenses as soon as you scan a reimbursable or deductible receipt. I don’t have many reimbursable expenses as a freelance writer, but I will keep this app in mind for the future if I start doing more work away from my home office.
Just starting out or tired of your clunky old desktop accounting software? GoDaddy Bookkeeping is a mobile accounting app where you can see your profits and expenses at a glance. You can connect your business credit card and bank account to keep all of your business transactions under one roof. You can also estimate quarterly and annual tax payments as a sole proprietor or small business, making it one of the best budget apps out there. I might need to look into this and cut ties with my dinosaur desktop software. I still create paper invoices, then scan them in to my computer so they can be emailed. Talk about a time waster.
Your Bank’s App
Most of the top banking chains offer mobile apps so you can check balances, make transfers and deposit checks digitally. See if your financial institution offers an app, and download it. Although I have my business accounts at a small local credit union that doesn’t offer a mobile app, they have a fabulous website and automated phone system where I handle my bi-weekly payroll bank transfers and check on incoming direct deposit payments from clients.
Ok, so this app isn’t exactly related to handling your income. But, time is money, and seeing how you spend your days is critical when you’re a freelancer. If you often say, “Where did the day go?” start logging every task by giving it a time slot. At the end of the week you can see how many hours you worked (or watched YouTube videos) and compare them to the amount of money you have coming from clients. Using Google Calendar helped me realize what times of day I’m most productive and realistically understand how many hours I’m working (which was way too many), so I’ve started scheduling some time to rest and recuperate so I can be a better businesswoman. Hello, yoga classes!
If you want to be fiscally successful, get organized now. You need a plan in place for managing your freelance writing income, paying the bills and saving for the future. (Hint: Check into Mint to learn about budgeting.)