There are loads of benefits to being a freelancer, from choosing your own clients, to working your own hours - or having a legitimate excuse to check out the coolest new coffee shops. However, the big drawback for many freelancers is the increased financial responsibility.
So, if your eyes water at the thought of invoices, tracking expenses and calculating how much tax you owe, we’ve pulled together some of the best tools on the market to help you navigate your way through the freelance financial minefield:
- FreeAgent. Voted the UK’s number one accounting software for small businesses in 2017 and 2018, FreeAgent packs a punch when it comes to providing financial support for freelancers. Providing everything from invoicing and expense management through to time tracking tools, it has everything you need to keep on top of everyday financial admin. Plus, the genius of FreeAgent is that you can also manage your tax from the app. With the recent introduction of Making Tax Digital by HMRC, filing tax returns is getting a little more complicated for many freelancers, but don’t despair because FreeAgent is ahead of the game meaning users can continue to file returns through the app and comply with the new requirements. And if you’re a Work Crowd member, then you can bag yourself a three-month free trial through our benefits programme.
- Fyle. For those of you tied to your inbox, Fyle is a popular choice for managing expenses and receipts. Capture a photo of your receipt using the app and Fyle will automatically scan and extract the expense information for you. For the Google devotees amongst you, Fyle has an extension that plugs neatly into G Suite meaning you never need to leave you inbox. And for freelancers on the move, Fyle also has a nifty way of letting you track your mileage using Google Places. Simply enter your destination and Fyle handles the rest. The beauty of Fyle is its email plugins, making it super easy to integrate with the systems you already have in place.
- Coconut. Coconut is one of the first bank accounts designed specifically for freelancers and self-employed people, with banking and accounting combined into a simple product. Dubbed one of the hottest fintech startups in the world by Business Insider, Coconut is disrupting the banking industry with features such as automatically calculating how much tax you owe, letting you categorize your expenses and enabling you to send invoices direct from the app. If you’re just looking to test the waters, Coconut offers a free package, with all the essentials you need when you’re starting out or running a part-time business. And if you need something a bit more sophisticated, there’s also a monthly subscription service for just £5/month, which includes extra features and enables higher usage, better suited to full time freelancers.
- Paymo. Paymo is all about project management and is free for one user, making it the perfect companion for freelancers. With time at more of a premium than ever before, Paymo can help you keep your servicing levels on track and on budget by enabling you (and any team you are working with), to log billable time, share reports with clients, track tasks and record time spent on projects. For any freelancer with a tendency to over-service, this one's for you!
- Pensionbee. Hands up if thinking about your pension makes you break into a cold sweat?! As an employee, your pension is something you can quite simply hand over to your employer without much thought, while benefiting from employer contributions at the same time. As a freelancer, you don’t have that luxury, so you need to get it sorted yourself. Plus if you need an added incentive, it’s an excellent way to secure tax breaks. Pensionbee offers a modern, mobile and paper free pension. With simplicity in mind, you can see your current pot size, projected retirement income, and set up regular or one-off contributions with a single click. As an industry that feels inaccessible and dominated by complicated paperwork, Pensionbee is a great and simple option for freelancers.
- The Work Crowd. It might not be a purely financial tool, but not forgetting that The Work Crowd offers numerous tools that help you manage your projects and your freelance finances. Enabling you to pitch for projects, message clients, invoice and track your payments, we can also help chase overdue invoices and ensure you get treated fairly. Another must-have for any freelancer!
Balancing client servicing with new business development (and of course your personal life!) can leave very little time or head-space for the gruelling task of financial administration. However, taking a day out to organize your finances and make use of some of these handy tools, will not only save you valuable time in the future, it will also free up your mind for more important things – and who doesn’t want that.