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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Software Review – QuickBooks Simple Start 2008

We recently talked about all the other things you need to do as an independent contractor, and keeping good records is definitely important. If you're not extremely Type A and organization isn't your strongest trait, having a program that helps you keep administrative things together may be for you.

In another life I did accounting work for a CPA. I became quite used to using different accounting software, especially QuickBooks">QuickBooks. When I started working for myself I wanted to use QuickBooks to manage my own work expenses and income. However, I did not want to spend $199.95 on the full version. Lucky for me, QuickBooks now has a stripped-down version of their product available for download for free.

The Simple Start version has several of the same features as the full version. Some of the things you are missing are downloading bank and credit card transactions to import directly into QuickBooks, the ability to track bills and set due dates, export data to Excel, just to name a few. I do miss the ability to export to Excel, and I actually use the 1099 feature, so I am unable to use that if I'm only using the Simple Start and not the Pro version.

For a free accounting software program, I really don't think you can beat the versatility and functionality of QuickBooks Simple Start. I use mine to track all purchases I make through my business account and to enter all my invoices and incoming deposits. My favorite use is to keep track of personal client income when I use subcontractors.

While you may need to watch the tutorial and find your way around QuickBooks Simple Start to realize its full potential, it is definitely worth it come tax time. There is nothing like doing all of your taxes in a matter of an hour or two rather than spending hours getting everything together for it. Plus, you always have that information available if you need to refer to it throughout the year to check which invoices you have outstanding, to figure any quarterly tax payments and more. I definitely recommend giving it a try if you are looking for a way to become more organized.