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FreshBooks Review

FreshBooks Review 2019

February 5, 2019

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Do you love spending hours creating and sending invoices to your freelance clients every month?

How about tediously tracking all of your business income and expenses in a spreadsheet?

Do you find yourself dreading totaling up your information during tax time?

If none of these things sound like fun to you, you need FreshBooks.

4.5

Summary

I’ve used FreshBooks for years, and I couldn’t recommend them more! Switching to FreshBooks could save you hours in invoicing, sending proposals and estimates, and getting clients to pay on time. It’s a win-win as a business owner!

What is FreshBooks?

FreshBooks is a cloud invoicing and accounting program for small businesses.

It can help you save time and money by automating tasks that may otherwise take you away from actually working on your business, like invoicing, organizing expenses, following up with clients, and more.

You can use FreshBooks on your computer, tablet, and phone since all the information is stored securely in the cloud. This makes it easy to stay on top of your business finances on the go.

Pros of FreshBooks 

There are so many pros with using FreshBooks, especially now that they’ve upgraded their system to create new features and resources. Here are a few of the pros that I love for my business: 

  • Easy to use (even if you’re not a techie!) 
  • Fast and reliable customer service 
  • Mobile app so you can invoice and manage clients on the go 
  • Beautifully designed and professional invoice templates, so you don’t have to create your own 
  • An attractive and easy to navigate system
  • Integration options (including, but not limited to: Stripe, Gusto, GSuite, Asana, Trello, and Shopify) 
  • A partner program 
  • An affiliate program
  • Multiple payment plans and tiers to fit any size of business

While there are many other pros to the new FreshBooks system, these are just a few! FreshBooks has so much to offer, and you’re bound to find something that makes your business accounting easier. 

Cons of FreshBooks 

There aren’t many cons to using FreshBooks as your main accounting software, but there are a few things that I want to mention just so you’re aware. These items may or may not be a deal-breaker for you. 

  • Limit on the number of clients you can have on a recurring basis
    • The lite tier offers 5 clients, the plus tier offers up to 50, and the premium tier offers up to 500
  • Can be expensive if you’re just getting started as an online business owner
  • Limited in what it offers for bookkeeping, especially reports

FreshBooks vs FreshBooks Classic

Since FreshBooks recently changed and updated their system, many people wonder what the big differences are with the new FreshBooks vs FreshBooks Classic.

The biggest difference has been the increased ease of use. FreshBooks updated and beautified their entire website and user interface, making it easier to navigate, find what you need quickly, and move from section to section without frustration. 

Another big component of the new update is that FreshBooks now offers double-entry accounting, which is a huge win for the platform.

Basically, double-entry accounting is a bookkeeping term and means when each transaction is logged for your business, it affects two accounts, one on the assets side of your balance sheet and one on the liabilities side of your balance sheet.

Double-entry looks at the assets and liabilities of your business (vs just income and expenses) to give you a more complete balance sheet. This helps you see your business as a whole, especially as it grows. 

While FreshBooks Classic was great for those getting started in business, the new FreshBooks gives business owners and entrepreneurs more of what they need to manage their finances and bookkeeping.

FreshBooks Features 

Now that you know about the new FreshBooks and how it’s different than FreshBooks Classic, let’s talk about all of the features. 

Cloud-Based

With FreshBooks being cloud-based, you don’t have to worry about losing or not being able to access your information. As long as you have internet, you can access FreshBooks, including via their apps. 

Easy To Use Dashboard 

The new FreshBooks has an attractive and easy to use dashboard. In the dashboard, you’re able to view the financials in your business, any money owed, any unbilled time you have, and more. You also have quick access to reports you may need, and access to client information with just a simple click. 

Invoicing Features 

With FreshBooks, you don’t have to create any templates yourself. FreshBooks comes pre-loaded with two invoice templates, and you can customize them to fit your business and brand.

You can change the colors, fonts, and even add your logo if you have one. With FreshBooks, you can also add your payment terms and add any extra notes to your invoices.

If you want to charge a deposit on the invoice you’re sending, you can do that as well. All you have to do is click “request a deposit” and enter in the price to add it to your invoice. This can be a flat amount or a percentage of the invoice, whichever you prefer.

Do you need to charge sales tax? No worries. FreshBooks can do that too. All you have to do is apply the percentage to your invoice and FreshBooks will take care of the math.

If you are a Plus or Premium user, you can also send reminders, charge late fees, and set up recurring invoices.

Your clients can also send you messages, and you can view them in the built-in chat feature with your invoices. If your clients want to automate their finances, they can also save their credit card info so their invoices are paid automatically. This is especially useful if you send the same invoice every month. And, if you need to duplicate an invoice, it’s easy to do. Just click duplicate (seriously, it’s that easy). 

Client Portal 

Speaking of clients, with FreshBooks, you’re able to create a portal for each of your clients as well. With the client portal, your clients can accept any estimates, and also save, print, and comment on them. They can also pay and print their invoices, or write messages on them.

Client Info 

Along with the client portal, you can see the backend of all of the clients you have. With the client management tab, you’re able to create new clients, add in their information, and even archive them if you need to. You can all add internal notes that are not visible to your clients.

For all clients, you have the option to set the default currency and language, and also create invoice reminders and late fees based on your contract. 

Give Estimates 

Need to send estimates to potential or regular clients? With FreshBooks, you can easily create and send estimates. You can also see when your potential client has viewed and accepted the estimate, and you can turn any estimate into an invoice with the click of a button.

Expense Tracking 

The best thing about FreshBooks is that it’s an all-in-one system and offers so many features. One of my favorite features is the expense tracking option. You can add expenses in manually or connect FreshBooks to your business bank account.

If you enter in an expense manually, you’ll have the option to include a receipt, description, total, and the category.

This is great when tax season comes around because the categories are similar to what the IRS uses on their forms. While you can’t mark these specific expenses as deductions, you can separate them in FreshBooks. All you have to do is click business or personal to keep things organized.  

Project or Hourly Options

Whether your service based business focuses on hourly or flat-rate projects, you can use FreshBooks to your advantage. You can create any project you want, and attach it to clients or assign it to an employee or contractor if you have one. You can also set up due dates and a time allotted budget, so you know not to go over on your estimate for hourly work. 

If you do have a team, you can discuss the project or hourly work without accessing the client portal and having a client see the interaction. All you have to do is use the tool discuss to chat with your team on the backend. This is great if you don’t have another task management system in place.

Once the project or hourly work is complete, you can then invoice the client with a few simple clicks. 

Time Tracking

If you do have hourly projects, you don’t have to use a 3rd party system to keep track of your time. FreshBooks offers their own time tracking system, and will even attach it to any project you choose. You can also manually log time, and record unbillable time for your records.

There is also a Chrome extension so you can track your time, even if you’re in a different task management system. 

Reporting 

FreshBooks has simplified their reports system, and this could be a great thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. While FreshBooks Classic offered over 20 different reports, the new FreshBooks only offers 7-10 reports depending on which plan you’ve signed up for.

You can also save your favorite reports so you don’t have to dig for them. It is easy to access these by clicking the reports tab while on your dashboard. 

Here are a few of the reports they offer: 

  • Invoice Details 
  • Expense Report 
  • Accounts Aging 
  • Profit & Loss
  • Sales Tax Summary 
  • Retainer Report

Proposals 

If you are trying to gain a new client, and want to make the onboarding process easy for them, you’ll love the proposals feature that FreshBooks has.

You can create your proposal, attach images or any other attachments, create a scope of work, add in a timeline, and include the final pricing for it all. You can also include your terms and contract, right on the proposal. 

Plus, your potential client has the option to sign the proposal and contract via e-signature, and you can also turn the proposal into an invoice. No more constant follow-ups for a signed contract or paid invoice. Super simple, right?

Multi-Currency Support

Another great feature of FreshBooks is the support they offer for different countries and currencies. As it stands, FreshBooks offers support for over 150 currencies and is also compatible with 14 languages.

If you live in the US, but serve clients from all over the world, you can use this software. Also, you don’t have to be US-based to sign up with FreshBooks! They’re great for entrepreneurs no matter where they are in the world.

Customer Support 

As a long-time user of FreshBooks, I’ve got to admit that they have some of the best customer service in the industry. They offer so many different areas of support, and here are a few: 

  • Phone: Their customer service is there Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm EST.
  • Email: If your matter isn’t as urgent, you can contact FreshBooks via email. Most of the time, they’ve answered me within a few short hours! 
  • New User Webinars: When you first sign up for FreshBooks, they will give you a complete walkthrough, and offer you a few free introductory webinars to help you use the software to the best of your ability.

Security 

You don’t have to worry about your account being hacked on FreshBooks, or someone having access to any personal information, like client info and banking info. All of your information on FreshBooks is protected with 256-bit SSL encryption. Your data is stored securely behind Cisco-powered firewalls.

FreshBooks’ servers are also scanned regularly by a 3rd party, and if they find any problems or vulnerabilities with the site, FreshBooks will address them as quickly as possible. All of the FreshBooks servers are located in state-of-the-art data centers, and all of them have constant surveillance. When it comes to debit and credit cards, FreshBooks works with PCI compliant partners to store the data.

Any data in your account is backed up nightly to tape and then stored in a secure offsite location to ensure that, even in the event of a catastrophe like a tornado or a flood, the information will be safe and anything can be quickly restored. 

Pricing & Plans

Now that we’ve talked about the great features that FreshBooks has, let’s talk about the pricing and tier options. FreshBooks has three tiers, and a fourth if you’re a large company or enterprise. However, I’ll just be going over the three main tiers that they include. 

Just as a quick side note, FreshBooks does include a free 30-day trial, and no credit card is required. They also offer monthly and yearly subscription options, with the yearly option giving you a 10% discount. 

Lite

The lite tier is the smallest tier and is $15/month. For this plan, you’ll get: 

  • Up to 5 billable clients 
  • Unlimited invoices
  • Customized invoices
  • Accept credit card payments online
  • Automated bank imports 
  • Unlimited time tracking
  • Unlimited estimates 
  • Tax time reports 
  • Custom Functionality and workflows with 200+ integrations
  • 1 user included, with the ability to add team members for an additional $10/person/month

Plus

The plus tier is the most popular tier and is $25/month. For this plan, you’ll get: 

  • All Lite features
  • Up to 50 billable clients 
  • Unlimited proposals
  • Automated recurring invoices
  • Double-Entry accounting reports
  • Scheduled late fees
  • Automated late payment reminders 
  • 1 user included, with the ability to add team members for an additional $10/person/month
  • Optional: Advanced payments for an additional $20/month 

Premium

The premium tier is the highest tier and is $50/month. For this plan, you’ll get: 

  • All of the Plus features 
  • Up to 500 billable clients 
  • 1 user included, with the ability to add team members for an additional $10/person/month
  • Optional: Advanced payments for an additional $20/month 

Additional Costs 

With the pricing, you may have noticed that the tiers had options for additional costs. These are totally optional but can help if you’re trying to grow and scale your business. Let’s talk about those a little bit. 

Additional Users

If you have a team of employees or contractors, you can add them to your FreshBooks account for $10/month per user. It is important to note that currently, there aren’t any user permissions are available at this time. So, if you give your contractors or employees access to your account, they will see all of your company data, reports included. 

If you add your contractors, there is a way to add them at no additional cost. However, they will have to pay for FreshBooks themselves if they invoice any other customer or client but you. 

FreshBooks Payments

While FreshBooks Payments won’t cost you monthly, it is an add-on that you can use when invoicing. FreshBooks allows you to accept payments from most major credit cards directly from your invoices. There are the typical payment processing costs of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for most credit cards (the same as just about anywhere else). You can also connect FreshBooks to your Stripe account if you have one, or accept payments via cash, check, ACH, and PayPal. 

Advanced Payments 

FreshBooks also offers advanced payments on all of the plan tiers for an additional $20/month. 

With the advanced payments option, you can save and proactively charge your clients’ credit card details they’ve provided to you. You can process their cards via phone or in-person. You can also do this on all invoices, including recurring invoices and payments.

FreshBooks Alternatives

While FreshBooks is great, there are other alternatives out there for business accounting. Here are a few of the most popular ones. 

Xero

Xero works with over 475,000 businesses and sole accountants. 

  • The setup is effortless
  • Includes an overview of your company’s current financial health
  • Can process and run payroll 
  • Automatically adjusts taxes
  • Also includes inventory and stock management
  • You can not send easily customized and unlimited invoices for the same price as FreshBooks

Quickbooks 

Quickbooks is a well-known alternative to FreshBooks. 

  • Offers you the option to pay taxes right through their site 
  • Generate profit/loss statements with just a few clicks
  • Has a bill tracking feature for any bills that you owe
  • Is a little cheaper to start off with 
  • You can easily track expenses 
  • Not as user-friendly for multiple team members like FreshBooks

Wave 

Wave has gained extreme popularity amongst solopreneurs and business owners who are just starting out. 

  • Completely free to use
  • User-friendly, even if you aren’t a techie 
  • Can send invoices and receive payments 
  • Has the option to accept credit cards and store credit cards for future use 
  • Offers automatic invoicing features
  • You can’t easily customize the invoices as you can in FreshBooks
  • Customer service isn’t as quick as FreshBooks

Hurdlr

Hurdlr is a tool used to organize and track your business income, expenses, and taxes. 

  • User-friendly 
  • Monitors income 
  • Tracks mileage 
  • Estimates your taxes
  • Offers a free plan 
  • Doesn’t offer invoicing capabilities like FreshBooks 

Read more about Hurdlr in my review post here.

HoneyBook

HoneyBook helps you manage projects, book clients, send invoices, and get paid on time. 

  • User-friendly 
  • Beautiful dashboard 
  • Invoicing 
  • Project and task management systems 
  • Offers client portal 
  • Expensive – plans start at $40/month

Again, there are some really great alternatives to FreshBooks, but I choose FreshBooks because it’s one of the easiest accounting software to use, and it offers reliability, the ability to customize, and is user-friendly. 

Wave Accounting 

Wave Accounting is a free software that helps you invoice clients, track expenses, and even get bookkeeping help if you need it.

Here are a few of Wave Accounting’s features:

  • User-friendly 
  • Invoicing capabilities 
  • Expenses tracking 
  • Offers payroll 
  • Offers bookkeeping support 
  • Free to use
  • Client credit card storage

Read more about Wave Accounting here.

Xero

Xero is a more robust bookkeeping software that helps you invoice clients, track the backend financials of your business, and is great for business owners who need more from bookkeeping software. 

  • Can be used across multiple devices
  • The ability to add payroll via Gusto 
  • Inventory management with built-in software
  • Integrates with project management software  
  • Can get expensive
  • Poor customer support 
  • A learning curve for people not used to bookkeeping systems 

Read more about Xero here.

FreshBooks Review: Do I Recommend It?  

I always say that running a business is all about getting paid. Until you get paid, you don’t really have a business.

Back when I started my virtual assistant business in 2014, I already had a PayPal account from purchasing things on eBay years and years ago. So it was easy enough for me to start using that same account to accept payment for my freelance work.

Back then, I read a few posts and heard a few freelancers talk about using FreshBooks for their business accounting. But I decided a plain old Excel sheet would do since I was just getting started.

Looking back, I wish I had started with FreshBooks from day one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still all for bootstrapping your business as much as possible. This allows you to keep more of your money at the end of the month. But after I made the switch to FreshBooks, I knew I could never go back.

Before FreshBooks, my business accounting was quickly becoming a nightmare to keep up with. Sending invoices was taking way longer than it should and was cutting into my billable work hours.

When I finally added up how much I was spending in PayPal fees each month, that’s when I decided to just get a subscription to FreshBooks.

I signed up for a free 30-day trial of FreshBooks, but I was hooked from day one. (OK, maybe it was day two or three.) Overall, I’ve used FreshBooks for years, and I wouldn’t be writing such a stellar FreshBooks review if I didn’t enjoy using them. Especially because they aren’t the cheapest option, but for me they are worth it!

They have some killer customer service and are so easy to use. Switching to FreshBooks could save you hours in invoicing, sending proposals and estimates, and getting clients to pay on time. It’s a win-win as a business owner!

Why You Should Choose FreshBooks

Still on the fence about FreshBooks? Just remember this. FreshBooks gives you a 30-day free trial with absolutely ZERO strings attached.

You do not have to enter your credit card number or payment information in order to sign up for a free trial. They don’t try to trick you into forgetting to cancel before the trial ends in order to take your money from you. (I hate when companies do that!)

All you have to enter to get started is your name and email address.

I love that FreshBooks is a company with integrity!

Have you thought about switching to FreshBooks? It’s my favorite business tool for a reason.

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Stop living paycheck to paycheck. Start earning $10,000 per month.

Fill out the form to learn how I scaled my business from zero to $10K with these three things and why I'm confident they can work for you, too!

6 responses to “FreshBooks Review 2019

  1. I’ve been using Freshbooks right from the start of my business. I wrote a bunch of articles and then they asked for an invoice and I was like, “Oh, crap! How do I do that?” 🙂

    I didn’t know you could input your expenses as well and print out a handy report at the end of the year. I’d just been keeping track in Excel. This sounds way easier, I think I’ll switch to doing that.

    1. You definitely should! I love putting my expenses in as it categorizes them so I can easily see how much and where I’m spending money in my business.

  2. I do a lot of manual tracking with YAM across a variety of spreadsheets. Freshbooks is something I’ve considered looking into. It may not be until next year that I transition, but ideally I’d get set up with some sort of software like Freshbooks towards the end of this year so I can start 2017 on the right foot. Thanks for your sharing your insights!

    1. Yes! This is part of why I switched later in the year last year too. I switched in like October, so I kept my manual records through the end of the year too since I switched mid-year, but now I don’t have to have the manual records anymore for 2016.

  3. Hey Kayla – thanks for this great article – can your clients use Fresh Books to pay via Friends and Family? I guess what I’m really asking is whether Fresh Books ends up being better with regard to FEES than using Friends and Family? Thanks, I’m all for automating and reducing fees simultaneously! Tammy

    1. No, you’d still pay a fee through Freshbooks. However, the biggest perk is that you can automate a lot more through Freshbooks. However, if you want to avoid fees, Friends and Family is the way to go!

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