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FreshBooks Review

FreshBooks Review: Why This is My Favorite Business Tool

August 15, 2018

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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 to use FreshBooks.

What is FreshBooks?

FreshBooks is a small business accounting software that has all the features you need to run your freelance business smoothly.

I’ve written about FreshBooks several times on my blog because it is honestly my favorite business tool.

It saves me countless hours and hundreds of dollars in PayPal fees every single month.

Why I Signed Up for FreshBooks

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 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.)

Here are a few reasons why FreshBooks is hands down my favorite business tool.

1. Easily Send Professional Invoices

One of my favorite features of FreshBooks is the ability to send professional-looking invoices.

In FreshBooks, you can easily add your company name, logo, and other information to the top of your invoices. This way everything is neat and professionally branded whenever you send out invoices to your clients.

Of course, you can upload your logo in PayPal too, but I love that FreshBooks automatically pulled colors from my logo to use for my dashboard, the website background, and other aesthetics.

It just looks pretty! Looking pretty isn’t really a good reason to buy an accounting tool, but it certainly helps. 🙂

2. FreshBooks Helps You Get Paid Faster

Believe it or not, using an accounting system like FreshBooks can help you get paid much faster than you might otherwise.

FreshBooks invoices can be paid via PayPal, credit card, or several other payment methods. This makes it easy for your clients to pay you using their preferred method.

Whenever there are fewer logistical steps to take to get paid, the better!

Clients also have the option of paying a portion of your invoice.

Of course we all want to think that we’ll always have the perfect clients who pay in full right away. In reality, there may be times when your client runs short on cash.

In those cases, getting a partial payment for work you have already completed is better than no payment at all.

3. Save Time on Monthly Retainer Clients

Do you have clients who you bill regularly for the exact same amount every time?

For example, you may have monthly retainer clients who pay the same amount every single month.

If that’s the case, you can set those clients up on Recurring Invoicing in FreshBooks. This way you don’t have to go into FreshBooks to generate and send an invoice every month. Instead, FreshBooks will automatically send the invoice on your behalf.

You can even get paid automatically for your invoices too. With Auto-Billing, if your client has added their  credit card to FreshBooks, you can automatically charge your invoice to their credit card. This can save time for both you and your clients!

4. Collect More Outstanding Payments

Slow-paying clients are a pain in the neck, especially if you have to keep following up with them about missing payments.

With FreshBooks, you can set up automatic Late Payment Reminder emails. This series of three personalized emails will be sent to your clients automatically, based on the timeframe you’ve chosen.

My automatic emails are sent out at 15, 30, and 45 days after the invoice has been sent. This helps remind my clients if their payment is overdue.

Plus, FreshBooks includes a link to the invoice in the payment reminder email, so clients don’t have to hunt for the original email to pay you.

Again, the fewer logistical steps, the faster you’ll get paid!

5. Reports Make Tax Time Easy

Another great feature of FreshBooks is the ability to view and print off reports showing your income and expenses.

When I was using PayPal for invoicing, I was logging my income manually in an Excel spreadsheet and it got cumbersome. With FreshBooks I can easily pull a report to see how much money I’ve made from each client, each month, or by the type of work I’ve put on my invoices.

Before FreshBooks, I was logging my expenses in Excel as well. At the end of the year, I had to go back through the entire spreadsheet to total up my expenses by category.

Now, I input my expenses in FreshBooks. It does take about the same amount of time to do that as it does to track them in a spreadsheet, but it saves a ton of time at the end of the year.

At tax time, I print out reports to share with my accountant. Plus, he has a limited access login to my FreshBooks account so he can see reports for my business throughout the year. This makes tax planning so much easier with a variable income business!

6. Time Tracking Capabilities

Did you know you can track your time in FreshBooks too?

I try not to charge hourly for my services anymore, but I still like to know how much money I’m making for the time I put into my work. The time tracking feature in FreshBooks makes it easy to do this.

7. Save Money on Pesky PayPal Fees

I already mentioned how I love to save money on business expenses so I can keep more of it in my pocket, but the expense I hate the most is PayPal fees. I find it ridiculous that I have to pay a fee in order to get paid.

Think about it. At a full-time job, you don’t have to pay a fee to get your paycheck!

That’s why I’ve done everything I can to reduce my PayPal fees.

One of the biggest things I did to reduce my PayPal fees was to sign up for FreshBooks.

FreshBooks Classic works with PayPal via PayPal’s pilot program to lower fees to a flat $0.50 per transaction. This means that no matter if you receive $20 or $5,000, the fee will be $0.50!

Here’s How It Works:

When you use FreshBooks Classic to invoice U.S.based clients who pay via PayPal Business payments, you will only be charged a flat fee of $0.50 per payment you receive.

First, you have to connect your PayPal account in FreshBooks. Here’s how:

1.       Go to Settings in the top right corner
2.       Click on the Accept Credit Cards sub-tab
3.       Next to “PayPal” click on the blue “Activate PayPal” link
4.       Check the box next to “PayPal Standard” then enter your PayPal email address
5.       Hit Save

You must check mark PayPal Business payments on the invoices you send to your clients as one of the payment options they can use to pay your invoice.

Your client must pay via their PayPal balance or a connected bank account. (This is called an e-check.) They cannot pay via credit card to qualify for PayPal Business payments. If they pay via credit card, you will be charged a higher fee.

How Much It Saves Me:

Before I made the switch to FreshBooks, I added it up and realized I was spending more in PayPal fees each month than a subscription to FreshBooks would cost.

The way I think about it, I kind of get to use FreshBooks for free.

The smallest FreshBooks plan was $9.95/month (or less if you paid annually). By switching to FreshBooks I’d save more money in PayPal fees than I’d pay for my subscription. This is what finally convinced me to sign up for a free FreshBooks trial.

(I’m grandfathered in from an old plan. These days the smallest plan costs $15/month. Or, you can get a 10% discount if you pay for an entire year. That’s more than one month free!)

When I first started using FreshBooks, it was saving me about $10/month (net) after paying for the cost of the program. Now, I save around $360/month (net) on PayPal fees!

This doesn’t even consider the time and headache I saved from no longer having to track my income and expenses manually.

Important Note About FreshBooks vs FreshBooks Classic

FreshBooks has changed to a newer version that no longer supports the $0.50 PayPal fee pilot program. However, I have specifically asked to have my link point to FreshBooks Classic. This way you can still take advantage of this program to lower your PayPal fees.

If you sign up with my link and do NOT get into FreshBooks Classic, please email me! I will connect you directly with my friends at FreshBooks to fix the problem. You also cannot update to the new FreshBooks after you sign up for FreshBooks Classic if you want to keep the $0.50 payment option!

Why You Should 100% Give FreshBooks a Try

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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5 responses to “FreshBooks Review: Why This is My Favorite Business Tool

  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.

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