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Online Accounting: Is It Safe and Easy?
People born in the last thirty years probably have a much higher appreciation for technology than those born before then, which is understandable considering that they've essentially lived with it their whole life. They don't have to be skeptical of new advances, because they understand that (or at least, they think that) it's always built in a safe and secure environment. The older generation knew a world without technology for a while, so they're naturally skeptical of anything that claims to make life easier, and when it comes to your money, which is the lifeblood of your daily recreation and work, this skepticism is probably well-placed.
Still, it can't be all bad, can it? No, of course not, and in fact, most online accounting applications are safe and easy to use. They allow you to record data on a "cloud" instead of on paper that can get lost or destroyed, and unlike traditional financing, you don't have to keep as close track of things because it's all automated now. Pretty nifty, eh?
But what sorts of programs actually give you this sort of functionality? Well, I'm here to tell you and hopefully make your life a little easier.
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The first kind of online accounting or financing you might need to do is for when you take on a sort of side-job, such as freelance writing, or another type of independent contracting. If you're in this sort of situation, it's extra important to keep track of how much money you're making and sending, because taxes and things like that don't get directly taken out of your paycheck- you have to stay on top of them yourself. So what options do you have? One of them is SideJob Track, a free online application from a company named ArtyPapers that allows you to do all of these things, send invoices and much more without leaving the comfort of your own home, or even your own office chair.
So what's the catch? Well, essentially there isn't really one. It's free, so you certainly can't expect the best support ever, and the price is also an indicator of a simpler product than something you'd pay $500 for (which do exist, and I'll talk about them in a minute), but really, you can't argue with a $0.00 price-tag, so I'd recommend you go out and try it. What have you got to lose?
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Perhaps built for the more personal and conservative financer comes an application named "Billings" that's easy to look at, easy to use, and has a whole range of functionality that you won't find in a free app like SideJob Track. Raking in an Apple Design Award in 2009, this application will handle time tracking, money accounting, invoice sending, and statement-sending all for the meager price of $40. Still not convinced? Don't have $40? They also offer the service for $5 a month per user, and you can continue that for as many months as you need it. Since the full app is $40 though, if you plan on using it for more than 7 months, you might as well go ahead and buy the whole thing just in case you want it again down the line.
One thing that Billings does offer that's awfully neat is support for many types of currency, meaning that you can deal with clients anywhere from England to Japan to Canada, and not have to miss a step in your accounting.
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Now, the last app on this list isn't really an app at all because there's nothing to download and nothing to store on your computer. QuickBooks Online is sort of like the cloud version of the popular QuickBooks money tracking app, and it can be accessed from anywhere in the world so long as you have any computer with internet access for more than a few minutes. But where it skimps on downloading (which isn't a bad thing), does it also skimp on features?
Thankfully, that's a hearty "no". QuickBooks has everything you've come to expect and everything you've read about in other apps up to this point, but it has one clear advantage: It saves your data automatically so even if you get cut off, your computer gets corrupted or erased, or you just plain forgot to store your hard work, the website will do it for you at no extra cost. That's not all though; QuickBooks Online is also accessible via your iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone at no charge as well- making accounting on the go even easier than it's ever been. This, along with the many other great features, put QuickBooks on top and make it one of the most appealing Mac OS freeware (or shareware!) online accounting apps.