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Home Office Accounting Software Made Easy

written by: Brian Nelson•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/5/2011

There are two kinds of Home Office users. One kind has a regular corporate job with a company and they are allowed to work remotely for some or all of their work week. The other kind owns their own business which they run out of a home office. This is for them.

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    Accounting

    Accounting sucks. It's bad enough that I have to save my receipts for everything, but as a business owner, I'm also supposed to keep some sort of record of my bills, payments, income, invoices, accounts receivable, and so on. Don't get me wrong, I know where my money is. I know who owes me money, who I owe money to, and how much money I have in the bank. How? The same way you know how much money you have in your household account. I kind of keep track mentally, on lists, and with notes. If I ever need to know to the exact penny, I can sit down and figure it out, but why bother? If there is a big enough balance in the business checking account to pay off the business credit card, what does anyone care?

    Not only that, but these records that I have keep need to be understandable to someone else. Why? Well, the IRS might want to see them, and they don't let you stand over their shoulder. Ditto, for the bank or vendors. And don't even get me started on my accountant complaining about my books.

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    An Answer

    The truth is that like most things, you can just keep them in your head and do them yourself for only so long. Your brain and your notebooks don't scale very well, and someday, you'll wake up with six employees, quarterly tax payments, and vendor agreements and you will rue the day that you didn't implement a real accounting system.

    Still, I'm a small business consultant and professional freelance writer. I also am a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and usually regarded by those around me as fairly smart, but I don't know a thing about accounting. And, that is where it gets so frustrating. I don't have the time to learn about accounting. I don't have the money to buy accounting software, and then pay to upgrade it each year. No wonder so many small business owners use their own home made accounting systems.

    LessAccounting is a product built upon the very idea that as a business owner you are not going to be good at accounting. "Because your job title isn't Accountant," is their motto. Basically, LessAccounting is a web-based accounting software package that focuses on what most small businesses actually need which is tracking expenses and bills, and tracking invoices and payments. There is no complicated account setup, and no double-entry bookkeeping, which is what makes most business owners hate regular accounting software. This is not one of those just like the expensive product only free softwares. If you are looking for a QuickBooks replacement, keep moving.

    What you get is an easy to use system that let's you do what you want to do. Instead of say, Microsoft Accounting Express generating error messages because you didn't include a "required field" LessAccounting just goes with it. Need to add a new bank account? A full screen form pops up on most accounting software. LessAccounting puts up one text field for you to put in the name, and that's it. Of course, it can't download transactions or anything like that, but again, simple, simple.

    Less Accounting works best when you enter an invoice, and then match the payment to that invoice when it comes in, but you don't have to. You can always select "No Invoice." Expenses are equally simple. There is one screen for expenses, and another for mileage. Instead of having to match an expense to an account or project or client, you can just enter what you spent. If it will be due later, LessAccounting keeps track of it for you. If you already paid (like using a credit card at Office Depot), then just check "I already paid it" and LessAccounting subtracts the money from your running account total. That's it. Easy, quick, painless.

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    Cons

    The biggest problem with LessAccounting is cost. There is a free version but it can be too limited for certain businesses. Basically, you can only do 5 invoices, 5 proposals, and 5 expenses in the free version. This can work fine for home based businesses that use a different system for invoices and just want to keep track of payments and the occasional trip to Costco. Obviously, this is no good for businesses with a little more administrative use.

    The pay version is $19.95 a month, which is ridiculous. When you do the math, that works out to $240 per year basically. You could get a full brand name accounting package for that. So, with LessAccounting, use free or nothing.

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    Recommendation

    Rating Average

    LessAccounting Free Version 4 stars out of 5 stars (for small business without employees only).

    LessAccounting Pay Version 1 star out of 5 star ($240 per year is just too high)

    LessAccounting is at www.lessaccounting.com.