by Karen McCandless
Published on 18 April 2016
As a freelancer , you probably have a to-do list a mile long. There's the work itself, the going over briefs, the interacting with clients, and then keeping your workspace organized (which is no small task). On top of all that, there's also the part where you have to keep track of your time and expenses, send invoices, and collect payments.
This last part is where freelancers often run into trouble. Invoicing itself is often consuming, leading many to procrastinate. And the tasks just keep on mounting up: you have to keep track of unpaid invoices, chase down delinquent accounts, and report all earnings on your income tax return. Sigh. This side of things is the one part of the freelance lifestyle that absolutely no fun at all. It's all part of the business of freelancing, nonetheless. Recent research has revealed that one third of businesses still use spreadsheets to track their expenses, which is not the most efficient way.
But wait, there's hope! We've put together this list of the best time and expense tracking apps for freelancers. These apps bring together tools to help you keep track of the no-fun bits, from invoicing to expense reporting.
WorkFlowMax is a Xero product, which, right out of the gate, has the benefit of aligning time tracking, expenses, and accounting (if Xero happens to be your accounting app of choice). What's even more compelling is that WorkFlowMax is capable of handling freelance jobs from taking care of the incoming lead, to performing the work, right down to reconciling the paid invoice (if you're taking advantage of built-in Xero integration).
Xpenditure, as its name implies, takes the pain out of expense tracking for freelancers. Perhaps the coolest feature of this app? Digitizing receipts. That means no more tucking paper receipts into an old cigar box. Xpenditure keeps up with your receipts and it even exports to your accounting app of choice for full-scale financial reporting with ease.
With the might of the Zoho name behind it, Zoho Invoice boasts some impressive features aimed at both freelancers and small businesses. In addition to time and expense tracking, this cloud-based software also comes with a portal you can share with clients, contact management capabilities to better stay in touch with your clients, and built-in templates for invoices.
If you're looking for a mobile solution to your time tracking and expense issues, then Hubstaff is a great option. Its mobile capabilities include the ability to automatically track time and keep accurate logs of time spent there, no matter where in the world you are. It will also stop tracking automatically when it senses inactivity, as well as allowing you to add notes and comments to any work you have completed, right from within the app.
As a freelancer, one of the issues you may come up against is how to track time and expenses for different projects for the same client. Vorex Projects is a simple and intuitive app that allows you to do just that, and to get up and running quickly. If you are looking for more than just a time and expense tracking app, Vorex Projects also offers budgeting, project management, and forecasting functionality.
Here's an app for the solo lawyers, Clio enables you to more accurately bill your legal clients by providing a timeclock that you can start across your computer, phone or tablet. You can then turn this information into an invoice directly from the app. Clio also offers a whole host of other features that allow you to better manage your solo practice, including document management, appointment setting, accounting, and case management.
Aside from its simple, intuitive interface that makes time tracking simpler and invoicing even more speedy, Harvest adds a wide range of integrations with third-party apps including Xero, PayPal, QuickBooks Online, and a whole lot more.
Timesheets.com Time Tracking is a web- and mobile-based replacement for the paper time sheet. It's as simple as a punching the clock, minus the clock! Timesheets.com is highly scalable, allowing you to track overall time while reporting specific hours to individual contractors. That makes a time and expense app of obvious benefit for freelancers.
TriNet is another app that offers that all important project-based time tracking, which extends to its Android, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry apps from where you can also scan and import receipts to keep on top of those mounting expenses. This app also features some useful integrations, first with accounting solutions such as NetSuite, QuickBooks, and Intacc, but also with mobile apps such as TripIt.
Paydirt is billed as a time tracking solution that is built by freelancers especially for freelancers, and it certainly seems like they've put a lot of thought into it. With Firefox and Google Chrome extensions, you not only get reminders to log time, but a start tracking button also pops up when you are on websites related to clients, or even when you're writing emails to them.
If none of these time and expense management apps are catching your eye, there are lots more to choose from at GetApp's app marketplace. Be sure to check out the latest research, insights, and trends on our Lab, too.
This post was first published on October 17 2014 and was updated in April 2016.