Most self employed persons now use some kind of software for keeping on top of their accounts. Many accounts software providers have been moving their packages online to provide cloud accounting however their are still some desktop options available. If you use a software package remember to check that it will support cash basis accounting.
If you already have use of Microsoft Office, Office 365 (online version) or Google Sheets then a spreadsheet is free. The downside of using a spreadsheet is that it is very easy to make a mistake such as accidentally deleting something or having a formula sum up rows but you don’t notice that it stops short of the last row. However, if you know how to prevent such mistakes then a spreadsheet is still a good option for an income & expense tracker.
Example free spreadsheets can be downloaded from this site.
VT Cash Book can be used as an income / expense tracker for cash basis accounting. It comes with VT Transaction+ (full accruals basis package) which is not free however you can use VT Cash Book as a standalone cash book to track income & expenses for your business.
Most businesses are moving over to cloud accounting which has some advantages. Accounts can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection and on multiple device types. The software can connect to your bank account and automatically feed in transactions which cuts down on data entry (and data entry errors). Mobile phone apps allow invoicing ‘on the move’, snap & store receipt management and mileage tracking. Software upgrades, security & backups are taken care of by the software provider. There is a monthly fee for the most popular platform.
For basic cloud accounting I recommend Quickbooks Self Employed, their lowest cost package, which will provide all the features mentioned above and uses cash basis. There are also more expensive packages with more features such as VAT where you can choose to use Cash Basis in company settings. There are usually trials available.
Note that to view the Self Employed package follow the link below and click on ‘Sole Trader’ or ‘Manage Self Assessment Only’. The package is called Self Employed – Simple Start is the next one up.
If your business is VAT registered and obliged to follow the rules for Making Tax Digital then your software will need to support VAT and be MTD compliant or support bridging software.
When recording transactions into your chosen software you will need to categorise them so that you can easily retrieve totals for the different types of income and expenses.