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Old 03-13-2019, 02:59 PM   #1
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Default QuickBooks alternative - Something simpler?

I've been using QuickBooks since the beginning and it works fine for me. I use it for very basic bookkeeping only. No invoicing, inventory, payroll, or anything.

I enter in my purchases made with my business checking or credit accounts, assigning each purchase to an expense category. I enter in my sales receipts for each job I get paid for. I print out a P&L sheet to give to my accountant at the end of the year. Very simple.

One other thing that I use is the feature to sync with my bank and credit card accounts, which is nice. But that requires the software to be updated every 3 years, and I am up for another renewal.

Since I only use QuickBooks for very basic things, probably only 10% of what the software can actually do, I am exploring simpler programs. I like the simple and basic stuff. I would rather the developers focus on the small part of it that I actually use.

Any recommendations?
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Old 03-13-2019, 03:33 PM   #2
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Quickbooks is so dominant that there aren't as many alternatives as you'd think.

Quicken is simpler but the Home and Business version is only for Windows. It's subscription based and it isn't like it's super cheap. You'll want the Home and Business version which is only available for Windows. Your accountant may prefer being handed a Quickbooks file. Intuit spun off Quicken so who knows if they'll be around long term.

There used to be Mint which was free or open source and mostly for Linux geeks but it got bought by Intuit. It's another subscription product, may or may not do you any good, not really business oriented - Intuit wants you using Quickbooks for your business.

I played around with trials of Freshbooks and Brightbook which are both OK but I didn't make any switch. I tinkered around with some others out there like GNUcash and TurboCash but they're really sketchy fringe products.

There's a program called Ledger CLI which I have used for some special projects I did with other people. It's really an oddball in that the data file is just a human-readable text file like an .html file. That way everyone could read it and very quickly review every transaction (or at least their accountant could) and know they were not getting screwed.
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Old 03-13-2019, 03:40 PM   #3
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I don't give my accountant a Quickbooks file, just the P&L sheet. My bookkeeping is incredible simple, which is why I am thinking about moving away from QuickBooks. I'm sure a novice Excel user could make me up something relatively easily to do what I need, but I would rather have real software.

I looked at Freshbooks, but it is expensive. I have way more than 50 customers per year which means I would have to pay for the $50/month plan. It is on sale for $25/month, but that may go back up at any time. Even at $25/month, that is $300/year. QuickBooks is $189 for 3 years.

So maybe I will just stick with that. But I just like simpler, more efficient things.
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Old 03-13-2019, 04:10 PM   #4
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I made a spreadsheet for a friend that let him import his transactions from a CSV downloaded from the bank, then go through line by line and categorize them, and calculated subtotals / totals by category-month/quarter/year. It was very fast to zip down the transactions and categorize them.

This is not rocket science but it was a tedious pain in the ass. Once it was perfect of course everything balanced to the penny but it was also easy to accidentally damage the formulas and mess up the spreadsheet.

I would pay for his Quickbooks for the rest of his life before I'd go through that pain in the ass again.

If your bank lets you download a Quickbooks file rather than the automatic sync you may be able to use your current version of Quickbooks indefinitely.
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Old 03-13-2019, 05:18 PM   #5
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I tinkered around with some others out there like GNUcash and TurboCash but they're really sketchy fringe products.

I use GNUcash. I don't know why you would think its sketchy? Is it because it's free?

I never used Quickbooks, But I would think it is very similar. It is double-entry accounting software. I download the .qfx file from my bank once a month and then import it into GNUcash. At first it won't know what account to put the transaction in automatically. There is a wizard you follow on import. You match the transaction with an account. Each month it gets easier because it will associate the transactions with the correct account.

You can set it up as cash or accrual with accounts payable and receivable. You can invoice and do payroll. It will remember all your customers. It does all the reports you need like profit and loss.

I just use it for cash accounting, no invoicing. At this point I only use it for the household books. What tiny business I had on the side I might just close down. The company didn't do any work last year, pretty much because I turned everything down. My situation might be different this year, and I might have to hustle. Still waiting for the ashes to settle.

I like the split entry. I split everything that can be split. Like mortgage and credit card interest. The more detailed I am the better the reports. I know it might seem like the opposite, but the more I follow, the better I feel. And believe me it's not because I have any money. I have a certain someone that makes sure of that Crazy Biotch

I don't know how I would go through what i'm going through without having good records.

Anybody not in business I would recommend this to also. Never hurts to know accounting. Who knows, you might want to retire some day.
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Old 03-13-2019, 05:49 PM   #6
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I use GNUcash. I don't know why you would think its sketchy? Is it because it's free?
That's great thanks for the review, maybe I'll download it and mess with it.

I have some hesitation with open source unless it's something like OpenOffice that has a huge installed base and a partner / sponsor to support them. Although the tech support you get from Intuit is pretty sketchy these days to be fair.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:11 PM   #7
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It does get a little laggy as the data base gets bigger toward the end of the year. But it's nothing compared to this site

They have a book you can buy. I always wanted to buy it so I can better understand all the features. I just get by with the extensive help section. There is a lot on YouTube also.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:12 PM   #8
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That's great thanks for the review, maybe I'll download it and mess with it.

I have some hesitation with open source unless it's something like OpenOffice that has a huge installed base and a partner / sponsor to support them. Although the tech support you get from Intuit is pretty sketchy these days to be fair.
I never use QuickBooks support, I use their forums. The normal people there know as much if not more than the techs you would talk to at Intuit. And the higher level techs will step in when it's an actual issue with QuickBooks and fix things. I have spoken with a few of them about issues and they have resolved them. Basically, it's like going around the call center BS.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:15 PM   #9
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I'm actually looking for something simpler. Like a software version of paper bookkeeping.

Just a way to enter purchases (and assign expense categories to them) and income and have it spit out a P&L sheet.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:18 PM   #10
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I'm actually looking for something simpler. Like a software version of paper bookkeeping.

Just a way to enter purchases (and assign expense categories to them) and income and have it spit out a P&L sheet.
Hire an Excel guru like Splatz did or hire his guru.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:24 PM   #11
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Hire an Excel guru like Splatz did or hire his guru.
I would prefer to not use Excel, I would like real software.

Like Splatz said, it's too easy to make one mistake in Excel and corrupt everything.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:30 PM   #12
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I would prefer to not use Excel, I would like real software.

Like Splatz said, it's too easy to make one mistake in Excel and corrupt everything.
You ever find that cheap crimper you wanted?
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:37 PM   #13
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You ever find that cheap crimper you wanted?
No. And even breaking down and getting the $200 one wouldn't work for #4's.

Splatz failed me
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Old 03-13-2019, 11:00 PM   #14
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I would prefer to not use Excel, I would like real software.



Like Splatz said, it's too easy to make one mistake in Excel and corrupt everything.
Excel is a pretty powerful program. You can lock the sheet to limit what you can do to it. I haven't done this but I know it can be done. It also has macros which can be combined with locking the sheet. But this takes someone more experienced than me.

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Old 03-13-2019, 11:13 PM   #15
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I've been using QuickBooks since the beginning and it works fine for me. I use it for very basic bookkeeping only. No invoicing, inventory, payroll, or anything.



I enter in my purchases made with my business checking or credit accounts, assigning each purchase to an expense category. I enter in my sales receipts for each job I get paid for. I print out a P&L sheet to give to my accountant at the end of the year. Very simple.



One other thing that I use is the feature to sync with my bank and credit card accounts, which is nice. But that requires the software to be updated every 3 years, and I am up for another renewal.



Since I only use QuickBooks for very basic things, probably only 10% of what the software can actually do, I am exploring simpler programs. I like the simple and basic stuff. I would rather the developers focus on the small part of it that I actually use.



Any recommendations?


Have you tried Wave Accounting?

Thatís what I use, In a very similar way of what you do but instead I send my accountant a PDF of my P/L.

Itís free to use except for payroll and credit cards transactions.

Hope this help!
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:15 AM   #16
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I use Quicken version 2004. I use it on an I-mac that looks like a white soccer ball with a monitor that got stuck into it.

I bought two of them for my business in 2003. They don't have an airport card in them so they are not on the internet. I think the next years version got airport cards, but that's like having a computer in your car that controls everything. You want a computer for your bookkeeping that cannot go on the internet, nor can the internet go onto your business so to speak. I hooked em together so everything gets saved from primary onto backup , and then also I run a time machine backup disk for the whole shebang. But no internet.


Anyway, Quicken 2004 is one time purchase in the year 2004. It's perfect for what you want Hax . You should go on e-bay and get one, one with Quicken 2004 on it. Probably dirt cheap. But here is the thing. Unlike the newer Apple products that came out after Steve Jobs died, these ones I have are like the old corded Milwaukee hole Hogs. They never break down. I never turn either one of them off, they go 24 hours a day in and day out. And at tax time , I do just like Hax, I print out the report and give it to the CPA. Quicken. version 2004. The bomb. No paying for updates. P.S. PRINTERS ARE THE WEAK LINK. Unlike alive Steve Jobs Apple Computers, printers break down. The furthest your operating system will go is Mac OS 10. 2.9 on one of these beasts. Finding a printer that can communicate to it is fairly hard. Ive been lucky so far, I have two that are still going. I hope just a few more years . Then screw this, I'm sailing south. Aidios Amigo's.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:19 AM   #17
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You ever find that cheap crimper you wanted?
Quote:
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No. And even breaking down and getting the $200 one wouldn't work for #4's.

Splatz failed me
If you let me make a spreadsheet for your accounting I can make it tell you that hot shot crimper I picked out for you was $29.99.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:30 AM   #18
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Excel is a pretty powerful program. You can lock the sheet to limit what you can do to it. I haven't done this but I know it can be done. It also has macros which can be combined with locking the sheet. But this takes someone more experienced than me.
It's not hard to use the protection feature but in actual use it never works out that great.

This is how the feature works. You can turn protection on or off for each sheet. When protection is turned on for the sheet, the cells in that sheet that you've marked "protected" can't be changed.

So you can easily protect say the columns with formulas in them but you have to leave the data cells unprotected.

If you want to import in or copy and paste in the transactions from the file you download from the bank, you have to either leave all those cells unprotected or turn protection off for the sheet, import, then turn it back on.

Obviously the cells where you indicate the category have to be unprotected.

Excel is very sensitive, you touch the space bar while you're in a cell and move around, poof it's gone.

You have to put some error-checking in to make sure things balance. If you screw up a category entry you now have an uncategorized expense and the summary will be off. It's not rocket science to put the error checks in but it's one more thing.
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:04 AM   #19
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That is EXACTLY what I don't want. I want a simple program to enter some numbers into. I don't want some makeshift spreadsheet and then have to worry about what Splatz just said.

Maybe I will just keep QuickBooks for MAC 2016 that I have now.

I have to see what else I will lose other than the connecting to my bank feature. Do they still give software updates or does that end?
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:29 AM   #20
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That is EXACTLY what I don't want. I want a simple program to enter some numbers into. I don't want some makeshift spreadsheet and then have to worry about what Splatz just said.

Maybe I will just keep QuickBooks for MAC 2016 that I have now.

I have to see what else I will lose other than the connecting to my bank feature. Do they still give software updates or does that end?
You probably only need that feature for the online sync with your bank, if you download a file with your transactions and import it (.iif, .qif, .qxf) you can keep using your quickbooks, I don't think they cripple that feature after three years.

If not - hey @HertzHound has had good luck with GNUcash you could try that for free ... it should not take long to install it, export your chart of accounts from Quickbooks, download your 2019 transactions from the bank, import them into GnuCash and see if it works for you. When you only use the most dead basic features you don't have to worry so much about support...
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