What are the FreeAgent benefits for a self-employed sole trader freelancer? 

I am a freelance video producer (sole trader) and currently just use Excel to log my income and costs. As I am getting busier this system is getting a bit out of control so I am considering using FreeAgent. Can you explain how using FreeAgent will benefit me?

FreeAgent Benefits

There are numerous reasons why recording your income and costs in FreeAgent is beneficial when compared to using Excel alone. We will go through five of the major benefits here.

Invoicing

FreeAgent offers a range of invoice templates which are compliant with VAT legislation (where relevant) and each can be tailored and branded to suit your business.

FreeAgent Invoicing

The invoice can either be printed out and posted to the client, downloaded as a PDF or sent via e-mail without leaving FreeAgent.

These are automatically added to the accounts and when used in conjunction with the bank feed offer up to date figures on the amount each client owes at any given time.

VAT is also calculated where necessary and liabilities are kept up-to-date.

There is the facility to set up a price list where certain items occur regularly on invoices to save time when creating any invoice.

There is a further option for recurring invoices where, for example, you invoice a client a certain amount every month as a retainer fee.

Better still, once you have set payment terms you can customise automatic late payment reminders to each client.

Bank feeds

Probably the most user friendly feature of FreeAgent is the ability to link your online bank account.

This allows the software to download all banking transactions into FreeAgent and automatically categorise each transaction based upon previous descriptions given.

FreeAgent Bank Feeds

This can be a major time-saver and requires you to only have to review your bank account to ensure you are happy with each description as opposed to Excel.

Coupled with the invoicing function this can allow you to be sure what is owed to your business and by whom.

The bank feed option is available for all major bank accounts and, if preferred, there is the option to upload bank statements in various formats (OFX, QIF and CSV).

There are also options for accounts in foreign currencies.

Expenses

Given the bank feed function, all expenses that have been paid via the bank account will be picked up in the accounts, ensuring no costs are missed and tax is not overpaid.

Where there are other costs not on the bank account there is an expenses function to enter out-of-pocket business expenses.

FreeAgent Expenses

If you have a smart phone you can take copies of your receipts whilst travelling or away from the office and attach them to the relevant cost via the app, meaning all the required detail is in one place.

Any business mileage can be simply added as an expense and is calculated at the appropriate mileage rate via a handy screen.

VAT returns

VAT returns are automatically generated in FreeAgent and are filed directly with HMRC without the need to use the HMRC online government portal.

FreeAgent VAT

It deals comfortably with the flat rate scheme without the requirement for further adjustments.

There is full support for either invoice or cash based accounting and switching between either method.

All VAT amounts are accounted for correctly in the accounts section of the software.

Accounting reports

It’s in this area that there is better all-around information in FreeAgent when compared to Excel.

You will be able to see an accurate up to date profit and loss account to you can see how much money you’re making and where there is room for improvement.

FreeAgent reports

You can also have a separate login for your accountant so they can see the real-time information and assist in correcting entries where required as well as being able to be more proactive in offering business, accounting and tax planning advice.

This also means that your accountant has all the information they need to complete your tax return.

Summary

Overall there are many FreeAgent benefits for a freelancer, it is very simple to use with a great user interface which is why we recommend it for a large percentage of our clients.