Five free apps you can count on

Custom apps

Here are a handful of finance software offerings that can help with everything from accounting to expense claims, for little or no cost.

Keeping your finances in order is one of the most important responsibilities in running a small business. For the many small-business owners who have little to no experience handling finances, this is a daunting task. It does not help that many do not have the resources to buy, or subscribe to, costly online finance management software. Fortunately, there are free alternatives that are very effective at managing finances and helping small businesses focus on improving their cashflow position. Here are five of the best:

Wave Accounting

Wave is one of the few full-featured accounting apps on the market that is free. There are no monthly fees or hidden charges involved for users to access Wave’s features, which include unlimited income and expense tracking, sales tax tracking, the ability to add an unlimited number of collaborators, a fully functional double-entry system, and unlimited bank and credit-card connections, among others. For small businesses looking for an accounting solution that does not cost much, Wave is a primary contender they should seriously consider.


Square has become one of the most popular payments solutions for small businesses, providing the ability to accept credit-card transactions. The app comes with a free credit-card reader that can be attached to a phone or another device to process payments. There are no monthly fees involved, just a 2.75 per cent fee per credit-card transaction. For an extra fee, users can upgrade the card reader to one that will process contactless and chip-card transactions.

Zoho Expense

Zoho Expense is a powerful app for tracking expenses and mileage claims. From their mobile devices, users can scan receipts in multiple languages and managers can approve expenses in real time. Business owners can easily audit spending and monitor for compliance with company policies, while employees can receive their reimbursements as soon as the day after an expense is approved.


Unlike software packages that are based online, Gnucash is a desktop-only app, wherein data and other features are stored on your computer. While it has a slightly dated user interface, which some may not find appealing, it is a feature-rich app offering double-entry accounting, and customer and vendor tracking. The app also allows for the management of stock, bond, and mutual fund accounts. And it offers an intuitive checkbook register, providing a custom, convenient, and familiar interface for entering financial transactions.


ZipBooks has become known for being simple accounting software with a visually appealing user interface that is easy to navigate. While many of its advanced features come in paid packages, ZipBooks also offers a free starter plan that covers the essential accounting features, such as generation of custom quotes and invoices, management of unlimited vendors and customers, basic reports, and connection to one bank account for account reconciliation..

This article first appeared in issue 35 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine