4 popular free and open source accounting software

If you need accounting software for your business, you should know that you will be using this accounting software to examine every penny going in and out of your bank accounts.

At some point you will probably be wondering, “How much do I have to pay each month for this accounting software and can I eliminate this expense?” “

Yes, you can get free accounting software, and in this article, we’ll take a look at four popular and completely free options (see how we chose the products featured here), along with some reasons why you might be better off paying. for your accounting software even when there are free options.

Free accounting software

While it’s not too hard to find free versions of some business software, truly free accounting software (not just a free trial) is something of a rarity, with most popular accounting providers charging. a monthly fee even for their most basic version. Both of these accounting solutions, while not as advanced as their paid counterparts, are built on a foundation of features that can meet the needs of most small and medium businesses.

A screenshot of the main dashboard in Wave Accounting
The main Wave Accounting dashboard (Source)

Designed for the small business owner, Wave, which was acquired by H&R Block for around $ 400 million in July 2019, prides itself on its simplicity and ease of use. Its intuitive user interface keeps the most important financial data in the foreground, accessible immediately after enrollment through any device with a web browser.

The idea here is that keeping it simple relieves a lot of the stress associated with accounting software. But don’t be fooled by this rudimentary approach; for free software, Wave is feature rich. This includes informative dashboards for users, unlimited income and expense tracking, and customizable billing and sales tax processes.

Other features include:

  • Quick setup

  • Mass transaction updates

  • Currency conversions

  • PayPal, Shoeboxed and Etsy integrations

  • Unlimited bank accounts and credit cards

  • Invoices and invoice reminders

While the accounting app is really free, accepting payments (2.9% + 30 cents per credit transaction, or 1% per bank transaction) and executing payroll ($ 20 per month plus 4 $ per employee) are optional paid features.

Wave also appears on our FrontRunners Accounting list for 2021.

Not sure if Wave’s free accounting app is right for you? Check out this video procedure explaining how to set up recurring invoices:

The main dashboard in ZipBooks (Source)

Like some other free bookkeeping systems, ZipBooks offers a free starter tier to its more robust paid options. The free version offers notable useful features for small businesses.

At no cost, users can send unlimited invoices, process digital payments, and manage as many suppliers and customers as they want. This cloud-based solution also benefits from integration with third-party applications such as Square, PayPal, Slack and Gusto, giving organizations the freedom and flexibility to do business on their terms.

Other features include:

  • Invoices, quotes and personalized quotes

  • Ability to switch between cash and accrual accounting

  • Track supplier and customer details

  • VAT, taxes and invoice discounts

  • 1099 payment and recording of expenses

  • Balance sheet and income statement

Find out how to get started using ZipBooks with this tutorial:

Open source accounting software

If you need an accounting system that you can modify to meet your unique business needs, open source software is a great option to consider. Users can download the source code, usually inexpensively or even free, and adapt it to their ideal accounting system.

Open source systems require a certain degree of development expertise. But if you have a dedicated IT department, employ a coding expert, or are willing to hire a third-party consultant, open source software offers a viable alternative to the more monolithic and expensive solutions on the market.

A screenshot of the accounts overview in the open source accounting software Akaunting
The overview of accounts in the open source accounting software Akaunting (Source)

The oddly named Akaunting had its first stable release in 2018 and has grown steadily since, with 180,000 downloads, 80,000 cloud users and 10,000 project contributors, according to the Akaunting website. It is available in almost 50 different languages.

Akaunting aims to remove the stigma of hard-to-use open source software, claiming users are up and running in less than five minutes. Users can download the Core Accounting Core, which includes all of the standard accounting features small businesses will need, and add optional features as app downloads. Some of these optional apps include contract management, document management, white label personalization, and some integrations are chargeable.

If you have any issues, free support is provided through comprehensive online documentation, community forums, and chat rooms. The project is also monetized through a paid, dedicated support service, starting at $ 99 / mo if you really need the help and don’t mind spending the money to get it.

Main features include:

  • Modern interface, intuitive and compatible with mobile devices

  • Free Lifetime Updates

  • Advanced reports

  • Customer and supplier management

  • Recurring billing and invoicing

  • Categorization and group actions

Want to see Akaunting in action? Watch this video:

Checkbook style ledger in GnuCash (Source)

This on-premises accounting solution offers a robust set of features, including recurring transactions, bank reconciliation, and financial reporting. Plus, it’s as affordable as it gets (i.e. free) and endlessly customizable.

The GnuCash ledger is like a kind of digital checkbook, with the ability to split transactions, display multiple accounts in one window, and tailor the look to your liking. But the software’s signature quality lies in its “double entry” feature, which requires all transactions to debit and credit accounts in equal measure, keeping your books balanced at all times.

Other features include:

  • Track individual stocks and portfolios

  • Regularly updated stock and mutual fund quotes

  • Check printing

  • Payroll management

  • Automatically complete frequent transactions

  • Categorization of income and expenses

Watch the video below on GnuCash for an overview of how this free accounting software works:

Why you should also consider paid solutions

While the systems described above may work for some organizations, they will not work for everyone. In many cases, even yours, potentially investing in a reputable paid solution will pay dividends in the long run.

So now that we’ve explored some free and open source options, you can also check out some top rated paid systems, so you get the full picture. Take a look at our accounting software directory, where you can learn more about common features, top recommended products from our advisors, and top rated products based on real user reviews.

A screenshot of the Software Advice accounting software buying guide
The Software Advice accounting software buying guide (Source)

How we chose the featured products

To identify the systems featured here, we Google searched for the terms “free accounting software” and “open source accounting software” during April 2021 in a private browser window with the location set to US. United. Provided they meet the following criteria, the best solutions on the first page of search results are presented / included above in alphabetical order:

  • Offer a free, standalone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you have to purchase a product after a limited time).
  • Meet our definition of accounting software: Accounting software enables accounting professionals of any type of organization to manage accounts and perform various accounting and financial operations such as record keeping, financial reporting, invoicing and invoicing.
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