Freelance Stories: Why I Switched Back to FreshBooks

I used to use FreshBooks to power my freelance copywriting business for years. I loved the intuitive UI, how it was built for freelancers, and it was Canadian.

But there was one big thing that bothered me: even though I am a Canadian-based business and they’re in Canada, they charged me in US dollars. And charge me sales tax on the US $ amount.

Intellectually, I know why they do that, but as a Canadian-based business, I charge my Canadian clients in Canadian dollars. I’m not entirely sure how they can do this to Canadian customers, but I’m not a tax law expert, so I’ll leave that part to them.

When I complained to them about it, they were kind enough to give me a 10% discount. Considering the exchange rate between the US & Canadian $, however, that wasn’t enough, in my opinion. (The exchange rate fluctuates between 20 & 30%, so even a 10% discount doesn’t cover the difference.)

But it didn’t just stop there.

Here are two more reasons why I got disenchanted with FreshBooks:

  1. The extra fees for foreign currency transactions my credit card charges and the unfavorable exchange rate they give me.
  2. The FreshBooks transaction fee on any non-Canadian client invoice payments.

Roll this all up and my FreshBooks subscription was starting to cost me more than I liked.

Enter the New-to-Me Tech on the Block

So in 2018, I switched to Wave Accounting, another Canadian company. (Woot!)

Wave was free for everything and only charged you for any transactions. That immediately saved me the annual subscription fee FreshBooks charged. Sweet!

Wave’s interface is nice and clean, and their support team is really responsive. Gotta love their chatbot, Mave, too!

After taking a month or so to work out the kinks in how I had to use Wave for my freelance technical copywriting business, I was off and running. I used Wave for 2 full years and they were 2 happy years.

Until the end of 2020.

Where Things Soured with Wave

Business was going well, but I was finding that I was spending a lot more time managing the financial side of things than I wanted. Something that should take me 10 minutes took me longer and required multiple software apps.

The whole reason to use an accounting and/or invoicing app is to save me time, not cost me time, right? Sure, I was saving money, but I was investing a lot more time than I used to, and as the famous saying goes, “Time is money.”

I’m all for paying for something or someone to save me time and effort (as long as it’s reasonable and I see the value in it.) Using Wave was nearly free, but was costing me more time than FreshBooks. Why?

Why Wave Cost Me More than FreshBooks

1. A Tale of Two Businesses

For starters, I had to set up two separate businesses in Wave. One sign-on portal, but two businesses. Why two? Because I’m a multi-currency business. I receive payments in both Canadian and American dollars, and unfortunately, Wave isn’t set up to handle both in one “business.”

I would use the C$ business as my main one and track C$ invoices and all expenses in there. American $ invoices went thru the other business. That meant I had to flip between the two all the time and I wasn’t getting an accurate view of how my business was doing in terms of profit and loss, income, etc.

2. Sorting Invoices

Secondly, the invoice reporting wasn’t the easiest to use, in my opinion. I could never sort the report by paid date, just issued date or something else that didn’t meet my needs. Since some of my clients pay on a Net 30 or even a Net 45 schedule, the difference between the issued and paid date could make a difference.

To solve this, I started tracking all my invoices manually in a spreadsheet. I’d set it up in Wave, accept payment, record the expenses, then record all the information again in the spreadsheet.

3. Unsatisfactory Reporting

Wave comes with a set of default reports that are probably good for most businesses, but for me, they never worked out nicely. Whether it was the sales tax report that didn’t sort or filter in a way my brain could understand or the P&L report that didn’t work properly because of the whole paid vs issued invoice date obstacle, the reports never worked well for me.

I would also track my expenses manually in a spreadsheet because Wave’s reporting didn’t work well for me. Tack on another 30 mins or so every couple of weeks so I could duplicate the work in both spots.

4. Accounting For Non-Accountants

The final issue was that I don’t use Wave as a true accounting application. I mainly used it to issue invoices, accept payments, and track expenses, that’s it. I wasn’t using it to track money coming in/out of bank accounts or track inventory. It was really overkill for my business needs.

Simply put, Wave Accounting was costing me more in time and effort than FreshBooks. Financially, it was cheaper, but in time, it was costing more.

So I decided to switch back to FreshBooks this year.

Switching Back to FreshBooks

FreshBooks logo
Welcome back to FreshBooks

I logged back into my account at the start of this year and discovered that I can actually reactivate my account. I could even reactivate it with the extra discount they’d given me for the exchange rate issue. I was pleased with this because the deal I have is actually no longer offered, so I’m still saving on their most basic subscription plan. Thanks, FreshBooks!

It took me a few weeks to input all the backlogged data, but I did it. Considering my area’s been in lockdown for nearly 6 months now, I had plenty of free time to do it. LOL

Why I’m Enjoying FreshBooks Again

  1. Multi-currency transactions show up in a single spot. No more separate businesses based on currency.
  2. No more duplication of effort. I track all invoices and expenses in FB and that’s it. I’ve ditched the spreadsheet.
  3. Solid reporting that shows me exactly what I need to see, as I need to see it.
  4. A basic account that let’s me track invoices, expenses, sales tax collections, and that’s it. I can upgrade to a different package if I want the full accounting experience like in Wave, but I don’t need that, so I won’t.

There’s probably a few more things I’m forgetting to mention, so I may update this post later, but you get the idea.

There was more to like than dislike in FreshBooks for me right now. So I’m happy to pay the annual subscription fee, in US$, going forward.

If you’d like to get in on the action, here’s my friendly referral link: click here. You’ll get set up with a trial of FreshBooks and I’ll get a little sumthin’ sumthin’ if you sign up for a paid subscription. (Not a full affiliate commission, but a $25 gift card that I can redeem on my subscription, so I’ll take it!)