Cheap (or free) accounting software?

A friend of mine has a side business that is essentially a stall at a local flea market. She’s tried keeping records in Excel but isn’t the most computer-centric person on the planet. She’s asked me if I know of any software she could use to do simple business accounting, things like “this is how much I paid for an item, this is how much I sold it for, this is the difference” where it’s all setup and ready to go so she just plugs in numbers. The ability to export said numbers to a personal income tax program would be a huge plus.

I looked at Quickbooks with her, but even the lowest and cheapest online version was still like $15 a month. She’s interested more in something she can buy once for $50 and use forever. Can anyone recommend something along those lines?

I downloaded GnuCash some time ago as a free replacement for Quicken and it’s a very good free replacement. It does have small business features to it, however, it has a pretty steep learning curve due to its complexity, and I think the initial setup may be more involved than you’re looking for.

Still, you can’t beat the price tag, so it might be worth checking out. If it’s something that you can get set up for her and then just teach her how to keep it up to date, it might fit the bill.

I have recently been trying Bookkeeper 2012 by Avanquest. It is does not have a lot of bells and whistles but it does the trick for a couple of (very) small businesses that I manage.

Best thing about it is the price - $39.95 for digital download.

Perhaps it might fit the bill for your friend…

Spend an hour making an excel spreadsheet for her with macro buttons and all the required fields, and charge her 10 bucks for it. Hell if you send me a list of requirements I’ll do it on the weekend for ten bucks.

EDIT: But if you want something legitimate and not made by a shady student from the internet, you can probably find older versions of quickbooks on ebay or something that don’t need a subscription to use. No idea on compatibility with tax forms though.

Quickbooks is seriously bloated for what you describe. It’s difficult to wrap your head around sometimes, especially if you don’t know a lot about accounting. I suggest finding something else or using a better Excel sheet.

Thanks guys. I’ll look into GnuCash and Bookkeeper 2012. I’ll probably end up creating an Excel spreadsheet when it’s all said and done. She’s a friend at work, so at the very least I can sit here and tinker with an Excel Spreadsheet, look like I’m working, and get paid for it. =)


So Quicken is dead. Has been for quite some time. Intuit snips off random parts of the carcass every few years, wheels out the result and pronounces it stronger than ever, but the thing is clearly rotten and not to be invited into the house. Someone has stitched its spleen to one of its armpits, ffs.

It appears that the popular alternatives are ad-driven and/or web-based, both of which are deal-breakers for me.

Does anyone have strong opinions about GnuCash that they’re willing to share?

I’ve been using AceMoney lite for years. It’s easy to use much like Money or Quicken. It imports all common formats I’ve used in the past. It’s free and no adds.

Wave Accounting is a free online option if you have connectivity. For a fee you can add on credit card processing.