Wave is a free and user-friendly online accounting program. It's extremely popular, but, as you can read in our full Wave review, the Cloudwards.net team feels that its paid competitors just have that little extra bit of edge when it comes to advanced bookkeeping.
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Wave is one of the best accounting software options out there, especially for freelancers and small businesses. The biggest advantage Wave has over its competitors is that it offers basic features for free, which other platforms charge for. The only services you pay for are payroll and credit card payments.
Wave offers a lot of features and most of them are what you’d expect any accounting platform to have. Its features are enough for small businesses, but if you need something more powerful, its paid competitors QuickBooks Online or FreshBooks are still worth the price.
Wave is easy to use, even for people who are unfamiliar with accounting or bookkeeping. You can create an invoice in a few minutes, and your customers can pay you straight from their invoice because Wave has its own payment processing system. The layout is clean and easy to understand, and there is a clear flow for each of Wave’s features.
If you’re a freelancer or a business owner who only needs a simple but reliable accounting platform, we urge you to try Wave. You have nothing to lose, especially as almost all of its features are free.
- Has its own payment processing system
- Easy to use
- Clean layout
- Stores multiple businesses in one account
- Can’t create repeating bills
- Fragmented mobile applications
- Limited customization on reports
- Can’t customize invoice reminders
Wave includes the basic features that all accounting platforms should have, even though they’re not as powerful as what you can find with paid platforms. However, Wave’s features are easy to use and get the job done.
Similar to the “inventory” feature seen in other accounting software, such as Sage or Xero (read our Sage review and Xero review to learn more), Wave has a “products and services” page where you can record everything you buy or sell. That said, this feature is more like an item list, as it only keeps track of product names and prices.
Note that Wave has two different item lists, one for sales invoices and one for your bills. You have to add an item to its respective “products and services” list before you can use it in an invoice or a bill. You can find both “products and services” pages under the categories “sales” and “purchases.”
In the “products and services” page, you can add a new item or edit an existing one. To make an item available for invoices, tick the box marked “sell this.” To make it usable on bills, tick the box marked “buy this.”
You can also set up a bank feed to Wave by connecting your bank account or credit card. Wave retrieves your bank statements through your online bank account so your transactions are automatically updated.
When you reconcile an account, you can find a calculation at the top of the window to help you keep track of the differences between your Wave and bank account balances. Then, you can read through your statement, adding or confirming transactions on Wave as you go.
Unlike Xero, Wave doesn’t have a bank rule feature to automatically match your transactions. You have to do everything manually, including matching transactions for each separate account, as well as adding and deleting transactions if you put them in the wrong account.
Wave doesn’t offer a lot of integration options. The only applications Wave can integrate with are PayPal, Etsy, Shoeboxed, Zapier and Google Sheets. That said, Zapier can help you connect multiple platforms to Wave.
Wave has a robust set of simple features that are easy to use, even if you have no experience with accounting or bookkeeping. It’s designed for people who are not familiar with managing their finances, so if you’re looking for something more advanced, consider taking a look at its paid competitors.
|Payroll + Tax Service|
Wave’s price is one of its strong points. With the exception of its payroll and payment processing systems, Wave is free to use, which makes it an excellent platform for businesses that are just starting out.
Wave offers its payroll service — which includes annual tax forms and employee direct deposit — for users based in the U.S. and Canada. The price varies depending on your location. For most U.S. states and Canada, Wave charges $20 per month for its payroll service plus $4 per month for each employee or independent contractor.
If you’re located in one of the nine states where Wave’s tax service is available, you can get Wave’s combined payroll and tax service for $35 per month plus $4 per month for each employee or independent contractor.
Wave also has its own payment processing system, so your clients can pay invoices online by credit card or bank transfer. Similar to QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks (read our QuickBooks Online review and FreshBooks review to learn more), Wave will charge a fee of 2.9 percent plus 30 cents for credit card transactions and 1 percent for bank transfers.
To sign up with Wave, you need to enter your email address plus the name and category of your business. However, if you want to use Wave’s payment processing system and payroll services, there are more forms to fill out, such as your bank account details, in addition to your business and personal details.
Wave has a clean interface, and the amount of information displayed is just right, especially for people who are not familiar with accounting. You can quickly access everything from the navigation bar on the left side of your window. The one thing the navigation bar lacks is a quick-add button, which you can only find on the dashboard.
On top of the navigation bar, you’ll find a button with your company name on it, which is how you can transition to a different business account or to your personal account.
Wave also has an Android and iOS app, so you can manage your invoices and receipts on the go. Rather than offering one app for everything, like QuickBooks Online or Xero do, Wave divides it into two apps: “receipts,” to capture and upload your receipts, and “invoices,” to send and manage your invoices.
Wave is a good platform for people who are new to accounting. Its features are easy to use, and it displays everything logically. Setting everything up is simple and takes less than 15 minutes, if you have all the information you need.
There are two ways to create a new invoice. The first one is through the dashboard, by clicking on the “create new” button and then selecting “invoice.”
The second way is through the “invoices” page — which you can find by going to the “sales” category in the navigation bar — then click on the “create an invoice” button at the page’s top-right corner.
As the name indicates, the “invoices” page shows all of your invoices and their statuses. You can also filter and display your invoices by status, date, number or customers, which helps you find invoices quicker.
On the top of the “invoices” page, you can find a box that shows you an overview, including how much money is overdue or how much is due within the next 30 days.
When creating a new invoice, you can pick a client by clicking the “add a customer” button. You can add an existing client from your customers list, which you can find on the “customers” page under “sales” in the navigation bar, or add a new customer.
Clicking the “edit columns” button, located above your item description, will take you to a menu where you can decide which columns to hide and what to call each column.
Adding Invoice Items in Wave
To add an invoice item, click on the “new item” button to pick one from your “products and services” list. You can also add a new item through the “create a new item” button that will pop up when you type on the box marked “item name.” You can adjust the item quantity, price and tax amount for each item.
Click on “save and continue” to save invoices as a draft. On the next page, you can find your invoice’s status page, which is filled with its details. You can approve the draft, send the invoice and set up reminders through this page. You can also reach this page by clicking on the specific invoice on the “invoices” page.
After approving a draft, you can send an invoice to a customer by clicking on the “send invoice” button. You can customize the email, if you want to. Wave will send the email through your connected email address.
Wave Invoice Reminders
To set up a reminder, you can pick up to three options after you send an invoice: three days, seven days and 14 days after the due date. Unfortunately, these options are set by Wave and can’t be changed.
Reminders are set for each invoice and not by customer, so you have to tick them off every time you send an invoice, which can be inconvenient if you send a lot of them.
You can make a repeating invoice from either the dashboard, the “recurring invoices” page or through the status page of your invoice.
On the invoice status page, you can select the “more actions” button and then click “make recurring.” Then, Wave will take you to a recurring invoice status page, where you can set up a schedule for your repeating invoice, payment options and sending options.
You can find the status of your repeating invoice through the “recurring invoices” page under “sales.” On this page, you can view past invoices, find out which repeating invoices are active and see when the dates for upcoming and previous invoices.
Unlike Xero, which lets you customize your invoice templates freely through Excel sheets, Wave only has three invoice templates you can use. Fortunately, you can still add your logo and pick an accent color to personalize your invoice.
Creating an invoice using Wave is easy, and it has a clear flow. Wave’s “invoices” page also makes it easier to track your invoices. Your client can also pay their invoices using Wave’s credit card payment processor. Unfortunately, Wave limits the automatic reminders in both quantity and time.
Just like invoices, there are two ways to create bills in Wave. The first one is through the dashboard, by clicking the “create new” button and then selecting “bill.” The second way is through the “bills” page — which you can find in the dashboard under the category “purchases” — and then clicking the “create a new bill” button.
When you create a new bill, you can pick a vendor from your list or add a new one. Just as with invoices, you can add items from your “services and products” list or create a new item. When you’re done, click the “save” button and you’ll go back to the “bills” page. Creating bills is much simpler than creating invoices, as you don’t have to send them to your vendors.
Through the “bills” page, you can record your payments and see their payment statuses. You can also filter the bills by vendor or by date, which is helpful when you’re looking for certain bills.
Unfortunately, Wave doesn’t let you create a repeating bill, so if you have a recurring expense, you’ll have to create a new bill each time.
Another way to add an expense is through receipts. You can add a receipt through Wave’s iOS, Android or web app. You can also send your receipt to [email protected]. Wave will process the uploaded receipts to extract information. Then you can review these receipts, and the ones that are approved are kept as expenses.
Wave has only 12 report templates, including basic reports, such as cash flow, aged receivables, and profit and loss. When compared to QuickBooks Online or Xero, Wave’s report templates clearly loses in terms of number.
When you open Wave’s “reports” page from the navigation bar, you’ll find the 12 report templates divided into five sections. Each section and template has a brief explanation about what it is and what it can do for your business. This kind of formatting is very helpful for someone who is not used to accounting.
The “get the big picture” section consists of “profit and loss,” “balance sheet” and “cashflow.” You can get an overview of your business’ financial condition, as well as where your money is moving to and from, through these reports.
The “stay on top of taxes” section compiles the taxes you’ve paid on your invoices and bills. The “sales tax” report helps you assemble the taxes collected from your sales and paid on purchases. The “payroll and wage” report helps you monitor the money spent on your employees’ wages and taxes.
The “focus on customers” section contains “income by customer” and “aged receivables” reports, both of which help you track the relationship between your money and your customers. Using “income by customer,” you can see which customers are the most profitable. “Aged receivables” lets you monitor overdue invoices and unpaid invoices.
Similar to “focus on customers,” the “focus on vendors” section lets you see the relationship between your vendors and money. This section consists of “aged payables” and “purchase by vendor” reports.
The “dig deeper” section gives you the details of your transactions. The “account balances” report summarizes your transactions. The “trial balance” report gives you the overall balance of your accounts on a specific date. Lastly, the “account transactions” report is a detailed list of all your transactions and total by account.
Wave’s reporting feature is not as customizable as QuickBooks Online or Xero. The only thing you can adjust is the reporting period. There are no filters, and you can’t change the columns of your reports.
On another note, Wave’s report templates are very user-friendly. Every report template in Wave is optimized to look clean and to be easy to understand, even for people who are not used to seeing these reports.
You can access Wave’s support center from the “help” button on the bottom of your navigation bar. Click on “support” and a box will appear, letting you search for your issue in Wave’s help center.
In addition to its help center, Wave also has a community forum where you can ask questions to fellow users. Before you contact Wave’s support team, it’s a good idea to check the community for similar issues if you want to get to your solution faster.
If you can’t find a solution, you can contact Wave’s support team via email by clicking on the “email us” button at the bottom of the “help center” window. Paying users can also click on the “live chat” button on the navigation bar to get an instant answer from Wave’s support team. Note that live chat is also available for all users during their first 60 days.
Compared to its paid competitors, Wave is more user-friendly, even for people who are new to accounting. It has all of the features you need to organize your finances. The features are also easy to use, making it simpler than most other accounting platforms. Its layout is clean and easy to understand.
Its simplicity, combined with the fact that it’s free, makes Wave the perfect choice for new business owners or freelancers who don’t need the powerful features that other accounting software have, such as time tracking or inventory tracking.
However, these features might not be enough for bigger businesses that need more than a simple money manager. If you need more powerful features — such as repeating bills, time tracking or more reporting templates — it’s worth a shot to look at Wave’s paid competitors.
Overall, Wave gives you a robust set of simple tools to help you manage your finances, even if you’re not an accountant. Better yet, it’s free, so there’s no harm in trying it out.
Have you tried Wave before? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below. Thank you for reading.