Wave Review 2018
A free accounting app that lets small-business owners do what they need to do with little fuss or hassle thanks to its wonderful ease of use.
By Fergus O'Sullivan – Last Updated: 19 Jun'17
Here at Cloudwards we’re all about making people’s lives easier through cloud-based computing.
Since small businesses are people, too, we’re doing a series on browser-based accounting apps that will allow you all the benefits of being able to work from anywhere yet still have all the power traditional accounting programs offer. If you’re still starting your research our overview article will certainly help: best accounting software.
Today, we’re talking about Wave.
alternatives to Wave Accounting:
This Canadian company is looking to make your accounting mobile: with probably the best app compared to other developers, Wave lets you work from anywhere with ease and without hassle. On top of that it’s also free, a rarity in cloud-accounting land.
As with any other accounting software, Wave has some strengths and weaknesses that we’ll cover in this 2018 review. Hopefully, it’ll make your decision easier.
- All basic functions are free (except payroll & credit card payments)
- Very user-friendly thanks to its great interface
- Reports are thorough & easily understood
- More advanced functions are missing
- Time sheets are also missing
- Payroll is a bit on the expensive side
At first I was a bit worried about the whole “free” thing, after all most free services end up selling your data on the open market. In the case of your financial data that would of course be a disaster. It seems, however, that Wave makes enough from its paid payroll service as well as transaction costs from payment links to justify their other services costing nothing.
There are also some very unobtrusive ads in the form of promotions. Wave makes money of connecting its users to these ads and taking a little of the top for themselves.
- Includes all basic features;
Unless you sign up for these, you’ll pretty much be left alone, so the bombardment you have with some free services is lacking. The upshot is that if you don’t need payroll and don’t need to accept credit cards, you’re looking at a free accounting program. Pretty great.
The only question that remains is if it’s any good: let’s have a look and decide.
It’s good. In fact, I would recommend it to any freelancer or small-business owner who wants to knock out his end of the finances quickly and easily while leaving the heavy lifting to their accountant.
Let’s break down all the functions and see how they stand up.
If you’re into customizing your invoices, you’ll love Wave. There’s more options than you can shake a stick at, from the font, to the color of the border, to where you’d like the logo to go. I’m pretty boring when it comes to stuff like that and even I played around with it, there are just so many options to choose from.
Wave: The Way You Want It
Customization goes further than just appearance, too: you can, for example, change how many columns appear on the invoice and what each represents. You can do this to a certain extent with most invoicing programs, but there’s usually one thing you can’t change in each one. Wave lets users play around with all of them.
So no redundant fields on invoices for Wave users: great if you offer only simple services without any details.
Once you have it the way you like it you can save it as a default or a template for later use. Then all you need to do is either create a new contact or select an existing one, fill in what they’re being billed for and how much and the job is done. You can choose the currency as well as pick from several default terms as well as create your own.
The invoice can be sent either through Wave or via email. A payment link can be attached to an invoice through Wave, making payment very easy indeed for your client and saving you a major headache when it comes to data entry as all transactions are automatically updated.
The rates are fairly standard for the industry, so there’s no worry there.
You can set up alerts for when a client is late in paying, including one that will let the client without you interfering, making the invoicing process a fairly hands-off affair. Actual collections you’ll most likely still need to do yourself, but that’s the downside of having your own business.
All A/R data is exported to the journal, which is a bit more rudimentary than some programs and offers less freedom than other features. It should do well enough for Wave’s intended audience, but users who are looking for a lot of control and details may not like using something quite this basic.
There’s a lot less customization when entering bills, but then again, why would you want to dwell on the money flowing out of your pocket? As with revenue, Wave gets the job done with more options than its competitors but still with enough simplicity that a novice can understand what’s going on.
There’s no way at this moment to pay bills through Wave, so it’s mostly a tool to help you track outgoing money and reconcile it with your bank account. You can pick which currency it’s to be paid in, though, which is a nice touch in this day and age and a feature strangely lacking with some other cloud accounting providers.
Wave Goodbye to Data Entry
Data entry is simple: all you need to do is enter the amount, the vendor and how you’d like to classify it. There are several pre-set items (travel expenses, insurance, etc.) but the program does give you the option to create your own, ideal for small businesses that want to lump things together or who have uncommon expenses.
There is a tracking function that will alert you when you’re close to being late on a bill, so you won’t be late on account of forgetting anymore. All in all, Wave’s A/P gets the job done efficiently and easily with very little input from its user.
Setting up a bank feed is a joy with Wave: all you need to do is click on the “transactions” tab and you’ll be presented with a screen displaying the biggest banks in your country, as well as PayPal.
If your bank isn’t there, or you have an account with a foreign bank as well, no worries. Below the big boys there’s a drop-down menu where you can enter more uncommon institutions. A quick check shows that Wave has the option to link up with all kinds of places from all over the world, so you should be set.
It does need to be pointed out, though, that because of all these options it’s impossible to review each one. If you bank with a small institution you may want to make sure that the feed works as advertised before you commit to Wave, or any other accounting app for that matter.
The only thing about Wave that costs money, payroll is $4 per employee for the first ten employees, then $2 for each one after that, on top of a base fee of $10. This cost is a bit steep when compared to what most payrolling companies charge but setting it up is pretty easy.
Wave boasts that you can run payroll from anywhere, but I would check how taxes work where you are: one of the great benefits of using a payrolling company is that they take care of that. If using Wave means you need to do that yourself, you may want to think twice.
Once you’ve set up your feeds and have a bit of a routine going with invoices and bills you’ll need to be able to retrieve this information in a way that makes sense to you as well as your accountant. A tall order for some programs, but not Wave.
First of, you get a lovely general ledger that will give you everything you need to know at a glance without needing hard-core bookkeeping skills. Keeping tabs on debtors is easy as well as is checking what you owe to people. The reports are laid out clearly and there is a distinct lack of jargon, making this tab easy to navigate.
The weakness is the lack of more advanced reports, so do-it-yourself in-depth accounting is out. This shouldn’t be a problem for your tax professional as he can produce the numbers he needs elsewhere, but if you’re looking for maximum control Wave may not be the program for you.
Signing up for Wave is easy: like most accounting apps you’re taken through a few steps where you enter some personal information and you’re done. The whole process is maybe two or three minutes and is accompanied by little animations of sail boats going over the, you guessed it, waves. It’s a cute little touch.
Once on the dashboard, you’ll see a very nice, well-laid-out menu that should offer no problem to navigate. Most features are optional, so if you like a big selection of graphs you can add as many as you like and remove them if you’re not into wavy lines.
The navigation bar on the left side deserves some special mention as it enables you to flit from menu to menu without any hassle or submenus. Though Wave is less versatile than some alternative accounting apps this focus on simplicity is a great recommendation for people who want to do their books with minimal fuss.
Each menu is laid out clearly and concisely so you can find what you need without having to look under each proverbial stone. Users that are accustomed to more professional programs might bemoan the lack of in-depth features, but if you don’t belong to that group Wave definitely bears looking in to.
Wave — Annoyance Averted
The ads that form one of Wave’s main revenue streams are as unobtrusive as advertised: the occasional reminder that they’re available does pop up, but is clicked away with little trouble. Considering it’s free I was worried I’d be bombarded with reminders, ads and so forth, but you barely notice them.
Last but not least is Wave’s app, which is pretty great. Most of Wave’s competitors want their users to be able to work anywhere, yet have an app that is somewhat lacking, necessitating the use of your tablet or phone’s browser, instead.
The Wave app does a great job though, especially if you’re after a quick overview or some easy data entry. If you’re on the road a lot, Wave may be the app for you as you will be able to do a fair bit of your bookkeeping while seated on a train or even stuck in traffic.
Wave is a good program for people that want to do their own books at a basic level and, in some cases, a little over it, as well. It’s easy to navigate, has a great layout and no real learning curve to speak of. Its functions are a bit limited at times but work well, offering enough to run most businesses from your browser.
Wave is a great online accounting solution for freelancers and small businesses. It suits both those that prefer a hands-off approach as well as those that take an avid interest in their financial affairs. It allows reasonably detailed tracking and give you the tools to make sure you’ll stay on top of your coffers.