GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials ($9.99 per month) started its life as a simple website (Outright) that calculated quarterly estimated taxes for small businesspeople by providing tools for tracking income and expenses. Today, its iPhone app offers more finance-related features for freelancers and independent contractors than similar bookkeeping apps that I've reviewed, but at a lower cost than many. Where most competitors tend to focus their efforts in one or two areas, GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials is capable of doing just about everything that the others do combined. GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials lacks multicurrency support, but it helps you manage simple accounting functions, income tax planning, and e-commerce integration. It's our Editors' Choice.
Most bookkeeping apps let you do some—if not all—setup on the app itself, but none are as ambitious as GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials in terms of supplying a smorgasbord of features for U.S.-based freelancers and contractors. Further, you have access to more setting and data options on the website. The two work well in tandem.
You should visit the website first, log in, and click Manage. Each of the six tabs you'll find there handle a single specific setup element. You establish online connections to bank accounts by supplying your login credentials, and to ecommerce sites like Amazon and eBay, which allows you to exchange sales data. Harvest Solo, IQBoxy, QuickBooks Self-Employed, and Xero TaxTouch lack this kind of integration. Income and Expense Categories are just that: a list of the classifications assigned by the IRS, with a few additions. You can edit or delete these (though the latter isn't recommended) and view all transactions in each category.
Clicking the Contacts tab opens your list of contacts. You can view and add them here, and edit multiple records at once. The Invoice Settings tab opens a much more complex screen of options, most of which aren't accessible in the app. Besides setting the default invoice period, you can set up your payment processor so customers can pay their bills online, as well as turn on or off numerous notification settings, such as Invoice Due and Payment Received, Invoice Viewed and Invoice Paid, and Recurring Invoice options. These are sophisticated settings that aren't always found in full-blown small business accounting applications.
Finally, your Profile Settings are all about your GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials account. There's more on the website that you can view when you're back in your office, like a very thorough dashboard. The Taxes screens are critical, too: This is where you can view your Schedule C worksheet and export it in a format that can be read by many personal tax preparation products. You'll also consult these pages when you want to check on your sales tax obligation and see how much you should pay in estimated taxes.
Again, much of this can be done on the app itself. But you may as well do as much as you can on the website to save typing time and frustration.
Setting Up Settings
If you didn't go through the setup process on the website, or when you need to add or edit existing information, you can do much of it on the app itself, of course. The GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials user experience is not as simple and sharp as you'll find in an app like Xero TaxTouch. It uses a vertical navigation toolbar that slides out from the left side of the screen instead of icons running along the bottom; this may be because of the depth of its feature set.
The first thing that you should do when you sign into the app is to click the Settings link at the bottom. You can work with several types of information here if you haven't already entered it.
The first is Categories. Since GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials is so income tax-centric, you'll need to categorize income and expenses primarily by the official IRS Schedule C classifications. Similar to rival apps, GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials lets you categorize expenses as personal. You can add and edit these, just as you can on the website, but again, it's not a good idea unless you're an accountant or tax preparer.
Click on Clients, the second entry down in Settings, and you can add or edit records for customers by just entering a contact name and email, or by expanding the record to include street address and phone numbers. This is unusual detail in this type of app. You can also set up a payment processor here. Your choices are Dwolla, PayPal, and Stripe, which is more than most apps reviewed here offer.
You use GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials' vertical toolbar to access the app's other features, which means you have to return to it every time you want to use another tool, rather than clicking an icon at the bottom of the screen, like other apps allow. To return to this toolbar, you click on the four horizontal lines in the upper-left corner of the screen.
Click Profit to see a line graph giving you a real-time accounting of your current income, expenses, and profit (quarterly, monthly, and weekly). The Income and Expense links open to lists of the downloaded (and manually-entered) transactions of each type. Clickingone opens a more detailed screen describing each transaction, which can be edited to categorize or to add a photo, for example.
The process of actually entering income and expenses is as easy here as it is on the other apps reviewed in this group. You click on the plus (+) sign on the Expense page, and you can choose between entering mileage and adding an expense. You enter the amount, payee and category (both can be selected from existing lists), and a description. Tapping the Photo box lets you add an image, by uploading an existing picture or snapping a fresh one with your phone's camera. Unlike IQBoxy Prime, GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials can't read receipts and pull data, but you at least have a visual record of the transaction.
Invoices, Items, and Time
The Invoices link takes you to a list of your open invoices. Unlike Harvest Solo, which only lets you view invoices on the app, not create them, the GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials app contains tools for building these sales forms. You can do this by clicking the plus (+) sign in the upper right corner, and selecting the correct client name. The invoice date and number should already be filled in, and you can change the payment due date if it's different from the default you established.
Like Harvest Solo, GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials lets you add items and use them in invoices. You can enter a description, rate, and quantity, and click a button to toggle between taxable and non-taxable. Once you've saved an invoice, you can edit or delete it, email it, add a payment, mark as sent, or mark as void. The app also contains forms for estimates.
GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials' time-tracking features are not as sophisticated as Harvest Solo's, but they should be sufficient to meet the needs of sole proprietors. You can select the client, description of the task and the number of hours worked, the rate, and the billable/not billable status.
The other two links on the navigation toolbar take you to screens where you can set up your payment processor and your connections to accounts at financial institutions. When you click on any of these account names, a screen opens containing its register.
A Clear Winner
There are many competing iPhone bookkeeping apps for freelancers, but GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials does more, and it does so at a subscription price that's lower than some other apps that do less. It leans on the website a little more than I like to see, and it doesn't outdo its competitors in terms of the user experience, though it's easy enough to use. Freelancers who think that they'll only ever use a subset of the app's features may want to look at a simpler solution, but considering GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials' price tag, and the fact that unused features don't get in the way, I'd recommend using it.