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3 finance apps for freelancers that hate dealing with finances

Finance apps can sound daunting when you’re trying to focus on your specialization, but every freelancer needs to have the best tools at hand in order to succeed.

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Freelancers and entrepreneurs: get your money in order

Creative freedom, the ability to work when and where you want, and the income potential, are just a few reasons why freelancing is such an awesome career field. Despite it’s awesomeness, it can be overwhelming managing everything on your own, and taking over responsibilities that an entire human resources department would usually be responsible for: especially time and finance management.

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A lot of freelancers, including myself, like to act as half super hero and say yes to every project in hopes of increasing exposure, experience and of course pay. However, at the end of the day we are just human, and have to admit that managing finance and time isn’t as easy as we’d like. But, thanks to these three finance and time management apps, being half super hero may be possible after all.

1. Payzo

Payzo, is an app that allows freelancers to accept credit card payment for all of their work. Instead of wasting time, energy and effort, on creating a website to accept payments, Payzo offers users the simplicity of their own payment gateway; no coding or developer required. Users take just minutes to sign up, upload their logo, and receive a customized link to give to clients.

When clients visit the link, they are able to send a payment along with payment description seamlessly. Payzo is fairly affordable too; offering free services for freelancers who accept less than $200 in payments a month, they charge a $9 fee for making less than $2000, and $!5 dollars for unlimited transactions.

2. Harpoon

Harpoon, is an app that helps “freelancers set and hit their financial goals.” They assist with Invoicing, revenue goals, expense tracking, scheduling, time tracking and robust analytics reporting. They realize a lot of freelancers don’t have tangible revenue goals, and solve the problem by strategizing and coming up with a customized revenue objective. To help reach each revenue goal Harpoon manages each online payment, work schedule, and revenue schedule amongst other things. They are a little more expensive than Payzo, as they offer more services, coming in at $29 month, but just in case you aren’t ready to drop that much dough, they do offer a free 14 day trial.

3.Pendium

Pendium is a time and finance tracking resource for collaborating freelancers. When a client pays a team invoice, Pendium ensures that each collaborating freelancer is paid in an even split. It also includes a time tracking feature, bill overview, and invoice creation. The site is still in construction so you and your partners aren’t able to take advantage at this point, however there is a way to sign up and be notified when they do launch.

Thanks to Payzo, Harppon and Pendium, our dreams of being half super hero, are now possible. Whether you struggle with time management like me, or have a hard time invoicing appropriately, these apps are awesome solutions to your time and finance management needs. Take a look at your own personal situation, and see which resource is the best for you.

#FreelanceFinance

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ryan Battles

    November 9, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks Lauren for the write-up! As freelancers ourselves (at Harpoon), we were frustrated with the ups and downs of freelance income… we built Harpoon to help freelancers know how they stand compared to a yearly goal, and know when a kick in the pants is needed, as well as a well-deserved break!

    I’ve been a follower of The American Genius for a while now, so I was excited to stumble across our mention here in this article! Keep up the great work.

    -Ryan Battles
    Co-founder of Harpoon

    • Lauren Flanigan

      January 15, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      Ryan,
      Thank you so much for reading!!!!! I’m sorry for such a late response, but I am grateful nonetheless. Thank you also for following American Genius. You too, keep up the great work.

  2. Irene

    November 11, 2015 at 3:17 am

    Very useful article. I am particularly interested in Payzo, but it seems the service has been discontinued. Is there another similar payment app you recommend?
    Thank you.

    • Lauren Flanigan

      January 15, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Irene, thank you so much for reading, have you double checked the link? I just clicked and it seems to be working.

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Business Finance

Small metros may have cheaper homes, but they might not have the jobs

(BUSINESS NEWS) Study by Indeed finds that small to mid-sized metros offer higher adjusted salaries, but don’t pack your bags just yet because your job may not be there

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When I told my parents how much my partner and I would be paying for rent at our new apartment, they quickly pointed out that I could purchase a home for that kind of money in my hometown.

Indeed recently published a study where they determined which cities have the highest salaries after accounting for the cost of living, an adjusted salary. Every city on the list is a small or mid-sized metro area which is why they dubbed their findings, “the small-city advantage.” No surprise to me, my hometown made the list.

My parents are right, I could literally buy a home for the amount of money I pay in rent every month to live in a large metro area. But the equation that determines where I, and many other workers should live, is more complex than salary minus housing.

Indeed’s study also shows that bigger metros have faster job growth and lower unemployment compared to these small to mid-sized metros. This is why the number one city on their list, Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, also has a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Some of the other cities on the list are Fort Smith, AR-OK, Toledo, OH, Laredo, TX, and Rockford, IL.

These areas are cheaper to live in, in part, because they may not offer the kind of job opportunities, and therefore social mobility, you see in larger metro areas. Sure, I could make my money go further in my hometown, but the chances of me finding a job in my industry there are smaller.

Your field of work does matter when considering whether or not the “small-city advantage” could work for you. If you work in tech or finance, two traditionally high-paying fields, then this advantage doesn’t apply.

“Before adjusting for living costs, typical technology salaries are 27% higher in two-million-plus metros than metros with fewer than 250,000 people. Even after adjusting for those costs, tech salaries are still 5% higher in the largest metros than in the smallest ones,” finds Indeed.

If a huge tech company offering thousands of high-paying jobs moved into a city like Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, over time it would get more expensive to live there. This is why people were freaking out so much when Amazon was trying to decide where to locate HQ2. It’s the hamster wheel that is currently driving income inequality in some of America’s largest major metro areas.

Finding the right place to call home is never going to be a single factor decision. Yes, salary is a huge factor, as is the cost of living, but there are also lifestyle factors to consider. What kind of opportunities would you have in this city? How much will it cost to move there? How will this effect the other members of your household?

It’s nice to play the ‘ditch the corporate world and buy a country house’ fantasy after a long day at work, but the reality is far more complex.

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Business Finance

Catch is a must-have finance management app for freelancers

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Catch is a new app that allows freelancers and people without benefits to determine their best options, with great automatic features.

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Working as a freelancer is something that just meshes well with my personality. I love having the ability to take on a variety of different projects and work in different facets of the communication industry.

Unfortunately, my one semester of high school economics did not fully prepare me for the financial aspect of freelancing. Figuring out what to deduct, how to do 1099 taxes, and properly save in general was something I’ve had to learn as I go.

However, as I always say, in this day and age, there is someone out there who has a solution to your problem.

Such is the case with Catch, which is a tool that is perfect for freelancers as it helps with automated tax withholding, health insurance, and the other head-scratchers in between.

After signing up, you build a plan by using custom recommendations to get the benefits that will help you the most. Catch will tell you about the coverage you need, whether you work for yourself, a boss, or multiple bosses.

All of your benefits will be put into one place and will be ready when you are. You’ll be able to see your savings grow the more you work and use Catch. As time goes on, Catch will offer suggestions to help you prepare for the future.

From there, you can set aside money automatically. After getting paid, Catch confirms your benefits plan and will automatically put money away for taxes, time off, and retirement.

All of this helps to rid yourself of freelance financial blind spots, and Catch’s official Guide allows you to see a personal screenshot of the full benefits landscape. In addition to seeing all of your coverage at a glance, you’re also able to learn what coverage you need and why, sign up for new benefits in minutes, and easily report existing benefits.

Additionally, you’re able to see a people-centric view of your plan on the platform by adding in spouses, dependents, beneficiaries, and trusted contacts. With this information in place, you’re able to choose the plan that works best for you; allowing you to edit as needed, check savings instantly, and view full paycheck and contribution history.

And as your life evolves, Catch is there to help with the transition. The platform offers recommendations for how benefits and coverage can change with things like: job relocation, getting married, starting a family, or starting a new job.

As Catch says, it’s “peace of mind at the palm of your hand.” This is definitely something for freelancers to consider as part of their financial strategy.

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Business Finance

6 questions to ask when considering a startup accelerator

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Accelerators can help change startups from unknowns to leaders in the industry, but does your startup need one and if so which one?

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When I’m advising startups, I often hear the question: “which accelerator is the best fit for me?” (Besides the obvious YC or Techstars.)

First off, I’ll ask if your company would benefit from an accelerator, or if you need to pursue something for early early stage companies before you achieve more market validation, like an incubator. (Side note: If you’re curious about incubators, here is a comparison of the two.)

If you’re new to these terms, here’s a brief recap on startup accelerators:

Startup accelerators are for companies with established co-founders and market validation – companies can be anywhere from pre-revenue/self-funded, or even have raised at least $1M.

Most programs can last anywhere from 10 weeks to 3-4 months. With many top accelerators like YC and Techstars, you’ll be expected to move to the city where it’s hosted and spend 40+ hours a week minimum in their dedicated coworking space, and several accelerators will often offer housing stipends to make the move easier. These programs typically conclude with a demo day to pitch your product to a variety of community leaders, angel, and institutional investors.

If your product has achieved market validation and is in a place where you’re ready to scale, congrats!

Before you commit to an accelerator, ask yourself and the program these six questions:

1. What kind of mentorship is available?

By and large, one of the most valuable portions of an accelerator is the networking with peers and mentors. Ask what kind of mentors are available to you as a part of a program, and ask their specific involvement and the opportunities to connect. These mentors will be crucial in guiding your company’s growth. Even if they aren’t in the same industry or have solved a similar problem that your company is trying to achieve, their advice and connections could prove to be invaluable.

2. What are the perks?

You’re giving up a lot of equity to be in a program, but it doesn’t come without its perks. Many programs offer not only a cash investment or stipend for housing or other growth costs, but programs like Techstars offer free services such as web hosting costs (an upwards of ~250k), legal and accounting services, and other credits and perks that can be worth 6-7 figures. Make sure you know what you’re getting before you say yes to a program.

3. Do I want an industry-specific or industry-agnostic program?

This one is important and is directly related to #2. If your company sells CPG products, web hosting credits may not be valuable to your business, but a CPG-specific accelerator like SKU or The Brandery with direct connections to Sephora, Target, and Whole Foods may make more sense.

4. How much equity am I willing to give up?

Try not to make this a guessing game and make as many data-driven decisions on this as you can. Create a revenue and valuation model and see how much your company would benefit from the networking, fundraising opportunities, and perks offered, and see what the ROI would potentially be.

5. What are the funding and exit numbers?

This is an objective way to view the success of an accelerator: # of funding raised and exits. Of course, younger accelerators will have smaller numbers, but it’s worth looking to see if a company has raised $ after. Seed-DB is a great resource to view these numbers for hundreds of accelerators globally.

6. What do alumni think?

All accelerators are going to tout the transformative experience that is their program, and program mentors will likely have a similar narrative.

The best resource to learn the real experience of an accelerator: ask its alumni, and they’ll give you the truth. Make sure to survey both recent and more experienced alumni, as they’ll be able to speak to both the short term and long term benefits.

Personal experience: the night before I was set to hear from an accelerator on my application status, two alumni stressed to me that the time and equity investment wasn’t worth it. I consider this providence!

Finally, two items to note:

Choosing an accelerator is all about finding the right fit between you and the organization. Sadly, not all accelerators are created equal, and try to view a potential relationship with an accelerator as an investor relationship, or better yet, dating. There’s a reason the phrase “no money is better than bad money” is prevalent in the startup community.

Make sure to do your due diligence and ask the right questions to make sure a specific program is worth the investment of time, energy, and equity.

And sometimes? That may not mean an accelerator is a right fit right now or at any point, and that’s okay.

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