Exclusively designed for small businesses, contractors and sole traders, Wave is a web-based integrated accounting solution that offers a range of features, including accounting, invoicing, billing, payment tracking, payroll management, finance management and receipts.

A great program for business owners who want to do their own books at a basic level, Wave looks good, is easy to navigate, and doesn’t require extensive accounting skills to manage. But, not only is Wave easy on the eye and easy to use, it also happens to be free.

While its functions may be a bit limited at times – and it may not offer its full range of features, depending on your location – it has got a lot to offer. Whether you prefer a hands-off approach to your business accounting, or you want to get a bit more involved, Wave may just be the accounting software option that works for you.

Pricing

Did we mention Wave was free? Yes, free. While some users may be sceptical about apps that claim to be ‘free’, Wave actually is. Bringing in sufficient money from its paid services – Payroll by Wave and Payments by Wave – Wave keeps its main gig free for users.

Free from obtrusive ads, Wave also keeps away from the ‘freemium’ concept that so many free apps offer. While some so-called free accounting software packages limit their usage after a certain point, Wave provides unlimited invoicing, unlimited estimates and unlimited use of its full set of features.

As long as you don’t need to use Wave’s paid services – again, this will depend on your location as to whether they are available to you – you can enjoy all that Wave has to offer, without putting your hand in your pocket to pay.

Features

In terms of the features on offer, Wave offers the following for $0 per month.

  • Unlimited invoicing
  • Unlimited estimates
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Personal accounting
  • Lending
  • Reports
  • Supports multiple businesses
  • Multiple users

However, if you decide you want further support or functionality, there are extra services available for purchase (all costs in USD).

If you require payroll software and reside in the United States or Canada, you may opt to pay $15 per month for the base version of Wave Payroll. Each employee costs an additional $4 per month, but if you have 10 or more employees, the cost drops to $2 per month per employee.

Wave also provides credit card processing as a paid service, allowing for the online payment of invoices. Offering a pay-as-you-go model, Wave charges 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction for this service.

Accounts Receivable

Providing an excellent range of invoice customisation options, Wave makes it easy to play around with invoice options until you find the one you like. Once you’ve found the invoice you want to use, you can save it as a default or template for later use.

Invoices can be sent either through Wave or by email. You may choose to include a payment link on each invoice. This can make payment easier for your client, while also saving time on data entry, as all transactions are automatically updated.

Wave also allows you to set up alerts to remind you when a client is late in paying, including one that is sent automatically to late-paying clients.

All data relating to accounts receivable is exported to the journal. While some users may find what’s on offer here more basic than what’s available on other accounting software programs, it still works well enough as long as you’re not looking for too much control.

Accounts Payable

While Wave doesn’t yet allow you to pay bills using its software, it does work well as a tool to help you track outgoing money and reconcile it with your bank account. Offering fewer customisation options than accounts receivable, Wave still lets you get the job done quickly and easily, with the option to pick the currency of your choice.

Data Entry

Another Wave feature that is exceptionally easy to use, data entry is simple, with very little input required from the user. All you need to do is enter the amount, the vendor and the way in which the entry should be classified.

You can choose from pre-set classifications, or you can create your own, which can come in handy for smaller businesses that may want to group expenses together, or create uncommon ones. One handy feature here offers a tracking function that alerts you when bills are due.

Bank Feeds

While some accounting software apps make setting up a bank feed somewhat laborious, Wave is super simple. By clicking on the ‘transactions’ tab, you will be presented a screen displaying the biggest banks in your country. You can choose to link up to your bank if it is within this list, or alternatively use the drop-down menu to select smaller banks and foreign institutions, as well as PayPal.

Payroll

If want to use Wave’s payroll feature, you’ll have to pay for it. As long as you’re located within the United States or Canada, this feature is on offer for a base fee, plus a fee per employee. While the cost may seem somewhat steep if you have a number of employees, the system itself is easy to use.

Reporting

One of the most important aspects of accounting is reporting. After inputting data in the form of invoices and bills, your accounting software should allow you to retrieve that information in a way that makes sense to you and your accountant. While some accounting software packages seem to struggle with this, Wave does it well.

Providing you with a general ledger, Wave lets you see everything you need to know at a glance, making it clear, even if you lack book-keeping skills. You can easily keep track of what’s owed to you, as well as the amounts you owe, using clear, easy-to-navigate reports. However, if you want to create more advanced reports and have more control over your accounts, you may need to look elsewhere at other accounting software options.

Pros and Cons

Time to weigh up the pros and cons of Wave? To help make your decision that little bit easier, we’ve put together a list of pros and cons, so you can decide whether Wave is the right choice for your business.

Pros

Perfect for sole traders and small businesses

With its ease of use and its price, Wave is great for sole traders and small businesses, providing the functions and features most useful to smaller businesses, with no hardcore accounting skills required.

It’s free

There’s no getting round it. You can’t get better than free.

Easy to set up

As a new user of Wave, you will benefit from an improved group of setup tools that take you through the entire setup process within minimal effort.

Easy to use

This cannot be stressed enough: Wave is incredibly easy to use, easy to navigate and totally intuitive. It offers a clean interface that is both nice to look at and completely understandable.

Good mobile app

While Wave be more usable on a desktop, its mobile app is very handy, easy-to-navigate and perfectly functional.

Cons

x   Lacks a depth of features

Some users may find Wave doesn’t offer them the features and functionality they require. Wave also lacks some of the customisability on offer from other accounting software packages.

x  Slow

Some users complain that Wave is slower than some of the paid accounting software options. Wave says this is something they are currently working on.

x   Payroll feature is expensive

If you have a number of employees, the payroll feature could get expensive. It’s also not available in all locations.

x   No tax support

Sales tax rates may be added to invoices, but the site only allows for two sales tax levels and doesn’t integrate with related third-party apps to add more (apart from PayPal, Etsy, and Shoeboxed). When scanning receipts, tax must be added manually.

x   Unsuitable for large businesses

If you are a large business, Wave will not work for you.

Decision Time

Offering a great range of features perfect for sole traders and small businesses, Wave is wonderfully easy to use, intuitive and nice to look at. While it may not offer some of the more advanced features and functionality, it has the saving grace of being free. And by that, we actually mean free, not freemium.