Well, yes and no.
It’s a well known fact that cloud based applications are becoming the norm in the software industry, and the accounting software department is no different. QuickBooks recently moved from a one-time downloaded product that came in a package to a monthly subscription with QuickBooks Online. But this comes with perks and drawbacks.
The perks of the cloud are understood by anyone who uses cloud-based software: improved security, more frequent updates and the ability to use the software from any location with internet.
However, the drawbacks are pretty evident as well, such as the cost of a monthly subscription compared to the cost of a one-time download. When you consider decades of use, the numbers can be crippling. If you choose the QuickBooks Essentials package (the most comparable to the boxed version and the most popular), you’ll pay $360 in just a year, and have paid $3,600 over 10 years for a product that costs just $300 in its original boxed version.
Worse yet, we should all ask, “Will QuickBooks raise their price? If so, what will I do?” The truth is, QuickBooks users will probably do what most people do who don’t want to change their software: bite the larger bullet each month.
Add that financial burden to the fact that Intuit keeps restricting QuickBooks features so they can offer a more expensive package, and these changes start to make QuickBooks an out-of-the question option for many users.
So what is the solution? Is there any such thing as free QuickBooks? No, but depending on your business, you might not need it anyways.
QuickBooks isn’t the only company evolving, and other companies are taking on cloud software in remarkable ways. On the note of accounting software, let’s look at ZipBooks for an example.
ZipBooks offers anything that a small business with cash in/cash out functions, and it’s absolutely free. While we might worry about this supposedly free QuickBooks alternative, there aren’t any gimmicks. And among other things, with ZipBooks you can send and track invoices, as well as track time, expenses and inventory.
The only reason they get away with free software is because they offer premium paid features—like online bookkeeping—to businesses that a full service experience. Want ZipBooks for free? Use the software. Do mind paying for someone else to keep the books? Hire their bookkeeping experts to balance the books for you.
ZipBooks even lets you process credit card transactions using Stripe, which means less time between the time when you send an invoice and the payment hits your bank account. ZipBooks even allows users to set up recurring profiles to automatically bill customers, a feature not included in the least expensive QuickBooks Online option that costs $15/month.
Finally, unlike QuickBooks Online, any of your employees can access it for free. Even the Plus version of QuickBooks Online, for which a subscription is $40/month, doesn’t give access to more than 5 people.
That being said, for large businesses, QuickBooks Online may still be a draw because you don’t think a newcomer could handle transactions beyond cash, but they’d be wrong because ZipBooks recently released added features that let them track assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. They’ll even generate the balance sheet for you!
For innovative companies willing to take the plunge into the brave world of flexible pricing models, the potential solution to the burning question, “Is there a free QuickBooks?” may have been found. QuickBooks may continue to raise their prices and get the most out of their customers by doing so, but thankfully, QuickBooks isn’t an unavoidable reality of doing business with new entrants like ZipBooks. It’s definitely worth checking out.