Wave Accounting – Bookkeeping for the Rest of Us

Accountancy is a very respectable profession. There’s millions of the guys, all diligently working away like beaver to ensure every penny is accounted for. They keep business moving day-to-day, advise the board of directors and help us with our taxes. We love you guys. So all accountants, you can look away now.

Here’s the problem with accountants: They bore me. Imagine being visited by your child-self and having to explain why you spend all day staring at spreadsheets and not fighting fires, flying jet fighters, arresting bad guys, breaking world records or anything remotely cool. They also charge a killing.

Luckily for small and medium sized businesses, software has taken a large proportion of work from accountants and bookmakers. We still need them to have a look over accounts from time to time, but these days, the process can be largely automated. Wave Accounting is one such application that helps users keep track of their business transactions. But does it match up to what we should expect of accounting software? Better yet, can it help you get by without relying on your accountant so much?

So What is Wave?

In a nutshell; Wave Accounting is a free web application that records transactions, creates invoices, and displays your current financial position. But there’s a lot more to it than that, which really impressed me.

Right off the bat, the fact that my wallet wasn’t going to be attacked was a big plus. Having tried several other ‘premium’ accounting apps and software, and being underwhelmed, I’m skeptical about paying just to keep track of paying for other things.

Wave Accounting make their money, from what I can tell, via affiliate links on the ‘Business Savings’ page. This is an unobtrusive page featuring various business services such as hosting, design, marketing, consultants and data back-up. If you never clicked on it you’d never know it was even there, a plus in my books as I hate having random ads and offers thrown at me when I’m trying to get some work done at 3 AM.

Using Wave

The Wave dashboard is divided into two parts if you set it up initially as a sole trader. The most fully featured part is the one dedicated to your business. The other is ‘Personal’, which I was quite happy to discover when I logged in for the first time because, as a freelancer, my business finances are closely linked to my personal ones.

Wave Imports Your Transactions

Wave Imports Your Transactions

Wave’s most prominent feature is auto-syncing with your business bank account and credit cards. This worried me a little as I instantly assumed I was in for plenty of glitches and bugs. Pleasantly surprised sums up my reaction. Once you set up everything with your online banking, Wave syncs regularly even when you’re not online. The result of this is a list of newly imported transactions waiting for you each time you log in. All you have to do is drag each one into a category in either ‘Personal’ or your business accounts. This significantly reduces the amount of manual input you have to do.

Making the switch between accounting software can be nightmare, so the Wave team is working on features to make that a little easier. Accounts can be imported from FreshBooks into Wave right now, and they say Google Docs support is on the way for bills and invoices.

Creating and sending invoices is easy

Creating and sending invoices is easy

Income and expenses are the two fundamental parts of a business’s finance, and Wave really streamlines the whole affair of managing them. They are almost entirely taken care of thanks to the auto-sync feature. If a few slip by, or a cash transaction takes place, entering them manually is easy.

Simply create a new customer or supplier, create a new product or service, and enter in a few specifics such as date and invoice number. One small feature that I found helpful was that under the field for invoice number, it displays the number of the last invoice so you can keep track easily. Also, if it’s an invoice you’re creating, you can have Wave send the customer a PDF copy instantly.

A sample invoice created using Wave

A sample invoice created using Wave

You can customize your invoices, too, by adding a company logo and changing the formatting. The end result is quite professional. That said, I think the invoice customization tool could have been a little more extensive by allowing you to thoroughly design and lay everything out as opposed to the minor alterations it currently allows.

The currency options in Wave really impressed me. Many of us earn in US dollars; it’s the dominant currency on the Internet regardless of where the customer and service provider are. I live in Ireland and have Dutch clients, but despite both of us being Eurozone countries, for some reason the unquestioned currency of payment is the dollar. I need to do my accounts in Euro and invoice in USD; for each invoice and bill you can select any world currency and Wave will record it in that currency and simultaneously convert it using current exchange rates into your home currency for your accounts.

Visual representations of your business are available on the dashboard; bar charts, pie charts and such. Cash flow is also taken into account on the dashboard by displaying what money owed to you and by you to others, as well as invoices and bills which are overdue.

Financial snapshot on the Wave dashboard

Financial snapshot on the Wave dashboard

The reports section automatically generates several different types of accounts for your business such as balance sheets, income statements, ledgers, customer reports and many more.


Wave accounting is one of the best accounting web apps I’ve used so far. A while back I reviewed CronSync which is similar yet more complex. It’s also set up in a way which is better for project management where there’ll be multiple users entering into the accounts. Wave Accounting is very simple yet powerful and takes much of the sting out of accounting. If you run a personal or small enterprise then I recommend you try Wave Accounting. After all, it’s free so what have you got to loose?


A web application which allows individuals and small business to keep their accounts online. It automatically syncs with your bank and credit cards to keep everything up to date and creates invoices for clients.