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For many small businesses, bookkeeping is a necessary evil: keeping track of invoices and expenses are just something you have to do in order to run a successful company.
Paying high prices for a bookkeeping tool, like one of the many web-based options, just feels like adding insult to injury. Not only do you have to invest time in the process of running all those numbers, but you also have to pay someone for the tools to manage your work.
Nutcache offers an entirely free accounting web app. While it can’t eliminate the need to invest some time into keeping your accounts up to date, Nutcache has eliminated the cost. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to get set up with Nutcache and use it to track your business expenses and invoices.
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To complete the tutorial you will need the following assets:
1. Set Up Your Preferred Payment Method
Whether you’re sending out invoices or tracking expenses, the whole point of being in business is to get paid for the work you do. To make that process easier, you’ll want to set out how you expect to get paid. In Nutcache, it’s particularly important to set up your payment options before sending out your invoices so that your payment options can be integrated into the view that your clients will see.
To set up your payment options, choose the Company tab on the dashboard. Then click the Accept credit cards option from the drop down menu.
Nutcache will then take you to the payment gateways configuration menu.
Depending on your preferences for payment, you’ll be able to integrate your Nutcache account with:
You’ll need different credentials to set up each payment option, ranging from just the email address associated with your PayPal account to your API Login ID, Transaction Key, and an optional MD5 Hash for Authorize.Net.
Enter your payment credentials and save them. It is worth noting that while Nutcache doesn’t charge you a fee to use Authorize.Net or 2CheckOut, there is a 25 cent (USD) transaction fee associated with each PayPal payment.
Switch your payment gateway from Test to Live by clicking the button at the top of the section for that payment option. The Activated checkbox should automatically become checked.
Once your preferred payment method is set up, clients will be able to immediately pay your invoices through those payment options as soon as they receive them.
2. Create a New Invoice
For many businesses, invoices drive everything: you can’t tell what money you have going in without an invoice, and if you don’t have any money, expenses and other details matter less.
Creating a new invoice in Nutcache starts with choosing the Sales tab on the dashboard and then selecting Invoices from the drop down menu.
You’ll be taken to a page that lists your existing invoices and invites you to click a green button to create a new invoice. Once you click the button, you’ll have a fairly standard invoice form to complete: you’ll be able to select a customer, add services and products, set due dates, and add other important details.
Unless you’re purely working with internal customers (better known as your own company), you’ll need to set up each customer to whom you’re sending an invoice. You can do so from a new invoice by choosing the drop down menu in the Name field and selecting New Client. You’ll be presented with a form.
Only three fields are specifically required: the name of the customer and the email address by which to contact that customer, along with the status of the customer (which is already set to Active in a new form).
From there, you can add:
- additional contact information, including a postal address and phone numbers
- tax options
- a preferred language
- a legal notice
Assuming that you offer the same services or products on a regular basis, it makes sense to set up Nutcache so that you don’t have to enter the particulars of your product every time you issue a new invoice.
For both products and services, the process is essentially the same: as you’re completing a new invoice you’ll see blue buttons for adding a service or a product. Click the appropriate button and you’ll have the option of filling out a line on your invoice. In the first field of that line, you’ll also have the option of a drop down menu that includes a link titled Add new...
Clicking that link will pop up a short form for either a new product or service: each option has roughly the same fields, allowing you to set prices and taxes, along with establishing a product or service code and listing a description.
You have the option to change the status of your new offering, since it is automatically set to Active. You can also note whether you intend to sell or purchase the product or service you’re setting up; it looks like Nutcache may have set up the system to do double-duty for both invoices and expenses, which may prove particularly useful if you routinely need to assign specific expenses to customers’ invoices.
3. Track Your Expenses
Nutcache has made the process of tracking expenses similar to that of creating new invoices, making the workflow smooth.
To add new expenses, you need to choose the Expenses tab on the dashboard, followed by clicking Expenses on the drop down menu. You can add a new expense to your records by clicking the green button that appears. Unlike with a new invoice, you won’t be taken into an entirely new screen. Instead, the form for recording a new expense will just pop up on your existing page.
The basics of entering a new expense are not complicated: Nutcache requires that you add an expense number and a supplier to each expense, along with a subtotal. From there, you have some options, like setting dates and adding taxes.
You have the option of assigning an expense to a project and marking that it’s billable, streamlining the process for passing an expense along to a client. You will need to set up projects, through Nutcache’s time-tracking tools, in order to make full use of this feature. You can also pay the expense in the same screen and assign the payment to a particular method. Nutcache will also track partial payments for you.
At this point, Nutcache doesn’t have an import tool that will speed up the process of adding expenses to your business’ account. In order to get your books up to date, you may need to set aside some time to go through your accounts and record information correctly. You’ll also need to set aside time to keep your books up to date.
It’s definitely worth going through your books on a regular basis, so the added time isn’t necessarily a problem. You’ll need to go through your old receipts and other data before tax time anyhow.
4. Running Your Reports
Nutcache offers a variety of reports that can help you keep your business on track, provided you spend the time to look them over. Depending on what information you’re recording in Nutcache, you can run reports based on the following:
- time tracking
Navigating your options for reports requires choosing the Reports tab from the dashboard and then selecting a report category from the drop down menu. Just where a particular report may be isn’t entirely intuitive, given that invoices are listed under sales, and a few of the other options are more opaque, but you’ll find a variety of different report options.
Set aside time to go through all of your different report options at least once, to make sure that you’re seeing the data that can best direct your business decisions. In particular, options like the Revenue By Service and Revenue By Product reports (both found under the Analysis menu) can help you decide what services and products are earning your business the most money. In turn, that information is crucial for helping you decide where to spend your marketing money.
Going through your reporting options may also help you decide whether to record more information in Nutcache. In addition to tracking invoices and expenses, Nutcache provides tools for time tracking and for recording information about your clients, vendors and other contacts. You can store a wealth of information inside the site.
One note on doing so, however: Nutcache’s export function is limited to what data can be added to a report. Notes, for instance, aren’t currently exportable. There are also limitations on importing information from outside of Nutcache on an automatic basis, unlike some tools that can access bank and credit accounts on your behalf.
What Makes Nutcache Different?
Nutcache only offers free accounts. They feature a promise to users that: "Nutcache is free and will always be." That's a bold promise. Nutcache imposes no limit on the number of features available to its users or to the number of transactions you can make with it. Nutcache does have plans to use advertising and other partnerships to cover the costs of offering this services for free. It will be interesting to see this web app evolve.
In addition to expense tracking, invoices, online payments, and reporting features, Nutcache also has: time management, multiple users, and multilingual features as well.
Nutcache currently offers this web-based app in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian and Japanese. They plan to continue expanding their language support further.
Nutcache’s support is a little limited for a small business that may need quick, hands-on help: the site currently offers a support forum as its main option for getting help with problems. The slower support is balanced, at least in part, by a clear way to suggest new features to the Nutcache team.
For a freelancer or a small business, Nutcache makes sense as a practical web app. It allows you to focus on getting your work done, rather than getting weighed down by too many complicated features. It’s hard to beat free as a price for this useful tool.