Why on earth you would want to track your hours, invoices and income in a spreadsheet? Because you know you’ve gotta use your brain in efficient ways, by recording your time working on various projects, and what invoices you’ve sent or haven’t yet sent, and who has paid their invoices and when. Having this information organized and easily accessible prevents you from being a hot mess with important money-related recordkeeping. Yes, like all those times you find yourself scrambling, anxiously pawing through piles of disorganized papers on your desk, because weren’t you just so sure that that person was supposed to have paid you by now…or did you deposit that check already? WAIT—did you forget to send the invoice? And, oh crap, was that check really nestled within a pile of sheet music the whole time?
OK, this spreadsheet can’t help you get your butt off the couch to keep your desk organized and deposit your checks efficiently. But once you have that butt in gear, it is a powerful tool in helping you keep your shit straight. To use the spreadsheet, just click below to download it to your hard drive, open with Excel or other spreadsheet software, and start entering your stuff.
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Here are some basic tips for how to use it, in handy FAQ format.
Why should I use this spreadsheet instead of real project management software?
True, there are all kinds of apps out there that do similar functions and way more. But in our experience they are often too overwhelming for the newbie freelancer/artist. If you want to pay for more robust project management software, by all means do so. For the rest of you (and we’re guessing this is most of you), this spreadsheet will be a great way to get started.
PLUS if you’re not already savvy with spreadsheets in general, it’s time for you to get on it! Using spreadsheets is essential for any self-employed person, and our Invoice/Income Tracking Spreadsheet is a great way to get your feet wet.
If I use this, does that mean I don’t need bookkeeping software?
No, you should still use bookkeeping software to track actual money received and spent. The value of this spreadsheet is that it helps you track the work you’ve done and invoices you’ve sent, which is a separate matter from the actual checks that you deposit at the bank, or money you spend on project expenses. Software like Sage Accounting or QuickBooks is what you use to track and categorize the actual money in/out.
What’s up with the information already entered?
We’ve included dummy information just to illustrate how you might use the spreadsheet. Once you’ve got a handle on it, delete the dummy text/data and enter your own information. You can tailor the spreadsheet to your needs, too. You can edit the column headers or add new columns, for example. Or just use the columns we’ve pre-built to reflect typical freelance folks like graphic designers, photographers, and musician.
Bear in mind it’s a good idea to save an unedited copy just in case you muck things up and want to start over with the clean spreadsheet.
What’s up with all the sheets?
The first sheet, called “Invoices, Income,” is where you track all the invoices you send out and the money that comes in. Sometimes someone might pay you right away without an invoice, so just enter “No invoice.” But DO track all your income. Ultimately the totals on this sheet should match what’s in your bookkeeping software.
Each sheet that follows is to track separate projects or clients. Since every freelancer’s world of projects is different, we’ve set up a few different templates to handle different scenarios:
- tracking hours spent on specific projects
- gigs, and
- lessons taught to students.
Once you become more fluent with how the formulas and functions work, feel free to create your own sheets customized for your own specific needs.
OK, so how do I use the sheets?
In a nutshell, you’ll track your income-producing projects on the appropriate sheet, then transfer any amounts actually billed to clients on the “Invoices, Income” sheet.
While most states do not charge sales tax/GRT on services, some do, so if sales tax or GRT apply to any of your services, enter the rate on that line on the “Invoices, Income” sheet. We’ve entered some as an example but our dummy data is NOT meant to reflect which services might actually be subject to sales tax/GRT, which is a whole crazy subject. See Related Resources below for links to more information.
Note that the “Invoices, Income” sheet also allows you to enter other costs like a reimbursable expense that the client will pay you back.
We like to mark unpaid invoices in red text. You can customize that however you’d like.
Here are a few helpful links for understanding the ins and outs of tracking invoices and income, and more general spreadsheet basics:
Understanding Sales Tax in Service Industries —BizFilings
How to Improve Your Financial IQ —Pyragraph
How to Use Excel in Your Art Business —We Push Buttons
10 Tips to Invoice Your Freelance Clients Professionally —Hongkiat.com
What Kind of Info Should Your Invoices Include? —SmallBizClub
Please add them in the comments. We hope you find this spreadsheet as useful as we do!
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