Looking for a better way to manage the finances of your small or home-based business? Give the free Microsoft Office Accounting Express software a try! This product is a streamlined version of the professional version, and as such, lacks some of the more sophisticated features. However, if you’re a sole proprietor with basic accounting needs, this software is sure to please.
First, you can’t beat the price. You can download the Office Accounting Express software for free and use it as often as you like for no additional charge. The catch? Microsoft advertisements within the software. If you can live with ads along the sides of the user interface, this financial accounting software is an absolute bargain. If you’d rather not view ads, then you’ll have to pony up about $200 for the Pro version of Office Accounting software or go back to using your old system.
If you’ve used an accounting program in the past such as Intuit’s QuickBooks, then Office Accounting Express will be easy to master. On the other hand, if you’re new to accounting software, there’s a bit of a learning curve. For the most part, task-based screens make it simple to determine what you want to do and how to do it, but you’ll need to familiarize yourself with some basic accounting functions such as working with journal entries and the chart of accounts.
When you first start Microsoft Office Accounting Express, a “Quick Start” screen appears listing links to the most popular tasks of this financial software program with categories dedicated to selling to customers, paying vendors, running payroll, managing finances, adding business information, and customizing the software. You can disable this Quick Start screen from appearing and access it via the menu bar if desired.
Once you’re in the actual user interface, Office Accounting Express features a left side pane listing common categories including: Customers, Vendors, Employees, Banking, Online Sales, Reports, Upgrade Today, and Resource Center. When you click a category, the primary screen fills with related tasks. For example, if you click the Customers category, common tasks are listed including: New Quote, New Invoice, New Credits and Refunds, Write Letters, New Cash Sale, and Receive Payment. Additional tasks and a search feature are listed below.
Dozens of detailed reports are available, a nice surprise for a free financial accounting application. Broad categories of reports include: Analysis Tools, Company and Financial, Employees and Payroll, Customers and Receivables, Vendors and Payables, Banking, Sales, and Cash Basis. Each category features several customizable reports with all of the accounting basics such as profit and loss reports, sales reports and aging reports covered.
Built-in integration with PayPal makes Office Accounting Express particularly useful for home based business owners who currently send invoices through PayPal. With Office Accounting Express, you can generate and e-mail your invoices from within the software and include PayPal buttons directly on the invoice. You can also import payments from PayPal, after downloading your PayPal payment history file from the PayPal Web site.
If you need to add on features as your business needs change, you can easily do so. For example, if you want to set up a merchant account and process credit card transactions from within Office Accounting Express, you can do this for an additional fee. Likewise, if you’re willing to pay additional fees, Microsoft Office Accounting Express fully integrates with eBay. Currently, you can try out the Marketplace Services for free for six months. During this time, you can manage all of your eBay transactions from within the accounting software.
The basic Microsoft Office Accounting Express is an excellent entry-level financial accounting software application that allows you to perform basic accounting functions for free. As your needs grow, you can add paid services as needed or eventually upgrade to Office Accounting Pro. In the meantime, you’ll be money ahead and your finances will be in better order.