Review #1: Outright.com

Outright is a simple, straightforward, and free accounting package geared towards Schedule C filers. Outright will keep a cash basis profit and loss and also help you generate what i would call a ‘preliminary’ Schedule C to aid you (or your accountant) in filing your taxes.

Goal: Focus on maintaining cash basis income and expense records with minimal accounting experience to provide accurate records for tax estimation and preparation.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Simple interface (easy for non-accountants to operate)
  • PayPal auto-import
  • Auto-import major bank accounts
  • Automatic Integration with Freshbooks, Shoeboxed, Xpenser, Ebay
  • 1099 Service (may become more valuable with new 1099 regulations)
  • Categories pre-set to match Schedule C – prepares preliminary Schedule C for you
  • Easy to share with your book-keeper or accountant

Cons:

  • May mislead you that your Sch C is correct – you can still mess up this system in several ways: Capital Expenses, Depreciation, Amortization, etc. – fixed asset expenditures cannot be input in a way that does not show up as an expense, draws don’t have an equity account to put them to, etc.
  • Rather limited report options (no smmarized Profit/Loss – separate income and expense reports – only summarized P/L is the preliminary Schedule C)
  • Limited manual import options – must import income and expenses separately according to a preset form (does not take the standard manual imports that most banks offer)
  • The cash basis, without consideration for accounts receivable or accounts payable, may mislead you about your actual financial position in any given period

Summary

Outright is definitely a step up from using and Excel spreadsheet to track your income and expenses (and leaps and bounds above using green ledger books). The simplicity of the system may make it preferable to Quickbooks for many Schedule C filers as you don’t have to sift through a lot of the clutter to get to the information that you actually need.

If Outright is capable of providing you all of the information that you want and need, I would consider the lack of advanced features to be a plus as there are less ways to make a mess of the books that will take additional time and effort to clean up at the end of the year.

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Comments

  1. Shane,

    I just tried Outright as well after reading your review. It’s easy to use. I like the way that it tracks auto mileage and automatically records the expense based on the standard mileage rate. Thanks for the helpful review.

  2. Dustin –

    I know we’ve discussed the lack of bank reconciliation bringing you back to a full QB recommendation for even the smallest of clients. Is an outside bank reconciliation so cumbersome that it is worse than dealing with QB version management, getting your adjustments properly on the client copy, having a ton of gopher holes in a bloated program, lack of integration with any other program (unless the other program bends to the will of QB for compatibility) – especially any online program, no automatic transaction importing, and no access from any other computer than the one your company file is stored on?

    These are just a few of the issues I will run into with QB users in any given tax season – and having an integrated bank reconciliation is no guarantee that the client will use it and use it properly.

    I don’t think QB should be out in the cold, but I think it should be reserved for clients who need the horsepower, not the clients who would be better served by a tool that is little more complex than a check register.

  3. If you use FreshBooks for invoicing, it provides some A/R functionality. The programs work quite well together.

  4. Thanks for the review Shane.

  5. I looked at Outright.com myself yesterday. Great review! I think the glaring weakness of this app is not being able to track your cash balance. Cash is king for small business. It’s nice to know whether you are making a profit. It is critical to know whether you have enough money in the bank to pay that bill today. I’d like to see them add a check register for that reason. As a CPA, I like that the software allows for pretty simple Import from csv file. I also like that I can tag multiple transactions to edit or delete.

  6. Shane, thanks much for the review and the constructive feedback. Would love to chat more about the capital expenditures vs Secton 179 limits for the smallest of businesses. We’ve been trying to keep things super simple and this was one of the choices we made. Any interest in doing a Q&A type post with us on our community, talking about when people should depreciate assets versus just write them off?

    Also, Bill, we’re definitely working on adding account balances, so stay tuned for that.

    Very much appreciate all the feedback – we’re cranking on making these kinds of improvements. Cheers!

  7. This is an intriguing topic. I’m always looking for valuable resources to share with clients and the accounting community, and your piece is certainly worth sharing!

  8. Great review, Shane! Re/ the “bank rec” and cash balance issue, to me it really comes down to the size and complexity for the client. Our customers, the solopreneurs, freelancers, etc. seem to best served by NOT spending time reconciling a bank account. They get the best information about cash balances and transactions that affect the cash account by using on-line banking. Simply accessing their account via a secure Internet connection, allows them to see a current cash balance and scan for any transactions that seem unusual.

    Its tough to justify the time spent feeding the QBooks monster for these folks. Keep the review coming!

  9. @Scott – The bank reconciliation really ends up being more for the accountant than the client to be comfortable that the books are “complete” with regards to the transactions that have cleared the bank. We’re going to try to reconcile it anyway if it’s our client and could uncover a mess if the client has not been diligent with transaction entry.

  10. @scott I’m with Shane. I’m going to insist on doing a bank rec before I file anyone’s taxes. The other things I’ll do after QB import are depreciation on assets & interest on loans, if needed.

    I understand that you don’t want to confuse the sole proprietors with extra features they won’t use, but a bank rec capability might be a nice paid addition for the professionals that work with them – just sayin’ 😉

  11. @mariette I totally get the CPA’s need to do a bank rec to sign off on taxes. I think between a client’s on-line banking transactions and the Accountant’s Export from our system you should have 95% of what you need (excepting depr., interest, etc).

    Feeling bad that I’ve highjacked this post intended to be a discussion on Outright!