My wife commented yesterday that it has been a long time since she heard me complaining about my timekeeping and accounting software. It’s true. I hadn’t realized how much less frustration I have since I ditched Time Matters and Billing Matters Plus for good. Instead, I am using a combination of spreadsheets and simple but powerful accounting software.

As a timekeeper, TM/BM+ was full of features. So full, unfortunately, that it was difficult to learn and time-consuming to use. The timekeeping was fairly straightforward, but the accounting backoffice left even my accountant shaking his head in confusion.

My current system has three parts. First, I have a time and expense spreadsheet. This is what I keep open on my desktop every day, filling in the blanks as I work. It is quick, lightweight, and simple. Each file also has a more complex spreadsheet with time, expenses, and a funds register. At the end of each month, I sort my log by file number, then date, and simply copy and paste the billing records into the appropriate file’s spreadsheet. All in all, this takes only a few clicks per file at the end of the month. I keep the funds register updated as I go, but those usually are not too active in my files.

Finally, I use GnuCash for my accounting. GnuCash is a double-entry accounting program. Unlike Billing Matters Plus, it lets the user decide how the transactions will look. I was always frustrated with not being able to see the full transactions in BM+ unless I ran a GL or GJ report. I don’t like software that doesn’t trust me.

GnuCash also lets you track customers and issue invoices. Since I work on contingency or flat fee, I don’t really need to use that feature.

So that is what I have been using for timekeeping and accounting lately, and it has worked smoothly and kept me happy for at least six months. In the end, I found that the simplest option worked best for me. I also want to be able to see how it all works, and my spreadsheets and accounting software let me do that.