What Features Does Wave Offer & How Can They Benefit Your Business?
Wave is one of the most popular free accounting software apps out there. But if you go with this free software, are you getting sub-par features?
Believe it or not, Wave doesn’t skimp on the features despite the free price tag. Wave offers an impressive feature set, especially for a free accounting program, with thoughtful automations to save your business time. With Wave, you’ll find strong invoicing, traditional bookkeeping features, expense tracking, and even tax support — and many of these features can stand their ground even when compared to paid accounting programs.
Learn exactly which features Wave offers, how they can benefit your business, and how they stack up against other accounting software in this detailed features breakdown.
Table of Contents
The 10 Wave Features Small Businesses Needs To Know About
Here are the top 10 most notable Wave features that small businesses can use to help manage their finances and day-to-day operations.
1) Wave Finance Dashboard
Wave has recently added a new dashboard feature where you can view all of your finances in one place. The Wave dashboard gives you a quick look at the most important financial information for your business.
In the dashboard, you’ll find graphs for overdue invoices and bills, cash flow, bank accounts and credit cards, profit and loss, accounts payable, net income, and a breakdown of expenses so you can see exactly where your money is going.
From the dashboard, you’ll find quick shortcuts to important bookkeeping tasks like uploading a bank statement and view reports.
2) Wave Accounting
For a free software program, Wave doesn’t skimp on the accounting features. You’ll find all of the features you need to perform your small business’s bookkeeping, including:
- A customizable chart of accounts
- Bank reconciliation
- Journal entries
- A profit & loss report
- A balance sheet
- A cash flow report
Wave offers both accrual and cash-basis accounting. Unlike QuickBooks Online, users don’t select if their company runs on cash-basis or accrual accounting. However, you can toggle reports to be run as either cash-basis or accrual depending on your business’s structure and needs.
3) Wave Invoicing
Wave is known for its easy-to-use, free invoicing.
Whether you are a freelancer, a contractor, a side hustler, or a small business owner, odds are you need to send invoices to clients and customers. Wave is ideal for creating custom invoices. There are three different invoice templates to choose from that you can customize with your company’s colors and logo.
Wave also offers unlimited invoices and a large number of time-saving invoice automations including:
- Recurring invoices
- Invoice scheduling
- Automatic time zone calculations for invoice scheduling
- Automatic invoice reminders for late-paying customers
- Invoice status tracking
- Estimate to invoice conversion
Another highlight is an invoice dashboard where you can view overdue invoices, outstanding invoices, the average number of days it takes your invoice to get paid, and your next payout. You can also create estimates in Wave that can be automatically converted to invoices when approved.
When you send an invoice, customers and clients get their own unique client portal where they can pay their invoices directly online.
The only downside about Wave’s invoicing is that you have to add sales tax on each item, and you can’t add discounts (you have to calculate them manually using a new item line).
Here’s an example of what Wave’s estimates and invoices can look like:
4) Wave Expense Tracking
Wave helps small business owners track their expenses, which is an important part of managing business finances and is key when taking eligible business tax deductions.
To track your expenses in Wave, you can connect to your bank account, import bank statements, or manually add expenses. Wave has recently added bulk transaction categorization, transaction matching, and the ability to merge duplicate transactions as well.
5) Wave Accounts Payable
With Wave, you can manage your accounts payable by entering bills and recording bill payments. You can set automatic bill reminders to help make sure you never miss a payment.
The only drawback is that you can’t set recurring bills.
6) Wave Contact Management
Contact management is important for sending invoices, staying in touch with network connections, and in marketing. In Wave, you can add contacts and vendors. You can record basic contact information, such as name, billing address, shipping address, phone number, etc.
7) Wave Inventory
In reality, Wave’s inventory feature is more of a glorified item list. You can add an item name, a description, and the sales price, and you can mark whether you buy or sell that item. If you mark buy, there’s nowhere to enter a purchase price, so when you go to create a bill, you have to adjust the price manually every time. There’s also no way to add an inventory stock level or set inventory reminders.
This basic items list is great if you just need to add items to make sending invoices easier, but it is seriously lacking if you need to actually track inventory.
If you need better inventory capabilities check out QuickBooks Online instead.
8) Wave Reports
Wave offers 12 different reports to help you manage your business’s finances and operations. They cover everything from accounting to sales to taxes.
Here are Wave’s reporting options:
- Profit & Loss (or Income Statement)
- Balance Sheet
- Cash Flow
- Sales Tax
- Payroll Wage & Tax Report
- Income by Customer
- Aged Receivables
- Purchases by Vendor
- Aged Payables
- Account Balances
- Trial Balance
- Account Transactions (or General Ledger)
Reports are customizable, and Wave makes it easy to compare them to past periods. You can run reports as cash-basis or accrual.
9) Wave eCommerce Checkouts
One of Wave’s most exciting features is a basic eCommerce tool called Checkouts.
With Wave Checkouts, instead of generating sales invoices, you can create a checkout link that you can then send to multiple customers at once. You can send that link via email, text, or add it to your WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace website.
Wave remembers your past checkouts, so you can easily send them to customers when needed.
This tool is ideal for businesses that do home shows, classes, regular service packages, or just want an easy way to bill multiple customers at once quickly.
10) Wave Taxes
One of the most helpful features of Wave is its new tax filing feature. Wave now integrates directly with H&R Block to help you file your taxes. (No doubt this is thanks to Wave’s recent $405 million acquisition by H&R Block.)
With this integration, you can automatically import all of the business data recorded in Wave into H&R Block to simplify your small business taxes. Simply select your business type, choose the tax price plan that fits your business needs, and your data will be imported automatically.
The Complete List of Wave Features
Looking for a specific feature? Here is a complete list of Wave’s features and automation for small business owners
- Customizable invoices
- Invoice scheduling
- Recurring billing
- Online client portal for invoices
- Invoice payment reminders
- Accounts payable
- Expense tracking
- Receipt scanning
- Live bank feeds
- Bank reconciliation
- Contact management
- Basic inventory list
- Customizable chart of accounts
- Journal entries
- Accounts payable
- Automatic bill reminders
- 12 finance reports
- Recoverable & non-recoverable sales tax
- Multi-currency support
- Automatic exchange rate calculations
- Importing & exporting data files
- Lending add-on
- Payroll add-on (includes time tracking)
How Do Wave’s Features Compare To Other Accounting Software Options?
It’s pretty clear that Wave offers an impressive number of features, especially for a free accounting software program, but how does Wave stack up against other popular accounting options like QuickBooks Online, Xero, and FreshBooks?
Wave’s feature selection covers the basics a small business owner would need, but some of its offerings are not as developed as those of QuickBooks Online and Xero. These two competitors offer project management, budgeting, more reporting, and far better inventory management, as well as many more integration options. But, these software options both come with steeper learning curves than Wave.
There are also some places where Wave outshines QuickBooks, particularly with the new checkouts feature, and Wave’s invoices are far more attractive than Xero’s. It’s also worth noting that Wave beat QuickBooks to developing a small business lending feature, though now the Intuit giant has taken a page out of Wave’s book and offers integrated lending.
When compared with FreshBooks, Wave offers almost all of the same features in a format that is just as easy to use without the hefty price tag. The main area where FreshBooks outranks Wave is with the proposals feature.
To learn more about how Wave compares to other accounting software, read our complete comparison posts.
Wave Accounting Features: The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, you can’t ask for more when it comes to free software — especially free software that doesn’t impose ads or artificial limits. With Wave, you get unlimited invoices, which is more than many paid accounting options can say, as well as a suite of other features.
You may not find every feature your business requires, however. If you need project management, time tracking, or actual inventory management, Wave won’t cut it. But, if you’re looking for an easy way to send invoices and handle basic bookkeeping, Wave could be a great choice.
Read our full Wave review to see if this accounting software is right for you. (Curious how Wave does make money and is able to offer ad-free software? We explain it all in our review!)