Expense Trackers: The Top 6 Tools For Small Businesses


Amanda Smith


Reviewed by


June 24, 2022

This article is Tax Professional approved


Sorting receipts is no fun. But the right expense tracker streamlines the process and helps you keep tabs on the financial state of your business.

There are three really good reasons to track expenses for your small business.

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  1. When tax time comes, you won’t spend hours sorting through a pile of crumpled receipts wondering whether that $13 parking charge was for a client meeting or a date. In other words, claiming your tax deductions will be less headache-inducing.
  2. Correctly tracking your expenses means you’re more likely to file an accurate tax return. Plus, if you’re audited by the IRS, it’ll be no sweat to provide them with detailed documentation of your expenses.
  3. You’ll know exactly where your money is going every month—so you can cut spending where it’s getting out of hand.

So in the name of money mastery, we’ve assembled a list of the best business expense trackers for you to track expenses online (and if you’re more of an offline type, the last one’s for you).

Mint: The free expense tracker for the self-employed

mint iphone

A well-known personal expense tracker, Mint is also a simple tool for smaller businesses and freelancers to track where money is going. It lets you create budgets and goals within the app, and track your credit score. You can access all of this data through an easy-to-read dashboard, so you know your standing at any time.

Make it even easier: set up alerts for bill reminders, large purchases and more, so you’re really in the know with your finances.

Platforms: Android, iPhone, web browser

Price: Free

QuickBooks: Expense management for the accounting-savvy business

quickbooks expense transactions

QuickBooks has way more features than the other expense trackers in this list. It also requires the most knowledge, time, and effort to make it work. Essentially, you can use QuickBooks to handle all your finances. Run payroll, accept online payments, track bills and expenses and manage all of your taxes. Unfamiliar with accounting, or don’t have several hours a week to spare? You might find certain aspects of Quickbooks frustrating.

But if you’re a QuickBooks pro or have a dedicated admin employee who’s willing to learn, you can get a lot of value out of it. To make it simple, you (and the rest of your growing team) can scan your receipts with your phone and load them into the mobile app as part of an expense report. Reconcile them at the end of the month, tracking any sales tax paid on your purchases so that amount comes off any sales tax you owe.

Platforms: Android, iPhone, web browser

Price: Starts at $12.50/month

FreshBooks: Expense tracking for the minimalist go-getter

freshbooks expenses

In the name of avoiding daunting spreadsheets, FreshBooks lets you easily input your business expenses through their desktop app or on your smartphone. It has a super simple interface and basic reporting so you can see where your profit and loss stand at a glance. It syncs with your bank account every day, automatically pulling in the most recent expenses from your credit card and/or bank account—you just need to reconcile them and add photos of your receipts.

Platforms: Android, iPhone, web browser

Price: Starts at $15/month (Bench clients get one month free)

Expensify: An expense tracking app for the business traveller

expensify app

If you work remotely, or regularly have meetings in different parts of the country, you know post-trip expense tracking is a nightmare. Using Expensify means you can stop stuffing receipts into your luggage while you’re on the go. Snap pictures of your paper receipts with your mobile device, submit, and be done with them. It can also handle mileage tracking. Plus, Expensify also automatically imports receipts from Uber, Airbnb, and more. Racking up the company card? Automate your workflow and import those expenses directly from your card, so you don’t have to go through your statements at the end of each trip.

Extra convenient: Expensify automatically converts to any currency and offers integrations with most accounting software.

Worthy expense tracker app alternatives: Receipt Bank and Shoeboxed. If all you’re looking for is an app to scan, upload, and store receipts, these two are great options.

Heads up: Expensify is not a balance tracker, unlike the other options in this list. It’s just for keeping track of expenses. But it can function as a great reimbursement app for your employees’ expenses.

Platforms: Android, iPhone, web browser

Price: Starts at $4.99/month

Bench: For hands-off expense tracking and bookkeeping

IMG / Blog / V2 UI on MacBook Pro

Don’t have time to track expenses? Bench can take it off your hands. We take care of all your bookkeeping for you, importing, reviewing, and categorizing your expenses every month. With Bench, your accounting admin is handled with care. And if you ever have questions, your team is just a quick message away.

But Bench isn’t just a business expense tracker app. As well as tracking expenses, we send you financial reports each month so you can understand your finances and monitor your cash flow. Then at tax time, we work with your accountant to deliver all the financial info they need to file your taxes. Don’t have an accountant? We can set you up with our tax pro team to get your taxes filed on time, every time.

Platforms: Web browser

Price: Varies by your business needs (professional monthly bookkeeping and financial statements included). See our pricing page for more details.

Excel: The old fashioned, tried-and-true approach to expense tracking

Bench Income statement template

Excel spreadsheets are the tried-and-true method of tracking your expenses (for free). You don’t have to overthink it. Just find a good Excel bookkeeping template and enter all your expenses at least once a week.

The great thing about Excel is, once you’ve entered all your transactions, you can generate reports and start getting insights about what those numbers mean. For example, if you use the Bench Income Statement template, your transactions will turn into a handy income statement sheet, showing your profit and loss over a certain period.

Platform: Desktop

Price: Free (comes installed on most computers)

What is the best way to track business expenses?

Once you’ve chosen the expense tracker that best suits your needs, you’re ready to get cracking. So how do you tackle that pile of crumpled receipts you’ve collected from your car, purse, pockets, and dining room table?

Here are three simple steps:

1. Digitize your receipts

The first step is to scan or take photos of your receipts. Double-check the images are clear and capture the entire receipt.

You may be able to store these files in your expense tracking app, or if you take the Excel route, keep them on your computer and back up your files on a regular basis. Better yet, we’ve compiled a list of the best receipt apps for small businesses.

Further reading: How long to keep business tax records and receipts

2. Separate your personal and business transactions

Separating your business and personal spending makes identifying business expenses simple and fast. In some cases, you may be legally required to have separate accounts to protect yourself from liability incurred by the business.

Further reading: Do I need a business bank account?

In any case, it’s best practice to separate your personal and business income and expenses. A business bank account makes keeping tabs on business transactions a breeze.

If you charge your expenses on credit, there are even more benefits to using a business credit card—like building business credit and earning rewards. Check out our top picks for the best small business credit cards.

3. Regularly review and categorize your business expenses

Expense tracking tools take a big load off your shoulders, but it’s still important to keep tabs on your expenses. Set time aside each week in your workflow to review them and apply categories to each one.

Stumped on how to categorize your expenses, or why you need to do it? Get in the know with our simple guide on how to categorize business transactions.

Joint expense tracking

If you’re trying to track spending with your spouse or business partner, we have a few suggestions:

  • Expensify works really well for groups
  • A joint spreadsheet can do the trick just fine
  • If it’s for a business partnership, make sure each partner has a dedicated credit card just for business. Then, sign up for Bench, and we’ll automatically track every business expense, no matter who paid for it.

And remember, when your expenses are tracked, you’re on the road to good bookkeeping and mastering your small business finances.

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.
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