Q. Since it's still relatively early in the year, I've decided to bite the bullit and purchase an accounting program. Is one better than the other, and do I need a very comprehensive one, or will a simple program suffice? I should add that I do consulting work, and occasionally bill for out-of-pocket expenses.
A. Happy to hear that you've made the commitment to organize your business life. For the vast majority of people, the simplest accounting program will do. Most don't want to get involved with payroll and fixed assets. Let your tax preparer handle the depreciation.
The best advice I can offer is this. Most professionals don't care what type of program you have as long as you use it consistently! So often clients wait until the end of March & early April to send us their "stuff," and at that point, unless you are exceptionally organized, it is almost impossible to get out an accurate return by April 15. So whether you use a simple spreadsheet, or one of the many off-the-shelf software accounting programs, start with the simplest one (and the least expensive!) program and go from there. Many programs now offer trial programs on line free of charge.