I think that you will have a hard time finding a 'free' accounting software package.
However, you could check bargain price software sites and buy an older version of a reputable package at a cheaper price.
After all, all that matters is that your bookkeeping is handled correctly and for that the program doesn't have to sing and dance at the same time ;o)
what do people think of TurboCash?
We use Sage, but only because my accountants stopped me using Quickbooks, which I love.
You could start with Intuit Quicken, and then move up to quickbooks when you are ready I assume (same company).
If you have linux you could check out gnuCash.
I thought Gnucash was more for personal finance?
i picked up a version of peachtree accounting on ebay for dirt cheap. it was only a version old. scan the auctions and cheap software sites for non-current versions. do some research on the place you decide to buy from though, some of them look questionable. then again, if you are not spending much you don't have much to lose. good luck.
I have used gnucash in the past and it is suited for both small business and personal finance. It's certainly more complex than most households would ever want - but lacks some facilities which large companies may find useful. Works well with other well known commerical packages in terms of import/export.
If you are not in a hurry I would also hang around car boot sales - I've seen sage packages go for under a tenner there. But be warned it can become addictive to go and find bargains on Sunday morning ;)
You can try QuickBooks Simple Start. It works really well for my business, and is totally free, as long as you don't top 50 contacts (vendors and clients combined). I ordered the demo cd from Intuit, and when I set it up, it is a 30 day trial, but free if you are small, and don't top that limit. It does everything I need, and has EXCELLENT reporting capabilities.
It does double-entry, and is accessible from any internet-connected computer running ie6, no mac support, or *nix. It works well for my internet development partnership.