Best Personal Finance Software Options
The advantages of using finance software
People working in accounting and audit fields often speak of how old bookkeeping is and the advantages to having a proper account for every penny. With the wider acceptance of digital devices, both desktop and handheld, it has now become possible to automate the bookkeeping activities to a large extent. It would be evident that there are advantages to the digitization of ledgers and the best personal finance software give the following plus points to those using such conveniences.
No late fees: When dealing with the payment of credit card dues and even taxes, it pays to be on time and every time. On most of the late occasions, there are levies and fines being charge from the customer. With a good finance software, it is possible to eliminate the late fees to a large extent. This occurs in two ways.
Firstly, some of the payments can be automated so that the person need not bother with paying the bills. Like the telephone bills that are paid automatically. Secondly, it is possible for the software to send reminders to the user well in advance to the due date and sometime more than once to remind to make the payment. Thus, few people using finance applications tend to complain that they were not aware or that they were not warned of a certain payment.
Trimming fat: One of the strong points of a good finance software is that it provides the user with lots of reports that shows how he spends the earned moneys. It would thus be possible to catch sight of the extra fat that could be trimmed off the budget. This along with the setting of long-term goals would mean good surpluses being made over time. Not only does the financial reporting provide means to be more frugal, it helps set goals over time.
Facing hard truths: As has been explained, using of personal finance software gives out reports that can be acted upon in real time. For instance, it shows the amounts spent on junk food over the week and even the fees racked up while using non-network ATMs. These are expenses that can be avoided if some efforts are put to it. And it is possible too that over a period of time these hard truths can cost the consumer large sums of money too.
Reducing extravagance is a good way to save up on money. Since most reporting with the personal finance apps involve deep accounts that reflect every dollar spent, it would mean a better control of the finances.
Financial goals: With the personal finance app, it is possible to see how much of the personal goals have been achieved to date. The sense of fulfilment in a short period of time would encourage the customer to stick with the goals for a longer period and thus complete it fully.
Most of the time, the financial goals are given precedence over unnecessary spending which is a good practice to inculcate.
Quicken is one of the most established personal finance software available today. It can be used to set budgets, plan out investment, create goals, and even track out debts. It supports Excel exporting which enables a freedom few other software provides the user. Not only does it provide extra convenience, but the additional capacity to work with more formulae and programs.
On offer too is bill payment facility that enables the everyday bills to be paid automatically. Quicken can be used to keep track of all sorts of financial assets thus giving out the true worth of the person at the click of a mouse. The software is available for the Mac, Android and Windows operating systems with charges starting at $34.99 per annum.
The versatility of the program lies in the fact that it can be used to monitor and control a variety of spending patterns that can be even used in simple business environments.
When it comes to expense tracking and budgeting, Mint happens to be one of the most accepted software in use currently. It is possible to integrate the bank account and even the credit card details to the account thus making it possible to track all manners of spends. The program would advise the users to better manage the finances and get a better control over cashflows.
Keeping alerts and a low balance alarm are an easy affair that can be done just at the click of the mouse. It tends to offer a flexibility that few other software achieves in its price range. This is also a good method to follow to keep the late fees in check as well as the bank overdrafts charges. The best part of Mint would be that it is a free to use app that can be used with the Android as well as iOS devices.
YNAB or You Need A Budget is for those people wanting to learn and enforce a good financial discipline. It is possible to link the bank account to the app which makes it possible to monitor the spending patterns of the account. As people tend to get more financially independent, it would be prudent to get then to watch the free webinars and other aids offered by YNAB that further leads them on the path of financial prudence.
This would be the one financial app that is to be recommended for those who lack financial discipline. Over time, the software would make such people financially literate and still advance their learning as they progress on the path of enlightenment. A convenient 34-day free trail would help folks get to using the software before making the purchase. It would cost $11.99 per month to be on the platform after the trial period is over.
Here the most traditional method of stuffing envelopes to keep budgets have been given an electronic avatar. At the heart of Mvelopes lie different envelopes that signify different spend heads. At the start of the month, different amounts signifying the budget limits for the account is put into the envelope. As the money gets spent, the envelopes get depleted as well.
It is possible to set a range of alerts to take care of critical moments like low balance or when limits are nearing the end of the tether. Just like the physical envelopes, it is possible to set savings goals too. There are reports that are generated periodically to show how the budget is getting spent. Mvelopes comes with a trial time of 30-days and costs $6 per month after that.
With the high-end versions of Mvelopes, they offer coaching services to help the customer be a better manager of his finances. Unmistakably, this is a simple to use principle that has been put to good use on the platform.
The best feature about the personal finance software, TurboTax is that it comes handy when filing tax returns annually. Other than that, there are the usual finance options like paying of bills, credit card dues, and so on. For filing of tax returns it is necessary to upload the W-2 information from your employer which can be done by taking a photograph of it and uploading. The software would fill in the details automatically.
When a person has used TurboTax for multiple years, then the software tends to remember the past filings and asks crucial questions on the status of the person. The pertinent changes are made to the file and uploaded to the tax authorities. The free version allows the filing of tax returns with the federal and state agencies with just the needed Form 1040. Any attached schedules would require the use of the premium versions of the software.
At the high-end version of TurboTax, it is possible to have a tax advisor look over the filing and advice how deductions can be made to reduce the tax liability. The application is available as a web version or the smartphone edition too.
Future Advisor is just the right option to use for those folks who are doing their accounts as a DIY program. It is a low-cost financial advisor for the most parts with the app providing tips and tricks to help balance out the budget. Free tips are provided to diversify the portfolio and it is up to the user to pay heed to the advice or just ignore it.
There is a limit of having at least $5,000 worth of assets or cash before the software can be used to manage out the portfolio. It is in partnership with Fidelity to help manage and offer advise to the users.
This is a single platform to help people manage and handle their finances. At hand are the mortgage accounts, bank accounts, investment accounts, and the portfolio of securities. Personal Capital by having all that there is to be done on a single application saves the user the time and effort taken to shift between screens when using it.
There is a portfolio management advisory that people who have assets over $100,000 can use to better handle their resources. A personal advisor adds a touch of class and quality to the service rendered. One of the strong points with Personal Capital is its retirement plans that can be tailor made to suit each individual. While the core software is free to use and does not carry any charges, the additional features need to be paid for at each instance.
The power of Tiller Money lies in the fact that all the financial statements like the bank account, the expense accounts, the investment accounts and everything in between can be downloaded as Excel sheets. It thus affords a utility that few other competing financial accounting software possess. There are a range of customizable sheets that can be used as best as possible by finance personnel. A daily email announces the transactions and deals entered to during the day. On offer too is a 30-day free trial and thereafter it costs $6.59 per month to be using the finance software.
Can comparisons be drawn between the different software?
While it is natural that most promoters of personal finance software would try to keep each of their offering as unique as possible; comparisons are the order of the day. While some packages have tax filing benefits, others use some of the most basic of choices which is the application of envelopes to accounting.
At the end of the day it is not a question of which of the software is the best but more of which of the software is the most suited to the user. While the average personal software user tends to be more of a generalist there are often specialized operations that need the extra push from the application.
Cost of the software application is often a key question when it comes to taking a proper decision. But even with the free versions, it is possible to conduct a fair amount of detailing and results too.
The best use of personal finance software is when the needs of the user are matched with the features offered by the software in question. It should also be noted that some of the packages offer the most basic accounting functions as a free to use application and it takes the more costly versions to have some high-end features unlocked.
With the typical personal finance software, it is just that it collects a lot of data and helps put out reports that use this data. In a nutshell it is a means of making informed decisions based on what is provided by the software. Most financial software allows the setting of goals and long-term plans which would have be hard to do without a good application.
Few people would doubt the utility of a finance software but often people are undecided on whether to choose the high-end versions of software that promises to do a lot more. In other words, there is no substitute for sound financial advice and the software applications are just a tool to help handle the money matter easily.