While some may find it a bit of a contradiction to buy something to help them control their spending, personal budget software is one of those situations where this course of action makes sense. Many people need a budget to help them really get a handle on what they are spending and where, and budget software is currently the best way to do it. The right software can help in ways many have not thought of, and there are things anyone looking to make the purchase need to keep in mind.
Some of the functions of personal finance software
The main reason people need budgets is to track their spending. Financial software makes it so much easier to input and categorize this spending. Furthermore, as online banking and ways to directly import financial data from these accounts as well as mobile applications grow, the task of inputting data will continue to become less tedious. People are often very shocked when they find out where much of their money goes once they categorize their spending, and financial software helps them identify areas they can reduce expenses in.
For those who have already broken free of debt and started to build a nest egg, personal finance software offers them ways to track their investments and how they are doing. Thus, it gives them more info to make better investment decisions. Even if they are just doing regular banking, financial software saves time by allowing them to see all their accounts in one place.
When tax time comes around, those who have been using financial software will find themselves much more organized and prepared. They may also be able to import the data from the personal finance software directly to their tax forms. All these factors together give people ways to better understand where their money is coming from and going, thus making budgeting much easier.
Things to look for in financial software
The best software will vary with individual needs. One feature that people find increasingly handy is the ability to import data. This function can save a lot of time and prevent errors. Check to see if the software can import from whatever banking or other financial and tax services one may be using.
Personal finance software, like so much of computing, has moved to the clouds. This means people can do everything online without having to install anything on their computers. Although many love the ability this offers to access one’s financial data anywhere from any computer, as well as eliminating the need to worry about losing it all in a hard drive crash, keeping personal financial data in the clouds is not for everyone. Some people like the feeling of control and security they have when the software and data is on their own computer. There are also other issues such as poor internet connections that keep many opting for software they keep on their machines.
If the program is kept on one’s home machine, it needs to offer some type of password protection for personal privacy and security reasons.
Nowadays, personal budget software should be intelligent. Not only does it need to offer ways to properly categorize and analyze data, but software that will offer suggestions such as to how much one should save and the like can come in very handy.
If the software has all the desired features, the next thing to look at is its level of complexity. People like lots of features, but there is no use in paying for what is not needed. Extra features will also likely add to the learning curve in using the program. Therefore, after making sure the software has what is needed, make sure it does not have what is not needed either.
Any good personal budget software will offer some sort of a free trial. Take advantage of it to make sure the program is the right one.
Some top personal budget software
The following are some of the top budgeting software to consider. Choose carefully based on individual needs and goals.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) http://www.youneedabudget.com/
This software comes out on top in many budgeting software reviews. One of its unique features is the way it teaches budgeting based on their four budgeting principles. Available at a one-time fee, it also has all the top features, to include the ability to import financial data from banks that take much of the tedium out of budgeting.
It has a lot of great features that have help it consistently rank high in budgeting software. However, it focus is on simplicity and ease of use over maximum automation.
This is another budgeting software that consistently ranks high in reviews. It can import and automatically update transactions from over 14,000 financial institutions. As the name implies, it is based on the tried-and-true envelope money management system. It is designed to be proactive in helping people manage were their money is going instead of just telling them where it ended up. Mvelopes integrates a bill payment system, excellent reporting, a debt center to better manage debs and extensive forums and other resources. It has both a free and more feature-rich, paid versions.
This is another favorite for many. It offers the ability to import financial data automatically and apps that allow the software to be used anywhere. Other cool features include automatic categorization, the ability to tag where purchases were made with Google Palces and alerts if you go over budget. Of course, the fact that it is free certainly a plus for those trying to make ends meet.
Rated the number one budgeting software in Top Ten Reviews for 2012, it is available for a one-time fee with a lifetime of free updates. You can manage every type of account with this software, and linked financial data is automatically updated. It will also track investment performance and automatically categorize income and expenses. Its numerous other features include everything from bill alerts and loan calculators to multiple currencies and e-business integration.
Quicken Deluxe http://quicken.intuit.com/personal-finance-software/deluxe-money-management.jsp
While this is paid software, it includes shopping discounts. It offers the ability to connect to different bank and credit card accounts with a single password. Some features include retirement planning, cash flow graphs and debt reduction plans.