Choosing the Right Financial Software


From keeping on course with your health and fitness goals to juggling your professional and personal calendars, software is a great tool for getting organized, staying focused and achieving objectives. The same could be said for software that helps with one of the most important and stressful aspects of your life: maintaining your finances.

Personal finance software is not strictly for those who have difficulties managing finances, paying bills or putting money away with each paycheck. Rather, like apps that track your calories and workouts or calendars that remind you of important dates, it simply makes managing your financial situation that much easier, even if you feel that you already have a good handle on it. With the right financial software working for you, you will have more time to relax and you’ll have a better, more comprehensive sense of financial security.

What are the main types of financial software?

The kinds of financial software you utilize might depend on the areas in which you feel the need for greater security. According to Lauren Schwahn, contributor at Nerd Wallet, personal finance software can be broken down into five common categories: budgeting, savings, investment, taxes and bills. Your needs with respect to these categories will determine the kind of software you should consider.

In most cases, financial software has one specific objective that it fulfills. The annual build-up to preparing and filing taxes can be a great source of stress even for those who have done it in the past, but programs like TurboTax® and H&R Block® remove much of the headache by simplifying the process. These programs, however, will not help automate bill payments, manage your investments or improve money management, meaning that you will have to seek out different programs for those needs.

There are, however, some options that provide a wider array of services. Intuit’s Mint.com, for example, provides an all-in-one solution that delivers an impressive range of features. These include free credit scores, reminders about upcoming bills and the ability to pay them, budget building and recommendations and tips that will help you earn and save more money. Quicken® Home & Business 2017 is even more comprehensive, offering tools like retirement planning creation and evaluation and the ability to analyze property value and outstanding debt.

To pay or not to pay

Once you have figured out what your needs are and have begun seeking out options, you will quickly realize that financial software can be had for free or for a cost. In some cases, companies will offer a free version of its software with the option to upgrade to a paid version. Your choice should be dictated not by the price but by the effectiveness of the software.

If, for example, you want the benefits and features that come with a paid financial software, consider it money put toward a necessary good. If your needs are met as easily by a free software as they would be by a paid software, be financially savvy and select the option that costs less. Before you pull the trigger one way or another, check user reviews to get a sense of any potential issues that a software might have and factor any concerns or common problems into your final decision.

A lack of price does not necessarily dictate a dearth of quality. Intuit’s Mint.com, for example, was deemed PC Magazine’s “Best of the Year 2017,” with reviewer Jill Duffy calling it “the best personal finance software, hands down.” While Mint is ad-supported, Duffy notes that “the ads you see are remarkably useful,” and that security is not a concern.

Quicken® Home & Business 2017, on the other hand, carries an MSRP of $119.99 (though it can likely be found at a lower price after a bit of shopping around). For the price, you get what PC Magazine’s Kathy Yakal called the “most comprehensive personal finance manager available,” but it would only be the right choice for you if you feel that you would benefit from the features added on top of cheaper options like Quicken® Premier, Quicken® Deluxe or Quicken® Starter Edition.

There are several other factors that must be taken into consideration when researching financial software, not the least of which being concerns with security and compatibility with your devices. The best way to answer these questions is to do your homework: be a smart shopper and compare software yourself, read consumer and critic reviews and make sure that your choices are based on personal priorities and preferences.

 

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