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How do I Choose the Best Personal Finance Software?

Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Personal finance software can go a long way toward keeping the household financial records in order. With so many different software packages for personal finance on the market today, choosing the right one can be an intimidating task. Identifying the features you need and considering factors like ease of use and compatibility with various types of electronic documents will go a long way in helping you choose the best personal finance software for your needs.

When it comes to features and options, make sure any personal finance software you consider will do what you need it to do. For example, if you need the software to flag upcoming due dates on various obligations, make sure that option is available. If you need help in creating a budget, go with a program that walks you through the steps of designing one that meets your needs. Some software packages have fixed or canned report formats, while others allow you to customize those reports. Look closely at the available formats and see if they are right for your situation. If not, then focus your attention on software packages that allow you to come up with your own formats.

Along with making sure the personal finance software has the essential features you need, determine how easily you can utilize the screens and features included in the package. Not everyone is a financial expert, and some may not be comfortable with a number of financial and accounting terms. Fortunately, there are personal finance tools that explain those terms in everyday verbiage that just about anyone can grasp. This may be a bonus if you not only plan on using the software to manage the household budget, but also as a resource to teach young children the basics of money management.

One of the most important aspects of choosing the right personal finance software is to make sure you can import data from various sources with relative ease. Many software packages work well with different spreadsheet formats. This is especially important if you want to import the detail from a bank or other financial statement rather than enter the data manually.

Don’t overlook the potential of free personal finance software that can be downloaded from different web sites. While many of these free products are somewhat limited in their range of features, you may find a few that are ideal for your situation. Keep in mind that if your finances become more complicated later on, you can always look into obtaining finance and budgeting software that offers a few more bells and whistles. In the interim, a good quality free product allows you to get into the habit of managing your personal finances responsibly and paves the way for graduating to something a little more feature rich and robust.

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