How Do I Choose the Best Financial Management Program?

Kristie Lorette

A financial management program is typically a computer software that helps you to manage your finances. Financial management programs can offer a variety of features, from creating and tracking a budget to tracking investment returns and taxes. In order to choose the best financial management program, you should consider the type of program, cost, available features, and access to the program.

Because financial management software varies widely, look for a program geared toward your specific needs.
Because financial management software varies widely, look for a program geared toward your specific needs.

Your first stop should be to consider the type of financial management program you need. Some financial management software programs are for personal use. Others are geared towards the needs of businesses. Some programs are specifically created for a particular industry, such as charities. Start to narrow down your options by finding and creating a list of programs that fit your personal or business needs.

Next, evaluate and mark down the cost to purchase the program. Also, identify any ongoing costs for using the financial management program. Some programs offer updates that you can download from the Internet, for example. You may be able to update your program for free as part of the initial cost of the program or you may have to pay a maintenance fee or upgrade fee for obtaining the new features. Obviously, the cost of purchasing and maintaining the program should fall within your budget.

The features that the financial management program offers are one of the most important items to evaluate when choosing which program to buy. If your needs simply entail keeping track of your household income and bills, your needs are different from someone who needs to also track investment performance such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds. A business may require a financial management program that creates invoices and tracks payments from clients, in addition to tracking the business budget, while this is not a need that an individual or household would need.

Financial management program access and ease of use are two other factors you should consider. Some programs are uploaded to your computer, while other programs are online, which means that you can access the program from any computer with Internet access. You should also consider how easy the program is to use, and the availability of training. A financial management program may have all of the bells and whistles at a high price tag, but if you can’t figure it out, then all of the extras aren't useful.

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