How do I Choose the Best Financial Planning Software?

Alexis W.

Choosing the best financial planning software involves evaluating what your needs are. You must then compare your needs to the different software programs that are available and the features each program offers. Finally, you must weigh the features and functionality of the given program against the cost of that program and how much you are willing or able to spend.

Full-featured financial planning programs have elements that help in the tracking of investments and net worth.
Full-featured financial planning programs have elements that help in the tracking of investments and net worth.

The first step to finding the best financial planning software is to identify what features you are looking for. A business owner or a self-employed individual may need very different features than someone who simply wants to keep track of his monthly budget. You don't need to pay for features you don't want, nor do you want to buy a program that doesn't do everything you need it to do.

After you have a clear idea of what you are looking for in financial planning software, you need to consider the options available to you. There are a number of different full-featured software programs you can buy, some of which focus simply on budgeting while others focus on broader financial planning such as tracking investments and keeping a tally of your net worth. There are also a host of free programs available on the Internet that will allow you to keep all of your financial information in one place and that may even have similar features as some paid programs. For example, some free programs allow you to import bank statements and statements from investment firms or other financial institutes so you may keep track of all your finances in one place.

Many paid software companies will allow you a free trial of their financial planning software so you can get an idea of the features and functionality. You can, of course, also try out the totally free programs online. Watch for user friendliness as well as for making sure the program has the options you desire.

After comparing the features of the different software offerings that are out there, you can then compare the cost of each, in light of its features and how well those features meet your needs. If a free program will let you do everything you want to do with your financial planning software, there is no reason to pay for a program. On the other hand, to get more features and customer support, you may decide that a program that costs money is a better option for you.

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