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Which Personal Finance Software is Right for You?

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personal finance softwareI grew up before the golden age of personal finance software. When I opened my first checking account (a joint account with my mom), it was all about the paper checks, keeping track of your spending in the register, and reconciling your bank account each month.

As a result, I’m a fan of personal finance software that looks kind of like a checkbook register. It’s why I adored Quicken 2005, and why, now that Quicken 2005 is not supported on my new Mac, I have been using Moneydance.

Not everyone likes to track their finances the same way I do, though. If you are trying to decide which personal finance software to use, here are a few ideas for different styles:

Mint.com

Mint.com is the application that started the budget tracking revolution online. If you are mostly interested in tracking your spending, and identifying trends, as well as as setting budget goals, Mint is a good choice. It’s a fairly basic budget tracker, though, so you won’t see a lot of really advanced features, particularly in relation to investing. The interface is easy to use, and it’s attractive and colorful. Plus, you can link up your accounts and track your spending and cash flow without having to enter information manually.

YNAB

You Need a Budget is perfect for the zero-based budgeter. Where Mint is more about seeing where your money has been, YNAB is all about planning what you are going to do with your money ahead of time. For the planner who wants to give every dollar a job, YNAB is a simple solution that keeps you from having to create your own spreadsheet.

Personal Capital

If you wish that your budgeting software provided portfolio integration, Personal Capital is for you. Personal Capital can help you link up your investment accounts on top of your “regular” bank and credit card accounts. Not only does Personal Capital help you track your cash flow, it can also help you identify areas where you might be over-paying in fees. And if you don’t mind paying a little extra, you can get access to a financial adviser.

LearnVest

At first, LearnVest concentrated its efforts on female investors. Now, LearnVest is moving toward a more gender-neutral approach. After all, money is money. Like Personal Capital, LearnVest will help you track your investments. However, it takes an even more goal-oriented and planning approach. There are various packages that you can pay for, allowing you access financial planning services — including a detailed and tailored five-year plan to follow.

Quicken

My parents gave me Quicken way back in the late 1990s when I went off to college. I was hooked. You can choose to link your accounts to the software, or you can decide to enter your transactions manually. You can use Quicken to keep track of everything from loans to investments, and the graphs, charts, and reports are great. Those of us who have a little more “old school” preference for the way our money is presented are still really into Quicken.

And Quicken alternatives. As I said, I’m using Moneydance now, since the new Quicken for Mac is a little too “Mintified” for my tastes. Moneydance has been great for me. It’s a little more stripped down, and not as fancy, but it allows for multiple currencies, and investment tracking. It’s also possible to generate reports and charts fairly easily.

What do you think? What personal finance software do you use?

(Photo: Dell’s Official Flickr Page)

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18 Responses to “Which Personal Finance Software is Right for You?”

  1. Prasath says:

    I use Expense Manager in Android. Once I complete any purchase either in-store or online, I save the transaction along with the scanned copy of the receipt.(The minimum image size of each receipt can be set @ 1 MB)

    When credit card payment is due, I check whether the transaction in the credit card statement is valid against the one in Expense Manager in Android.

    This is the best app I use on a daily life

  2. If you’re a Mac person, iBank is worth checking out. I switched to it when Intuit screwed Mac users when Lion came out, making Quicken unusable for several months. Never again!

  3. Prasath says:

    Forgot to add that you can import/export the expenses to xml or csv file and also you can email the receipts. Lot of features.

  4. Ken says:

    Why isn’t Yodlee listed?

  5. Steve says:

    I use YNAB with an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is because YNAB is built for monthly paychecks, and my wife and I both get paid bi-weekly.

    I like YNAB because it DOESN’T directly import all of your transactions. It makes you sit down and look where you are actually spending your money.

  6. bloodbath says:

    I am old school too. I’ve found that I don’t need a defined software package to manage my finances. I use my bank’s digital systems and they work just fine. I do very little manual work after setting up paperless billing, online bill pay, direct deposit and bank to bank transfers along with several checking and savings accounts to handle rental income and other financial transactions. At tax time I go to a single source for information and the same source to track spending and trends. My financial life is mostly automated – LOL

  7. bloodbath says:

    Forgot to add – I use Paypal for online shopping and those charges are also paid via paperless billing and online bill pay. I will soon take advantage of my bank’s future system to scanned and deposited paper checks from home. I like the centralization effect – less to learn or worry about.

  8. Shirley says:

    I will stick with my Excel spreadsheets where I record transactions daily and can account for my every dollar everywhere.

  9. lostAnnfound says:

    We’ve used Quicken since the mid 90s and it has served us well. Very easy to use for us.

  10. Daniel says:

    I use and love MoneyWell. I switched to it from Quicken because of its strong budget feature, and because Quicken’s budgeting “feature” is practically nonexistent.

  11. Jesse says:

    I started with Microsoft Money and I’m sad that it’s no longer around. I now use BudgetPulse.com as a register. For budgets, I use my own home grown Google Docs spreadsheets.

    I’ve never been a fan of Mint or any other product that links to your accounts. Given the number of hacking incidents you see these days (LinkedIn, Gawker, etc), the last thing I want is some other site able to access my banking information. For the same reason, I don’t let sites I shop at save my credit card for future transactions. The few minutes those features save me is not worth the potential risk involved.

    • Holly says:

      I use Microsoft Money Plus Sunset and I really like it! It is the replacement for the old Microsoft Money. It is simple and very functional. Definitely worth trying out if you use to use the other Microsoft Money.

  12. Ryan says:

    You can put your investment accounts on Mint. It shows you gains/losses and breaks that down over different durations, compares to different indexes, etc

  13. As a Mac fanatic, it was a bit difficult to find a business software program and being rather old school, I used the old columnar pads and transferring data the hand written way.

    However, when we got into real estate investing, it became a nightmare when our accountant would ask for specific numbers for a property or even our personal numbers. She “forced” me to get Quickbooks – and I did, the Mac version.

    After 2 months of intense inputting, un-inputting, learning, re-learning, I knew what I was doing. Now, it is just a matter of keeping up on a monthly basis (weekly is better).

    In short, it is wonderful. With a click of the mouse, I can call up any report, expense, account, etc. and keep them separate from each other – i.e. personal “company” vs this or that “company”.

    I love it and now actually look forward to tax time when I can just give her my Quickbooks numbers.

  14. I was using Adaptu for a while and really liked their interface, features and app, but then they shut down so I am back to mint.com. I cant complain too much it does exactly what I need, the interface is decent, the app works good, but it lacks a pizzaz

  15. Shirley says:

    I fully agree with you, Jesse, about letting some other site be able to access my banking information.

  16. Holly says:

    Microsoft has another software called Microsoft Money Plus Sunset. Its the replacement for the old one. I use it and I really like it. There is a function that allows you to download your transactions or manually enter them — I do the manual entry. It is capable of setting a budget and it has really good reports that allow you to review your expenses. Its definitely worth a try if you are looking for a simple program.


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