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Which Personal Finance Software is Right for You?

I 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 [3] 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 [4] 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.


You Need a Budget [5] 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 [6] 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.


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.


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 [7])