3 of the Best Software Programs for Managing Personal Finances

3 of the Best Software Programs for Managing Personal Finances

While financial apps have made everything from budgeting to tracking investments easier, sometimes people need something a little more robust to achieve their particular goals. When one’s financial needs exceed what apps can offer, individuals should consider using some of the wonderful software options now available for improving financial tracking and organization. The best option for personal finance software depends on each specific user, but some options to keep in mind include the following:

Personal Capital

Personal Capital logoIndividuals who are not interested in budgeting may want to consider Personal Capital, which is more about tracking wealth than about helping someone stay within a given budget. The software, which is available for free, lets users see exactly where their money goes and how their spending patterns change from month to month, but its main focus is on a person’s overall financial picture.

One of Personal Capital’s biggest benefits is its intuitive design; its interface features a dashboard that provides an easily interpretable overview of one’s net worth and overall cash flow. People with a number of investments will find the software invaluable because it tracks them in percentages as well as dollar amounts. With the click of a button, users can see exactly how much their 401(k) or other investment accounts have increased and compare those numbers with drops or gains in the Dow Jones and other major indices.

While Personal Capital automatically pulls information from the accounts linked to the software, users should be sure to go through the numbers systematically and categorize them in a meaningful way. One major downside of the software is that people cannot create their own categories. Personal Capital also overlooks some facets of spending, but users can deal with these issues fairly easily.

Quicken

quicken logoOne of the gold standards for budgeting, Quicken has continually evolved to meet the changing needs of its customers. The software is mostly meant for people who have some degree of experience in creating and maintaining their own budgets. Therefore, people who want help in this regard or who are looking for software to keep them on budget may be disappointed. At the same time, Quicken makes it easy to import accounts and categorize them according to personal preferences, including creating subcategories. Once people have used the software for a few months, they can see some great analyses of their spending, such as how their spending changes over time and which categories consume the most money.

Most people find the Quicken interface fairly simple and straightforward. The desktop software costs money, but it makes up for it by allowing users to avoid the pesky advertisements that accompany free products. Additionally, the software comes with built-in reminders that users can turn off if they ever become annoying. Quicken assumes that people can manage their own finances, so it does not walk individuals through how to save for a vacation. However, it will let them easily create a monthly savings category for such a goal. People who need to create a budget from scratch may find this frustrating, but users who just want a simple interface for keeping track of their budgets will love the software.

You Need a Budget

ynab logoMade for those who struggle to adhere to a budget, You Need a Budget (YNAB) takes the money that people already have and helps them allocate it effectively. The software, which operates under the slogan “give every dollar a job,” provides a helpful guide for making sure that users put their money to good use. Individuals will even be directed to assign roles, such as funds for an upcoming vacation or a stash to pay for holiday gifts, to the money in their savings accounts. In addition, the software points out common rainy-day-fund items, such as car repairs, that users may want to save money for.

Because YNAB is so comprehensive, it is not always the most intuitive product. Users need to learn some new vocabulary as they get used to the software. Luckily, the program offers a helpful webinar that gets people started off on the right foot. People should take advantage of the webinar before they start syncing their accounts so that they can get the most from the software. This small upfront effort pays off in the long run. Over time, YNAB has users analyze their spending and figure out where they need to allocate more money and which categories might have too much funding. In this way, users slowly work toward their financial goals.