The advantages of using personal finance software
People working in accounting and audit fields often speak of how old bookkeeping is and the advantages of having a proper account for every penny. With the wider acceptance of digital devices, both desktop and handheld, it has now become possible to automate bookkeeping activities to a large extent. The advantages of digitization of ledgers are evident. Let’s see what are the benefits of using personal finance software.
Plus points of the software
No late fees: When dealing with the payment of credit card dues and even taxes, it pays to be on time, every time. With good finance software, it is possible to eliminate the late fees to a large extent. This occurs in two ways.
Firstly, some of the payments can be automated, for example, telephone bills are paid automatically. So, there’s no need to bother with paying the bills. Secondly, the software can send reminders to the user, sometimes more than once to remind them to make the payment. Thus, few people who use finance apps tend to complain that they were not warned of a certain payment.
Trimming fat: One of the strong points of good finance software is that it provides the user with lots of reports that show how he spends the earned money. It would thus be possible to catch sight of the extra fat that could be trimmed off the budget. This along with the setting of long-term goals would mean good surpluses being made over time. Not only does the financial reporting provide means to be more frugal, but it also helps set goals over time.
Facing hard truths: As we explained, using personal finance software gives out reports that can be acted upon in real-time. For instance, it shows the amounts spent on junk food over the week and even the fees racked up while using non-network ATMs. It is possible that over some time these hard truths can cost the consumer large sums of money. But, by putting some effort into it these expenses can be trimmed down.
Reducing extravagance is a good way to save up on money. Since most reporting with personal finance apps involves deep accounts that reflect every dollar spent, it would mean better control of the finances.
Financial goals: With the personal finance app, it’s possible to see how much of the personal goals have been achieved to date. The sense of fulfillment in a short period would encourage the customer to stick with the goals for a longer period and thus complete them fully.
Most of the time, the financial goals are given precedence over unnecessary spending which is a good practice to inculcate.
Quicken is one of the most established personal finance software available today. It can be used to set budgets, plan out investments, create goals, and even track out debts. It supports Excel exporting which enables the freedom few other software provides the user. Not only does it provide extra convenience, but the additional capacity to work with more formulae and programs.
Also, there is an option to automatically pay everyday bills. With Quicken you can keep track of all sorts of financial assets. Thus giving out the true worth of the person at the click of a mouse. The software is available for the Mac, Android, and Windows operating systems, with charges starting at $34.99 per annum.
The versatility of the program is that you can use it to monitor and control a variety of spending patterns. You can use it in simple business environments.
When it comes to expense tracking and budgeting, Mint is one of the most accepted software in use currently. You can integrate the bank account and even the credit card details into the account. This makes it possible to track all spending. The program would advise the users to better manage their finances and get better control over cashflows.
You can turn on alerts and a low balance alarm with just one click of the mouse. It tends to offer flexibility that few other software achieves in its price range. This is a good method to follow to keep the late fees in check as well as the bank overdraft charges. The best part of Mint is that it is a free-to-use app, you can use it on Android as well as iOS devices.
YNAB or You Need A Budget is for those people wanting to learn and enforce a good financial discipline. You can link the bank account to the app making it possible to monitor the spending patterns of the account. As people tend to get more financially independent, it would be prudent to get them to watch the free webinars and other aids offered by YNAB that further lead them on the path of financial prudence.
This app is perfect for those who lack financial discipline. Over time, the software would make such people financially literate and still advance their learning as they progress. A convenient 34-day free trial would help folks get to use the software before making the purchase. It would cost $11.99 per month to be on the platform after the trial period is over.
With Mvelopes, the most traditional method of stuffing envelopes to keep budgets comes alive again. At the heart of Mvelopes lie different envelopes that signify different spend heads. When the new month starts, you put different amounts into the envelopes signifying the budget limits. As you spend money, the envelopes get empty.
It is possible to set a range of alerts to take care of critical moments like low balance or when limits are nearing the end of the tether. Just like the physical envelopes, it is possible to set savings goals too. You get reports periodically so you can see how the budget spent. Mvelopes comes with a trial time of 30-days and costs $6 per month after that.
With the high-end versions of Mvelopes, they offer coaching services to help the customer be a better manager of his finances.
The best feature about this personal finance software is that it comes in handy when filing tax returns annually. Other than that, there are the usual finance options like paying bills, credit card dues, and so on. For filing tax returns you need to upload the W-2 information from your employer. You can do this by taking a photo of it and uploading it. The software would fill in the details automatically.
When a person has used TurboTax for multiple years, then the software tends to remember the past filings and asks crucial questions on the status of the person. The software makes changes in the file and uploads it to the tax authorities. The free version allows the filing of tax returns with the federal and state agencies with just the needed Form 1040. Any attached schedules would require the use of the premium versions of the software.
At the high-end version of TurboTax, it is possible to have a tax advisor look over the filing. It advises how deductions can be made to reduce tax liability. The application is available as a web version or the smartphone edition too.
Future Advisor is the right option to use for those folks who are doing their accounts as a DIY program. It is a low-cost financial advisor with the app providing tips and tricks to help balance out the budget. Free tips are provided to diversify the portfolio and it is up to the user to pay heed to the advice or just ignore it.
There is a limit of $5,000 worth of assets or cash before the software can be used to manage the portfolio. It is in partnership with Fidelity to help manage and offer advice to the users.
This is a single platform to help people manage and handle their finances. At hand are the mortgage accounts, bank accounts, investment accounts, and the portfolio of securities. Personal Capital saves the user the time and effort taken to shift between screens when using it.
There is a portfolio management advisory that people who have assets over $100,000 can use to better handle their resources. A personal advisor adds a touch of class and quality to the service rendered. One of the strong points with Personal Capital is its retirement plans that can be tailor-made to suit each individual. The software is free to use, but for additional features, you need to pay.
The power of Tiller Money lies in financial statements. You can download everything from your bank, expense, investment accounts, and everything in-between, like Excel sheets. It thus affords a utility that few other competing financial accounting software possess. There is a range of customizable sheets that can be used as best as possible by finance personnel. A daily email announces the transactions and deals entered during the day. On offer is a 30-day free trial and after it costs $6.59 per month.
Can comparisons be drawn between the different software?
While it is natural that most promoters of personal finance software would try to keep each of their offerings as unique as possible; comparisons are the order of the day. While some packages have tax filing benefits, others use some of the most basic of choices which is the application of envelopes to accounting.
At the end of the day, it is not a question of which of the software is the best but more of which of the software is the most suited to the user. While the average personal software user tends to be more of a generalist there are often specialized operations that need the extra push from the application.
The cost of the software application is often a key question when it comes to taking a proper decision. But even with the free versions, it’s possible to conduct a fair amount of detailing and results too.
The best use of personal finance software is when the needs of the user are matched with the features offered by the software in question. Some apps offer free versions with basic accounting functions. And it takes the more costly versions to have some high-end features unlocked
The typical personal finance software collects a lot of data and helps put out reports that use this data. In a nutshell, the point is to make informed decisions, the software provides a lot of information so you can do exactly this. Most financial software allows the setting of goals and long-term plans which would be hard to do without a good application.
Few people would doubt the utility of finance software but often people are undecided on whether to choose the high-end versions of software that promise to do a lot more. In other words, there is no substitute for sound financial advice and the software applications are just a tool to help handle the money matter easily.