For this week I’m publishing an article by my friend Matt Caranante from Value Nomad (which is a cool site name btw). I’ve written about a few of these – Mint, Personal Capital, but Matt digs deeper into the comparisons between them. If you’re looking for new tools, or just trying to find new ways to use the ones you already use, read on!
Managing and budgeting money is a difficult task for most people, leading to financial problems later on. You can avoid debt and develop a saving culture by simply adopting a simple personal financial management system.
There are plenty of apps available nowadays that can help you with all sorts of issues such as budgeting, saving, investing, etc. All you need to do is find the right app for the problem you have at hand.
These apps are known as Personal Finance Software apps, and you can use them to master the basics of money management. They can even give you ideas on meeting both your long-term and short-term financial goals while setting up a little nest egg for the future.
In our list below, we take a look at the best personal finance software apps that you can download and use for your everyday needs.
Best Personal Finance Software
What Should You Look for in a Personal Finance Tool?
When choosing a personal finance tool, you must consider your goals at hand and what you need the software to do for you. Also, consider how sophisticated you wish the software to be in terms of operation.
For example, if you wish to have an app that can track your income and expenses, then find one that does precisely that, and if you are looking for one to help with budgeting, then find that as well. Here are a few other factors you should consider when looking for a personal finance software app;
Personal finance software will usually have a free as well as premium version. This means that you will have to pay annually or monthly to use the app. It’s always a good idea to get the premium version as it tends to have more features and can allow you to do more things with it.
Some apps will limit you on the number of accounts you can add to it. If you have more than one account (which almost everyone does), such as a saving account, investment account, and checking account, it is advisable to find an app that can accommodate them.
A good app should be able to break down your spending in a way that you can view easily, for example, by use of graphs and charts. You should also have one that can easily customize the reports to fit your financial goals.
Now, even though it is an app, it is always good to have some human touch. If you are stuck, there should be a number you can call and get in touch with an actual human customer support staff whom you can speak with, instead of the Robo-advisor.
The best apps come with a free credit score check. This will help you stay on top of your credit report and enable you to keep track of it in case the score drops at any one point. The faster you identify the drop, the quicker you shall be able to correct things.
What Can a Personal Finance Software App Do for You?
As mentioned above, you get to choose the app according to what you want it to do for you. For example, here are some of the needs the app can meet;
There are plenty of software budgeting apps that you can use to help you track your spending. You can sync such apps with your financial accounts, savings, and checking accounts, plus credit cards, investments, and loans. They usually automatically categorize your spending and help you to identify how to save on costs.
If you wish to develop a much-needed saving culture and come up with an emergency fund, then a software app geared towards saving can help make your work easier. This will give you tips on how you can keep a small reserve each month.
Some apps will automatically transfer money from your checking to your saving account each month without your input, as they are designed to help you with savings.
Investing in apps and software will help keep your money working for you to ensure that you achieve both your long-term and short-term goals and meet your retirement needs at the same time.
It is a little overwhelming for beginners to learn how to do this, but your work will be that much easier as they practically do everything for you with the apps.
Tax season comes with many issues for most people because they do not understand how to do it and what happens. In fact, the kind of forms that need to be filled in can be a little puzzling to them. With a good taxation app, all of your concerns are put to rest as they practically do the work for you.
Most of them will ask you questions that you must answer and then guide you to the proper deductions and what you qualify for.
The Best Personal Finance Software
This software has been around for a long time, and it is one of the most established software in the market. You can use it to manage many different aspects of your financial life, from budgeting, savings, investing, and debt tracking.
It is simply a jack of all trades. It features excel exporting, manipulations, and performance of calculations on your financial data. One of its more advanced features is bill paying.
The software will keep track of your assets to have an accurate calculation of your net worth. It is robust and can manage both businesses and personal expenses, and it can even handle property management for tenants and rental payments.
Quicken has different versions, and they all have different costs.
- The starter – costs $ 35.99/yr.
- The Deluxe – costs $46.79/yr.
- The Premier – Costs $7.019/yr.
- The Home and Business Version – Costs $93.59/yr.
It depends on what you are looking for. They all allow you to keep track of your income, create budgets, expenses and even run reports to analyze your finances.
Personal Capital allows you to manage your finances using a single platform. You can add your mortgage payments, bank accounts, and any other credit accounts to the platform. It also includes investment accounts, if you have any.
Using this software can save you from switching from multiple screens when working on your finances to know where you stand.
For example, if you have a portfolio of around $50,000, you can easily get personalized financial advice based explicitly on your goals. The financial advisors on the app are obligated to provide you with advice that is best for you. You will, however, be charged a fee for this service.
This software can also tell you whether you are on track with your investment or retirement goals at all times.
Now, if you are not ready to use the financial advisors, there is the personal capital that keeps track of your investments and finances in one place.
This software is free to use, but for additional services, you shall have to pay for them. Also, there are costs for other app features.
What You Can Do with This Software
Use the free version to keep track of your spending patterns against your cash flow. You can analyze your spending according to the individual transactions and the spending categories.
They will give you monthly summaries that help you to know exactly how you used your money. However, if you only need software to help with budgeting, this is probably not the best option. Many other apps are specifically geared for this and have many features, such as alerts for upcoming bills and a bill payment function provision.
Analyzing your Cash Flow
This financial tool will create for you a budget. Once that is set up, it will keep track of your expenses and income from all the different financial accounts you have linked to. You can then set goals such as preparing for debt repayment and saving for your retirement.
There is an analyzer that will develop strategies for you so that you can reach your goals quickly.
Now, despite it having a dashboard that has limits when it comes to budgeting, it is an excellent service for investment management and can be of use in the following ways;
Analyzing your 401 (k)
Most people participate in this employer-sponsored retirement plan. Few, however, are aware of the kind of fees that are hidden in such plans. The analyzer in the software will show you precisely what each fund you have is costing you.
It then suggests for you alternative allocations that can help lower these costs.
A retirement planner
The planner used in the software is the “what if” scenario, and it helps you determine whether or not you are on track with your retirement goals. You can be able to adjust and make changes to any situation you are in.
For example, if you are not on track, you may need to change your job or career. If you are almost starting a family, then this means that you need more spending money, which would reduce your savings.
This planner considers everything to give you the best advice when it comes to your retirement plans.
This is probably the most important aspect of the software tool. Once you can aggregate your investment accounts, then the app shall help in optimizing these accounts. It will recommend where you need to make adjustments in your portfolio and where you need to improve on overall portfolio performance.
Net worth calculation
If you wish to keep track of your assets and your liabilities to quickly determine your net worth at the press of a button, then this app will do exactly that for you. It keeps track of these two critical aspects of your net worth – the assets and liabilities, and at any one time, you can check and see how much you are worth.
Now, although the financial dashboard is free to use, you can still contact the personal advisor. The advisor will provide you with investment advice and also answer a few questions regarding your finances. Please note that you will have to pay for this service.
This is another popular expense tracking and budgeting tool. It allows you to pull your bank and credit card information onto the tool so you can critically analyze your spending. It helps you pinpoint the areas you need to cut back and where you need to improve your finances.
It offers more accountability and allows you to set up alerts for low balances and due dates. These keep you on track at all times. They also help you to avoid late payments and expensive fees on your loans.
If you set up the budget categories, Mint will give you some real-time information on the amount of money you spend on gas and food.
Mint is a free app and can be downloaded on your Android as well as IOS devices. You can also use it on your desktop computer.
Features of the App
Budgeting and Expense Tracking
This is its primary feature. The Mint app is all about Budgeting and Expenses. It shines brightest here. Budgeting is pretty easy to set up on the app, and after you have downloaded and synched your transaction, you shall receive an auto-categorization of your expenses easily.
It will then create subcategories for you, although you will not modify the categories’ important areas.
You will have the option to make some changes to the transactions after they have already downloaded.
Creation and Management of Goals
This is yet another prominent feature of the app. You are managing and tracking goals. If you have new goals, such as paying off your credit card or saving for a new car, you can set them up easily on the app. Your monthly budgeting goals will reflect these new goals.
Monitoring your Credit Score
As mentioned earlier, an excellent personal finance software tool should come with this feature. Mint offers a free credit score tracking option. Although it is a new feature, it will keep track of your entire financial information at all times.
All you need to do is log in and click on “show details.” This will give you your credit score, age of credit accounts, payment history, and much more.
This app caters to the masses, and it shines brightest when it comes to tracking expenses and budgeting.
It has an investing area, which is just a simple feature, which means that it is not as established as other apps.
This is the TAXATION app. You will probably not need it throughout the rest of the year, but it will come in handy when tax time comes around. It is, however, one of the most expensive taxation tools in the market today, but it is also extremely user-friendly and will walk you through your tax preparation with ease and accuracy.
Here are the different costs
- Premium – $90
- Self-employed – $120
The app allows you to enter your tax information, and you can even import your W-2 form from your employer and then take a picture of it. The same goes for if you work for yourself. TurboTax will then transfer the data onto the form.
Suppose you have used the app over the years. In that case, it will simply remember your personal information without requiring you to input the data again, then ask you whether you have had any significant changes in your life.
The basic version of TurboTax will let you file your state and federal returns for free, and the only form you shall use is 1040 without any attached schedules.
TurboTax also connects you with an Enrolled Agent or a CPA to help you with personalized advice and answer any questions you may have about your tax returns.
The app’s paid version will help you identify deductions that you may not even know are available to you.
YNAB stands for – You Need a Budget. It is a personal software whose main aim is to help with your financial literacy and manage your monthly budgets.
As you manage your finances and create your budget, the software will provide you with tutorials to tackle tough finance topics. If you are struggling with a bad financial lifestyle, then YNAB is here to take you through a few management rules that will eventually help you out.
The software allows you to link to your bank account and integrates your spending information to perform budget tracking and analysis. You can then keep tabs on how you have spent your money and take action on areas you have been overspending.
It does not have any investment capabilities, though.
YNAB will offer you a 34-day trial period for free, and in this time, you can use the software in full, then after, you can decide whether it is right for you in terms of your financial goals.
After the trial period, the complete software will cost you $11.99 each month or a one-off payment of $84 for a year.
Financial Management is one of the activities guaranteed to help you out of the “Rat Race.” It may be a hard thing to develop, but with time it gets easier. The above financial management tools are geared towards making it easy for you to keep track of your money.
Choose the right tool that will suit your needs and ensure that you understand how it functions in full, so you can enjoy all the features it has to offer. All the best.
This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.