The proliferation on personal finance apps has helped to develop a notion among some consumers that personal finance desktop programs are worth placing in grandma’s outdated software list. But the reality is quite different.
The sophistication provided by desktop software can’t be replaced by the functionality of personal finance apps. This is because app users are at a disadvantage in specialty areas, because offerings with decent features come with a price tag (Money by Jumsoft, Homebudget with Sync etc.).
Also, there are limited offerings compared to desktop software, because creating a clutter-free app with credit card reporting, online banking, debt management, bankruptcy management, market trend lookups and other features require much more capital and human resources on the developer’s part.
So personal finance software is indeed alive and well, presenting an opportunity to take your budget under control. And from the huge list of offerings available, there were some that were extensively used in 2013, making them strong contenders for the next year as well.
Top personal finance software to use in 2014
1. YNAB (You Need a Budget)
This software requires you to sync your bank information and register a new account. The information will be organized in a single place and can be accessed at any time of the day through your desktop or even an iPhone. You can search for any transaction or record by using the search function and typing in the first few words of the entry.
For example, if you’re searching for a petrol station receipt, you can just write ‘pst’ and the software will provide you with options like category, date, memo and payee names to narrow down the search results.
The pie charts and line graphs help you in the tax season and there’s also a tagging feature that lets you mark expenditures such as household expenses, office expenses and other categories for tax purposes. All the options are password-protected and encrypted for enhanced level security.
Mint doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part, as it makes a direct connection with all the financial institutions handling your accounts, creating ledgers for them and placing them into categories automatically. You also get step by step instructions on how to use the software to authenticate credit cards, bank accounts, etc. It gives you the option to mark certain accounts as invisible for managing your finances. The dashboard screen gives you the ability to handle most of the features from a single interface.
For example, let’s say you’ve found the best CD rates available and create a Certificates of Deposits account; you can use Mint to operate an existing bank account to fund the CD account, without having to make a physical trip to the bank. The latest high yield Discover CD rates are just as advantageous to people using online accounts as they are to in-person customers. You can transfer the interest accumulated in a CD account to any of your other bank accounts with just a few clicks–pretty handy if you regularly transfer funds between accounts.
Another key feature offered by Mint is the visualization of total expenses. The analysis not only breaks down your spending, but also allows you to chart personal finance goals and budget management.
3. Ready for Zero
Though this software is relatively new, it will be a great companion if you’re currently facing debt issues. It shows the total debt, the charges incurred due to interest, the total number of payments so far and the period (months or years) it will take to become debt free at different levels of payment.
This can act as somewhat of a motivation factor, as you see the total time frame required to end debt once and for all. The software is going to display a ‘target account’, which indicates the biggest debt for the user. This will help you to set up an ideal repayment plan, and save money in interest rate expenses during the tenure.
Ready for Zero also sends out congratulation messages when the user reaches a milestone such as an improved credit score, and it will also suggest making extra payments if there is interest to be saved. Other features include mobile access, bank account syncing and expense tracking.
4. Simple Home Money Management
This is perhaps the simplest one in the list, with a clean interface for every step performed. It lets you import accounts, pay off bills, track expenditures and do a lot more.
There’s an ‘annual budget’ option presented during use, which places the incoming and outgoing transactions in different categories through the use of images and tags. You can also create yearly reports, budget graphs and forecast yearly expenses and income with the help of charts.
All the account information can be protected by password control and you can even back up the information and restore it later if the need arises. In short, Simple Home Money Management will let you improve spending and saving habits over time.