Comparing the Features of Personal Budget Software

Personal budget software simplifies home financial and accounting tasks. It's great for bookkeeping as well, as the alternative is to tinker with spreadsheets or paper. There are affordable options on the market, and many are free, leaving little excuse not to use one. You can't beat their efficiency once you understand how to use them, which saves time and money. Comparing the features of a few will help you determine which program to use for your household budgeting and personal finance needs.

Free Personal Budget Software

Your desktop may already be loaded with a "free" personal budget software. The cost was factored in with the purchase price of your computer and the software that was loaded on it, but you don't have to buy additional software. For example, your computer (an older one) might have Microsoft Money on it, or it's on a disk for you to install. It's no longer available for purchase, but you can use it if you already own it. A few noteworthy features of Microsoft Money are:

  • Update and consolidate transactions automatically
  • Easily monitor multiple accounts
  • Plan taxes

If you don't already own Microsoft Money, or if you are concerned that it's discontinued and can't be updated, try BudgetPulse. It's free to use and offers everything you need for budgeting and cash flow needs. It's very different in its approach than Microsoft Money, offering these unique features:

  • Create and share financial goals with family and friends, who can then use PayPal or Amazon to donate money to help you meet goals
  • Easy to understand charts
  • No bank account information required

The only drawback for some people, is that there are no downloads. You create and manage your finances through the software application at their website, www.budgetpulse.com.

Paid Personal Budget Software

Basic software packages are free to use, and are all you need if your financial situation is not complex. However, if you're self-employed, own rental property, are a beneficiary of a trust or have other financial circumstances that go beyond simple personal financial planning, then you'll want to pay for premium packages. For example, Quicken personal finance software products include Quicken Premier, Quicken Deluxe, Quicken Home & Business and Quicken Rental Property Manager. More information on each of these can be found at www.quicken.intuit.com. Some features that these offer that most free budget software programs don't include:

  • Investment portfolio management
  • Rental property management
  • Manage home business income and expenses
  • Track medical bills

Quicken is not the only paid personal budget software, but it is the best one and is the most user-friendly program to use.

Online vs. Desktop Personal Budget Software

You may prefer to have your financial data stored on your personal computer, and not on computers owned by an online software company. If you're uneasy about sharing your information on the web or having your data hosted by a company, then download or buy a program CD. However, reputable companies provide reliable online products that are secured. If you need to access your information from another computer away from your home, you can log in with a username and password. If your computer crashes and your data is lost, you'll still have access to it online.

Take all of these features into consideration as you make a decision on which personal budget software to buy. Try a risk free trial of an online budget software first to see if it suits you.

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