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In the past, proper financial management was complicated and expensive. It meant manually recording your income and expenses, doing the calculations yourself, and having consultations with professionals.
Barriers to entry were especially high for making investments. In the digital era, it’s never been easier to stay in control of your finances. You can simply download an app or piece of computer software that will do the work for you.
Tracking your budget can now be automated, you can learn basic principles directly from your phone, and you can consult with advisors virtually for a lower price tag. Yet new pieces of financial software are constantly being released; it can be overwhelming to choose just one.
What is the Best Financial Software for Personal Use?
To narrow down the best software for your needs, you have to ask yourself what you most need – personal finance is a broad term. Possible uses include budgeting, saving, investing, taxes, and bill management.
Some software focuses on one particular area, while others can tackle all of them at once.
You should also ask yourself whether you’re willing to pay for software; this will probably depend on the types of features you’re looking for. If you want to be able to track and categorize your money and do the basics, the free software will probably suffice.
If you’re looking for guidance, sophisticated features, or you’re a small business owner, you’ll need to upgrade to paid software.
It’s worth routinely asking yourself these questions as your situation might change; you may also find you need more support and guidance initially than you may in the next year.
Overall Best Financial Software
There are a few personal finance programs that cover a couple of areas, but there aren’t many that are suitable for absolutely everything.
If you’re looking for the most sophisticated advice and learning content, then you’d be better off with more specialized software.
Otherwise, an all-purpose program can be very effective.
Quicken is one of the most established pieces of personal finance software for a good reason. If you want to be able to handle your investments, taxes, and budgeting in one app, then you can’t get much better than Quicken.
You’ll be able to do everything from calculating your net worth to paying your bills automatically.
This comes for a price. You can choose between a starter ($34.99), deluxe ($49.99), premier ($74.99), and home & business ($99.99).
If all you want to do is track your finances, then the starter pack will suffice, but if you want to perform more sophisticated functions, then it might be worth investing.
Upgrading to deluxe will give you more customization, and premier will provide you with more help with investments, taxes, and saving.
If you’re looking for a free option, you could consider GnuCash, a piece of open-source software designed for accounting for both individuals and small businesses.
You’ll also be able to track your spending, stocks, and you can import data from other websites.
The interface is quite basic and dated, but the software itself is surprisingly advanced and easy to use. You’ll even be able to perform complicated calculations such as double-entry accounting and creating reports and graphs.
One potential problem is that GnuCash can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the basic principles of accounting. You also won’t be receiving any tailor-made investing advice.
But if you’re generally quite confident with navigating your finances and need the software to track everything for you, GnuCash could be ideal. It’s worth trying before jumping straight into a more expensive option.
Best Budgeting Software
Creating a budget should be an essential part of everyone’s financial plan, and budgeting software is excellent to track where your money is going and how much you’re managing to save. Generally, once you sync your accounts, your incomings and outgoings will sync automatically.
This is ideal for helping you save for specific goals or to simply better understand where your money is going.
The primary function of Mint is to view all your bank accounts and cards in one place and track finances.
You can even add in loans and investments. A great thing about Mint is that it includes a phone app as well as the website so that you can track your finances on-the-go.
You’ll be able to track your spending by categories using graphs and charts and receive personalized recommendations.
YNAB is short for ‘you need a budget,’ and it’s a program designed to help its users set one up. You’ll be walked through the process of allocating your money between different areas of your life and helped to stay on track.
This is great for people who are struggling with debt or managing their finances, but if you feel you’ve already got to grips with the basics of budgeting this may be unnecessary.
The software costs $84 a year, but you can take part in a free trial first and there’s a 100% moneyback guarantee. YNAB claims their software pays for itself, as users save an average of $6,000 in their first year.
As well as the software itself, you’ll get to take part in fifteen workshops to help you manage your money better.
Pocketguard (Free and Paid)
Pocketguard is an app that allows you to make sense of your finances and save money. It has an attractive interface and is extremely simple, making it perfect for those who want to track their finances without any of the added frills some other apps have.
However, if you want to know more than simply incomings and outgoings, you might want to consider upgrading to Pocketguard Plus.
The paid version gives you more sophisticated features such as creating categories for your spending habits (similarly to YNAB), tracking money manually (that you may receive in cash) and creating categories for your saving goals.
The annual subscription is $34.99, but you can get the first week for free.
Albert (Free and Paid)
Albert is a personal finance app that acts like a personal money advisor.
As well as tracking your spending, you can receive personalized budgeting recommendations through the Albert Savings feature and use a custom portfolio for guided investing. This all comes for free.
There’s an additional feature called Albert Genius that gives you one-on-one guidance from an advisor about how to improve your financial management.
This comes for some extra money – but the amount you pay is up to you past the minimum contribution of $4 a month.
Mvelopes gets its name from traditional envelope budgeting systems, breaking down your budgets into different ‘envelopes’ or categories. The program uses this approach, with users allocating amounts to separate envelopes.
Like most of the other pieces of software, you can connect various bank accounts and track your spending in one place.
All the plans are paid, but some are more expensive than others. The basic version is only $6 a month, the plus version is $19 a month, and the complete version is a hefty $59 a month.
If all you want to do is track your spending, then the basic version is fine, but if you feel coaching would be beneficial, then the pricier options might be worth considering.
Mvelopes Plus gives you quarterly coaching, while Mvelopes Complete includes coaching monthly. Luckily, you can have a 30-day free trial before choosing.
Buddi is open-source software designed for those who struggle with more mainstream personal finance programs due to their complexity.
You can even find plenty of free guides on the websites, letting you know how to make the most out of the program.
Buddi is ideal for setting up your accounts and tracking your spending and incoming. You can then generate reports or budgets for you to stick to.
However, be aware that you need Java to run the program.
Best Investment Software
You may be concerned about saving for retirement, a house, or something else; investments can help you reach that goal.
You’ll typically need software to help you trade. Investment platforms are generally free to sign up for, but you may have to pay to make trades.
Personal Capital (free and paid)
Personal Capital offers a way to track your investments alongside your other accounts rather than a platform to trade on.
Just as with budgeting software, you can connect all your bank accounts in one place and analyze your money, including your investment portfolio.
Unlike most budgeting software, the options for monitoring your investment accounts are more specialized. You can track whether you’re in line with investment goals such as retirement, check how well your portfolio is performing, and find out if you’re paying unnecessary fees.
If you have an extensive portfolio (worth $100,000 or more), you can pay a fee to receive personalized advice from financial experts. The core software is completely free.
Personal Capital Price: FREE With Personal Capital, you can see your net worth, analyze investments, and discover any hidden fees you weren’t aware of before – as well as set spending and saving goals.
- Easy to use
- Innovative new features
- Free for college students
- Automates your investing
- Limited Investment options
- Flat fee skews high on low balances
If the idea of investment scares you, Acorns could be a great place to start. Instead of putting aside a huge lump sum, you can let Acorns invest your loose change. You might find that the loose cents add up to more than you’d expect!
You’ll be given a dedicated Acorns card that automates the investment of your loose change. You can also access tips and money management advice straight from the app to continuously improve your investment strategies.
It’s ideally suited for those who want to save for retirement, as there’s a dedicated service called Acorns Later that will match you up with a suitable IRA account.
Stash Invest is another great option for beginners or would-be traders. It’s a one-stop-shop for everything related to money and designed for you to learn as you go; due to the dedicated app, this has never been easier.
You can choose between a banking, investment, retirement, or custodial account, depending on your needs.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee of $1-9 to use Stash; as you pay more, you can access more features. It can be a great place to start off due to the educational content, but may not be worth your while for much longer after learning the basics.
E*Trade is one of the most popular trading platforms around, partly due to its benefits for both regular traders and beginners. Stocks, options, and ETF trades are all zero-commissions, which is ideal for those who trade regularly and want to save money doing so.
However, for those who feel less confident, there are plenty of resources to give you the grounding you need. You can even opt-out of investing entirely and choose to let E*Trade do it for you with automated trading.
You can set up an account that best suits your needs, whether that’s investing for your retirement or running a small business account. All accounts are geared towards trading stocks rather than giving guidance or education.
The platform includes a range of resources you can use to educate yourself about trading, including a curriculum and streaming news.
You can open an account for a variety of purposes, including saving retirement and education. If you’re unsure what you want, you can open a standard account for greater flexibility.
Trade Station is suited for more active and experienced traders who don’t need to learn the basics. The big pull of Trade Station is the technology offered, which is designed for professional traders.
Features include advanced order management, automated strategy trading, and customizable charts.
You can open a variety of accounts, including an IRA, and fund it through either futures or equities. A major disadvantage is that ETFs and mutual funds aren’t free of commissions, unlike other platforms.
Interactive Brokers is another platform suitable for experienced traders. They claim to be the lowest-cost broker of all their competitors due to low commissions and high interest.
It’s less suitable for beginners as there are few resources, and you may wind up incurring a fine for inactivity.
There are two plans: IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro. The Pro version offers the lowest cost access to the widest range of stocks (125 markets in 31 countries), while the Lite option is slightly less comprehensive.
There’s also the chance to option an integrated account to be able to manage your investments directly from your main bank account and put the income you receive to its best use.
This is ideal if you know what you’re doing when it comes to trading.
Once again, Future Advisor is best suited for experienced traders. However, the focus is on guiding investments rather than making them; the target market is DIY investors who want to understand what their stocks are doing better.
A holistic approach is taken since all your accounts and goals will be surveyed alongside your lifestyle.
You’ll receive personalized recommendations to make your portfolio more diverse, identify tax-saving opportunities, and ensure you maximize the benefits of each account you have.
The cost of the service depends on the size of your assets – instead of paying a flat monthly fee, you’ll pay an annual management fee worth 0.5% of the assets directly managed, which is billed quarterly.
Best Tax Software
Tax software can help to make filing for taxes more straightforward by guiding you through the process.
Whether you’re an employee, self-employed, or a business owner, you’ll be able to find the perfect program to suit your needs.
Turbotax (Paid and Free)
- Best-in-class Technology
- Great customer support
- Easy to upgrade
- Saves you time if you use it every year
- Useful for almost all tax situations
- More expensive for some premium features
If filing your taxes makes you nervous, and you want to be led through every step, Turbotax is a great tool to have ready.
All you have to do is input your information and follow the process; if you use Turbotax year after year, this will become easier as the software will remember your details.
If you use a form 1040 with no attached schedules, the service is free of charge, but if you have a more complicated process, you’ll need to pay.
There are dedicated services for the self-employed and small business owners, amongst others. You can also opt to receive advice from a CPA or Enrolled Agent.
Turbotax is a pricier option than others: the complete self-employed package is $119.99. But it is comprehensive, including industry-specific tax deductions to make.
You have to remember that sometimes the cheapest tax software, may not be the best for your needs, so make sure to know what package you need to benefit you the most!
H&R Block (Paid)
H&R Block offers a way to prepare for tax season that’s more upfront and helpful than traditional services.
They offer a comprehensive and robust support system that makes it easy to ask questions you may encounter along the way.
The base price for their services is $59, and add-on expenses will be included depending on your circumstances, such as living in multiple states or having a complex income.
TaxAct (Free and Paid)
If you’re looking for a quick and easy-to-use software, TaxAct could be perfect – simple returns can be completed in ten minutes, and complex returns more quickly than usual.
TaxAct is a good option for those who don’t want to pay more than necessary to file their taxes. If you have a simple income that comes to less than $66,000, you can qualify to use their free version.
Even the Premier+ option (for those with rental properties and investments) is only $57.95 – less than the basic software for H&R Block.
Best Bill Management Software
Seeing all your utility bills in one place can help you save a lot of time and ensure you never miss another payment again.
Truebill is a personal finance app focused on helping users to lower the costs of their bills and find the best price. They do this by negotiating your rate for you – you upload the details of your bills, and the team will look for better deals or try to negotiate.
All you have to do is sit back and wait for the results.
The service isn’t free, but rather than paying a monthly fee, you’ll split the profits of your savings: Truebill takes 40% of the total amount. That might sound steep, but since you’d be paying for the full price for your bills without the app, it’s fairly reasonable.
Prism doesn’t change the cost of your bills, but it does track them for you.
Once you upload the details of your utilities manually, Prism will remind you when they’re due and let you view everything in one place.
It’s a simple concept, but you’d be surprised at how much money you can save – not to mention the peace of mind gained. Prism is also completely free, so you can’t complain.
Is Quicken the best personal finance software?
Quicken is a fantastic all-purpose personal finance software, but it’s not necessarily the best option for everybody.
On the one hand, if you feel you’d benefit from receiving tailor-made financial guidance from advisors or if you want to be walked through a specific process like filing complicated taxes or trading stocks, Quicken could be too basic for you.
Of course, you could use Quicken alongside a more specialized tool, but the subscription costs can quickly add up.
On the other hand, if you all you want to do is track your spending to help you save more, Quicken could be an unnecessary expense as you’d be unlikely ever to use the more advanced features. Many free or cheap apps can perform this function just as well.
Quicken is ideally suited to those who have relatively complex financial situations but feel relatively confident in managing their money independently.
What is the Best Budget Software?
Many personal finance programs mentioned are either completely free or suitable for those with a low budget.
Of course, the best software for you depends on your needs, but each category has a clear winner:
- All-Purpose: GnuCash is completely free
- Budgeting and Saving: Mint and Buddi are entirely free; Albert is a good value for the money
- Investing: E*Trade offers lots of zero-commission trades, and Personal Capital provides free investment management for those with a low portfolio
- Taxes: TaxAct is free or affordable depending on your situation
- Bills: Prism is entirely free
Can You Use QuickBooks for Personal Finance?
Quickbooks is an accounting tool designed for business owners. Most of the features are built with business needs in mind: you can track profits and expenses, send invoices, and track sales tax.
That’s why it’s so expensive – the simplest plan is $15 a month, while the most comprehensive plan is $31. If you don’t own a business and you’re not self-employed, you’d be paying a high price for features you’d be unlikely to use.
However, if you do happen to own a business, then QuickBooks is a great piece of software to take control of your finances and automate processes so you can spend more time focusing on your company.
It includes comprehensive support – such as accounting help – that make it well worth the price.
What is the Best Personal Finance Software for Mac?
Most of the pieces of the software mentioned are suitable for Mac, as well as Windows. Some have web apps, whereas others have a dedicated program to install.
Quicken, Turbotax, Future Advisor, Mint, and Personal Capital are all examples of personal finance programs that work well on Mac.
Is Microsoft Money Still Available?
Microsoft Money has now been replaced by Money Plus Sunset Deluxe and can still be downloaded from the Microsoft website for free. In 2010, this replaced previous versions: Money Plus Essentials, Money Plus Deluxe, and Money Plus Premium.
This new version is missing some of the previous features, including stock quotes, tax-planning tools, and online bill pay support.
Now that the paid versions have been continued, it can be challenging to find support online for the program. It’s recommended to opt for one of the other budgeting tools suggested in this article.
Picking The Best Finance Software
When it comes to personal finance software, we’re spoilt for choice these days. New apps and websites are being launched all the time to help us control our money better.
It’s tempting to always opt for free programs – after all, if you’re reading this, then you’re hoping to take of your finances. However, it’s important to bear in mind that investing in a good program now could help you to save more money in the long run.
The benefit of learning to invest or budget now could be exponential.
Ask yourself what your key money goals are and how complex your financial situation is. A small business owner who invests parts of their profits in the stock market has far more to track than an employee with a savings account.
Where do you feel along this spectrum, and where would you ultimately like to be? Answering these types of questions can help to shed light on what kind of personal finance software you need.