Financial Software – Part 1

Welcome to the latest series at – Financial Software!

One of the keys to maximizing your financial potential is to GET ORGANIZED.  Organization helps in so many ways.  It helps ensure that bills are paid on time, helps you locate a financial record swiftly, and allows you to focus on "doing" instead of "searching".

I am a huge fan of financial software, and in this series I will be reviewing different types of software that is available.

I personally use Microsoft's Money Software.  Microsoft recently changed the name of their Microsoft Money software to Microsoft Money Plus.

I have used Microsoft Money software since 2000.

The top reasons I use this software are:

  • Ease of use  Above everything else, financial software needs to be straight-forward and easy to use.  Microsoft Money is exactly that for me.
  • Multiple Accounts  I can manage multiple bank accounts and investment accounts within the same program
  • Reports It has tons of built-in reports that allow me to see where my money is going!
  • I always know exactly how much money is in all of my accounts!  This alone is worth the entire cost.  I know my balance to the exact penny, and I know if a transaction has cleared the bank or not.
  • When I earn or spend money, I am able to categorize the transaction.  For instance, when I pull out money for my cash envelopes, I am able to split the transaction into multiple categories.  Let's say I pull out $600.  I can split the cash withdrawal into the different categories I will use the money for – $300 for groceries, $100 for clothes, $100 for spending money, and $100 for restaurants.

In the next part of this series, I will share how I use Microsoft Money to better manage my money.

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  1. Patrick Sievert on January 31, 2008 at 6:28 am

    Do you have any recommendations for software for a Mac?

  2. Mark on January 31, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Boo!! I didn’t like Microsoft Money when I checked it out back in 1998 so I’ve been a Quicken user for 10 years now. I like it. It does everything you noted about Microsoft Money. Both softwares have come a long way I’m sure.
    It is such a wonderful tool for knowing where the money is going, but there is always room for improving control of where it is going… 🙂

  3. Michael on January 31, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Joe, I have to slightly disagree with you about MS Money. Both MS Money and Intuit’s Quicken have excellent checkbook functionality when you manually enter transactions. Sure you can run reports but their budgetary functionality is terrible. No customizable categories. There are much better programs out there that are much less expensive and also much easier to use. I recently found it funny that Quicken developed an online product with a new trademark for “Real Balance” when they have had this in all their products all along. The only thing was it was called just called “balance”. It sounds like they are trying to catch up to MS Money which has a similar functionality. Monitoring personal finance through checkbook balancing and budget tracking takes work. On average, it takes my wife and I 10-15 minutes per day to actively monitor our finances with usually a 90 minute end of month budgetary meeting where we analyze on budgetary expenses for the previous month and then prepare for the upcoming month using the lessons we learned from the previous month. Being able to download transactions automatically is not always better. My wife and I find that by having to manually enter transactions each week into our checkbook and budget programs that we tend to more carefully monitor our spending. It is similar to Dave Ramsey’s philosophy about cash versus credit card spending. It “hurts” more if you have to enter this data by hand and say to yourself was this really a need or just a want? Only through an active approach to personal finance can you begin saving and stop spending more than you earn which is what I honestly believe your crusade teaches Joe. You need to pay yourself first and dictate where your spending will be going through a budget plan rather than downloading historical data from your bank through Quicken or MS Money to find out where it went. My wife and I have tried Quicken and MS Money and have even tried the following programs with vary degrees of success: Mint; Yodlee; My Budget Planner; YNAB Excel based and Pro; Mvelopes; and most recently BudgetSimple. We have even tried many of these programs simultaneously for a month at a time to really “kick the tires”. Yes, that was a lot of work but we wanted to make sure they were working by verifying the numbers against a similar program. We now exclusively use Joe’s monthly budget spreadsheet as are starting point during our monthly budget meetings, enter and monitor our budget using PearBudget, and use It’s Your Money checkbook register We fully believe PearBudget’s philosophy that you need to get your hands a little dirty in budgeting to fully understand where your money is going.

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