Managing your money successfully includes keeping a close eye on your expenses. One way to do that is to take advantage of free software and services. Free personal finance software can be surprisingly robust, helping you track spending, create and manage budgets, and run reports.
A personal finance software is an electronic system that enables to organize, plan and carry out your financial activities. Financial planning software allows you to visualize the achievements of your financial commitments. The three main steps in financial planning are budgeting, setting financial goals and establishing a savings plan. A Personal Finance Software is used to make financial mathematical calculations regarding savings, withdrawals, insurance, taxes and other related financial matters. The software might help to create a budget and help the user to foresee future needs. It can evaluate current assets, income and personal debts in order to recommend strategies that enable savings in the short term in order to reach certain financial goals in the future.
We all make hundreds of decisions each day. Most of these decisions are quite simple and have few consequences. Some are complex and have long-term effects on our personal and financial situations. The financial planning process is a logical procedure:
Determine Your Current Financial Situation
- In this first step of the financial planning process, you will determine your current financial situation with regard to income, savings, living expenses, and debts. Preparing a list of current asset and debt balances and amounts spent for various items gives you a foundation for financial planning activities.
Develop Financial Goals
- You should periodically analyze your financial values and goals. This involves identifying how you feel about money and why you feel that way. The purpose of this analysis is to differentiate your needs from your wants.
- Specific financial goals are vital to financial planning. Others can suggest financial goals for you; however, you must decide which goals to pursue. Your financial goals can range from spending all of your current income to developing an extensive savings and investment program for your future financial security.
Create and Implement a Financial Action Plan
- In this step of the financial planning process, you develop an action plan. This requires choosing ways to achieve your goals. As you achieve your immediate or short-term goals, the goals next in priority will come into focus.
- To implement your financial action plan, you may need assistance from others. For example, you may use the services of an insurance agent to purchase property insurance or the services of an investment broker to purchase stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.
Reevaluate and Revise Your Plan
- Financial planning is a dynamic process that does not end when you take a particular action. You need to regularly assess your financial decisions. Changing personal, social, and economic factors may require more frequent assessments.
- When life events affect your financial needs, this financial planning process will provide a vehicle for adapting to those changes. Regularly reviewing this decision-making process will help you make priority adjustments that will bring your financial goals and activities in line with your current life situation.
Identify Alternative Courses of Action
- Developing alternatives is crucial for making good decisions. Although many factors will influence the available alternatives, possible courses of action usually fall into these categories:
- Continue the same course of action.
- Expand the current situation.
- Change the current situation.
- Take a new course of action.
- Not all of these categories will apply to every decision situation; however, they do represent possible courses of action.
- Creativity in decision making is vital to effective choices. Considering all of the possible alternatives will help you make more effective and satisfying decisions.
- You need to evaluate possible courses of action, taking into consideration your life situation, personal values, and current economic conditions.
- Consequences of Choices. Every decision closes off alternatives. For example, a decision to invest in stock may mean you cannot take a vacation. A decision to go to school full time may mean you cannot work full time. Opportunity cost is what you give up by making a choice. This cost, commonly referred to as the trade-off of a decision, cannot always be measured in dollars.
- Decision making will be an ongoing part of your personal and financial situation. Thus, you will need to consider the lost opportunities that will result from your decisions.
- Uncertainty is a part of every decision. Selecting a college major and choosing a career field involve risk. What if you don’t like working in this field or cannot obtain employment in it?
- Other decisions involve a very low degree of risk, such as putting money in a savings account or purchasing items that cost only a few dollars. Your chances of losing something of great value are low in these situations.
- In many financial decisions, identifying and evaluating risk is difficult. The best way to consider risk is to gather information based on your experience and the experiences of others and to use financial planning information sources.
We chose You Need a Budget (YNAB) as the best overall option because it offers the best combination of flexibility and features, making it more than worth its monthly price. It guides you through making an intentional, forward-thinking plan for your spending. Plus, its goal tracking and reporting features help you monitor your progress.Pros
- You can link your accounts or manually enter transactions
- Real-time information is always available from any device
- YNAB teaches you how to budget, rather than just automating the process
- Subscription fees of about $12 monthly or $84 annually
- Requires a larger time commitment to manage than other options
- There’s a steeper learning curve than some other budgeting apps
YNAB is more expensive than its free counterparts and it takes more time to develop your budget. Despite these drawbacks, it’s the best budgeting software for taking control of your money because it gives you the necessary tools to create a value-driven spending plan.
The app is built around its four rules, which include giving every dollar a job. The program will guide you through the process of allocating every dollar so you can spend intentionally. Its customizable reporting and goal tracking features, which include attractive and informative charts and graphs, help you stick to your plan. YNAB also provides comprehensive education, including more than 100 free online workshops, and offers real-time updating so you’ll always know where your money is going and can make adjustments on the fly.
Quicken is a long-established tool for managing personal accounts, and while its reputation was built on a desktop version, it’s now available to run as an app on your mobile devices. Quicken offers a good range of financial reporting tools. These are set around a few different areas, namely budgeting, bills, accounts, and even investments. For budgeting, it offers you a chance to input your purchases and income so you can compare them both together to get a better idea of how much you are spending compared to how much you are earning.
In terms of bills, you can also see which utilities and similar you are constantly paying out to, and see both the amounts to be paid and how much money you have left over. For accounting purposes you can even bring your banking and credit card bills together in one place so that you have a very clear idea indeed of how much you’re paying out. This is especially handy as people easily underestimate how much regular small purchases can add to costs.
For investments it also offers the ability to track these, whether as part of your savings, investment portfolio, or 401k pension plan. This means you have a clear idea of how much your savings and investments are worth, though it’s fair to say you shouldn’t panic about short-term fluctuations in the stock market.
Altogether, Quicken brings together your budgeting, banking, and investment reporting into a single dashboard, which you can view from your desktop or even via your cell phone from the mobile app.
GnuCash is desktop software; its features include tracking bank accounts, stocks, income, and expenses. GnuCash is based on double-entry accounting for balanced books and you can run a number of reports to see your financial data. GnuCash also offers small-business accounting tools that let you manage customers and vendors, handle invoicing and bill payment, and even payroll. Although relatively easy to use, this free personal finance software does really require some familiarity with accounting software, and it’s simple to migrate from another program because you can import data in QIF and dOFX formats. Support for expense tracking makes this ideal software for preparing for tax season, and there are a huge number of reporting options to help you to make sense of your cashflow.
GnuCash is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, BSD, and Solaris. There is a companion app for Android that will let you track expenses on the go and later import them into the desktop software.
We chose Honeydue as the best option for couples because it is specifically geared toward helping you manage your money with a partner. You can link accounts and customize what information you share with your partner while also communicating about money issues directly through the app. Notifications even alert you to upcoming bills or when you or your partner exceeds pre-set spending limits in your budget categories.Pros
- No monthly fee
- Choose how much account information to share with your partner
- Transactions are automatically categorized
- Customizable alerts for overspending or upcoming bills
- Only available for iOS or Android (no desktop app)
- Limited financial education
- Few reporting features that allow you to look at the big picture
Honeydue is designed to help couples manage their finances together and its features are focused on joint communication. Honeydue makes sharing information about money simpler by allowing you to respond to your partner’s transactions with a note, a thumbs-up, or other emojis. You can also aggregate your linked account information to see all of your individual and joint transactions in one place.
Honeydue makes tracking spending easy by automatically categorizing transactions as well as allowing you to add your own custom categories. And while there are fewer reporting options than with some other programs, customizable alerts help ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Mint is a free online budget planner from Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and Quickbooks. This app brings all of your financial data together, showing you an overview of your budget, spending, bills, and credit score. You can create your own budget, set goals and reminders, and sync your data between web and apps. Security is enhanced by encryption and multi-factor authentication. You can also use Mint to track your investments and portfolio.
Access Mint via the web or phone apps for iOS and Android.
BankTree is more than happy to support worldwide currencies, and in fact does a solid job if you’re working simultaneously with more than one, offering balances in multiple currencies rather than rounding them off into a single total. It’s also good for keeping track of everything, allowing you to scan receipts with its mobile app and import them later on.
It’s not the prettiest software around, and it’s slightly more awkward to use than many of its more refined cousins, although BankTree does produce very neat reports which you can break down by time, or by payee. It may be worth experimenting with the free trial before you choose to invest in this one.
The desktop software comes with one year of updates and support, though you are restricted to one PC and there is a charge for any additional PC you want to run the software on. There’s also a browser-based version available. Whichever version you opt for, there’s a 30 day free trial available, so you can try before you buy to get an idea if BankTree will work for you.
We chose Albert as the best option for saving money because it is a banking app that is good at both facilitating the budgeting process and automating savings. The app monitors your spending habits, identifies spare dollars, and moves the money to a digital wallet. You’ll earn cash back on purchases with your Albert debit card, can withdraw savings at any time, and can qualify for annual cash bonuses.Pros
- Smart Savings allows you to save money for your goals effortlessly
- Earn an annual bonus of 0.10% on your savings automatically or as much as 0.25% when you enable Genius
- Invest seamlessly from the same app
- No desktop version
- No phone customer support
- Limited educational information about the budgeting process
Albert creates an automatic budget for you, helping you to identify where your money is going at all times. You can instantly see your income, bills, and the money left over. You’ll also have many reporting options including reviewing past months’ budgets or seeing your transactions as a pie chart.
Albert not only facilitates easy budgeting but also makes saving effortless by identifying when there’s extra money available and moving it into a digital wallet. You’ll be rewarded with an annual bonus on your savings and can easily track savings goals. However, if you want the Albert Genius add-on, which boosts your savings bonus and provides access to financial guidance over text messages, you’ll have to pay a minimum of $4 per month.
Conclusion: Personal finance software is a business planning software that is used to help you plan your income and expenses according to certain projects. It is devised so that you will know the amount of investment, savings, and income on a monthly basis. It will also determine if everything is on schedule there are so many financial planners on the internet who offer free financial planning software for individuals. You just have to choose which one will be most comfortable for you.