6 Features to Consider When Choosing Financial Software to Take Charge of Your Money

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

A new year brings with it the desire to get organized and gain greater control of our finances. Technology can come to our aid in helping to accomplish that goal. Financial software for the computer can be of significant help to getting organized, keeping track of and forecasting our financial lives. The following information will assist you in finding the right financial software for your needs.

In its most basic incarnation, financial software is an electronic checkbook register, showing the deposits to and withdrawls from your bank accounts. Of course it’s still incumbent upon you to record the transactions accurately and completely but It takes the math out of your hands and makes reconciling accounts a breeze. Financial software can be simple and straighforward or have lots of bells and whistles that may or may not figure into your financial game plan.

Financial programs can be purchased in a physical form as a CD to install or as a downloadable program from the Internet. They generally have an upfront cost of between $30.00 and $70.00. Many downloadable programs offer a free trial enabling you to try it before you buy it. This is a substantial perk, giving you the opportunity to make certain it does all you need and want it to do and is easy for you to use. Choose a program that suits your needs today but that offers you some room to dig a bit deeper into your finances tomorrow. Disregard those that offer features that simply don’t apply to you and your foreseeable future.

What do you want or need to track? Knowing the answer to that question will help guide you to the appropriate product. Finance management programs can have the following features from which to choose:

  1. Download account information from your bank: Some programs can access your accounts and automatically add your transactions directly into the program itself. Not all programs connect with all banks — if you want a program that does this, check to see if your bank is among those supported by the program before you purchase it.
  2. Forecast bills and expenses: Many programs allow you to add your regular bills and deposits to a calendar so they will appear in a list of upcoming transactions. This is convenient for remembering when certain deposits and expenses are due and to help you remember to actually pay those bills.
  3. Budgets: Beyond helping you remember to pay your bills, some programs include budgeting tools which provide an overview of where your money goes, thereby helping you spend more wisely and save.
  4. Debt reduction strategy: Some programs help you whittle down bills (or your entire debt) by stepping you through an individualized debt reduction plan. Tell the program how much you want to contribute toward debt liquidation or the date by which you want it eliminated and the program will design a strategy in accordance with your time frame and budget.
  5. Track investments and/or loan information: Stay aware of  how much your investments have grown or how much you owe on your loans. Some financial software can track that information, providing up-to-the-minute totals.
  6. Tax preparation: Do you need to keep track of income or expenses for tax purposes? Financial software can make that information easy to categorize, track and report.

Keep these factors in mind to find the right financial software for you. They will provide a measure of awareness and control over your finances that’s sure to help you spend more wisely and save more easily. Financial information equals financial power.

How do you track your finances?

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