Why do you need to know about the best personal finance software? No one enjoys spending hours balancing their checkbook and paying the bills. Today, with advances in technology, there are alternatives. Each year, dozens of personal finance programs are released and provide users with fast and easy options for keeping track of their finances. Still, as is the case with everything, not all of these programs are built the same.
There are several things to keep in mind when looking for the best personal finance software.
Does the program help its users to track their bank account, pay their bills and pay their credit cards? Most products offer online bank tracking but not all will help to manage credit cards. Being able to manage a credit card sets several personal finance programs apart. While it seems like common-sense to include this option, many top-rated programs like iCash and Budget Express do not provide this option.
Does the program help its users track their investments? This option is where many of the at-home personal finance software programs are the most different. Several do not include any form of investment tracking as an option. Others only offer a couple of options, such as tracking stocks and the ability to download current stock prices. If something is to be considered the best personal finance software, it should provide the most useful options. So, this category of investment tracking is what sets many of the top programs apart. Programs that incorporate stock and 401k tracking are few and far between. Even better are the programs that have options to manage your entire investment portfolio. Acemoney and Moneydance are two such options.
Probably the most important question to consider is whether or not the program provides valuable safety features. Because many of the best personal finance software options require access to all of their users' valuable financial accounts, there are obvious security issues that can arise. Having a single program that knows all of a person's account numbers and passwords could be a major security risk if the proper safety measures are not found within the software. There are three important security features to be taken into account.
Most obvious and most important, does the software have a password protection feature? This would seem to be a no-brainer but several less-expensive software programs (and one of the most expensive, YNAB) do not offer password protection options. If the software does not provide password protection, it is not worth having. Using such a program would be a major risk.
Data archival is also an important security feature. Because these programs essentially keep your checkbook and pay your bills, it is important that they will not lose this information in the event of an unwanted computer issue. If the software includes data archival, the information will not be lost in the event of a computer crash. Any computer professional would be capable of extracting and saving the information.
Back-up and data restoring capabilities are similarly important. If you were on the program and lost power, for example, this feature would allow its users to pick up where they left off the next time they logged on.
There are clearly several things to consider when looking for the best personal finance software on the market. With all of the programs that exist, it is important to look for programs that offer the ability to completely manage accounts while keeping all financial information safe. So far, the top-rated programs for 2012 are AceMoney and Quicken Starter Edition.