The Best Financial Software

The world has gone digital and so has money.  In order to manage your personal finances you likely need to invest some time and money in software.  Instead of watching pennies and nickels, you need to monitor your bank accounts, investments, and debts — most likely using online programs and smartphone apps.

Financial software abounds in all platforms, from the traditional software that is downloaded directly to your computer to programs that exist in the cloud and provide a web interface for your use.  Trying to evaluate each and every program in each platform is pretty much impossible.  However, there are some programs that rise to the top of the ratings in different categories.

Personal Finance

financePretty much every “best of” list puts Mint.com at the top of their list.  This online interface directly links to almost all banks and financial institutions to bring all your data into one place. It provides budgeting tools, net worth calculations, and financial planning information and guides in an intuitive and customizable format.  It is free to use thanks to being ad supported, but most users report that the ads shown are actually useful ones.  Overall this is the best all-in-one place software for personal finance.

Accounting

Anyone running a small business, doing contract work, or handling multiple investments will want to invest in a robust accounting program.  QuickBooks has long been the favorite and now offers a cloud-based solution.  QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Plus with Payroll are the most comprehensive online accounting programs and are ideal for small business owners. The navigation, tools and interface are easy to use and even first-timers with very little accounting knowledge can quickly learn to use the program.

Tax Software

It is still a good idea to invest in software that is focuses solely on tax needs and updates with new tax codes.  TurboTax Premier has long been a favorite with accountants and business owners alike.  TurboTax repeatedly ranks highly with regards to its interface, the easy to understand interview-style questions and the amount of guidance provided on tricky tax issues.

Smartphone Apps

More and more people are counting on their smartphones and tablet devices to provide up-to-date financial data and alerts.  For the iPhone, there is Bills & Accounts Manager.  This app pulls together balances from all kinds of accounts to a single screen, letting users see income and expenses in one place.  On Android phones the best is PageOnce. A single glance lets users see if they are in the red or black. It also provides bill reminders and even provides ways to pay those bills.  Both of these programs are designed to be quick glance apps that provide the overall financial status.  Neither provides in depth features, data analysis or financial guidance.

photo by: Ed Yourdon