This article explains personal financial software that you install on your computer.
Financial software, otherwise known as personal finance software, is used to manage money and all of your financial accounts in one place on your computer. This type of software has been around for years starting with two familiar titles you may have heard of, Quicken and Microsoft Money (now a free download, but lacks features it formerly offered).
There is a wide variety of personal financial software available for both Windows and Mac computers, and most of the software works well for tracking account balances, keeping a budget and doing some reports to help with planning for spending and saving.
While most financial software is designed to manage multiple financial tasks, like balancing a budget, reconciling statements and tracking certain expenses, other software exists that focuses specifically on budgeting or preparing your own income taxes.
Desktop financial software usually will alert you to when upcoming bills need to be paid, but you need to have the software open to get these reminders. If avoiding late payments is a goal for you, consider using a mobile app on your smartphone or using an online personal finance app, which send alerts via email or text message.
The majority of this software can download transactions from banks and other financial institutions, but the downloads aren’t required. Some of the software can be set up to download transactions automatically when you click a button, while others require you to download transactions from your bank and import them. The second method may sound like a hassle, but is actually not difficult.
- Since financial software is installed on your hard drive, if you lose your Internet connection, you can still work with the software (although you won’t be able to download account transactions).
- Desktop software is a good option for people who feel insecure about managing money with online apps. Your personal finance data stays with you on your computer and where you back it up to (more on that in a minute). But, for optimum security, if the software has a password feature, use it to keep household members who have no business in the financial information out. If the software has no password feature, set up Windows or your Mac to prompt for a password at start up.
- If your hard drive crashes, you can’t access your software. It is essential that you back up your data regularly when you use desktop financial software. Be sure back ups go on a
- Back up to a USB drive or to a cloud back up service like my favorite, DropBox. If your computer crashes, your software can be reinstalled on another computer and then you can restore data from your back up and not have to reconstruct accounts and transactions from scratch.
- If a software update is available, you will usually know about it when you start the software with intentions of working with it. It can be a hassle to wait for the update to download and install, and you should not have other software running during this process. You will likely have to restart the software (but not your computer) after the update, so be patient and wait until you see a message that the update has been applied. Try to use the software before the update is finished, and you could corrupt your data. If you don’t know what that means, just trust me that it’s as bad as it sounds.
Difficult to Use?
Some financial software is specifically designed to be very simple for people who just want to balance their checkbook, but much of the software can do so much more. But, don’t let the multitude of features scare you. In recent years, this software comes with plenty of tutorials and help in the software and in online forums, and it is designed to be easy to use.
You can expect to pay from $30 to $50 for most personal finance software, and free options are not easy to find and don’t operate as smoothly as retail software.