Top Personal Accounting Software

DIY Accounting Tools

You are interested in organizing your personal finances and you think you would like to do that on your computer. There are many accounting software products. The products range in price from free to hundreds of dollars. The price reflects the number and complexity of the features the accounting software offers.

For personal use you want to find a software package that can help you with bank checking and savings account management, loan management, and investment management. You will probably also want a product that includes budgeting functions. There are software packages that are specifically designed with personal finance needs in mind. You will want to focus on these packages rather than the more complex software designed for business finance although there are several products which promote themselves as meeting both personal and small business accounting and budgeting needs.

The best references will come from your family and friends. Ask around and see if someone has a program they are using and would recommend. Check out accounting software products on line. Visit your local office supply stores or software stores and see what they may offer.

Don’t get a product you are not comfortable using. It will just sit on your computer if it is too time consuming or complicated. Look for products that are advertised as user-friendly. Read the online consumer reviews to find out if current users find the product helpful.

One of the more popular free online personal accounting products is Quicken online. Quicken is often recommended to their clients by accountants and financial planners who use Quicken business accounting products. Go online to to find Quicken’s free online product in addition to other desktop accounting products sold by Quicken. You can also find Quicken products at Staples and other office and software product retail outlets.

The biggest consumer complaint about Quicken Online is that the tool is too complicated and cumbersome. Quicken recently purchased the award winning, upstart, free online application, Mint and will begin driving its personal accounting customers to the Mint product. Mint is widely recognized for its simple to use design which successfully competed with Quicken’s more complicated data-entry process as consumers looked for easier ways to manage their money.

Brad Strothkamp, a principal analyst at Forrester Research in comparing the Quicken and Mint products says, "For things like online banking and managing finances, Quicken was a lot more than [many] people needed. Mint provides functions consumers want, but it isn't overkill."

If you are not ready to put your personal financial information into an online personal accounting product check out the multitude of desktop software products. A few personal accounting desktop products mentioned most often are Quicken Starter, Quicken Deluxe or Quicken Premier, Spryka Desktop Budget Lite or Desktop Budget, PiggyBob Premium 3 by Nakagava Ltd. or You Need a Budget (YNAB).

The Quicken products run on all Windows systems and offer a 60 day satisfaction or money back guarantee. Below is an overview of Quicken personal accounting products:

  • Quicken Starter Edition is a good, basic personal accounting package for the beginner. Designed to be user friendly the Starter Edition features online banking, bill reminders, and organizes finances so you can easily see what has been paid, what is coming due and what remains in your account.
  • Quicken Deluxe includes all the features of the Quicken Starter Edition and tools to help you budget including suggested spending limits and savings goals. This software tracks and organizes expenses and exports data to Turbo Tax for easy tax preparation.
  • Quicken Premier includes the Deluxe features plus investing tools to manage your portfolio.  

Spryka Desktop Budget Lite is easy to use with simple commands and helpful forms, icons, menus and directions. Desktop Budget runs on all Windows systems. With Desktop Lite you can set up and update your accounts, bills and deposits and investments quickly. Spryka offers a free 30-day trial. Spryka Desktop offers personal financial management features and can be used to manage small businesses. Desktop Budget includes reporting functions that provide a visual representation of all account statuses, a currency converter, a mortgage and loan calculator and data import and export functionality.

PiggyBob Premium 3 by Nakagava Ltd. accounting software is easy to use and offers a 30-day free trial. This accounting software runs on Windows and Vista systems. PiggyBob Premium 3 allows you to record basic debits and credits and produces color graphs of income and spending so everything is easy to see and understand and review. PiggyBob includes a calendar and alert system to remind you of upcoming payments.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) comes in two versions the original spreadsheet format can be opened in Excel or OpenOffice. The original version will run on Windows, Mac or Linux the YNAB. The newer Pro version can only be run on Windows. The original spreadsheet version is totally sufficient for most users and great for those who don’t want to download new software. The spreadsheet version performs all the basic budgeting functions without some of the conveniences and graphics included in the Pro version. Additional features offered in the Pro version include the ability to set up recurring expenses so you don’t have to re-enter them each month, the capability to create multiple charts and graphs, and you can break single transactions into different expense categories (like interest and principle) without entering the transaction information twice. YNAB offers a 60 day money back guarantee so if you try it and don’t like the software you can get a refund of your purchase price.

Once you are familiar with the personal accounting software products available you can compare the features and prices and narrow your choices down to those that best fit your personal needs. Most manufacturers will allow you to try a demo version of their product. Take advantage of this and try the software. Any product is only useful if it meets your personal needs and you are comfortable using it. If you try the demo version and find the product difficult to use or cumbersome don’t buy it.

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