Best Personal Finance Software
How to Choose the Best Financial Software
We spent over 60 hours testing 20 personal finance apps and programs to find the best budgeting and money management tools. Our choice for the best personal finance software is Quicken Premier. It combines the best budgeting tools with easy-to-use tax reporting. It can track your investments by letting you compare your portfolios with the market, as well as allowing you to track fund fees and set retirement goals. Quicken Premier is the most complete program we reviewed and a good choice for anyone looking to get a better handle on their finances.
Quicken Premier connects quickly to your bank accounts and easily tracks your spending and your investments. It offers useful budgeting tools like online bill pay and budgeting alerts.
When looking at the number of features available versus the cost, we found the Quicken Starter hits the sweet spot. It has the same budgeting tools as Quicken Premier but doesn’t track investments.
Best Personal Finance App:
Buxfer is the best mobile app we reviewed. It’s incredibly easy to keep track of your spending and set up alerts for when you deviate from your budget. It is one of the easiest programs to use that we reviewed.
Why Trust Us?
We’ve reviewed personal finance software for 12 years. For this most recent update, we spent 60 hours using 20 programs before settling on the best 10. You may notice that some newer apps don’t appear in our reviews. We chose not to include free services like Mint or Personal Capital, though we may reconsider in future updates.
We did look at both of these programs. Mint is one of the most popular personal finance apps. It also offers a free credit score and has a wide range of alert options. Personal Capital doesn’t have budgeting tools, but it lets you track all your accounts and is very well-suited to people with investments they want to track.
How We Tested
To test these programs, we purchased or downloaded complete trials and used them to create budgets, connect to a bank account and monitor how well each program performs. We found that setting up your budgeting software can take some time, so be sure to give yourself an hour or possibly more. The best programs connect automatically to your bank, credit card or investment accounts directly. A few require you to import through Dropbox or another intermediary. Our Options & Functionality Score reflects this; anything with an 80 percent or above is easy to connect.
Once our transactions were imported, we let the program categorize them for us and began creating budgets. We noted the tools each program has to simplify the budgeting process, and whether you can copy the budget from month to month and set up recurring payments.
To make sure we tested these programs for all manner of financial scenarios, we also looked at the tools for monitoring investments. Many of the programs at least give you an overview of your portfolios and track their performance. The more extensive personal finance programs allow you to compare your portfolio to the rest of the market.
How to Choose a Personal Finance Software
Before settling on a personal finance program, take stock of what you need it for and how you’ll use it. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and some of these programs may not suit all your needs.
If you need to get a handle on your finances and track your spending, each of these programs offer something for you. A budget can be as simple or complex as you need. You may want to simply track your total spending, or you may want to divide it into a range of categories. Some people like the envelope budgeting method, which allows you to set aside money each month for specific items or goals. Mvelopes is a good program that utilizes this method.
If you’re budgeting because you want to save toward a goal, say a down payment on a home or for retirement, many of the programs offer tracking tools that let you set aside an amount each month and track your progress. Using personal finance programs to manage your budget can help you find areas you’re overspending in or ways you can cut back your spending to make your goals.
Not everyone invests money in the stock market, but if you do, you’ll need a program that can cover the full breadth of your financial picture. Many of the programs we tested integrate with your financial firm and can at least give you a top-level look at your portfolio. The best let you track your performance and compare your portfolio with the market. If investment tracking isn’t what you need, you can find a lower-cost program with the budgeting features you’re looking for.
Contributing Reviewer: Eli McCormick