Pros / Quicken allows you to sync with your brokerage accounts, track investments and monitor the performance of your investment portfolio.
Cons / Because this is a desktop application, you cannot access your account on another computer.
Verdict / Quicken Premier is our top pick for the best personal finance software for its easy-to-use platform, simple budgeting features and powerful investment tools.
Quicken Premier sets the bar for personal finance software. You can sync your bank, credit card and investment accounts directly to Quicken so you never miss a transaction. You can quickly create a budget with spending limits and alerts to ensure you don't overspend on bills, groceries or entertainment.
You can run reports to keep track of spending trends and totals across weeks, months or years. You can also save those files and use them in other programs as well, such as Excel or TurboTax, as Quicken Premier is one of the best programs on the market for cross-program integration.
When starting a new budgeting system, manually entering hundreds of transactions and potentially missing one that will throw off your whole budget can be a headache. To avoid that hassle and potential human error, Quicken Premier syncs directly to your financial institution and brokerage accounts, transferring transactions, trades, and balances and automatically updating new information as it comes in. When transactions enter the system, the program automatically categorizes them into budgets based on the origin of the charge.
This assigning process is extremely accurate, but should the system incorrectly guess a transaction, you can edit it. You also can edit the categories as needed, including the transaction type, group and description. You can also adjust the tax line item, such as listing a paycheck as dividend income. You can hide any unused categories to lessen clutter.
Quicken Premier is intended to be used only on PCs. Quicken offers a separate program for Macs. It isn't a browser-based program, but instead requires you to download the software onto your computer, so you want to be sure you have enough room on your hard drive for the program.
When you're away from your desktop, you can still manage your budget and add or edit transactions from your Android or iOS phone or tablet using the program's companion app. Unlike other desktop programs that require the use of an intermediary programs like Dropbox, Quicken Premier directly syncs with its mobile apps without the necessity of any other software.
With the mobile apps, you can view all account balances and transactions, the status of your budgets, and alerts and notifications. You can manually add transactions as needed, and Quicken allows you to snap a picture of your receipts and save them in the program.
One of the primary functions of the best home financial software is the ability to create a budget so you can stay on top of your finances and stay out of the red. Quicken Premier makes this process quick and easy to complete. You can select which categories to budget, leaving out the ones you don't need, such as parking or tolls. A list of items to budget then populates, and you simply enter the budget limit for each category. If charges are already listed in a category, you can see the amounts, helping you determine how much to budget.
Your budget is color-coded to visually signal when you go over budget. The color-coding is different than with other programs we reviewed. Most other services have green, indicating you're within budget, yellow showing you're nearing your limit and red showing which categories have exceeded their limits. However, Quicken doesn't use yellow. This can be a bonus if you know you have a set limit for a specific bill or expense each month and don't want to see a visual warning when you know you won't be going over budget. However, for other categories, this may be less helpful if you want a warning when you're nearing a limit.
You can set alerts, however, if you're concerned about overspending within a budgeted category. Rather than simply having the color warnings in the program, this personal accounting software sends you an alert. This way, if you're out shopping and are nearing a limit, when Quicken receives that information from your bank, it alerts you via email or text, depending on your preferences. That heads up can help you stay within your established budget.
If a category is under budget, you can choose either to keep the same limit for the next month or roll the money over, increasing the total amount allotted to that category for the next month.
Another option is to set saving goals, taking that amount you didn't spend and putting it toward a large purchase or vacation. Quicken Premier has saving goals and planning tools that can help you earmark money for such special purposes. You create the account, set the goal amount and the due date. You choose the account from which you want funds to be allocated each month.
As Quicken doesn't control your bank and order a transfer, it simply hides the funds from that account so you can transfer the money to the account manually later if you have an actual savings account set up in your bank.
This budgeting and personal software offers the option to set future charges without them affecting your current budget and balances. If you know your car insurance payment is due in January and June, setting future transactions and reminders using the calendar can help you remember when those payments are approaching.
Reports give you an overview of your spending habits and trends as well as your spending versus your income. Quicken Premier offers several helpful reports that you can save for your records or use in other programs. Report categories include banking, spending, comparison, investing and tax reports. The reports in these categories include cash flow, spending by payee, budget and income versus expense, among a number of other choices. You can choose from a predetermined date range, such as month to date or year to date, or choose custom dates. Many reports are simple data and number reports, but some also provide visual representations of the data, like a bar or pie chart.
In addition to traditional reports, you can view quick overview reports of spending and transactions. In this instance, the quick report displays a pie chart of expenses based on categories – bills, shopping, entertainment, food, etc. – and the individual transactions are listed below. You can choose to have these quick reports display on your home page, which is customizable as well.
This financial management software provides tax reports, which you can export to different tax programs. This is the only software in our lineup that has this ability, and it can be a definite plus if you're looking for a program that makes it easy to transfer data from your budget to your taxes.
If you own securities and trade stocks and other investment vehicles, Quicken Premier is the best choice for personal finance software. You can sync Quicken directly to your brokerage account to transfer balances and trade history.
The investment-management tools and options it offers are better than other personal finance software applications on our list. This software provides analytics of your portfolio, such as risk versus return, and compares your portfolio to the market.
Similar to savings goals discussed above, you can set retirement goals for your finances and investments. The retirement calculator is a very useful tool. You enter when you plan to retire and how much you're able to put into your IRA, and the software calculates an estimate of how much savings you'll have earned at your desired retirement age. Or, you can set a goal of how much you want to have when you retire and calculate how much you'll need to save each month to reach that goal.
Quicken Premier offers more money management features than any other personal finance software application we reviewed. Its overall ease of use, intuitive platform and powerful features set it apart from its competition. Syncing to your bank saves you time and ensures you never miss a transaction. Simple budgeting allows you to set limits on your spending, and alerts help you stay within those limits. Stellar reporting and investment tracking options complete the package.