What I Learned by Examining Every Personal Finance Software Application on Planet Earth

The goal for this site is to be THE most trusted site for objective information on personal finance software on the internet.  It is also to create a site that is so well done, people who use it feel there’s no more need to research and so it becomes their last stop on their quest to pick the right personal finance software for them.

It is a lofty aspiration given how many review sites are out there.  As of now, I’m very pleased to offer content that goes deeper than the standard 1 to 2 paragraphs they all provide.  Writing that content takes a lot of time.  Consequently, I’m kinda picky on what budget software tools receive my attention.  But at the same time, to truly achieve my goals, I feel compelled to always be watching the world of personal finance software and be on top of what available  (part of the value of this site – I do the research for you).

I mean, is there some personal finance software out there that isn’t on my list that should be considered?

Allow me to provide a little visibility for you into  all the different personal budgeting tools that I’ve examined as I’ve decided which to analyze.  First, I’ve compiled my list using  many different “big lists” from budget bloggers, other review sites, about.com, wiki, forums and any other site I could find.  Most just compiled the list and did not offer a lot of insight as to what they did with it.

For the record, I have literally opened up, registered myself as a user and spent time navigating the tool for each of these packages.  I got a sense for how the data flowed, how the reports looked, what functionality it provided.  I’ve watched their video (if they have one) and saved their logo and many screenshots to my machine in the event I decide to do a review.

Let me share with you what I have learned in a very straight forward way that I hope will aid your efforts to find the right tool.

Be A Critic

All these personal finance software applications will enable you to upload your banking transactions, make a budget and graph it.  Keep that in mind when you’re looking for software.  Don’t be wow’d as you see a tool can do that.  So many of these vendor descriptions are the same “hey!  You can keep track of a budget in our tool!”

Big freaking deal.  With all these options, you’d better be coming to the table with something more than just that.

Demand More

Given there are literally HUNDREDS of available tools, there are some things you should absolutely require:

1.     A software interface that gives you a warm fuzzy.

If the tool looks like it was written in 1995, keep looking.  A high quality user interface is one way a budget software tool can set itself above the rest.  Reward those vendors who have paid the price to get that feel and you’ll simultaneously reward yourself with a better experience for years to come.

2.     Tutorial Videos

The reason I say this is two-fold.  First, if a personal finance software product has a video, it means that the vendor was at a point it the maturity of their development process to actually spend time on something that is a “nice to have”.  With all the inexpensive, high end video editing software on the market, there is NO REASON any of these budget software vendors should be without this.

Which leads me to the 2nd half – Videos are the fastest and easiest way to learn the information.  I’ll add this too.  Training videos earns the vendor a seat at the table.  It’s a minimum requirement.  The best way to teach you would be to offer free online classes with a trainer.  That’s how the vendor earns an A+

3.     Mobile app

There are too many who already have one to be stuck in waiting mode at this point.  And it’s dang convenient to have all your key information at your fingertips whenever you want.  Demand it.

The Graveyard

I’ve been building up this list for a while now.  I occasionally will go back through and update my notes on a product.  And what I’ve found as I’ve gone back through my list is just how many didn’t make it.  And by that I mean the retailer has discontinued the software.

What I’ve also found is that you can still download many of these dead n’ gone budget tools from sites like cnet.  Be aware of that anytime you are on these kind of sites.

It’s noteworthy as you consider who you trust by investing the time it takes to learn a new tool and set up your finances.  Having them continue as a viable entity is a good thing.  Maybe I should start a “graveyard” section….hmmmm

With that, here you go.  My personal pool of all the personal finance software applications on the planet.  I’d love any help in identifying any I’ve missed as this is an ever changing list as new ones are created and others fail.

Why am I posting logos instead of just a list?  First, it’s visually more appealing, but it’s also evidence I’ve spent time on the site.  Perhaps someday I’ll share all my notes (prices, functionality, what I think of their user interface/reporting/functionality, if they have a mobile app, etc), but you’ll have to get by w/ this for now.

 

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