Whether you get a steady paycheck or run your own business, having the best financial software is imperative if you want to stay sane.
Unfortunately, not all financial software is created equal, which presents some challenges when looking for the best solutions for yourself. Furthermore, which financial software you choose will rely heavily on what your needs are.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of what to look for when choosing the best financial software.
#1. Personal, business or both?
Whether or not you own a business will definitely affect which financial software you choose. Simply put, you’ll need something that can handle taxes. If you’ve got employees or vendors you have to pay, even more so.
Quicken and Quickbooks seem to be the go-to programs for this, but even still they are not at all the same. I’ve tried both and here are my findings.
Although you can use Quicken for business, Quickbooks is the better option of the two.
Quicken uses terminology that is more familiar for anyone who has used a checkbook. Quickbooks on the other hand is much more business focused. It has payroll capabilities, inventory options and much more.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have a business your options aren’t as complex. Something simple like Mircosoft Money Plus Sunset or Mint.com will do.
#2. Does it connect with your bank?
Why spend the time manually inputting transactions when you don’t have to? As such, when choosing the best financial software for yourself you’ll want to make sure it actually connects to your bank.
I had some trouble with this a while ago when my business checking was with a lesser known bank. Thankfully this has since been resolved for me, however that doesn’t mean you won’t have to call your financial institution to make sure it syncs with your software.
Please do not make the mistake of buying a program before you have this information.
Please also note this does not mean you won’t have to actually look at your transactions. Computers are not infallible so you should go in to make sure everything is okay at least once a week.
#3. PC or Mac?
I have a Mac. And I run a business. As such I had a horrendous time finding business accounting software for Mac. Even if you just need to deal with personal accounts the financial software that is available for Mac is sub par in comparison to what you get on a PC.
I get that accounting isn’t really Mac’s thing, but it sure was a pain to have to work on my Mac (which I will take over a PC any day) and then have to move over to a PC for accounting.
If you have a PC you’ll have no problem finding financial software. Mac users on the other hand may want to consider using something like Quickbooks Online or Mint.com depending on whether or not they own a business.
#4. How much is this costing?
Financial software can range from free to hundreds. While the financial software you use will be influenced by what you need, we need to be real here and admit that cost is a major consideration.
For instance if you have a business but don’t need all the fancy features, Quicken is a more affordable alternative to Quickbooks. To give you an idea, Quicken ranges from $40 to $80 depending on the version.
Quickbooks on the other hand can cost you up to $400 for the desktop version. If you’re using Quickbooks Online it will run you anywhere from $119 to $479 a year depending on which version you use.
(P.S. If you’re wondering if there’s an online version of Quicken it’s actually Mint.com. However, there is no online business version.)
If you’re only concerned with personal accounts there isn’t even a need to spend any money. Your bank may have adequate capabilities to help you pay bills and balance your checkbook.
Or, you can use Mint.com which is a very powerful free tool that let’s you see all of your financial accounts in one place. Money Plus Sunset also works in this case if you’re not bothered by the fact that there’s no online version.
#5. Do you want it online?
This is a matter of personal preference, but if you have a business it also may be a matter of efficiency among team members and employees.
Not all financial software has online capabilities. Microsoft Money Plus Sunset is one such example. Quicken also doesn’t have an online version for their business products.
If you have a business with employees who telecommute (such as your accountant) you will most certainly want online capabilities like those available with Quickbooks Online.
All financial software programs are not created equally especially when it comes to ease of use and organization of accounting information. It is important that you schedule a demo or tour of the program first before making your final decision on a program.
What financial software programs are you currently using?