By Noah Henry • June 12, 2014
I’m a firm believer in applying common sense to everyday budgeting and spending. It’s very useful, especially in light of our current economic circumstances, to make every purchase and pay every bill with prudence. To be conscientious to the point of relying on in-the-moment frugality and rote memory of financial due dates is something everyone should strive for.
But is it possible?
Before software made it simpler to keep track of every financial move, we only had our own sense of personal responsibility. This was made easier by living in a world bereft of excessive distraction, attractive product diversity and incessant advertising. Nowadays, the phenomenon of effective catering to the impulse spender in all of us has reached unprecedented heights. How are we to remain focused on the prize of a debt-free and budget-healthy existence?
Fortunately, with the rise of amazing products and amazing ad strategies came equally amazing help in the form of budgeting software. There is a diversity of tools you can use to stay focused on your money in order to avoid falling into the nefarious trap of dwindling funds and crushing debt. What are these tools, and how can they help? The following is a list of the best personal finance tools of today, as rated by the influential Top Ten Reviews site. You will see what these tools are and why they were ranked the best.
Best Personal Finance Tools
I. AceMoney - $34.99
AceMoney received the honor of being the highest rated because of its wealth of features beyond the usual budget maps and spending monitors. Of course, AceMoney still has these tools, including budget management, expense recording, and bank account organization. There is no fancy clutter to distract the user, only a simplified experience to keep track of everything.
1. AceMoney allows you to select from 100 predefined spending categories and view the actual and budgeted values for each. In other words, when you spend money, it automatically assigns the expense to one of these categories. AceMoney plots the discrepancy between your set budgets for each and how much you actually spent.
2. AceMoney downloads foreign exchange rates for more than 150 currencies. This is especially useful for business travelers who spent a lot of time in other countries.
3. The $34.99 price tag is relatively low for such an abundance of atypical personal finance tools. This price is roughly $10 less than the average software.
4. AceMoney has a loan calculator for users paying down debt. Pictured below, this calculator is useful for those who have outstanding payments. Because the majority of loan payments are made monthly, this tool makes it possible for you to set the frequency of your payment and select a specific date.
II. Quicken Starter Edition 2014 - $29.99
Quicken’s newest software is for beginners and those who don’t intend for any serious banking. It’s simple and efficient, and allows access to users’ bank and credit accounts. Your expenses are put into categories automatically, whether they are “Groceries,” “Utilities,” “Auto” and so on. Your income and spending are securely downloaded from your bank and credit cards automatically. This makes keeping track of everything virtually effortless.
1. A new feature allows you to snap and store receipts from important purchases with your phone or tablet. Then, it syncs each receipt to a specific transaction, eliminating paper clutter. It also tracks tax deductible donations. This process is expedited with a download of the Quicken Starter Edition 2014 app.
2. It sets budget goals based on previous spending, which may tease you into decreasing your net spending over time.
3. Starter Edition 2014 is designed for people who are either new to finance software or prefer a simpler experience. If you have no investment or advanced financial planning initiatives, it is the ideal choice.
III. YNAB - $60
An acronym for You Need a Budget, YNAB is priced higher than other software, but for good reason. The website YouNeedABudget.com certainly distinguishes itself from the pack, with more than just a simple download page and a blog. The website is virtually a college class on finance. To accompany its nine-day online course and free online class, YNAB establishes four essential tenets of healthy personal finance:
1. Give each dollar a job.
2. Save for a rainy day.
3. Roll with the punches.
4. Live on last month’s income.
1. The software is almost an afterthought after visiting the website. This is intended to create an experience for the user that teaches sound principles along the way. This is not to marginalize the beneficial tools that come with the software. On the contrary, YNAB’s software is rated highly for its simplicity, support, reporting and easy banking and bill-paying.
2. According to the website, the median net worth for a YNAB is $200 more per month.
3. YNAB gives inexperienced people guidance if they are unfamiliar with budgeting and personal finance.
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!