It is important for everyone to take care of their personal financial health as it affects virtually all aspects of life – from a person’s lifestyle to his relationships and his ability to achieve his goals. This is easier said than done these days with all the financial products that people avail of and the transactions that they get into. Keeping track of and managing financial matters would be easier with the use of a personal finance online software service.
A personal finance software is a tool that automates financial management tasks. It stores personal financial information and performs processes to analyze and even ‘trigger’ particular events (i.e. notifications and alarms) and transactions (i.e. payments and fund transfers). Most of these software products can create periodic reports as well. Some of them can also be linked or integrated with each other.
Among the areas of personal finance that this software would be of great use include: management of basic personal financial data, budgeting, management of regular transactions, and asset management and accounts monitoring.
There are even simplified ones available for young children. The variety and diversity of such tools make it useful for more people and for different financial functions. Owing to their nature, however, only those who have computers or mobile computing devices and, in the case of online-only services, those with stable internet connections can make use of and benefit from these tools.
Using personal finance online service software programs is a convenient way to manage daily finances, investments, and other matters pertaining to the way a person earns, spends, saves, and invests money. It helps a person keep tabs on his finances and minimizes costly mistakes due to miscalculations, far-off estimates and budgets, and missed payment due dates among others.
The first thing that anyone looking for a personal finance tool should do is to determine what he wants it to do for him. For the someone who just wants a way to manage household finances more efficiently, a basic app with a budgeting feature and an expense monitoring sheet would be enough. On the other hand, for a person who wants to consolidate information about his investments and accounts, would have a longer list of features to look for in a more sophisticated software.
Some of the most important features of a personal finance software service include:
This feature should be accurate and timely. Most software would require manual entries, such as when expense items are entered into a daily finance monitoring sheet. This part would, of course, affect the ‘bottom line’ as it appears in the end-of-day reports or as picked up by other functions in the app.
In online apps, features that monitor accounts real-time are often available. This is best for people who want to keep track of all bank account transactions (i.e. home-based retailers waiting for payments, investors tracking credits, etc.). Some families also make use of such software with the added integration feature that links the accounts of all family members.
These features are must-haves for convenience and practicality. In the simplest software, these features may be limited to prompts and notifications on due dates. But, most personal finance tool would today already have the capability of linking to epayment facilities and banks.
Funding issues are also avoided since prompts can be set up to transfer funds from one account to another at a certain date or when a specific account balance is reached. For people who seem to have a million and one items on their task lists, being able to do their banking transactions and shop online are conveniences that they cannot do without.
Managing and monitoring cash flow can be quite tedious especially if there are several accounts and transactions involved. The same is true for manually balancing income and expense spreadsheets and other related sheets. With this feature, the processes are automated. Errors are minimized – assuming, of course, that the entries are accurate in the first place – and reports can be generated with a click of a button.
Personal financial management is more than just writing down figures in columns and computing balances at the end of the day. A good budgeting app should be able to offer functionalities for more accurate budgeting and wiser financial planning.
It should be able to analyze the financial information and present them in a manner that would help the user come up with a financial plan that will take him closer to his goals. This feature would also be helpful in tax preparation and retirement planning.
More sophisticated personal finance online service software can help investors manage their portfolio and monitor market performance. This feature can also consolidate information and generate reports for investment analysis. Likewise, they can be set up to send notifications or to perform specific actions given specific parameters (i.e. patterns in stock quotes and market indicators).
A lot of tools are available for free online. Generally, these offer the basic features, perhaps with one or two add-ons thrown in. Those who are looking for more functionality and integration options would have to be willing to shell out a small amount for the software or to subscribe to online services.
The price range of ‘premium’ personal finance apps for budgeting, bills tracking and planning is broad at a low of around $30 to about $100. Some products come with options for free trial offers and money-back guarantees too.
Using the right app will result in better financial management and planning. The wrong choice of software, however, can lead to frustration and inaccurate information, wasted time, and resources. Apart from being able to do what the user wants it to do, the online service software should be examined on the following points:
This is one of the most important considerations when it comes to buying products that require users to enter personal information. Users have to ensure that they are protected from identity theft, fraud, and other illegal activities that are rampant online today. Encryption protocols and security policies should properly be reviewed before signing up for any tool.
This is especially true for software products that require the use of market information and tax policies. Financial information and analysis churned out using outdated reference data could lead to bad financial decisions. This consideration affects the accuracy and timeliness features of the product.
As convenience is a big factor in choosing a personal finance software, it follows that the product should not make it difficult for the user to find his way around the site or app. It should be easy enough for the user to input his manual entries, link accounts, integrate with other apps and functionalities, set up ‘orders,’ and process transactions among others using the software. The user should also be able to access the app from whatever computing device he is using.
Users may or may not need to get help in using the personal finance online service. In case any issues or difficulties arise, they should be able to get in touch with a company representative for assistance. Depending on how easy it is to use the software, it might not be necessary to have a live person taking the support calls. Some service providers actually have both a chat support feature and an FAQ section for all the possible issues that the user might encounter while using the product.
This is always a consideration for any product purchase whether online or offline. This is a matter that is best assessed based on the user’s needs, his budget, and the perceived value of what he is going to get from using the software. For those who are not quite ready yet to pay for a personal finance online service, free software and free trial offers would be good options. There are also coupons and codes that can be found online for discounts on these services.
Whether the choice is a free software or a premium service, the best finance management tool is the one that matches the user’s needs. Such services are meant to provide the users a tool to manage their finances so they can enjoy the other aspects of their life too.
Users can choose to use more than one product for financial management. This is fine for as long as the combination of products serve their purpose. For convenience, however, using one or a couple of software that can be integrated would be ideal.