Blink your eyes and it’s that time of the year when you have to pay your Taxes or collect refunds depending upon your individual situation. There are quite a few software programs and app choices out there for you to get help with your taxes. Some of us get a significant refund from our tax filings and before we know we have spent all of the refund on things that we either planned or didn’t plan for.Either way blink your eyes again and the money is all gone and we are waiting for another big paycheck along the way.
If you are recently married or planning to start a family, you are bound to have the “finances” conversation with your significant other. That’s where a Personal Finance App or software can be handy. So the question is how do you go about planning your finances. What are some of the tools out there that can help you with this exercise and make it easier?
With the beginning of a New Year, the focus has always been on health and exercise for most people. I think that at the end of Q-1, as we all file our taxes, we can all take some time to reflect and focus on our financial health and plan for it. If you are already an avid planner, perhaps this is the time for you to reflect on your year’s budget and cash outlay and decide on your spending priorities for the year.
Key Aspects of Money Management
When you are looking for a piece of software or App to help you with your financial planning and money management, what are some of the features that you want out of it? It has to be safe and secure. For me, for starters, the software should be able to integrate all my credit card statements to show my liabilities, should speak the same language as my bank so that I can see the balance of cash on my accounts and other assets that I own. In today’s world, having an automatic credit monitoring and notifying feature goes a long way and lastly but most importantly allow me with easy features so that I can plan for the year’s finances as well as clearly see how this plan fits into my overall long term financial plan whether it be via 401 k Savings or other retirement accounts.
When installed on your computer or iPhone/ iPad, the software should offer you an easy to read dashboard for monitoring your finances, simple reports to track your transactions and have features to give you an early warning when problems arise. Programs should track and display your budget, spending, banking, bills, savings, investments, retirement plans and debt levels—all in one convenient place.
Studies have shown that the more you track your finances the more the chances of you getting richer and achieving that financial goal. So here are some of the best Apps that are intended to make you richer!
The Leaders in the Finance App Space
There are three key companies/products that are used by most people over the past few years. These are Mint, MoneyPro and YNAB. There are many other good products out there such as iBank, Fortora , mvelopes and Moneydance in this category. We will however focus on the three common known ones in this article. Please note that we are not affiliates for any of these software products nor are we writing these reviews on anybody’s behalf.
As a start, the company has been around for quite a while. When it comes to Finances, you always want to make sure that the product that you are using is safe and is secure. When a company and its product have been around for a while, it shows that they are probably doing something right. Mint provides you with a one stop shop for easy budgeting, free credit score, alerts and advice, investment tracking and a relatively easy dashboard.
The product is owned by Intuit, the same company that offers TurboTax and Quicken. The iOS App from Mint can not only pull all your accounts, cards and investments into one place for you to track your finances but you can also use the App to set up payment reminders, get tips for reducing fees and saving money. The Product also offers an Apple Watch interface that seamlessly talks to your iPhone and provides alerts and notifications. The App offers a 128 bit encryption and is considered safe and secure. The software automatically syncs across your tablet, iPhone and web.
What we found in our research is that there is love hate relationship between the customers and mint. There are folks that have been using the product for years and love it because they have come to trust it and have become acquainted with the features, however there are also lots of people that are wary of it as the company has grown larger and larger. There is the fear around security and also the notion that your personal information may be passed on to third party entities for marketing uses.
With any product there are positives and negatives. Although there are a lot of positives around mint, please feel free to check out the other side of the argument at this page, particularly the comments section. We did found the comments interesting.
MoneyPro, Average Joe to pro?
One of the few companies that offers a product that works well with your Mac as well as your iOS devices. The Mac edition comes with a lot of good features such as the ability to schedule recurring bills, easy budgeting interface with categorization, payment notifications and reminders, a checkbook register and a whole slew of detailed reports for you.
One of the highlights of the software is their budget and spending dashboard. It provides you with visual indicators for spotting budget overspends. This can be definitely important as you try to instill fiscal discipline into your habits. The software uses iCloud to keep your data in sync across all your devices. If you run a small business, you also have the option to set up multiple profiles on your MoneyPro using which you can manage your home spending as well as your business spending in an easy fashion.
The ios version 1.5.4 also offers ipad Pro support, which we have not tried. There are some glitches when it comes to the integration aspects with Apple Watch, but the interface is really swell. You can track all your debit transactions from your watch without even bringing out your phone. The App supports multiple currencies so it is handy if you travel a lot and handles the currency transition with ease. Furthermore, their customer support has been known to be very responsive based on the product reviews.
The App is available in free and premium versions. Free version has an access to some features restricted. For instance, the report “Transactions” is not accessible. You will not be able to check the list of transactions attached to a certain account or budget. The calendar on the tab “Today” is locked, to view your transactions history you will need to upgrade to Full version of Money Pro. If you have been a Mac user for a while now, you should definitely check out Moneypro.
You Need A budget. (YNAB)
The YNAB offer promises more than a well written piece of software. It is actually a method that helps you manage your budgets and finances. People that have followed their proposed method swear by it. If the concept of budgeting and doing so diligently is a constant struggle for you, or if you have tried quicken and all its other cousins but couldn’t keep up with planning, YNAB may the answer that you have been looking for.
Sometimes, the simplicity of a method wins over the complexity of numerous options available from a piece of software. The company offers classes on budgeting and has made the YNAB 4 free to all college students. The classes on personal finance span from learning to prioritize using their proprietary four rules method, dealing with your debt and Age your money.
YNAB is available for iPad and iPhone along with web support. While YNAB is fairly simplistic there is a basic elegance to the mobile part of it . The software makes it easy to use no matter the device. So in a couple of seconds you can record a transaction after pulling away from a gas pump or leaving the grocery store. For more information about the company and their story, please feel free to check out http://www.youneedabudget.com/about. The company is also currently offering a free trial for 34 days.
Most people that use Mint like it because it is free. It s a free tool that can aggregate all your banking information, while YNAB requires you to pay for a license. For $5 a month, or $50 a year, YNAB’s method is a worthwhile investment if you really fancy zero based budgeting and planning.
Many people who are financially savvy and have the discipline prefer to use mint to download their information into a spreadsheet and budget using their own method. With YNAB it offers you a simple step by step method to plan your finances. YNAB works great if you are a couple making decision together on your finances. Mint is great at tracking where your money went. YNAB is great for planning where your money is going
At the end of the day, No one can tell you if YNAB is worth $60 for you. Only you can answer that. YNAB might not work for you, or it might be perfect. Similarly you may like the Moneypro since it supports Macs and uses iCloud to sync. The trick is to look for trial editions and give the software and methods a try.
Once you figure out what works for you, you can then sign up for the full version and take advantage of all the available features. Sometimes, it takes more than a piece of software or method to sort out your finances. It may be linked to how you live and what choices you make. A good place to check out is the reddit.com’s r/Simpleliving for some good tips to simple living. In the end you get the value based on regular planning and monitoring your spending habits.
Mark Twain once said “The Lack of money is the root of all evil”. By using a disciplined effort with any of the financial planning tools, you can get a head start to make sure that there is no lack of money at the end of the month. What are some of your favorite Apps and Why? Please feel free to share it via the comments.