Find The Right Personal Finance Software For You in 2021 With This Guide
When you spend money with a budget, you feel more confident, secure, and in control of your finances. This is not just a random sentence, this has been proven according to data from a study conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Unfortunately, the same study also shows that most individuals live life without a budget, and many who claim to have one actually just track receipts and don’t have a system in place to control spending.
Fortunately, budgeting software makes creating and sticking to a budget easier. Most allow you to link your bank account, while some also offer additional features such as credit score monitoring or investment tracking. It can get tricky as there are many programs to choose from, but to help you find one that’s the perfect fit, we’ve reviewed varying options (some for families, the perfect one for investors, the best overall choice, the cheapest, etc) and picked them also according to ease of use, customizations, and other features.
A Guide To Picking The Right Personal Finance Software!
What Is Personal Finance Software?
Personal finance software is any application tool that helps with all aspects of your personal finances. You can choose different software for different goals. Some software is ideal for budgeting, others are good for investing, and still others are right for debt tracking and savings goals. It’s designed to make managing and tracking your finances easier and more efficient and helps you set up systems that work for you.
How Does Personal Finance Software Work?
Personal finance software typically works by collecting your personal data, linking the software to your financial institution, investment accounts, and credit cards and then helping you set up your financial goals. Once it has access to your accounts, it can monitor your credit, track your spending and savings habits, help you create a budget, offer tips and investment advice, and send out bill pay and savings goal reminders.
How Much Does Personal Finance Software Cost?
Personal finance software has different types of features, functions, and costs.
Some personal finance software offers basic features with free and paid versions. Other kinds have the sole goal of meeting more complex financial goals and charge monthly fees. In terms of costing, personal finance software typically costs between $6 and $12 per month, or you can pay annually for a discounted rate. Other additional software charges a one-time $35 fee and software that focuses on investing charges a flat rate of 0.5% of managed assets.
Is Personal Finance Software Worth the Cost?
Personal finance software is worth the cost if it helps a person meet their personal financial goals. It may help anyone stick to a budget and save money or manage and track their investments and gain money. If you use it and it’s helping, then it’s typically worth the relatively low cost.
Best Overall: Quicken
Having been around for several decades, Quicken is one of the most established in the market when it comes to personal finance software. You can use the Quicken software to manage various aspects of your financial life from:
- budget creation to debt tracking,
- savings goals,
- and even investment coaching.
The software even consists of Excel exporting, which allows you to manipulate and perform additional calculations on your data. One of the more advanced features includes bill paying, which allows you to set up payments for your bills right from the software. You can even use it to track the value of your assets to have an exact calculation of your total net worth.
In terms of the app, the Quicken application is robust enough to manage both your personal and business expenses and even handles property management functions like rental payments from tenants. The software starts at $34.99 and is available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Best for Budgeting: Mint
Next up on our list of the perfect personal finance software is Mint: specifically for our intro which was all about budgeting. As budgeting is one of the hardest things we have to do, Mint is perfect to track things and you can have the software pull in your bank and credit card information to analyze your spending and pinpoint areas where you can cut back to improve your finances.
For extra accountability, Mint permits you to set up alerts for things like due dates and low balances to keep you on track.
All of these features help you avoid expensive fees on late payments and overdrafts from your bank account. If you’ve set up budget categories, Mint will give you real-time information about the amount you can spend on things like food and gas. Mint is free to download and use on iOS and Android devices, as well as desktop.
Best for Habit Building: YNAB
You Need a Budget, or YNAB is a personal finance software that is perfect for building a budget habit! Its goal is to improve your financial literacy as you manage your monthly budget.
If you’ve been struggling with bad financial habits, YNAB can help you break those through a few basic financial management rules:
- As you create your budget and manage your daily finances, the software offers tutorials that will help you tackle some of the tougher financial topics.
- The software automatically links to your bank account, integrating your spending information for analysis and budgeting tracking.
- You can keep tabs on how you’re tracking toward your monthly budget and take action if you’re overspending.
- It doesn’t include any investment tracking capabilities.
This tool gives it’s users a 34-day free trial that allows you to use the software while you decide whether it’s right for your personal finance goals. The full software is $11.99 per month or $84 a year.
Best for Zero-Based Budgeting: Mvelopes
The traditional envelope (dividing your available cash into different envelopes for different spending categories) helps users to stick to a budget by using envelopes to manage their money.
According to this budgeting system, once you’ve broken down your budget, you put that amount of cash into different envelopes. So, if you budget $50 for gas for the week, you place that amount in a “gas” envelope. Once you’ve spent that $50, that’s it. In the same way, Mvelopes goes about budgeting that’s done digitally on your phone and computer rather than with physical cash.
When using this service, choose the financial goals that are most important to you, then add your bank accounts and set your income. Mvelopes will help you create a budget and set up your “envelopes.” This personal finance software tracks your spending and shows you what you’ve spent from each envelope to keep you on budget throughout the month.
The basic version of this tool starts at $6 per month, there is also one for $55 a year, with the higher-priced options providing additional features and coaching options.
In terms of a sample or trial experience, you can try Mvelopes free for 30 days, too, before deciding which plan is right for you.
Best for Taxes: TurboTax
You may not actually need TurboTax to manage your finances throughout the entire year, but when it’s tax time, this tool can come in handy. While it’s one of the pricier tax preparation and personal finance tools, it’s also consumer-friendly, walking you through your tax preparation to help you accurately file your tax return.
Putting in your tax information is fairly simple—you can import your W-2 information from your employer or take a picture of it and the software will transfer the information into the form.
If you’ve used TurboTax in previous years, the software tool will automatically save much of your personal information and later ask whether there have been any major changes. The most basic version lets you file your federal and state return for free if all you use is form 1040 with no attached schedules.
On the higher end, TurboTax Live connects you with a CPA or Enrolled Agent to offer you personalized advice and answer questions about your tax return. Paid versions of TurboTax include a feature to help you uncover deductions you may not have known were available to you. While you can use TurboTax on the web, you can also download the software to your device for an extra bit of security!
Best for Investing: FutureAdvisor
If you’re a DIY investor who is into searching for low-cost access to a financial advisor, FutureAdvisor is a great option. The personal finance software provides personalized recommendations to help you diversify your portfolio, which you can follow or not follow as you see fit.
Users are eligible to sign up for the software if they have at least $5,000 in investable assets. FutureAdvisor manages the assets you transfer into the account for a flat annual fee of 0.5% of the managed assets, billed quarterly at 0.125%. When you transfer your assets into the account, FutureAdvisor tools go on to consolidate them into accounts with its partners, Fidelity or TD Ameritrade.
Best for Investment Advice: Personal Capital
Personal Capital helps its subscribers manage their financial accounts on a single platform. Subscribers can include their bank accounts, mortgage, and other credit accounts, plus their investment accounts, to have your complete financial picture right in front of them.
If the users have multiple accounts—as most of us do these days—using Personal Capital can save them from having to switch between multiple screens to understand where they stand.
If users have a portfolio of more than $100,000, they can get personalized financial advice based on their individual goals. While you’re charged a fee for this service, the financial advisors are obligated to provide you with advice that works in your best interest.
Use the software to tell whether you’re on track with your retirement and other investment goals. Even if you’re not quite ready to take advantage of the financial advisor, you can use Personal Capital to track your finances and investments in one place. The core software is free, but there may be fees for additional features.
Best for Spreadsheet Management: Tiller Money
Tiller Money allows the user to see all their money in one place by automatically updating their checking, credit card, loan, investment, and other account data into a customizable Google Sheet or Excel template.
This personal finance software also lets users choose from templates that organize their data for them or customize their spreadsheets to suit their needs. It’ll also send users daily emails with a summary of their recent transactions and balances. The service costs $79 per year or $6.59 per month, but users can take advantage of the 30-day free trial to decide whether it’s right for them.
Best for Couples: Honeydue
Honeydue is one of the best personal finance softwares for couples because it is specifically geared toward helping you manage your money with a partner. A wife or husband can link accounts and customize what information you share with your partner while also communicating about money issues directly through the app. Notifications even alert you to upcoming bills or when you or your partner exceeds pre-set spending limits in your budget categories.
Some of the positives are no monthly fee, the choice of how much account information to share with your partner, the fact that the transactions are automatically categorized and lastly you can enjoy customizable alerts for overspending or upcoming bills. Some of the negatives are the tool is only available for iOS or Android (no desktop app) and there is limited financial education here. Lastly, a big pro are the few reporting features that allow you to look at the big picture.
As the personal finance software is designed to help couples manage their finances together, its features are focused on joint communication – like allowing you to respond to your partner’s transactions with a note, a thumbs-up, or other emojis. You can also aggregate your linked account information to see all of your individual and joint transactions in one place.
It is also designed to make the tracking of couples spending habits easy by automatically categorizing transactions as well as allowing you to add your own custom categories. And while there are fewer reporting options than with some other programs, customizable alerts help ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Best Free Option: Goodbudget
Goodbudget is the best free personal finance software because it offers the ability to take the envelope budgeting concept virtual without paying a fee for your finance software. You can manually import bank transactions and view Goodbudget’s intuitive pie charts to see how your spending is allocated.
This is a very feature-rich option considering the free price tag – with charts and graphs making you understanding your spending habits easier. Another pro is the fact that you can log in on multiple devices and easily transfer money between envelopes.
On the other hand, there are some cons such as being limited in the number of envelopes you can have with the free version. Another con is there is no option to automatically sync your accounts. Then you have to lmanually categorize each transaction after importing your account data which can be annoying.
Goodbudget allows you to implement a digital version of envelope budgeting (dividing your available cash into different envelopes for different spending categories), with your home screen showing how much is left in each envelope.
Lastly, keep in mind that yes, this personal finance software is free. But there is a paid version as well. The free tool had so many helpful features including the ability to create up to 10 envelopes and easily transfer money between them. But manually uploading and logging bank account transactions can be tedious. That being said, some users prefer not to provide access to their bank accounts.
Best for Saving: Albert
Albert is the best option for saving money because it is a money management app that is good at both facilitating the budgeting process and automating savings. This personal finance software monitors your spending habits, identifies spare dollars, and moves the money to a digital wallet. You’ll earn interest on the money, can withdraw it at any time, and can qualify for annual cash bonuses.
There are many positives including smart savings which allows you to save money for your goals effortlessly, it also allows you to earn an annual bonus of .10% on your savings automatically or as much as .25% when you enable Genius.
On the other hand, there are some cons such as:
No desktop version
No phone customer support
Limited educational information about the budgeting process
All in all, Albert creates an automatic budget for you, helping you to identify where your money is going at all times and in a split second you see your income, bills, and the money left over. You’ll also have many reporting options including reviewing past month’s budgets or seeing your transactions as a pie chart. This personal finance software is not just for easy budgeting but also facilitates saving effortlessly by identifying when there’s extra money available and moving it into a digital wallet.
You’ll be rewarded with an annual bonus on your savings and can easily track savings goals. However, if you want the Albert Genius add-on, which boosts your savings bonus and provides access to financial guidance over the phone, you’ll have to pay a minimum of $4 per month.
Best for Families: EveryDollar
The best personal finance software when it comes to families is EveryDollar because it allows you to create a budget in 10 minutes that can be completely customized to your family’s needs.
It allocates every dollar according to family needs but makes it simpler than other programs to go through the process as a family. And it instantly syncs across all devices, so everyone in the group can see what’s been spent. Another positive is the fact that it offers a free version and is created by the really smart, personal finance expert Dave Ramsey.
On the other hand, there are some cons like having to manually enter transactions in the free version. This is a common nuisance with free versions but the cost of the paid is a lot -$129.99 annually. Another common nuisance is the fact that you need to manually categorize transactions.
All in all, EveryDollar is an ideal choice for those who want to take a hands-on approach to budget together as a family and who don’t want to pay a monthly fee. It allows you to allocate every dollar that you’re spending and provides a customizable template to make the budgeting process easier.
For those who want added features, including the ability to link bank accounts, upgrading to the paid version is necessary. Ramsey+ comes at a higher cost than other programs but offers more features including Dave Ramsey’s popular Financial Peace course as well as BabyStep Tracking to help work through the seven baby steps Ramsey has identified for building wealth.
Best for College Students: PocketGuard
Very different to families, couples and others, PocketGuard is the best option for college students.
This is because it makes it easy for busy students to see at a glance how much money they have available to spend – which is so relatable. No longer is it about heavy taxes, the goal is simply to offer a pie chart of sorts to help even beginning budgeters see if they’re on track. And most of its features are free, which is ideal for those on a student budget. Another positive is the PocketGuard’s In My Pocket feature which instantly shows cash available to spend.
On the other hand, there are some cons starting with the fact that the free version limits transaction categories and goals. There are also ads and commercials even in the paid version of the app.
All in all, university students are not used to managing money, so PocketGuard’s simple user interface and intuitive pie charts make it easy to start budgeting and tracking spending. PocketGuard’s In My Pocket software tool also reduces the risk of overdraft accounts by keeping tabs on money available to spend at all times.
Even the free version despite not having many features as the paid option, most college students will likely find the program is robust enough and rich enough to avoid committing to a monthly subscription fee.
The algorithms in the program also help you identify and cancel unwanted subscriptions and can help college students identify opportunities to keep more money in their pockets.