In any purchasing decision you make in life you must match your needs with the features of the product you are purchasing in order to make the best decision. This also applies when you are investing in personal finance software. You don’t want to invest in a package that is too complex for your needs or has functions that you will never need to use in the future.
Having gone on line to research the best software packages on a well known UK retail site I analysed two categories in the following categories
Software >business and office>personal finance and tax
Software >Home computing>personal finance and tax
I then looked at the best sellers and in my mind I was going to review software packages about personal finance. However when the product features mentioned “creating invoices” and “tracking sales” I suddenly realised that this was not the software that I was seeking. This software was very much geared to accounting or book keeping. Therefore the category above business and office does not seem the appropriate category. I would regard business and office as pertaining to stand alone office building remote from one’s own home.
I then decided to go back to basics and look up the definition of personal finance which is “the application of the principles of finance to the monetary decisions of an individual or family unit. Tracking sales and creating invoices would be associated with a small business carried out by a sole trader or a partnership perhaps. Because “and tax” was added to the personal finance category meant that accounting and self assessment software would be included in this category.
Therefore it is very important to check thoroughly your needs before investing in personal finance software. You don’t want to invest in a package that is too complex for your needs or has functions that you will never need to use in the future. You should take the following steps.
1 List down the reasons why you need the software.
The following hypothetical list is an example.
-Keeping track of bank accounts, credit cards and loans and savings.
-Keeping track of investments i.e. stock market, bonds and mutual funds
-Keeping track of insurance, i.e. life insurance and health insurance.
-Monitoring of individual or company based retirement plans.
-Income tax management.
-Monitoring standing orders and direct debits
-Budgeting for future spending
2 Cross check the list in 1 above with what the various software packages have to offer and come up with a best fit.
3 Read reviews on the products that you have chosen in 2 above and chose one package based on the best ratings.
If you follow the points above you will end up buying a personal finance software package that is specifically tailored to your needs and more than likely give you value for money. Therefore you must look before you leap.