10 Reasons to use Quicken
I am a firm believer that everyone who owns a computer should use personal finance software, whether it be Intuit's Quicken, Microsoft's Money, or any of the other programs available. Properly used, personal finance software gives you the tools you need to take control of your money, no matter how much or how little you have. Quicken is my software of choice, and I have been using it for almost as long as it has been around. Here are my top 10 reasons for using Quicken:
1. It provides a visual picture of my financial situation. I am a "visual learner", so I can comprehend things better when they are presented in a "hard" format - numbers, categories, etc.. The graphs and reports generated by Quicken are helpful in giving me a snapshot of my how much I have and where it is going.
2. It gives me a sense of being in charge. I'm kind of a control freak when it comes to money. With Quicken I always know exactly how much money I have in the bank, how much I owe and to whom.
3. Not only do I know how much I have now, I can "see into the future". By setting up recurring transactions, Quicken projects balances into the future, and can be set to show on the calender by individual accounts, groups of account, or overall net worth. You can also do "what if" scenarios by plugging in transactions temporarily.
4. I can also see into the past. I could never keep in my head how much I paid for that DVR three years ago, or how much the kitchen renovation cost (some people are better at this than others). But with a quick search, I can see what I bought, how much it cost, and where I bought it.
5. I can set a budget to achieve my financial goals and produce reports to see how I'm doing. Quicken will automatically warn me if I exceed my budget for a certain item with a pop-up message. If a budget is not that important to you, Quicken will use prior years' amounts as a default budget. It will still warn you if you exceed those amounts, giving you an opportunity to investigate why you are spending more than in the past.
6. It helps to alleviate stress and anxiety about my finances, especially when the economy is going sour. I have peace of mind knowing that my personal situation is just fine, regardless of what's happening in the housing market or the mortgage industry.
7. I'm not nervous about making money decisions when I know how it will affect me ahead of time. There's no ambiguity as to how a major financial decision will affect my wealth - it's all spelled out for me.
8. I can export my tax-related transactions to Turbo Tax at year end, saving a lot of typing.
9. Quicken does more than keep a record of my investments. It not only provides analytical tools that let me know if my current holdings are doing okay, it also links with its own browser to online tools to assist in stock selection and analysis. There is a very useful allocation tool to help you re-balance your portfolio, as well. It is a big help at tax time, too.
10. If you have a little side business, Quicken will handle those transactions separately and give you instant information on profits and losses. It will also export the business information to the relevant Turbo Tax forms.
Quicken is really not hard to use. After the initial setup steps, all you have to do is spend a few minutes a day updating checks written, credit card purchases, etc. Then you will always know at a glance whether you are moving towards your financial goals.
So why not give it a try. You'll be glad you did!
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