Best Home Accounting Software Reviews
If you are looking to get your home accounts in order or have a small home based business you will require diligence and care. Pencil and paper or a spreadsheet may be all you need at first, but you will soon find that keeping tabs on your money gets complicated. This is where an accounts package comes in.
There are a range of flavours which come in a range of prices! Home accounting software comes from free, open source options through to very expensive full blown accounts packages that will do everything you could ever wish, and many things you couldn’t ever be bothered with. The trick is to know what it is that you want the package to do and then find the package that suits you.
My personal experience with looking into all these various flavour packages has been very positive. As an artist and a blogger I have to keep an eye on the finances pretty carefully so that I know what is flowing in and out of my accounts, so I don't use this simply for my home accounting, but also keep an eye on my business. If you have simple business you don't need all that much more than home software anyway. You will probably want something though which works well for tax purposes.
Home accounting software reviews
Mint.com for home accounting
When I was put onto Mint I had already written many of these reviews. However as soon as I was aware of it, for online home accounting software it immediately leapt to the top of the pile. Why? Two reasons:
2. There is an app - both for the Apple formats and for android.
Even a cursory glance reveals that it is a good format, especially for home accounting. And it's the app which really does it. I am currently setting up the accounts for a new charitable trust to keep track of things. You can connect your bank accounts, but I prefer not to. I want other people to access them too. Although I should think that they are quite secure: they sport various secure badges including from McAffee, which I would think they would have them shut down if it were just a bit of bling!
One the website they say:
Mint is led by an experienced team including industry veterans drawn from the ranks of Charles Schwab, eBay, Expedia, Intuit, PGP and other leaders in the finance, security and software industries. We’ve attracted funding from top tier venture capital firms whose past investments have included Google, Intuit, eBay, PassMark Security, PayPal, Yahoo! and others
which does tend to give you a certain level of confidence!
Quicken home accounting software
…includes TaxCalc, which will help even first time users to work out their taxes so that it makes filling in their returns a breeze. Priced around $60 (£40) for the download version it’s not the cheapest solution, but is configured so that you can choose the features you want to use, and only display what you need. You can even now integrate PayPal into the options of financial institutions that are registered.
So whether you need to work out your taxes or not, Quicken is the granddaddy that prides itself on being user friendly for those of us who have to do our finances and want to make it as easy as possible. Quicken are pulling out of the UK market and so will soon be out of date.
Microsoft’s home accounting software
…Money Plus, which comes in it’s own different varieties to suit use and budget, is very similar to quicken. The only concern experts have concerns it’s use of a Windows Live ID, which (considering such hacker examples as google gmail). MoneyPlus essentials is around $20, ranging to $90 for the premium business version. Again, they are leaving the UK to their own devices.
Sage - suitable for home accounting?
…offers Simply Accounting software which is more business focussed, but is very elegant. It will print packaging slips and even track inventory. The sales copy says
“Simply Accounting automates everything from purchases to sales to payroll. It allows you to prepare invoices, write cheques, track projects, hand inventory and pay employees.”
But at near $400 it might be just one step too far for many.
TurboCash home accounting software for free
As it is free home accounting software, users should be aware that it is open source. Whilst it is (possibly) a perfectly secure system, open source makes me worried when it comes to software accounting. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable putting my own account details in case some hacker found a way of picking up my keystrokes in the software and knowing some important details.
I don’t doubt Turbo Cash themselves however. Linux is open source software and has far fewer attacks that does Microsoft! The argument is that because it is open source it is being developed by a much wider user base so more people can pick up on the hackers and quickly rewrite the weak parts of the software.
The user interface looks very old fashioned. We were happy in the 80’s with clunky interfaces, but are we now? I would like my home accounting software to be a bit prettier because if it isn’t appealing it will just sit on my computer. In short, it’s free, and it does what it says on the can, though other reviewers have come across bugs in the program.
PersonalFinances home accounting software
…has a free trial download and is definitely aimed at providing accounting software for the home. I wouldn’t like to run a business off it. However it does have the look of up to date software, with curves and shaded buttons, which for those of us who are financially challenged need something which feels good to work with otherwise we won’t bother.
It needs to be, in short, fun, and this package delivers more than most. As a standalone program you can install the package on a flashdrive (USB) and take it with you. Is this secure? I lose my keys on a regular basis, I don’t think I could trust myself with my accounts on something so small. But it is only one feature that you can take or leave.
I particularly like the easy set up for different family members and as my son, who is 8, gets more involved in working out what to do with his money this can only be an advantage. The budgeting options show a green/red bar to indicate visually if you are going to go over budget with your estimations.
$25 for a personal package ($30 to be able to use it on a usb pen or up to 3 PC’s) up to $75 which includes a ‘commercial site licence’ of 3 PC’s and USBs. The difference between personal and commercial is advanced budget and reconciliatioin options which compares what is in your bank balance to data you enter. This is a good check to make sure that you are entering the right information.
…is, as users report, easier to get along with than Microsoft’s home accountancy software – but only if you know how to set up your own budgeting and accounts. For example, there are no quick start templates. There are detailed options that you can ignore if you only want to be bothered with home finances. At around $60 the alternatives should perhaps be considered first.
Bank Tree home accounting software
UK specific, that does what it says on the tin. No frills, and solid reports available as a download. Features include the standards (incomings and outgoing, balances, investment, budgeting) and also importing and exporting records from online banking via excel sheets – so make sure your bank allows you to do this first if you want to use that feature. You also have a mortgage loans calculator which is invaluable with the constantly fluctuating rate changes. This is UK software, and I like it. £26 plus free support.
As Quicken and Microsoft Money are winding up in the UK, this might be a great option for UK users. Note: the current version won’t do your tax return for you, but if you have ever needed to do a tax return and have used the online system plus phone the tax office you will already be aware that the UK is really friendly and easy. It is unlikely that you need a separate tax feature as long as you keep your accounts in order.
If you are looking to transfer from Quicken or Microsoft to the BankTree home accounting software then you can do so by exporting excel format reports from Q or M into Banktree. If you are a previous user of Microsoft Money, then it may take a little getting used to. A solid investment in the market of home accounts software offerings.
Cloud accounting software: Outright.com
I have just started using Outright.com, and I think it is fantastic. It takes just moments to set up, and it's absolutely free. There is set to be a premium version, but this suits me just right as an artist who bills people by paypal on a regular basis. You set it up by simply registering for an Outright account, and immediately you get access (yes, no confirmation emails!). Once you are in you are presented with a beautiful efficient front page. You can add or deduct funds, and on the right there is a button option of adding some various elements such as automated updating with paypal or ebay. Of course you can leave it just simple and not add that functionality. If you don't need anything too complex, I personally would try Outright before any of the other options.
Of course, being cloud based you will have to be connected to the internet to make use of it, and as yet there is no iPod app
2011 editorial note: Outright.com are no longer offering their free version of their software. You now get 30 days free, then are charged $9.95. Comparable, therefore, is Kashoo.com who charge at the same amount. If you are looking for free home accounting software or that already has an app, have a look at Mint, as mentioned at the top of the hub.
Kashoo also provide 30 days free, followed by charging. The main difference for their software is that it is aimed at businesses and multi-users. This might at first not appear to be useful for a home, but consider if a husband and wife share an account, they are multi-users! They are coming out with an iPad accounting software version very soon (I was contacted by their company) and soon after a free app for iPhone/iPod, Android and Blackberry. Again, a good secure system and you can connect your bank accounts up, and no long term contracts, just pay month to month.
What Should I Look for in Free Personal Accounting Software?
1) It really should be free.
I am sure that you have experienced this: you search for some free piece of software online and downloaded it only to discover that it is free for thirty days, or something. It's irritating. Especially when you discover it a few days after you have taken the opportunity to learn the system, perhaps even configured it to your own needs. Do yourself a favour and check out the small print before you make the effort of configuring and learning.
2) It should be secure
All software is at risk of being hi-jacked or some malevolent miscreant deciding to produce what looks like it's a quality item, only to be sending your codes and passwords up the line to someone you don't want digging around in your personals. It's hard but not impossible to be sure. Check out with as many sources as possible. Email the company. Even check out forums. Once of the best things you can do is to watch the PC magazines for articles on the software you are after
3) It should be as simple as the expensive models
Often the expensive software has a pedigree where paid boffins work hard to create the right software, and have worked with focus groups that are beyond the scope of the freebie manufacturers. This means it will often function more intuitively, and be a lot prettier than the cheaper models. However, that doesn't mean it can't be simple. Again, try it out, perhaps be creating a dummy account. If you can't work it out in an hour then chances are you never will.
Are their dangers of free apps?
- The dangers of using free open source applications and download apps
Before you go and download that app, stop and consider what else you might be downloading it without knowing it
Excel spreadsheet budgeting
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- Personal Finances - simple home accounting software.
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Why do I need home accounting software?
It might be you don’t. If all you are after is knowing what goes in and out of the household finances then a simple spreadsheet will do that for you. Where a home accounts package wins hands down is where it sets up reminders for you, and enables you to work out how to set up appropriate budgets and ‘pots’.
Simply put, being able to get a handle on your finances through the use of any of these softwares, including the online accounting software, will help you to actually get more money in your pocket for the things you want to spend it on. Money dribbles through your fingers if you don’t pay attention to it! For example, simply by making sure that you are getting value for money you could save yourself thousands of pounds or dollars a year.
But there are also a lot of really good reasons for saving money anyway. There are of course the rainy day problems that need fixing; but there are also those important anniversaries in life, and if you are going to be able to fork out and buy really decent things like for 40th birthday ideas (my wife's is coming up round the corner, which made me think of this) then having some money put to one side is very important!
For my money, before shelling out on a package I would begin by learning how to get more for my money – so Martin Lewis is a great place to start. That will give you the motivation to know WHY you need to keep a closer eye on your finances without the fear factor of seeing a negative bank balance, and then finding the home accounting software that will best help you to achieve that.
Books on the subject of how to do accounts
What books are available to support you?
Accounting for dummies covers everything about business account management, and doesn’t deal so much with home financing. Investment and profit management are covered in detail.
Accounting workbook for dummies is the support material for the above book.
Accounting for a better life is based on the domestic wellbeing Accounting model, which is a different perspective on finances: refreshing to say the least. Their own website says “a new, simplified and fun approach to home, personal and domestic accounting”. If you are looking to gain control of your finances then read this book.
Frugal living for dummies. Thrift is the name of the game. We have just saved money on our own finances to the tune of £120 (about $200) a year, which will pay for much of Christmas, just by switching our brand of coffee to the shop’s own! You might think it would taste like mushed cardboard but it doesn’t. Reviewers aren’t overly impressed with this book because much of it is common sense. You might be just as well going to read Martins money savers tips and learning from there, or even reading through my own hub about finding money you never knew you had (I'm talking thousands!).
Martin Lewis (of the above tips) has written his own books.
First up is his book on organising your own finances – The Money Diet – was a great hit, teaching us how not to mess up on our purchases and investments. If you live in the UK then you may well have watches as the stars go in for his investigations and he literally puts back thousands into their pockets. He has done a similar redressing of the financial scales for many more mere mortals.
Thrifty Ways for Modern Days takes the principles of old fashioned thrift living and writes them for younger readers. It covers everything from starting a simple home craft business to make money, through to cleaning your house for pennies avoiding expensive shop bought chemicals. Martin edits this compendium which is a summary of the articles and ideas thousands of people have suggested on his site.
His most recent offering (2008) is The Three Most Important Lessons You've Never Been Taught. It gives you the inside edge on any financial transaction you might need to make, and helps you to examine for real if you are getting the best deal that you possibly can. He gives insights on how to arrange your finances, and to track down the best deals that are available to you.
Friendly and fun, you can get to know more about Martin Lewis and creating a positive financial attitude by reading about him on his website.
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