The Best Budgeting Software – “It Ain’t What Ya Make…It’s What Ya Keep”
It's not what you make, it's what you keep.
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Three Concepts to Find the Best Budgeting Software
These difficult times make finding the best budgeting software nearly as important as the decision to budget in the first place. If you are trying to find the best budgeting software the answers can be found in these key words:
Finding the best budgeting software is a personal decision, which depends on our knowledge of the features, and more importantly, how we intend to use them.
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Easy and Customizable
Easy: The easiest is a lined note pad and pencil, but were talking software so that would be a spreadsheet with simple lines and columns. Since “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”, we know that there is a tradeoff between ease of use and customizability. If you are one that needs frequent technical support, there are online programs, which provide support (for a price) to the end user. Many of the computer programs permit a “test” version which allows use to check out the functionality to determine if the program meets our needs and abilities. It is important to point out that many of the “easier” programs may lack the flexibility to expand as our needs change. This may be important for those of us that consider a home-based business in which there may be multiple tax categories to assign to our future income and expenses. Some programs may lack the capability to compare actual versus projected income and expenses and many may be quite limited as to the types of reports they can generate.
Customizable: Customizability can be as simple as changing the title of a given category to creating several subheadings under an overarching category such as real estate expenses. Have you considered that there may be business meals, and the acquisition of books and other educational materials that may be associated with the real estate business? Each one of these should have its own separate category and have its specific tax category assigned. Can the system keep track of multiple bank accounts, or stock portfolios? Many forms of budgeting software permit the downloading of bank account transactions eliminating the need for tedious and time-consuming manual entries.
Software - The Output
Output: All the data in the world will be useless if you are unable to view it in a way that permits you to take the proper action when it is called for. The best budgeting software permits you to customize the output of your data in the form of reports. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you assimilate information better if it is presented visually, such as in a pie chart or bar graph rather than in rows and columns?
- Do you have multiple categories that need to be tracked requiring separate reports or do you just need an income and expense report?
- Do you need to track by specific time period, such as quarterly or do you just need the information at the end of the year?
- Does the program permit you to develop a “template” that can be adapted to some or all of your categories?
The best budgeting software needs to meet both your current and future needs. Consider all of the features, “test drive” several options, determine how much time you have to input data and to review what you have entered. Remember, the best budgeting software is a waste if it is not used and used properly.