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10 Great Tips for Choosing and Using Personal Finance Software

Updated on January 27, 2011

Personal finance software can be incredibly useful. It can also be very overwhelming to get started using this software when you aren’t familiar with it yet. There are so many different types of financial software (such as money management programs and tax preparation programs). There are so many different brands and options within each of those software types. Where do you begin? And how do you know that you’re using the software properly? Mostly it just takes some experience but here are ten great tips that can make it easier for you to select and utilize personal finance software for your benefit:

1. Narrow down the type of personal finance software that you’re seeking to just one area. Although there are programs that can help you with multiple tasks, finding the right one can be really tough. It’s a lot easier to select the right software when you are focused on getting one task done with that software. For example, a lot of people choose tax preparation software as the first type of personal finance software that they will try to use.

2. Read reviews of personal finance software to help you select the options that are best for you. The key here isn’t to just look at stars or ratings and select the personal finance software that has been ranked the best by experts and other consumers. Although that information is important, it doesn’t tell you a lot about the software itself. Instead you need to read the reviews in depth with an eye towards exactly what people like and don’t like about the software. This will not only help you to choose the right software but will also assist you in gaining a quick understanding of what to look for in the type of personal software that you are selecting.

3. Spend time getting to know the software that you choose. It is worth it to take the time to explore all of the settings and options and tutorials and information related to the personal finance software that you have selected. Do this before you get too far into using the software so that you can really maximize your use of it.

4. Make sure that your personal finance software is up to date. This is particularly important when choosing or upgrading your tax preparation software since it is necessary for the software to be current with the most recent tax code. However, it is a good idea with all personal finance software.

5. Know the popular options. It’s good to know which programs and names people tend to trust when it comes to different personal finance software. For example, top choices for tax preparation are Turbo Tax by Intuit and H&R Block’s tax preparation software. This doesn’t mean that you have to choose these but it’s worth it to take a look at them.

6. Get a good price. Some personal finance software is free. Some of it is very expensive. Most people select software that is in between. Many of the top programs cost money but aren’t super expensive. When you get ready to buy your personal finance software, take the time to shop around, compare prices and look for coupons to get the best rate. It just doesn’t make sense to waste money especially on a product designed to help you improve your financial situation!

7. Always make sure that you understand the security risks that you may be taking when you utilize personal finance software. Most of this software is safe and secure, especially if you have properly locked your Internet connection at home. However, you should make sure that you read up on the history of the privacy and security associated with your software and find out if there are any special precautions that you need to take when using this software. You don’t want your information lost or stolen because identity theft is a scary thing!

8. Be aware that there is a difference between web-based and computer-based programs. Web-based programs store your information online and can be accessed from any computer. Computer-based programs are stored only on your computer and can’t be accessed from elsewhere. There are pros and cons to each of these options that you should look carefully at when you are choosing the personal finance software that you want to use. For example, a web-based program may be free but it may get its money from advertising so you’ll see a lot of ads when dealing with your finances, which is a situation that is frustrating for some consumers.

9. Don’t be afraid to dive in. The hardest part about choosing and using personal finance software is just getting started. You have to overcome the feeling that it’s too hard by diving into the experience. Consider it a great chance to learn something new that can benefit you for a long time to come. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you rush out and buy every personal finance software program out there to find the one that works best for you but it does mean that you start reading blogs, reports and reviews about personal finance software right now!

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may not be able to figure out everything about your personal finance software on your own. That’s okay. There is a lot of help available. The help feature on the site, forums dedicated to the topic, and family members who understand the software better than you do are all good places to start.


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  • uddinhammad62 profile image

    uddinhammad62 7 years ago from karachi


  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Very helpful and very well described. Thank you.