A Guide to Choosing Personal Finance Software

When you are choosing personal finance software, get hands-on experience with various programs first.

Personal finance software falls into two general categories: money management and tax preparation. Money management programs offer features including banking, budgeting and investing. Tax preparation programs offer all kinds of planning, not just tax related, and importing, forms, error check, online filing and more. This guide will help you find a program that fits your needs and helps increase your wealth.

1. Get hands-on experience before you pay for a program.
Many personal finance software programs offer free trials or demos. Others may offer online tours. You can visit the websites of these programs to download trials or get physical discs from computer stores. Whatever the case, check that the program is easy for you to understand and has a friendly design. Do a few trials, demos or online tours before making any decisions.

2. Know what you want from your software.
Some personal finance software programs are more comprehensive than others. If features such as linking to a PayPal account are non-essential to you, don?t pay for more than you have to.

3. Find the best deals, especially if you like more than one program.
Turn to Google, especially if there are two or more programs you like equally. Enter the name of the program or programs, the plus sign (+) and ?coupon? (include the quotation marks). You can usually redeem coupons you find e-retailers or physical stores.

4. Go free, but be aware of the downsides.
There are quite a few free money-management and tax-preparation software programs. They keep your data online and use advertising, paid upgrades and other means to make money. These programs may be best if you only need the basics and don?t mind the potential risk of your data on an external server. Also, tax-preparation software may be free but may charge federal or state filing fees.