Managing your money can seem pretty straight forward, don't spend more than you earn and try to put away some savings for a rainy day and your retirement. Effectively managing your personal budgeting and saving can actually turn out to be a lot more difficult than it seems. Without a fixed plan and a clear understanding of where your money is going it can be easy to get to the end of the month and find your account doesn't have as much left over as you thought it would (or you're in the red!).
Personal budgeting and saving programs have been around for a long time and with the vast quantity of options out there it is increasingly difficult to figure out what the best option is. This article will compare two options to managing your finances that are similar in many ways but do have some clear differences.
Both will help you manage your personal finances and bank accounts as well as investments. They also provide all sorts of graphical representations of your spending so you can see any surprises as to where your money is actually going. Both are also built to easily interface with and allow you to quickly import information from your bank and other financial institutions.
Mint.com has been around since 2006 and is a purely online platform for managing your personal budgeting and saving. The site has been hugely successful with over 10 million users and in 2009 was purchased by Intuit, the maker of Quicken and TurboTax.
One of the sites first noticeable features is that it is free, a huge consideration because you skip a cash outlay just to start thinking about how to better manage your money. The site is also incredibly user friendly and most users can set up their entire account and have it populated within 30 minutes.
A benefit of the online platform is also that you don't have to worry about updating your software or being unable to access it when you're on vacation. With applications downloadable for all major mobile devices this also means you can keep on top of your budgeting when away from home, a major consideration for regular travelers.
I'm intentionally ignoring Quicken here as the elephant in the room when it comes to personal finance software. Yes it's been around a long time, but Intuit specifically bought Mint so they could leverage that platform and integrate more of its features into their existing product, Quicken.
Moneydance has been written up as Quicken but with more elegance. It is a desktop program and will work for Windows, Mac and even Linux, mobile applications have recently been added also so you can keep your personal finance management on the go. Many personal finance software programs aren't Mac supported so if you do have a Mac and prefer a desktop solution this may be for you.
This program will cost you $50, but you can try a limited version out for free before you settle on this program for managing your finances.
Ultimately there are dozens of personal finance programs and websites out there for you to use and the final decision often comes down to finding the right fit for you. People place varying degrees of emphasis on bank account vs. investment management and different offerings focus to varying degrees on both. Additionally, user interface and graphs are definitely a consideration as you need to find something you like to work with.
Ultimately the free cost of Mint and the fact that it offers many of the same features as Moneydance likely makes it the best solution for most. That said, if it doesn't work for you and you find yourself looking for a desktop application then you should give Moneydance serious consideration.