In my review of the best free personal finance managers, I found 8 products good enough to warrant recommendation with the best of these being as good as any commercial product. Some choices for online money management are also included in this article. Check them out and select the one that best suits your needs.
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If you are looking for a quick education in double entry accounting, look no further than GnuCash. It will ease you into the "Assets = Liabilities + Equity" accounting equation and help you keep tabs of your budget without using the categories commonly used in commercial personal finance applications.
Users' are allowed to easily create as many accounts as they need under each category. The program is integrated with a reporting and graphing module to generate a full suite of standard and customizable reports including balance sheet, profit & loss, portfolio valuation, etc. It also allows for convenient printing of checks.
On the downside it does not track stock price movements automatically and some brokers only support online downloads of files compatible with Microsoft Money or Quicken so that users' have to update them manually. The program does not provide encryption of files but users' can rely on third party encryption software to keep files confidential and secured if necessary. It also takes a while to either start-up or close down the program.
HomeBank is a feature-rich program that allows the keeping and tracking of detailed expenses, income, assets, and other budget-related categories. Numerous report-generation options are also available, as well as the ability to import Amiga-related information.
Help is available from within the program. Press F1 for extensive HTML based help.
GFP is a rich and full-featured program. It has numerous transaction and report categories, and also supports numerous edit and option settings for each transaction and report.
It is easy to use and understand and it offers a detailed Help Section that provides clear guidance. It has a gentle learning curve and is suitable for novices and professionals alike. It is based on the GNU open-source license model.
Money Manager Ex is an excellent full-featured budget program that enables users to create multiple accounts, transactions, categories and reports. The program is fairly easy to use, with a medium-level learning curve and has an extensive help file to assist users on how to navigate the various features and options. It also supports most, if not all, computer operating systems.
In general, it is a good program for novices and experts. The new version now includes an option to save your file in emb format with password encryption. However, data entries must be done manually as you use this application, which is sorely lacking in real-time automatic fiscal tracking and download capabilities.
Grisbi is another GNU GPL open-source budget program that is full-featured, and allows users' to create multiple, unlimited accounts, categories and reports. The program's GUI is simple, attractive and easy to understand, but because of the lack of a local help file, within the program, there is a steeper learning curve involved in learning all of the program's features and operations.
The program is versatile for the most part in terms of its capabilities and format accommodations and supports encryption of files. Nonetheless, a user must be careful not to forget his or her password as it would mean losing all of the created financial data.
Overall, it's an excellent program, which I recommend to Gizmo's users'.
Metalogic Finance Explorer is a full-featured, straightforward budget program that has two primary advantages over many other programs:
(1) allows for automatic uploading of financial data from banks
(2) it accepts importing of financial data from all sources and formats via the Open Financial Exchange (OFE) protocol.
In addition, the program allows users' to import stockmarket data and to print out their displayed financial data. However, there is a very skimpy local help file within the program, but there is a relatively more extensive online help file. Hence, the user must play around with the features to learn how to fully use them.
Money Plus Sunset Deluxe is another excellent full-featured budget program that offers users' a wide range of services including: budget planning; report generation; stock-investment service lookup capabilities and tracking; and automatic importing/updating of online bank account services.
It also offers security options, data archival, backup and restore backup functions. In addition, there is an extensive local help file within the program to assist users' in learning how to use all of its capabilities and features.
It's an excellent program; however, since this is legacy/sunset software, Microsoft no longer supports the program and as of January 31, 2011, all online services will cease to exist.
AceMoney Lite is a full-featured budget program, geared primarily for personal home use. It handles only two accounts, compared with its upgraded shareware version, AceMoney, which handles unlimited accounts.
It allows you to keep detailed track of your expenses and provides a wealth of options for report generation by various categories, sub-categories, and functions. The program also provides password protection, which is a plus for security purposes. In addition, the program supports 40 different international languages and contains a feature-rich currency converter.
Lastly, because the program contains a complete detailed Local Help File, it is fairly easy to use i.e. it has a gentle learning curve. Therefore, the program is useful for both novices and experts.
Looking for online money management?
Mint is an attractive personal finance on-line service. It helps budgeting and keeping track of your finances. Users' need to create a Mint account before adding bank, credit card, home loan and investment accounts. As claimed by Mint, "It works for you without requiring any personally identifiable information from you. Your Mint account is anonymous; set up requires only an email, password and zip code. Mint doesn’t know your name, address, social security number, account numbers, or PINs".
Rudder lets users'' review all accounts in one place, get bill reminders, budget and manage cash flow. It is an email-based system with similar privacy issues. My details COULD be adequately protected, but how do I KNOW that they are and always will be? I need a credible guarantee that if my ID, password, account numbers and credit card numbers are somehow compromised through their service, that they will make me whole. And if you ever close your account, how do you know your data has been securely erased from caches, files, backups, etc.? I'm just not willing to (literally) bet the bank just to build some charts of my budget or an email summary of my accounts. That said, these offerings really do look like promising planning tools for the less paranoid.
Money Strands This service is 100% free, and allows users' to import their bank data automatically. In addition, the website service automatically classifies financial data into meaningful categories, based on users' information. Per the site's FAQs section: CSV/QFX/OFX formats are supported. Finally, the site's owners invite people to submit their bank's name to them, if the particular bank in question is not currently supported via Money Strands.
Other freeware products to be reviewed:
- jGnash, cross-platform, supports double-entry based transactions, etc.
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- E-How Personal Budget Tips Video
- Printable Paper - Free Budget Templates
- Yahoo Finance - 10 Helpful Money Moves
Money Manager Ex
Metalogic Finance Explorer
Money Plus Sunset Deluxe
financial software, financial applications, free personal financial applications, freeware, free personal accounting software.