Effective money management used to require tons of paperwork. But with online management tools such as Quicken, Mint, and Microsoft Money, the process became a lot easier. With so many software applications available, users can get confused as companies battle it out to get a larger share of the market. Some of the biggest names in money management have even introduced free software products to attract more clients.
Intuit’s Quicken and Microsoft Money are the two programs that let its users keep track of almost every aspect of their finances. They both work with various financial institutions to let you download transactions on your account. In addition, these applications simplify tax preparation in accounting. Mint.com is another notable money management application. This free tool focuses on the needs of younger professionals.
Below is a comparison of the different money management tools available today:
When Quicken desktop software was first introduced, a lot of people bought the application. It was an innovative tool that enabled businessmen and executives manage their finances conveniently on their computers. Unfortunately, the desktop software is also expensive. That makes it a good thing that Intuit, the developer of this tool, created Quicken Online for beginners.
Once $3 monthly, Quicken Online is now completely free. The program will update your bank account, credit card transactions, and other financial accounts every night. Users are able to create and track their personal budget while protecting financial data with sophisticated security technology. It can provide bill reminders through text messaging and email as well.
Quicken Online lets you view transaction details, invoices, and account balances anywhere there is an internet connection. Graphs and charts are shown for an easy analysis of expenses and spending habits. However, the software runs slow particularly with updates and the intuitiveness of its reporting features also leaves much to be desired.
In addition, due to its focus on the younger market, people who had become dependent on the features available in Quicken desktop software will discover that a lot of features are missing in Quicken Online. For example, it does not allow data to be exported or support investment tracking, nor does it allow integration with TurboTax. Despite some setbacks, Quicken Online remains one of the top free money management tools.
On the surface, it would seem as if Mint is a direct competitor of Quicken, but this isn’t actually the case. Mint approaches online money management from a different angle. The main goal of the software is to let you handle your current financial situation from your spending to your bank balance in a single portal. It does not attempt to act as complete money management application. Don’t expect it to replace Money and Quicken; it will, however, serve to supplement them.
When you first log into Mint, an overview of your current “financial health” is displayed on the left, while alerts, your spending trend, and ways to save are displayed on the right. This screen alone already gives a snapshot of the user’s overall finances. One of the greatest benefits of this software is that it consolidates all financial data. There is no need to visit various credit card and bank websites to access the same data. Alerts will also be given if there had been any suspicious activity in any financial account within Mint.
The account tab in Mint enables user to add, modify, and remove any account. This is a straightforward process because users only need to enter the current log-in information. Entering the credit card number of checking account information is not required. Because Mint supports over 3,000 banking and credit card institutions, there is high probability that your bank is supported.
It is important to take note that because of the security policies of Chase and Citizen Bank, it may be more difficult for you to access these accounts on Mint. Most people are worried about their security. After all, their entire financial data becomes accessible in a single site. But there is no need to worry because Mint does not store any financial data. Even if a hacker manages to log into your account, all they can do is to view the information. Your financial information is actually stored at Yodlee.
Unlike Mint and Quicken Online, Microsoft Money is not really free but it is affordable to most users. Undeniably, it is difficult to keep different aspects of your finances in check. Microsoft Money can help you keep track of everything from day-to-day expenses to your investments. The software is rich in features that help in debt management, investments, and many more.
To get the most out of Microsoft Money, it is recommended for you to study its manual. It may take some time and effort, but it will be well worth it. This software can also help a lot in budgeting especially if you are willing to enter accurate information about your income and expenses. It takes care of the smallest details so you’ll know what areas you should cut back on.