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Best personal finance software
Old 01-26-2014, 11:50 AM   #1
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Best personal finance software

Hello,

I just wanted to get some advice on which is the best software to use as I want to get serious about watching my spending. I plan to semi ER in the 2017-18 time frame.
The things that are most important are linking my accounts to the software with a great emphasis on security. Also, accuracy as far as where the money is spent (for example the software knows the difference between a gas station and a grocery store and properly categorizes it).
I am also wondering if there is a fee for linking accounts with the software.
While tracking investments would also be a cool feature, my biggest need is software that tracks spending and gives me a really clear picture of where my money has gone.
I would also like to be able to install on multiple devices (Ipad, laptop etc)

Thanks in advance for any recommendations!
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Old 01-26-2014, 12:04 PM   #2
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If you can accept the security risks that are prevalent in the modern technological world, then Mint.com is a great resource for tracking your spending. Extremely easy to use and with it's drop-down menu widget you have all your information available in an instant. I've been a user for almost 2 years and find it very useful for tracking all account activity.

I also use Quicken to track cash flow through my checking account. All my financial transactions go through this account so it's a great way to keep long term records of spending.

Of course if security is an issue, there's always pencil and paper.
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Old 01-26-2014, 12:18 PM   #3
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I like using spreadsheets to track spending and manually entering purchases. I think this makes me a dinosaur but I like that I can customize the spreadsheet exactly as I want it. I don't mind manual entry and I like seeing the individual purchases.

I personally would not trust mint, quicken, etc with my passwords to other accounts. Sharing passwords may also violate the ToS for the other accounts.
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Old 01-26-2014, 12:21 PM   #4
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I like Quicken, and have used it for 10+ years. It does so much more than tracking spending, but that's a good place to start with it. It has lots of planning tools and you can hook up (via the Internet) to most banks and download transactions. I especially find this helpful for credit card spending so I can categorize those as the come in. It's eye-opening.

It's well worth the investment. And I only upgrade every 2 or 3 years - yearly just isn't necessary.

Good luck!
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Old 01-26-2014, 01:58 PM   #5
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Yep Mint or Quicken are great for what you are seeking.

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Old 01-26-2014, 03:12 PM   #6
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All my spending is driven off one spreadsheet (updated annually) containing lines for buckets for individual budgeted areas. As this spreadsheet drives spending and not the other way around, I don't need software to "track spending" as the budgeted amount for each area drives spending. IOW, I know where the money goes. More often than not under budget anyway.
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Old 01-26-2014, 03:16 PM   #7
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It's really just personal preference, like what color your couch is. What's important is tracking the spending.
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Best personal finance software
Old 01-26-2014, 03:29 PM   #8
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Best personal finance software

Quote:
Originally Posted by photoguy View Post

I personally would not trust mint, quicken, etc with my passwords to other accounts. Sharing passwords may also violate the ToS for the other accounts.

I have to agree. As one who has had his information stolen three times in the last year or two by firms I do business with, I find it hard to give away my passwords.
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Old 01-26-2014, 04:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
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I have to agree. As one who has had his information stolen three times I the last year or two by firms I do business with, I find it hard to give away my passwords.
Quicken's Password Vault is stored locally on your computer. You don't have to put this out on the internet. You do have to put your passwords in the Vault in order to automatically download data from your accounts, but I think the Vault is adequately encrypted even if your computer is attacked or stolen.

I think you can move your passwords/data to the Cloud so you can access your data while away from home. I don't think I would want to do that. I'm not sure how this all works because I've never used it.
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:58 PM   #10
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If tracking investments, I keep hearing PersonalCapital is great and it's free, I believe. However, like some others, I am afraid to link our 401k's, IRA's, and taxable accounts. I would love to know which funds in 401k's are pulling the buggy (cost/share vs. appreciation), but if I have to deal with risks to learn it, I'd rather not know it. I evaluate our AA manually once a year on Vanguard and then again on M* just to compare them both.
I do expense tracking on my Excell. I don't go into anal details, only a few major categories (transportation contains gas, auto insurances, maintenance; daycare/camps/child related activities, utilities, house related expenses, food, entertainment/restaurants, vacation, miscellaneous).
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:39 PM   #11
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It sounds like you are looking for software that will automatically categorize spending for you. I can recommend Mint, as others have done.

But I switched to using YNAB (Personal Budget Software - Finance Software for Windows & Mac) several months ago and find that compared to Mint, I now have a much better handle on my finances. YNAB forces you to make spending trade-offs in a strict way, which was very helpful for me.
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Old 02-09-2014, 08:14 AM   #12
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I've used Quicken since the early 90s and it works for me. If I was to start now, I'd probably use an online service like mint.

Ensure that you can download your information from the online service in some standard format (csv or similar) so that if it shuts down, you can migrate your data to another service.
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Old 02-09-2014, 08:53 AM   #13
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I recommend using a spreadsheet. No, I'm not kidding.
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Old 02-09-2014, 09:33 AM   #14
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Nothing against the commercially available packages, but I prefer my own spreadsheets. I have one to track spending, budget & results, and another to track investments/AA, net worth, taxes, etc. - both with multiple worksheets. I can modify as I please, I know exactly what assumptions underlie every result and security isn't an issue. YMMV
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Old 02-09-2014, 09:48 AM   #15
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Quicken for decades. Entering and categorizing expenditures is a good way to really get a handle on what you are spending where. My thought is that having software report that you spent $200 on gas (because you have a Big Gulp addiction and the convenience store is categorized as gasoline) isn't as useful as you entering $5 every day for 7-11 soda and realizing that you are hooked on bubbles and sugar.
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Old 02-09-2014, 10:52 AM   #16
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MoneyDance. No forced upgrades, which is a big plus for me.

If I wanted to only track expenses, I'd consider using something like mint.
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Old 02-09-2014, 10:56 AM   #17
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For budgeting, I use a program called Budget Advisor (Windows version only).

For investments I just rely on Vanguard's statements and website. For AA, my own spreadsheet.

IMO, whatever works for you is the best program. A cliche... I know
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:08 AM   #18
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I've used Quicken for close to 20 years and am fine with it. It is not perfect so I supplement it with spreadsheets that use data exported from Quicken to for some of my more complex custom calculations.
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:23 AM   #19
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I'm a fidelity customer so, my investments are all tracked there. I also use Mint to track expenses. However fidelity now has an expense tracking app which would allow me to track it all in one place and fidelity is very secure. So you might try fidelity if you're more worried about security or Mint if not a fidelity customer.
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:48 AM   #20
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I'm a member of Bank of America and they have a similar software for free use online. It works well and you can link any account info you want to. Also has several tools for net worth tracking, budgets, spending etc... Works out nice for me and have been using for over a year now.
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