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They say the best things in life are free. That includes sunsets, a baby's smile, good company, the love of family, a puppy's tail wag, and yes, personal finance software.
Personal finance software helps you manage all your accounts: checking, savings, credit cards, investments, etc. It can give you greater control over your finances by allowing you to track your transactions and move money from one account to another. Most come with tools to help you set up various budgets to keep spending on track and under control. They usually allow you to create various reports and charts that help you understand what you're doing with your money. Typically, personal finance software is aimed at users who may not know a lot about accounting or finances, but they want something that's simple, straightforward, and organized.
You could pay a lot of money for financial planning software, but you don't have to. Numerous free options exist, and they're full versions, not "lite" versions that only give you a preview. The best part about free software is that you can give it a test drive and see if it has all the features that you need. Poke around and see if interface is comfortable; if you don't like the experience, you can simply delete it and try another one until you find something that works best for you and your financial situation and habits.
Free Personal Financial Management Software
GnuCash: GnuCash allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income, and expenses as a business or an individual. It uses double-entry to ensure your books are always balanced. It has an easy-to-use checkbook-style register, and it can create recurring transactions, charts, and various useful reports. You can even track stocks and portfolio accounts. It works with international currencies and comes with a thorough user's manual. It's available for GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, MacOS X, and Microsoft Windows.
HomeBank: HomeBank is an easy-to-use multilingual application that manages your personal accounting, budget, and finances. It can easily import from Quicken, Microsoft Money, or other software. Import bank statements and instantly track transaction duplication, choose from monthly or annual budgeting, and utilize all the usual account types, various reports, and charts. It's available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
GFP: GFP is a personal finance manager that helps control checking, savings, and credit card accounts. With very little knowledge of finances, you can easily create charts and graphs that help you see where your money is going.
Money Manager EX: Money Manager EX is an open-source, cross-platform personal finance software that gives a great overview of your finances and helps you gain greater financial control. Besides helping you manage accounts, it helps you budget and even has cash flow forecasting that'll keep you on track. Handy bill reminders will ensure you don't miss a payment.
Buddi: Buddi keeps it simple. Setting up your accounts is quick and easy, and you can move money between accounts quickly. It requires Java SE Version 5 or higher, and it works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Mint: From the makers of TurboTax comes Mint, free financial management software that, along with offering all the tracking features that most financial management software programs have, helps you create realistic budgets and provides a free credit check and tips to improve your score. Other nifty features are tools that track your home's value and help you calculate your net worth. Mint securely encrypts your data, and it's available as an app.
Financial Fate: Financial Fate is user-friendly and has a focus on the future and planning for the long haul. It can help you avoid future financial problems. Available for Microsoft Windows, it adjusts your planning for changes that'll happen in the future, such as becoming an empty-nester, changes in insurance, and retirement.
PLCash: Because it uses plain text, PLCash can be imported to spreadsheet or word processing software. It manages several types of accounts and tracks investments.
Mvelopes: The "envelope method" of money management has people put aside money for various expenses in envelopes. Mvelopes does that in a virtual world. Users stay on budget by filling digital envelopes with payments to be used for various expenses.
Tackling your finances can be an overwhelming, yet necessary, task. For most people, it's hard to know where to begin. Odds are strong that you're not an accountant or financial expert. The right personal finance software can be the expert for you, while giving you the tools you need to see the big picture with your finances. It'll help you analyze your spending, so you can make better financial decisions going forward.