Deciding which personal finance software to use can be a difficult and confusing task. Just as your personal finance needs vary, so too do the individual features offered by each personal finance software company. But when managing your money and family budgets, it is essential to have the right tool to help you understand where personal spending is occurring and how you can adjust your budget to live a better life. We have researched some of the more popular personal finance software options to select our 2014 best personal finance software winner. We also share the pros and cons of many other players in the market so that you can make the best choice for you.
Want to jump straight to the reviews and checkout the comparison table later?
- 1st Place Winner: Mint
- 2nd Place: Mvelopes
- 3rd Place: You Need A Budget
- Honorary Mention: Quicken
Personal Finance Software Comparison Table
Due to the considerable size of our personal finance service comparison table, we are putting it on a separate page so you can reference it more easily. Please visit our personal finance service comparison table (or click on the image on the left) for feature details of the software solutions that we review in this article so that you can easily compare apples to apples to make the right choice for you. We will continue to add to this table as we find more personal finance solutions, and update the current offerings listed as they add new features and services.
Our Picks for Personal Finance Management Software
As we carefully review and try out each of these services, we begin to form opinions as to which we find the most useful as well as those that pack the most punch per dollar. Here are our 2014 recommendations for the best way to manage your money via personal finance software. We hope you find this information helpful in assisting you in making the right choice for you.
Please leave comments below as to your personal experience with these companies or if there are any we left out that you would like to learn more about, let us know and we will get to work with updating this review. This is our first year reviewing this type of software but we will update it each year based on new comprehensive reviews and trials paired with your comments.
Based on an in-depth analysis of dozens of personal finance management tool providers, we have chosen Mint.com as our overall winner for 2014. The competition is fierce as the online cloud computing and smartphone/tablet apps allow new technology and companies to enter the market but Mint plays in all of these areas which is much of the reason they are our winner.
Mint.com is FREE and Offers a great service
Mint.com is a free service which of course makes it a tempting option but free does not always mean it is better. But, in this case, it truly is a superior product. And since it is free, there are no annoying contracts or long-term commitments required other than your time to enter in your information and set-up your goals, budget, etc. (This set-up will be part of every system you work with so this time commitment is inevitable in the personal finance management category.)
Transactions are Automatically Added & Categorized With Mint
When you use a credit card or debit card that is linked to Mint.com, your transaction will automatically be added to your account in plain English (spent $27.23 at Safeway? Expect to see it this way on Mint rather than the cryptic $27.23 SFWX123 POS you might see in your bank account) and categorized into its respective financial segment (groceries in the case of Safeway, entertainment for AMC Theater tickets, gas for Exxon, etc.). You can even add your own categories to further personalize your budget.
read-Only Ensures Security on mint.com
Rather than asking you to download another software to your computer and linking your account to only one device, all of your financial information is actually stored online and can be accessed via a secure, password-protected log-in that offers the same 128-bit encryption that banks use to keep your information safe. Further, Mint.com is designed as a read-only service so no funds can be moved at anytime from within the software. So if someone were to gain access to your account due to some fraud activity, they would not be able to do anything more than see your monies… they could not move or steal anything!
Multi-Device Access from Anywhere
Mint.com can be accessed from any device for easy on-the-go finance organization. This way you can always keep an eye on your money as well as gain access to alerts, your budget, investment accounts, etc. Whether you have an iPhone, Droid, PC, Mac, or even a tablet (iPad or Android), you can access your account with ease.
Alerts Help you Actively Manage and Monitor Your Money
With text or email alerts, Mint.com allows its 13 million registered users to receive notices when a bill is due, when credit card charges are incurred and even to notify you if a large priced purchase is made. This feature allows you to keep an eye on where you are spending your money but also to watch for any fraudulent activity on any of your accounts in one centralized place.
- It’s completely FREE!
- There is no software to install and users can access accounts through any web browser or through a mobile app.
- Allows you to see real-time transactions and balances all in one place.
- Automatically updates and categorizes transactions for easy tracking.
- Graphs and charts help to identify trends easily.
- Bill reminders and text alerts help you stay organized and secure.
- Track investments with easy to read charts and graphs.
- Mint is great at viewing past spending habits, but it does lack future spending features. However, the new Goals feature is a great step forward.
- Limited export file formats.
- Income and expense assignments aren’t always correct when automatically assigned.
Website – Mvelopes
Mvelopes is an online envelope budgeting tool. (Envelope budgeting is exactly what it sounds like – traditionally, you would divide cash into envelopes based on the expense or cost associated with each respective bill for the month to be sure everything is covered. It also does not allow you to spend beyond your means.) Mvelopes takes our 2nd place position this year because of its comprehensive feature set. It is a great service for budgeting, tracking expenses and having access to all your financial information in one place. There is a free version, limited to four accounts and a paid subscription version. The subscription price of Mvelopes is available in a quarterly or yearly plan.
- Try the entire Mvelopes product for FREE (not just a trial)
- Easy money management as this software has a short learning curve and is simple to use.
- The debt pay off planning tool is helpful for many users in paying off student, car, mortgage or other loans or debts.
- Proactive approach to spending management via envelope budgeting.
- SmartPhone apps available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
- Online Bill Pay.
- No support for multiple currencies, making this a poor choice for anyone who travels internationally on a regular basis.
- Must be interested in proactive planning to use this tool successfully.
- Pricing information is hard to find.
- Quarterly Plan – $39.60 ($13.20/month)
- 1 Year Plan – $129.60 ($10.80/month)
- 2 Year Plan – $189.60 ($7.90/month)
Website – You Need a Budget
YNAB or ‘You Need a Budget’ is our 3rd place winner. You Need a Budget is designed to give you total control of your money by making you account for all cash inflows and outflows. Just using YNAB will make you a more responsible financial manager. It has a unique way of giving every dollar a “job,” saving for a rainy day, learning to roll with the punches, and quitting the unpredictable paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.
- Budgeting at its Best is a revolutionary budget interface that shows you how to understand past spending habits, identify trends, adjust for the present and plan for the future.
- No automatic bank transactions because YNAB wants the user to take charge of finances by recording transactions manually via the iPhone or Android app and then YNAB will remove duplicates when importing.
- Budgeting tool will minimize getting blindsided by excessive or unplanned spending.
- Note function to prepare for a family member’s birthday or a vacation you want to take in a few months.
- Security is self managed since the program is installed on the user’s hard drive.
- YNAB 4 features Cloud Sync, a feature that will keep all of your devices in sync in real time.
- Lots of manual work is required, but this software is designed for the user to take charge and not in a passive way.
- No automatic assignment of categories or upload of data.
- 34 Day Full-Featured Demo – Free
- YNAB 4 – $60
- “YNAB Works” Home Budgeting Guide – $47
- YNAB 4 and Budgeting Guide – $97
- iPhone App – $4.99
- Android App – $4.99
In Depth Review
- Check out our in depth review of YNAB 4
Quicken has long been utilized as one of the leading brands for all aspects of financial management. The software has gone through dozens of iterations and improvements over the years, and is today a full-fledged, robust personal finance package, especially for those who use other Intuit software to manage additional aspects of their finances as it will integrate seamlessly. However, they struggle with keeping up on the latest cutting edge features which is why they are not in our top 3 this year. Purchase Quicken on Amazon.
- Puts bank and credit card accounts in one place.
- Automatically categorizes expenses.
- Allows users to set budget goals and track progress.
- Automatic bill reminders.
- Export data directly to TurboTax for fast and easy tax preparation.
- Free customer support.
- 100% satisfaction guarantee.
- Mobile app for Android and Apple.
- Snap and store feature for keeping track of receipts.
- Importing older Quicken files can be cumbersome.
- Budgeting tool does not allow editing of past months.
- Quicken Starter Edition – $29.99
- See exactly where your money goes
- Quicken Essentials for Mac - $39.99
- Designed specifically for Mac users
- Quicken Deluxe – $64.99
- See where you are spending, get on budget, reduce debt
- Quicken Premier – $94.99
- See the details you to need to grow your investments
- Quicken Home and Business - $104.99
- See across your personal and business finances clearly
- Quicken Rental Property Manager – $154.99
- See and manage the details of your rental property finances
The Rest of the Pack
The race to the top of the personal financial software mountain is not only competitive, it’s very tight. All the software we review on this page has its own unique list of pros and cons, which is why we give you the rest of the pack so you can decide for yourself which option best suits your individual needs.
Website – AceMoney
AceMoney is a paid personal finance solution that prides itself on an easy to use interface with a fully featured backend. Users can manage many different accounts, track spending, record expenses and bank online. It does not have an option to export data to tax programs, however.
- Easy and intuitive to use.
- Automatic update of balances across various platforms.
- Multi-currency financial support.
- FREE lifetime upgrades once full version has been purchased.
- A clean, user-friendly interface.
- Can only be used on one machine.
- Transfer of data can be tedious from other money management services.
- Full Version – $39.99 (free lifetime upgrades)
Website – Buxfer
Buxfer is a FREE personal finance management software that offers easy online money management. Buxfer’s IOU function allows users to track bills and expenses amongst friends and families.
- The service is FREE and you can sign in using an existing Google, Yahoo or Facebook account.
- It is a socially-oriented finance management service with ability to divide up bills amongst roommates, friends or family.
- Extensive mobile management options.
- Data export must be done in CSV format only.
- Account tracking limited to banking and credit card accounts only.
- No automatic categorization of accounts.
Website – CommonCents
CommonCents is a simple and powerful budgeting and personal finance solution. By taking a common sense approach and using envelope budgeting, it provides a clear view of your finances.
- Easy to use service and visually appealing.
- Envelope budging for a time-tested method of managing money.
- Familiar, checkbook-style registers.
- Goal setting and tracking.
- Designing custom reports can be difficult for new users.
- Complex transaction navigation.
- 45 Day Trial - Free
- Full Version – $44.95 with free updates
Website – GnuCash
GnuCash is an open source personal finance service that is completely FREE. Designed to be easy to use, GnuCash has many powerful features. It performs like a checkbook register to enter and track different accounts.
- Wizard will help new users with walk through examples.
- Data entry is easy.
- Regular software updates.
- Complete customer support.
- The conversion time involved in exporting data can be exasperating.
- Software can take a while to navigate and learn.
- Boring interface that lacks interactivity.
Website – iBank
iBank is a Mac only personal finance software with an intuitive user interface. iBank works with your iPad and iPhone as well so you can access your information on the go, but you must pay for iBank to be on these devices. A large portion of iBank users switched from Quicken, but many regretted the decision in the end.
- Import data from Quicken
- Connects to most major banks in the U.S.
- Schedule and send payments
- Track transactions
- 90 day risk free guarantee
- 30 day free trial
- Mac only
- 1/3 of iBank Amazon reviews are rated at 1 star
- Difficult to use
- iBank 4 requires Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, or 10.8 – $59.99
- iBank 5 requires Mac OS X 10.8 or higher – $59.99
- iBank for iPhone – $9.99 (works with iPod touch as well)
- iBank for iPad – $19.99
Website – MoneyDance
MoneyDance has built up a loyal following of users. One of the things that makes MoneyDance shine is it’s cross-browser compatibility and the easy to view overall snapshot of your finances.
- Compatible with many different platforms including Mac, Windows and Linux.
- FREE app available for managing your finances on your mobile.
- Fast and accurate service makes managing your money easy, efficient and reliable.
- Home Page features a comprehensive snapshot of your finances.
- Flexible repeat event scheduling.
- Allows duplicate check numbers in the register so duplication can be an issue.
- Full Version – $49.99
Website – Moneystrands
Moneystrands is a FREE money management software that makes it easy to get financially organized online by tracking spending, providing a real-time overview of finances, incorporating a great budgeting tool and recommending savings tips.
- FREE computer service and FREE companion iPhone App
- Automatically imports and categorizes banking activity
- Support for forty four different global currencies.
- Automatic email alerts if you approach or exceed your budget goals
- Inability to create personalized categories to cater to personal budgets.
- No Android or Blackberry functionality.
Website – MoneyWell
MoneyWell is a Mac-only personal finance solution. MoneyWell’s strong suit is that it was designed as a budgeting system to help the user eliminate debt and grow wealth.
- Easy to use and clean interface.
- Direct Connect banking for single-click downloads.
- Envelope Budgeting to spend only the money you have.
- iPhone and iPad app that syncs with your Mac using Dropbox.
- Only available for Mac computers. If you have a PC, do NOT buy this product.
- Investment capabilities are not as extensive as they are in other finance management software services.
- Full Version – $49.99
Deciding Which Personal Finance Solution is Right for You
After looking through the pros and cons as well as the basic features of some of the more popular personal finance solutions, you should have an idea of just what it is that you are looking for. The first step is to prioritize which features are most important to you and which features you can live without. Then, if one of the services meets your needs and is free, then go for it! If not, then price will come into consideration. Finally, when you have narrowed down your selection to a few companies it is important to look at reviews of other users in addition to finding answers to any questions you may have. Research is the key to finding a personal finance solution that works best for you because once you commit to a product, it can be very time consuming as well as difficult to transfer account information from one personal finance solution to another. Make the right decision now and you will be amazed by how much you will learn and grow in your ability to manage and control your personal budget and wealth.
Please Comment Below!
Thanks for reading, and please – comment below with any thoughts you might have. We’re eager to hear your feedback, experiences, etc. regarding your personal finance management software. We’re trying to aggregate as much information as possible so we can help identify the best possible digital finance system out there.