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Personal finance software

If you're not already using personal finance software then this may be something that you are considering. There are certainly plenty of companies selling software of this nature.

The question that you may be asking yourself is whether this is something that you really need to buy. If your finances are in a bad way then you may be thankful for all the help that you can get. But specialist financial software is by no means a necessity.

Many people manage to handle their personal finances using little more than a pen and paper (although these days many also make use of Excel, or one of the alternative spreadsheet packages on the market).

So what are the advantages of using software? One of the key advantages is that many finance software packages will tend to automate various aspects of your planning and approach. They'll even remind you when you need to take action.

This can certainly appear useful. You will need to remember, however, that it will still be down to you to enter the information at the outset and to keep things updated. If you're unable, or unwilling, to do so then most pieces of software still won't do you much good.

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of free packages around. Although some of these won't boast quite as much functionality, they still provide many of the basics.

Some finance software options

We all have different preferences when it comes to using software. Rather than recommending a single product, we'll simply draw your attention to some of the market leaders:

Microsoft Excel

You may not think of it as being specifically designed for managing personal or family finances. It can clearly be used for much more. But it serves this particular purpose well. It makes sense to try it out first and see how things go. You may be able to avoid investing money in alternatives.

BankTree

A popular choice with many families and scored highly in a test by consumer website Which. This is seen as being a good all-round package, with plenty of functionality.

Moneydance

The last time that we looked, they were offering a free trial, so this could be worth a look before forking out for the full package. Try it out and see if you like it. Offering far more graphics and charts than other packages, you may find that this style is what you are looking for.

Budget Forecaster

Cheaper than many alternatives, although we've found that Budget Forecaster maybe doesn't offer as much in terms of functionality as more expensive packages. But that's probably to be expected.