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How do I Choose the Best Free Personal Finance Software?

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  • Written By: Tiffany Manley
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Many people find they have a need for free personal finance software to manage their finances, to make tax preparation easier and to create and maintain budgets. In order to choose the best free personal finance software, you should consider several things, including online or offline access, data storage, customer support, functionality and usability. A software program that works for one person might not work for you, so you might need to try a few different brands before settling on one particular software package.

An assortment of software companies provide personal finance software that is accessible either online or offline. This means that you might use a compact disc (CD) and a personal computer to access the program, or you might go to the provider’s website to access the program. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types. On the one hand, you might feel safer knowing that your financial information is stored only on your computer, but you might not like having to keep track of the CD and other materials. Online providers allow you to access everything from a single website, but many people do not like the idea of their financial information being stored by a third party.

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Data storage is an important aspect of free personal finance software. You likely will use this software to perform a variety of ongoing functions, and it would be very bad to lose the information because it was not stored properly. Software that is accessed via a CD likely will store information on your computer's hard drive, but a backup method, such as a thumb drive, should be used as well. Online providers might offer online storage of your information, but it still is recommended to use an additional backup method, such as a thumb drive.

Many free software programs do not come with any customer support, but you should still evaluate all packages to make sure this is the case. Even if it is basic installation assistance and troubleshooting, some support is better than no support. Be sure to verify that the customer support offered isn’t pay-per-use customer support. There also might be online forums where users of free personal finance software share tips and other technical support with each other.

Finally, checking the functionality and usability of a free personal finance software package is important. You might need a package that focuses heavily on budgeting instead of online bill paying. Look for a package that delivers what you need and has an easy-to-use interface. Hunting and searching for the various functions of the program will waste time in the long run.

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