Choosing the best investment tracking software is usually a matter of understanding why you want to track your investments, and what you hope to achieve from the tracking. Then, you must evaluate the products available and choose the one that lines up best with your needs. The most basic software tracking programs are little more than computer programs that amalgamate investment data from multiple sources into one place. More complicated programs can predict investment gain and loss over time, and can also often provide investment advice. You can choose the best investment software for your situation by looking into the different programs that are available; testing them before purchase, if possible; and determining which of the viable options is easiest for you to use and provides you with the most pertinent information about your investments.
The first thing you need to do when looking for an investment tracking software program is to identify your reason for tracking your investments. Unlike traditional savings accounts, investment portfolios typically rise and fall according to the strength of the world’s stock and bond markets. Some people and businesses make long-term investments that they expect will have periods of both growth and decline, and as such are not as concerned with temporary spikes and drops in value. Others are looking to maximize value in the short-term, and often want predictions and advice to help them hit a certain target profitability within a fixed time period. There are investment tracking software programs for both situations.
Investment tracking software programs can be purchased in disk form or downloaded directly from the Internet. Many downloads are free, but others can be quite pricey. An Internet connection is also typically required for the software to work, as the computer program keeps track of your investments by constantly updating stock market and trading changes, which are reported in real time online.
The most basic investment tracking software does little more than create a centralized homepage of all of your investments. Depending on the program, you will often be able to break out your investments by type, brokerage, or fund, and you can usually get statistics of profitability over time. Stock charts and comparisons can usually be made with the click of your mouse. Sometimes, this information can also be viewed on-the-go as a smartphone application.
More complex investment tracking software packages allow you to compare your investment holdings to other aspects of personal finance. Many programs can compare holdings in bank accounts, credit cards, and investments to give you a broader picture of your assets and your budget. These types of programs are usually designed to help you set up a comprehensive investment plan, as well as to monitor the investments that you already hold.
Some software is designed primarily for casual investors, while others are optimized for a wide diversity of investment holdings, small business investment tracking, and even corporate holdings. Knowing how you want to use the software is the most important part of the decision. Many software programs offer a free trial period, which you should take advantage of in order to get a feel for the service and how it will meet your needs. It is also a good idea to talk to friends or colleagues to learn if they have a tracking software program that works well for them. Your investment broker might also have a recommendation, or might be able to provide you with more personalized tracking software advice.