Personal finances are complex. In our everyday lives we juggle budgets, savings, investments, business accounting, financial goals, and more. It’s truly no wonder that many often find themselves overwhelmed, disorganized, and caught off guard when the unexpected happens. In order to place organization around our finances, I’m going to break them up into three categories: Daily Finances, Business Accounting and Taxes.
Mint® is a great platform to capture and compile bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments, property (your home and auto values), and even track your credit score. It is also a great platform to track your budget and debt repayment, such as paying off your car as a financial goal. Mint will calculate the remaining payments, as well as how long it will take you to pay off that car, based on your current or additional payments. Mint will even send you a monthly email update regarding your progress.
One of my favorite features within Mint is the charting, which provides you with your monthly spending and net income in a pie or bar chart. The charts are easy to read and great to follow if you want to track your own money trends.
Ultimately, the best part of Mint is that it is 100% free! You can access Mint at www.Mint.com, or within their mobile app on your cellphone or tablet.
Microsoft Office®is one of the most well known suites of programs in the world. Within Office, Excel®is the most valuable program, and one of the most powerful tools you may use. I personally use Excel to manage our Bill Schedule/Budget, Debt Snowball (a method use to repay debt, which slowly builds momentum, as with each debt repaid, one then has more money to place towards the remaining debt), and our Balance Sheet, which details our Assets, Liabilities, and combined Net Worth.
Secondarily, I also use Excel to track additional categories, such as: our emergency fund, college savings, net salaries, and combined interest on debt. Two areas, which I added and calculated for my own general knowledge, were the percentage of net monthly income that goes to bills, and the percentage of net yearly income that goes to interest only. I even took it one step further, and calculated how many days a year I work in order to pay for that interest only.
I think the main reason why I endorse Excel, is that unlike Mint, it can truly be customized to capture and display anything I want.
Lastly, a 3rd option is Quicken®, which may be a little more comprehensive than Mint. I personally do not use Quicken; however, I actually had a friend of mine that wrote a book about how to make money with Quicken, so maybe there is more to it than I am aware. I’m not convinced that you would need it though, if you offset Mint with Excel.
(also by Intuit), is a great platform for capturing your daily business. Within Quickbooks you can track financial, tax and sales reports, while also creating invoices and managing expenses.Wave Accounting
For free small business accounting, Wave Accounting® is available for accounting, invoicing, payments, payroll, personal and receipts. Wave offers the majority of the platform for free; however, in order to receive one-on-one support, premium services must be purchased.
Freshbooks® offers one of the best accounting platforms for iOS and Android apps. Cloud-based and easy to use, Freshbooks has a great dashboard with numerous features that will save you time. Support is also easily accessible for new users.
The drawbacks to Freshbooks are that the main service only offers monthly payment plans, and may have limited availability on additional platforms outside of iOS and Android.
My dad has been telling me for years to try TurboTax®, which we finally used for our 2014 taxes. Overall, I found TurboTax to be very easy to use, as the majority of the questions it asked were clear-cut, and easy to understand. In the sections where I had questions about how to respond, easy to follow examples with helpful information were available should I have needed it.
We did run into an issue when I tried to finalize our taxes. As the vast majority of TurboTax uses a main dashboard to fill out your tax forms, for some reason, parts of the review section take you straight to the tax form and ask you to make changes or add additional information. I found this to be somewhat confusing. Ultimately, I mistakenly selected an option within the review that changed what we had selected through the dashboard and swung our return from receiving money, to then owing $500. Luckily, I was able to call and speak with a customer service support person, who was able to resolve the matter.
At the end of the session, TurboTax offered an option to represent us should we be audited. We found this feature to be a great option and added it to our package.
H&R Block® Tax Software Premium + State, is another option. It is similar to TurboTax for managing your taxes. In years prior to 2014, we had always used H&R Block. The software is easy to follow and readily available. A huge benefit with H&R Block is also that they have physical offices near you. In years past, sometimes our taxes required the assistance of a tax professional. It was convenient to have an office located nearby.
In summary, each of the programs listed above will be able to assist you with the management of your daily finances and financial strategy; although, it may require some trial and error before you find the best fit.