By Eric Rosenberg, WCI Contributor
If you don’t track where your money comes from and where it goes, it’s like driving a ship blindfolded. Doctors need a budget too. It may work OK for a while, but you’re bound to run into trouble eventually. Personal finance software or Apps help you automatically track every dollar to make the best financial decisions and stick to your financial plan. Here’s a look at the best personal finance software to help you get on track for your money-related goals.
Best Personal Finance Software
To zero in on the best personal finance software, we looked at cost, features, supported accounts, and how easy they are to use. These are the top personal finance software options available today based on our testing.
Best General Personal Finance Software: Mint
Mint is one of the oldest online personal finance software options. Mint launched way back in 2006, and it's now owned by financial software powerhouse Intuit. The main features of Mint focus on tracking your income and expenses through your bank and credit card accounts. It also tracks investments, loan balances, credit scores, bills, and financial goals.
Mint is free and ad-supported, where Mint offers you suggested financial products based on your user profile. There are also options to go ad-free for $0.99 per month or to get additional features for $4.99 per month.
Overall, Mint works well for tracking your financial progress, and it does a reasonably decent job of automatically categorizing transactions. The investment section leaves a lot to be desired, and it seems the development team mostly neglects the goals feature. But the price is right. You can’t beat free.
Best Personal Finance Software for Investing: Personal Capital
If you are comfortable with your spending and don’t feel a need to follow a strict, detailed budget, Personal Capital could be your best choice. Personal Capital offers free financial tracking software that’s focused on investments.
Key features allow you to view your investments across all accounts to understand your overall portfolio makeup better. There are different views for balances, performance, allocation, and other ways to inspect your investments.
The retirement fee analyzer and investment checkup tools are very useful in helping you identify where you could save on fees or update your portfolio to better suit your needs. Personal Capital offers a paid investment advising service, which may not be the right fit for you. But even if you don’t use Personal Capital to manage your investments, it’s an excellent (and free) option to track your cash flow and portfolio.
Best for Strict Budgeting: YNAB
YNAB, aka You Need a Budget, is a budgeting-focused personal finance software. YNAB employs the zero-based budgeting method, where every dollar of income must be accounted for and assigned a job, whether paying a bill or going into a retirement account.
The app has a cult-like following among users, many of whom credit the software and budgeting method with turning around bad spending habits. The site says that the average new budgeter using the tool saves $600 in the first two months and $6,000 over the first year of using the app.
The YNAB method requires you to be in tune with your finances and check in on your spending daily. It’s not for everyone but works well for anyone who wants a very hands-on experience or needs the accountability of daily check-ins. It’s also not free. After a 34-day free trial, it costs about $15 per month or $100 per year. However, if it can help you save $6,000 on your annual budget, that cost is a drop in the bucket.
Best Personal Finance Software Worth Paying For: Lunch Money
Lunch Money is a newer entrant to the personal finance software industry but does an excellent job of compiling and aggregating your financial data. Managed by a one-woman team in Canada, Lunch Money does an outstanding job of transaction categorization, recognizing recurring transactions, and helping you stick to a budget.
After connecting your banking, borrowing, or cryptocurrency accounts, Lunch Money lays out your transactions to be reviewed and approved manually, giving you a quick way to look for anything suspicious and to view where your money went. There are also good tools to view your budget by month, to zero in on recurring bills you may want to cut, and to look at an overall analysis of your spending habits using charts and graphs.
It is also not free, with a required $10 per month or $100 per year subscription after the free trial. User data is never sold or monetized, and there are no ads or upsells. It’s also suitable for international users looking for a multi-currency experience, something you don’t get with most other budgeting software. Overall, it’s a good choice for anyone with a good handle on their money that wants an intuitive, data-driven experience.
Best Personal Finance Software for Desktop: Quicken
While the cloud offers huge benefits, many traditional budgeters prefer an app they can install on their laptop or desktop computer. If that sounds like you, Quicken could be a good fit. Quicken is one of the oldest budgeting applications in the marketplace, first released in 1983. It has gone through many editions (and a few owners) over the years, but it remains a recognized brand in personal finance management. The software requires an annual subscription for all features. The Starter, Deluxe, and Premier versions are available for Windows or Mac computers. The Home & Business edition is Windows-only.
Pricing for Quicken desktop versions ranges from $35.99 per year to $103.99 per year. Depending on the version you choose, features include the ability to view your financial accounts in one place, manage your budget, track income and expenses, manage bills, plan for taxes, track investments, and manage a business or rental properties. Most medical professionals reading this article would be best suited to pick the Premier version. If you own rental properties or manage your own medical practice, you would likely want the higher-end Home & Business version. Unfortunately, it's Windows-only, so it doesn't work for all users.
You can sync your money data to the web to view everything in the Quicken mobile app or web companion app, though this defeats the purpose of a desktop money app for some people. However, it's also convenient to see your money on the go. If you prefer a desktop app, however, Quicken is a longtime favorite.
Other Excellent Personal Finance Software
- Credit Karma: Also owned by Intuit, Credit Karma is personal finance software focused on your credit score. Credit Karma is free and ad-supported. If you don’t get your credit score free from your bank or credit card, it could be worth signing up.
- CoinTracker: If you’re into cryptocurrencies, CoinTracker tracks all transactions across all exchanges and wallets for free. Getting analysis requires a subscription. You can also pay an annual fee for tax reporting.
- Koinly: Koinly started as a tax reporting website for cryptocurrencies and grew into a handy crypto tracking app. It is free to track your cryptocurrency accounts and transactions and requires an annual payment for tax reports.
Do You Need Budgeting Software?
Many savvy people manage their finances using spreadsheets, pen and paper, or other methods. You also can ride a horse and buggy to work, but newer technologies make getting around easier and more efficient. The same is true with personal finance software. While you can do it the old-fashioned way, newer ways are often better. Any of these best personal finance software options could be perfect for you.
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