I’ve been looking for a home budgeting software for quite some time but I haven’t really found anything that has all the features I’d really love to have. You see, my wife and I have been relying on the good old excel spreadsheet to track our income and expenses. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. There are days (usually at the start of the year) where we would be very excited (and committed) to enter our daily transactions into the spreadsheet. But after a couple of months, the excitement dies down along with our budget. As a result, unexpected expenses happen. And we wonder where our money went. 🙂
Here are the 8 Powerful Home Budgeting Software Features I’d Really Love to Have
I may not have billions of dollars in my bank, investment and credit card accounts, but even then I still want my privacy when it comes to my own money. In this day and age when information can be easily sold to unscrupulous individuals with not so good intentions, and with the many scams we hear every now and then, I think it is but prudent to take some extra precautions regarding your own personal financial information. Security is the first feature I’d really love to have in a good home budgeting software. Without it, all other features really don’t matter.
2. Easy To Use
One of the main reasons I hesitate to use most of the available home budgeting software out there is because they all require me to “manually” download the transactions from my bank or credit card account and then “manually” upload the same information into the budgeting software. This is a complete waste of time, not to mention a complete bore. When I heard about Mint.com and its ability to automatically download/upload the transactions from your accounts, I thought finally someone had found a neat way to solve this problem. The bad news is – it is only available in the US at the moment. Not to mention the privacy concerns raised by other people since the data is being kept by Mint.com on its own servers.
3. Visually Appealing Charts and Graphs
The human mind understands pictures better than words. One look at a picture and you know whether you are spending more than you are earning. One look at the chart and you know your income or expenses are going up month after month. Looking at rows and rows of transaction details is NOT a great way to organize the financial information available from your bank statements. It will only add to the clutter that you don’t need and don’t really like to have. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
4. Voice, SMS and Email Alerts
More and more people are attached to their mobile phones today than ever. Aside from keys to your car, you cannot leave the house unless you have your mobile phone with you. I bet you’ll even go back to your house in case you forget it. Sometimes, you even feel incomplete without it. For people on the go, it is very important to stay informed especially about anything related to your own money. You can receive alerts if there’s any suspicious activities involving your finances. You will be notified if someone just withdrawn half of your money from the bank. Good banks would do just that. But sometimes it is not always the case. That added security of receiving alerts wherever you are is a welcome convenience to give you peace of mind.
5. I-Phone/Mobile Phone App
The financial services industry is being revolutionized by the Apple I-Phone. There are hundreds of cool apps you can install on your I-Phone or mobile phone free of charge or for a small fee. A lot of these applications help manage your money and budget. Today, everything can be literally controlled from your fingertips wherever you are and whenever you want. You can view your account balance. You can receive reminders to pay for your bills that are due. You can be notified if you’re going over budget after paying for that coffee using your credit card. A cool app extends your home budgeting software beyond your home PC or laptop. It is the only way to go for mobile people that are always on the go.
6. Update Feature
Today, most home budgeting software can only read/browse through your transactions. They can only make sense of the information that you give it. It is passive. It can only give you information. You cannot tell it to do something other than spit out a report or chart. The one feature that would really make a home budgeting software powerful is the ability to process “push” services like updating your account information, transfer funds through your mobile phone, or do everything you can do on your bank account and more. Wouldn’t it be great if you can do everything without going to your bank and wait for hours just so you can have a customer service representative update your account for you?
7. Track Cash
In Asia where most transactions are still made in cash, using a home budgeting software is not effective. To be able to make use of the software, you have to manually key in the transaction details by yourself. It is a complete waste of time and counter productive. Besides, who would want to carry a notebook everywhere and jot down the transaction details when paying for his lunch at the cafe? Certainly not me. The really cool home budgeting software must be able to record cash transactions easily and track it effectively. Most important of all, it must be able to treat cash just like any other transaction.
8. One Account
Most people maintain a lot of accounts. They may have multiple accounts in several banks. They receive many credit card offers on the mail each month. Not to mention their retirement and investment accounts in different brokerage firms. Organizing your finances under one roof is getting harder and harder every day. If you cannot link all your accounts together, the information you have of your finances is incomplete. The home budgeting software of choice is able to integrate everything together under one roof so you don’t have to do it yourself.
These are the 8 powerful features I’d really love to have in a home budgeting software.
In the end, these features will only take you so far. You still have to take control of your own money. You still have to challenge yourself to make more money and keep it. You still need the discipline to know when your expenses are helping you achieve your goals or not. In the end it is still up to YOU to become rich or poor.
How about you? What features would you like to have if you were to build the most amazing home budgeting software in the world?