Features and Functionality

Buxfer is the best mobile app we reviewed. It is one of the easiest programs to use that we reviewed. Our pick for the best personal finance software is Quicken Premier. Quicken is one of the most well-known names in personal finance, and it is constantly updating its software with new features. The version of Quicken Premier we tested was incredibly easy to connect to any bank to track finances. When you connect the program to your account, it will import your transactions and categorize them automatically. If something is incorrect, you can edit it.

The categories are used to help you organize your budget. Quicken color-codes your budget, green for within budget and red for over budget. The program sends alerts when you approach or exceed your budget. Quicken gives you multiple options for setting up your budget. You can keep the same limit each month, or direct any unused amount to roll over into the next month. Where Quicken Premier stands out is in its tools for managing investments. If you own stocks or other securities, this is the best choice for you.

Its tools analyze your portfolio and compare its performance with the market.

Best Personal Finance Software - Programs for Mac, Windows PCs | Top Ten Reviews

You can also create retirement goals and use the calculator to evaluate your finances and determine what you need to save toward your retirement goals. Read the full review. This is our best value option because it gives you the same useful budgeting tools as Quicken Premier. Quicken Starter connects directly to your accounts and imports your balances and transactions, automatically categorizing them.

Budgets are easy to create and can be divided into categories to track how much you spend on groceries, rent and other items. You can set up email or text alerts for when you approach or exceed your budget limit in a certain category. The Quicken mobile app also lets you check on your budget from your phone. You can also use the app to take pictures of receipts and add those to your records.

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Quicken Starter has no tools for monitoring or tracking your investments. Having a mobile, web-based personal finance program makes it easy to track your spending and expenses from anywhere. Once you create an account with Buxfer and download the app, you can connect it your bank and credit card accounts. Once connected, your balances and transactions are added to Buxfer and automatically categorized. Creating a budget with Buxfer is easy. You set an overall spending limit for each week, month and year you intend to budget.

Learn more about how StockMarketEye can help you manage your investments.

You can use the categories to further refine your budgeting. The budgets are color-coded. With StockMarketEye, you can reduce the amount of time spent on mundane tasks such as maintaining investment spreadsheets, logging into your brokerage accounts, or looking up stock prices. StockMarketEye helps you use your time wisely and focus on the tasks that will improve your investment decisions and bring you closer to your goals.

Using StockMarketEye, you can quickly review all your holdings together in one spot and gain a better picture of your financial position. You'll be better able to see the big picture and take control of your investment decisions. Try our software, free, for days. No credit-card or email required. Just download, install and run. Toggle navigation Stock Market Eye. Manage Portfolios Quickly manage all of your investment accounts in one place.

Track the Markets Facilitate your investment research by creating watchlists to easily track s of stocks, ETFs and mutual funds from around the world. View Stock Charts Get perspective on current prices with the built-in, historical price charts. Learn more about how StockMarketEye can help you manage your investments. Spend your time investing, not updating spreadsheets or logging into websites Choosing the right investments takes time. In addition, software programs are able to better calculate gains and losses and performance for individual portfolios as well as total performance for multiple portfolios.

It is also worth noting that there are no Mac-based software packages worth mentioning. Quicken, which is reviewed in this comparison, does offer a Mac-based Quicken Essentials that can track your portfolio and individual stock values, but the program does not offer the investment reports that Quicken Premier provides. The best bet for Mac users is the premium online portfolio tracker offered by Morningstar.

If any Mac users among our members know of high-quality and capable portfolio software packages that they would like to share, we would be more than happy to perform a hands-on review. For a detailed comparison of online portfolio trackers, see the Fourth Quarter Computerized Investing Comparison.

Most capable portfolio management programs offer similar features. But since software is generally not free, matching your personal needs to a software program is a more important issue than it is when choosing between the free online portfolio trackers. Our comparison grid details the features offered by our three picks. Investing in portfolio management software will inevitably come with certain costs. In addition to monetary costs, you need to consider the time you will spend learning to use the program. What it takes to configure the program, how easy it is to use and how well it can handle your personal needs will eventually become larger factors than the monetary cost of the program.

If you are learning a new program, you should expect to spend a few days or even weeks getting to know how it works before being able to use it well. Luckily, two of the three programs offer fully functioning demos, allowing all potential users to try the program for themselves before purchasing Quicken Premier does not offer a demo or trial version. When you are looking at a program, especially if you have a long investment future, consider not only if it can handle the investments you currently own, but also if it will be able to track investments that you may likely own in the future.

Programs are available that specialize in certain areas, such as options. However, for the purposes of this comparison, our focus is on programs that support the securities that most individual investors own, the most important being stocks, bonds and funds. The transactions supported by a portfolio management program are closely related to the types of securities that the software handles.

All of the programs compared here handle standard transactions such as buying and selling securities and receiving cash dividends. All of these programs allow you to specify security lot assignments for a transaction.


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This feature is useful for tax liability issues and tracking performance. If you reinvest dividends from your mutual funds and stocks, you will find yourself tracking numerous lots over a long period of time. Any solid portfolio management package will automatically match buy and sell lots for different accounting strategies for the purpose of reducing tax exposure.

The strategies include: first-in-first-out FIFO , average cost and specific lot.

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Having a program that can handle all three is convenient. Additionally, these portfolio management software programs can automatically download your transactions from a brokerage account. This saves a lot of time, sparing you from entering in each position and transaction. However, you may still have to enter costs basis for each position. Reports allow you to analyze your portfolio and investments. The level of detail in reports is one of the biggest differences between paid portfolio management programs and their cheaper often free online counterparts.

The three tools covered here vary in the types and flexibility of reporting. When choosing a program, be sure to check whether the program can generate the types of reports you want and other reports you may not currently use in your analysis. These extra reports might enhance the overall evaluation of your portfolio. While you want to be sure that a program provides enough flexibility and functionality to complete your analysis, again, you should consider possible future needs with regard to securities and transactions handled along with reporting capabilities.

The comparison grid lists the main report types offered by the portfolio management programs. The current holdings report lays out the composition of your portfolio. At a minimum, programs will list the securities that you hold, along with units, costs and current market value. The holdings by lot report breaks down portfolio composition into finer increments, indicating each purchase at a specific date and price. This gives a detailed history of your transactions and provides guidance for selling.

Designed for computing interest and dividends received from a portfolio, Schedule B reports allow you to estimate tax debt or credit before year-end statements arrive.

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Tax Schedule D reports compute long- and short-term capital gains and match assets that will yield capital gains with tax liabilities. Ideally, the program should also track foreign tax withheld on your securities to help ensure that proper credit is accounted for when filling out your taxes. Tax reports are provided for a given tax year, so programs generally include a dialog box to select the year to report upon. However, none of the portfolio management programs specializes in tax reporting, so their capabilities may be limited.

Online brokerages now also provide detailed tax reports. But tax reports can be tricky; if your situation is complex, it may be prudent to consult with a tax professional. The projected cash flow report serves as a forecast of the expected portfolio cash income from dividends, interest, and bond maturities. This report is especially useful for investors such as those in retirement who rely heavily on income-related investments.

Bond maturity schedules are highly useful in assisting investors to quickly redeploy capital that is coming due. They can also be used to help protect against interest rate risk, an important function given the current environment. Customizing of reports can be content-related, such as allowing you to choose the time period, or cosmetics-related, such as allowing you to select column and row headings or even font size. Portfolio alerts let you know when a security has crossed some predetermined price threshold. Such an alert may highlight the need for investigation that might otherwise go unnoticed.

A basic part of the portfolio management process is to determine and analyze performance. Free online portfolio trackers generally cannot set custom time ranges or generate performance for sub-portfolios, while performance reports in software programs alleviate both of these concerns. The level of performance reports available is discussed more fully in the summaries of the programs that follow. A program should provide reports for securities, industries and asset classes that include performance and asset allocation analysis.

Some programs allow for an examination among various asset classes, while others provide industry, sector and individual security breakdowns. Reports covering single and multiple portfolios are important to address the diversified aspects of all your accounts. All three programs also offer between-period returns on reports, which allow you to monitor security performance during a known market environment: The programs store snapshots of your portfolios at various times and provide information on how portfolios perform during different market cycles.

Some portfolio management programs offer the ability to calculate both a value-weighted also referred to as a dollar-weighted internal rate of return IRR and a time-weighted rate of return. The IRR tends to be the best gauge because it represents the rate of return earned by your investments. It considers the time when inflows and outflows are made to the portfolio, the amount of these flows and the combined impact upon the overall rate of return.

The time-weighted return is most often used to analyze the performance of investment decisions made by a money manager. A time-weighted calculation ignores the impact of any cash added to or removed from the portfolio. Tax-adjusted return reports generate pretax and aftertax returns, calculating the tax liabilities of your transactions and reporting the impact on the rate of return. Portfolio software programs are able to download prices and portfolio values from the Internet. Furthermore, they are usually able to directly download transactions and holdings from brokerage accounts; however, users must provide their brokerage login information and account number.

Certain programs also allow for data importing without directly syncing with a brokerage account. This method does not require that users provide brokerage login and account information.

Morningstar Portfolio Instant X-Ray Tool

Quicken Premier is one of the most well-known financial software programs available. Keep in mind that Quicken Premier is designed as a comprehensive money management tool. Therefore, the program is proficient in handling investment accounts as well as all sorts of banking accounts, including checking and savings. Quicken expanded the number of banks and brokerages to which it can automatically sync. According to its website, over 12, banks and brokerages can be synced to the accounts list in the program.

Quicken now also automatically categorizes most of the items after syncing with an online account. Furthermore, portfolio values are updated every 15 minutes. Creating your accounts is very simple. The setup wizard will walk you through the process, first asking for a primary checking account and then allowing you to add additional accounts. The easiest way to create an investment portfolio is to add an account and allow Quicken to sync directly with your brokerage account.

If you do not wish to provide the necessary account information, you may also use the advanced setup function to enter your transactions manually.

If you do choose to allow Quicken to automatically sync your accounts, all of your transactions will be loaded into each account in your accounts list. You can view separate pages for spending, bills, planning and investing which is pictured by clicking on the main heading tabs. The assets the program can handle include cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds ETFs. Unfortunately, there is no support for real estate investments, annuities or user-defined securities. Quick Premier offers the most comprehensive listing of reports among the three portfolio management software programs compared here.

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Nine separate reports are provided for investments, including capital gains; investing activity; investment asset allocation, income, performance and transactions; maturity date for fixed income; portfolio value and portfolio cost basis. A reports menu is available at the top right of the program, which lists all the reports available. While these reports are generally self-explanatory, there are a few worth highlighting.

The investing activity report displays your interest, dividends, capital gains short- and long-term and realized gains. Additionally, the report also displays your beginning and ending values, along with deposits and withdrawals. You can toggle among a bevy of time-period ranges, including daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly, or you can enter your own custom range. Quicken Asset Allocation. Usually, this type of information is provided by a broker only for customers who have a full-service account.

Using bond ladders helps to alleviate interest rate risk and allows investors to receive income on a regular basis. Six reports are also available in the tax section. These reports assist users in determining their capital gains; for those who use itemized deductions, the program also provides a Schedule A report. A tax schedule and a tax summary outline the tax consequences of your investment transactions. The investment performance report may be shown across customizable time ranges.

The free day trial provides a fully working version of the program. Creating a portfolio is straight-forward, and the program walks you through the process. Upon opening IAM for the first time, the program allows you to either download transaction data directly from a brokerage account or enter the data manually. During our tests, we downloaded investment holdings directly from Scottrade, which required entering an account number and password.