There are options when it comes to financial planning. You can hire a professional financial planner to set your money straight. Or you can purchase some software and figure out matters for yourself.
Let's look at one popular DIY financial planning product to get a better idea of how these software platforms can help get the books in shape. Quicken Premier 2010, which is produced by Intuit and costs about $60, offers a wide range of services to help people get their finances worked out.
Quicken Premier allows users to simplify their online banking into a consolidated login location, grabbing pertinent information from each site so there's no time wasted entering everything by hand. The majority of all large financial institutions are accessible, including those that offer 401(k)s, IRAs and other investment options. After all the information is centralized, you can manipulate it to track your budget and categorize your transactions.
Come tax time, Quicken identifies any items that are deductible, and it also helps keep customers on top of bill paying. If you aren't the best at remembering upcoming bills, the software helps in two ways. First, it knocks your budget down to the expected post-bill level before the bills are due so you don't overspend. Second, it sends you reminders when payment deadlines are approaching so nothing slips your mind and leaves you with killer late fees.
Practical day-to-day financial services aside, Quicken Premier also has tools to help customers figure out ways to get rid of their debt load, while at the same time assisting them to construct a long-term savings and investment plan.
On the next page we'll look at a few more things personal financial software can typically do, and consider some related tools for financial planning.