The 3 Best Personal Finance Software Options for 2017

Personal finance software can assist you in managing your finances. The software tracks your transactions and warns you about potential problems. Personal finance software organizes your finances daily, which allows you to relax and avoid stress. Here are the best available personal finance software programs

YNAB

The acronym YNAB stands for You Need A Budget, and the software is designed to help people who are budgeting. YNAB wants users to take every dollar that they earn and give that dollar a job. Users can find out exactly what every spent dollar went towards. YNAB can help you manage your immediate expenses; such as mortgage or rent, as well as your discretionary expenses; such as dining out. YNAB is a good choice for people who have constant expenses.

YNAB only allows you to budget money that you have actually earned, which forces you to plan around the money you presently have and not the money that you’ll receive in the future. YNAB will stop you from overspending by taking money out of another category to cover costs. YNAB encourages people to think of any extra money as finances that can help future expenses. By helping users put money aside for future expenses, YNAB believes that it is enhancing the financial security of its users. YNAB offers free webinars to help people understand how the software works.

Mint

One of Mint’s most popular features is its easy setup. The dashboard makes everything clear, so users can easily transition from one column to the next one. Mint recognizes that most people have flexible budgets, so users can set up a budget that makes sense with their expenses. Mint’s budgeting system allows users to make different categories for every expense that you have. Once you have paid for all of your expenses, the rest of your income goes into a category known as Everything Else.

Mint’s budgeting system lets users clarify when the expense will be due, so you can budget every month until the expense is due. You can set aside money every month to help plan for any long-term financial goals. That money will be taken out of your available budget.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital looks at the total net worth of its users through calculating all of their current assets and then subtracting any liabilities. Personal Capital lets users compare their spending during the current month to spending in previous months. Personal Capital shows users how their investments are doing by giving them a breakdown of their individual stocks, as well as an index of any money that has been accumulated or lost. You can seek a breakdown of your finances in both real dollars and percentages.

Tax Refund Boosting Hacks

Tax season will be here before you know it. It’s time to start thinking about the ways you can get the most out of your return. Taxes can be tricky to navigate. There are a lot of factors that go into your return, some of which automated tax software won’t be able to pick up on. Before you file your taxes, take a look at the following items to see if you can take advantage of the unique benefits they offer.

Use Tax Deductions!

Many people shy away from tax deductions. Most of the time it’s only because they don’t understand them or didn’t know they qualified. You can deduct charitable donations and unreimbursed work expenses. There is even a deduction available if you’ve moved over 50 miles for a new job. You can claim all the moving, storage, and travel expenses associated with your move. Save all work expense and charitable donation receipts throughout the year so you can receive the right deduction and have the proof to back it up.

File Early

Filing early does not have a direct effect on the amount of money you get back. It does, however, expedite the refund process. You may even save yourself some money if you use part of your refund to pay off debt from the holidays. The sooner you pay down the debt, the less interest you have to pay.

Retirement Contribution Benefits

If you contribute to an IRA account, try your best to max out your contribution before the end of the year. You can receive a tax deduction for as much as your maximum contribution allotment. You may even be lucky enough to reap the benefits of a rare “double dip.” If you qualify for a saver’s credit, you’ll receive an additional deduction on top of retirement contribution deduction.

Dependents

Did you know that family members are not the only ones you can claim as dependents? If you have taken in and supported a friend for the entire year, you could receive a dependent exemption. There are some caveats to this rule. In order to qualify, non-relatives must reside within your home, but relatives do not. In either situation, you must provide for over half of their support. Finally, the dependent must also not make more than $4,000 in taxable income. If you think you may be able to claim dependents, it will not hurt to look into!

Raising Money-Savvy Kids

Unfortunately, money management does not fall under the curriculum taught in school. Parents are responsible for leading by example and teaching the basics of money management. It may seem like a daunting task, because most people do not remember how they were taught about money, they just know it now. That’s why I put together this list in order to give you ideas on how to start raising money-savvy kids.

Talk About Money

The first step in teaching your children about money is constructing an ongoing, open discussion about money. Talking about money is something we don’t normally deem acceptable. We do not disclose salaries, we try not to lead onto how much we have, and we certainly do not ask other people about their money. These social norms have their place within our society and it’s important to stress that to your children as well. There’s a time and a place for everything. When it comes to money, let your children know they can talk to you about it, ask questions, and not fear making you uncomfortable.

Budget Together

Budgeting is a huge part of money management. Keeping track of spending and setting restrictions on yourself is a great habit to establish early. Budgets are hard to implement after bad habits are formed, so to avoid forming them, budget together. You can be as open about this as you’d like. If you want to be completely transparent and work on the household budget, go for it! If that seems too daunting, work on a personal budget with your child. Have them outline goals and also learn how to work with the income (allowance) they receive.

Utilize Teachable Moments

There will be many teachable moments throughout your money management lessons. Identifying them and knowing how to come out the other side with a lesson is a great way to further instill all you both have been working towards. There are opportunities for real world application everywhere. Include your children in on the family grocery shop. Explain how much you plan on spending and how you came up with that number. Then work together to stick to it!

Use Tough Love (even when it’s hard)

Tough love is a necessary evil when it comes to learning about money. You more than likely ran into some financial trouble at one point or another. After you recovered and stabilized your finances, you learned a valuable lesson about what not to do. Providing children with these realizations early on can firmly cement your teachings into their minds. They may have to find out the hard way that it wasn’t a good idea to blow all their money on a toy the day they receive their allowance. Your child won’t even learn that lesson until a few weeks later when they do not have enough money for something else they desperately want. By not giving in and buying it for them, you’re practicing tough love so they can learn a valuable lesson.