I'm a closet techie. Give me a piece of personal finance software to try out and I'm in seventh heaven. Over the years I've tested and written about dozens of programs – all designed to streamline your finances.
There are many different types of personal finance software ranging from those packages that simply allow you to budget, to products that manage your personal and business finances in one, or your residential property investments.
If it's just budgeting you need or instant insights into your spending patterns, then it's worth trying the budget software on Sorted.org.nz, or if you want something more indepth: Whostolemymoney.com or PocketSmith.com,. Microsoft also has free downloadable budget templates on its website.
For a full personal finance package which enables you to track your investments as well as bank accounts, then Microsoft Money and Intuit Quicken give you the big picture. They allow you to budget, download bank and credit card statements and manage your investments all in one place. They can help you examine bills and spending.
I'm a fan of both Quicken and Microsoft Money. But there are free alternatives such as GNUcash, which does a similar job and website-based products such as Mint.com.
It riles me a bit that users in the United States and some other countries can use these products to track their shares – with prices updating automatically. Here, the best you can do is upload the prices of your shares and those you are watching manually. Or you can use an online portfolio tracking application such as Yahoo!'s portfolio.
Property investors have a range of software available – the main genres include property analysis and property management software. For analysing purchases use RentalAnalyst, at PIA (Property Investment Analysis) or REVIQ to analyse purchases. Or there are many low-cost or free investment analysis-type programs that can be downloaded from Download.com. The investor enters data such as purchase price, typical rent for the type of property and area, fit out costs, maintenance, rates, etcetera into the software and it spits out details of potential yield and capital gain over 1, 2, 5 and even 20 years .
If you want to manage residential investment properties and make tax time easier, then the answer may be:
These programs allow you to download bank statements, manage the rents and outgoings, send pre-written legal letters to tenants such as 10-day-notices, and eventually produce reports for your accountant, mortgage broker or the IRD.
I've yet to find decent software to do tax returns in New Zealand. The IRD's website, however, allows you to do many jobs online such as filing an IR3.
If, like, me however, you're self employed, you might find the simple versions of MYOB and QuickBooks useful. Xero.com offers an excellent online accounting system, but it charges by the month.
For really simple business accounts, try a cash book-type program.