What Do I Look for When Purchasing a Budgeting Software?

Three essential things you need in the PFM you use daily.

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If you’re going to manage your money successfully, you need to have a budgeting software. Although to be more correct, you really need a PFM. That way, you can bring budgeting and financial planning all under one roof so you get your whole outlook in one snapshot.

Fact: PFM stands for personal financial management. These platforms help you manage your overall financial outlook.

So what you’re really looking for is a PFM. But what do you need and how do you choose? Here are the five essential factors to consider before you sign up for a platform.

Factor No. 1: Price

The truth is, you may not need to “purchase” anything. There are plenty of free platforms available and some of them offer everything else you need that we’ll define below.

So unless you have a good reason to choose a platform that requires some kind of payment, opt for a free platform that has all of the tools you need to manage your outlook efficiently.

Factor No. 2: Account integration

The tool you choose needs to be able to read all of your accounts, so you can maintain your entire outlook in one place. If you have to go multiple places to manage your money, you’re less likely to pay attention to it because it’s more of a hassle.

So if you minimize the hassle, you’re more likely to make a habit out of checking your finances daily – which is really what you need to be doing. With that in mind, make sure the platform you choose can integrate your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, loans and any other accounts you need to track.

Factor No. 3: Security

You’re looking for bank-level protection here. That means the platform you need should specifically state that it uses things like SSL encryption and multi-layer password protection – and security monitoring systems like TRUSTe are important, too.

You should also make sure they’re not storing your information anywhere long-term. Good PFMs pull the data you need while you’re using the program, but then they dump the data out of their system every day, so nothing is stored for hackers to hack.

Factor No. 4: Accessibility

In today’s world you should have access to your financial outlook anywhere you are. The easier it is to access your financial outlook, the better informed you can be when you’re making important financial decisions. With that in mind, online platforms are better and it’s even better if you have app access from your smartphone or tablet.

Factor No. 5: Extra features

There are several platforms that have all of the above, but they all have different bells and whistles in addition to basic money management tools.Some platforms integrate customized daily deals and offers that are tailored to your purchasing habits. Some of them have integrated prepaid or debit cards. Still others offer unique features like bill sharing with roommates or the ability to enter cash transactions like money to the babysitter.

Pick the program that has the tools and features you need.