You: Is financial planning software worth it?

Why do you ask?

You: Well, I mean, what does it do that’s so special? I don’t have much money to invest right now anyway.

Financial planning software is about much more than tracking your investments the same way financial planning is about much more than investing planning.

You: It is?

Yes! That’s why we don’t really talk about investing in Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck until Chapter 8. You need to learn the basics, from the miracle of compounding interest to an understanding of cash-flow; from debt management to the methods for retirement planning before investing should become the primary focus of your energies.

So while financial planning software can and often does a great job tracking your investments, the program may be most valuable to you for what it does other than investment tracking feautres.

You: Like what?

Like just about everything else. Perhaps most importantly is its ability to enable you to track your spending.

You: But I already know I spend too much. I don’t need to spend even more money on a software program to confirm it. Thanks but no thanks.

Hold on there cowboy. Financial planning software will do far more than confirm your spending habits. Rather, it will show you what your habits are and why they are that way. Thanks to easy downloads from your various accounts, you’ll easily categorize your spending, regardless of how you go about your spend (credit card, debit card, even check and cash if you take a few extra minutes each month).

You: But doesn’t this only if I set up a budget?

Actually, it will work either with or without an established budget. However, if you take the time to prepare a budget, you can then easily compare the results of your spending with your budget. But even without a set budget, you’ll still see where you’re getting a little too excited.

You: Too excited?

Just another way of saying you spent too much at the bar, or on shoes, or on new tools or whatever it is that you now wish you hadn’t blown quite as much money on looking back.

Once you get a handle on how you are spending, you’ll be armed with the information necessary to attempt and eventually succeed in reducing your spending. When you do so, presto: you’ll have more money leftover to pay down existing debt and begin to invest.

You: Wow, that would be huge.

Indeed it would.

You: And I’ll already have the financial planning software I need to track my new investments.

Exactly. Financial planning software helps in both the establishment and monitoring of your personal financial plan. The job of managing your financial affairs is made much easier and less time-consuming.

You: So it’s worth it?

I think so. It’s money well-spent, and, depending on your tax situation, may even be tax deductible. The software takes some time upfront to set-up, but saves you significant time later. Plus, by using financial software, you’ll quickly notice if something goes awry – furnishing you with yet another opportunity to help yourself financially.

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2 Comments to “Strategy # 20: Financial planning software is an investment.”

  1. AJ Shattuck says:

    I just heard the interview with you on WHEB and Kelly Brown.. Like you, I too am accounting “educated” but as you discussed I was never introduced to financial management. Through my 20’s I kept a decent budget but it was just that….a budget! Budgets change. Late last year, now in my early 30’s, I invested in Quicken Professional (any of them will do) and have been diligent for the last 9 months. What a powerful tool….and I ‘m not even using the entire package yet. Just this year, I was able to change my net worth to the positive by more than 10K with a combination of expense management, investments, and debt reduction which I could see immediately with every paycheck. I’ve found the key is looking at your finances a couple of times a week. I can’t say enough about investing in this VERY inexpensive tool if you look at the return. Thanks for the introduction this am!

  2. Michael says:

    AJ,

    Thanks for listening Sunday – glad you enjoyed the introduction. Your comments regarding the usefulness of programs like Quicken are right on. With any part of your life you’re trying to organize and improve, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out. Financial planning software simply increases the return.

    Stay in touch and keep it simple!
    Michael

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