Which? reveals the best personal finance softwareThe right free and paid-for money package for you

02 November 2010

Girl with laptop, checking credit report online

You should check your credit report at least once a year, online or by post

There are numerous personal finance software packages on the market, so we tested six of them to find which were the best paid-for and free ones.

A recent Which? Money survey revealed that 15% of people use one of these programs to manage their money, but with so many packages out there, finding the right one for your needs can be tricky.

We tested four paid-for packages - BankTree, Home Accountz, Moneydance and Budget Forecaster - and two free packages, Ace Money Lite and GnuCash.

We found that all of these could be downloaded in a matter of minutes and, overall, our experts didn't encounter any significant problems. We analysed their capabilities in three key areas: availability of help, ease of use and overall value for money.

Paid for packages

The best value-for-money program was Banktree (RRP £26). Our experts found it extremely user friendly with a clear and attractive layout. However, it was not compatible with Macs and therefore, Mac users would have to opt for Home Accountz (RRP £39.99) or Moneydance (RRP £34.99). 

Both these packages provided good value for money but couldn't match Banktree for user friendliness. 

While Budget Forecaster (£19.99) did well in terms of value for money and its user-friendly approach, Which? experts found that the support on offer was not as comprehensive as elsewhere.

Free packages

Of the two free packages we tested, Ace Money Lite came out top. Our experts praised it for its clear layout and said it would suit households with just a couple of accounts to manage. It is easy to use but you will require an upgrade if your needs become more complex.

Our experts acknowledged that GnuCash was a pretty powerful personal finance package but was not as user-friendly as its rival Ace Money Lite. Experts added that it could also potentially confuse beginners. 

Which is right for you? 

If you are looking for a clear user-friendly package that is good value for money and you are happy to spend the money, then Banktree is the best bet. If your needs are less complicated, downloading a copy of the free Ace Money Lite makes for a great alternative - and it's Mac compatible. 

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