For a long time, getting a handle on finances was a major undertaking. If you’re not a natural budget planner, keeping the books straight can be a constant struggle for both people and businesses. With modern software, however, any person or business can find a program that makes them a finance pro.

Cost

Web-based, or cloud software provides numerous benefits that many individuals and businesses are realizing. Whether it’s free, entry-level software or a comprehensive, full-service program designed for large corporations, cloud software is almost always less expensive.

With traditional on-site programs, the software almost always requires yearly purchases of updates, and if it’s going to run on more than one computer, expensive licensing is often required. For cloud-based software, the only expense is a nominal subscription fee.

Picking the right software is the key to starting and maintaining a competent budget.

Picking the right software is the key to starting and maintaining a competent budget.

Security

When your software is downloaded onto your computer in your home or office, all of your most important financial information is there as well. Internal threats such as hackers, viruses, and the dreaded hard-drive crash are constantly looming, and external threats such as fire, flood, or burglary can and do wipe out information.

When trusting your sensitive financial information to a cloud company, you’re handing it over to pros whose only job is keeping data safe on remote servers that are temperature controlled in secure facilities and protected by top-of-the line security, both digital and physical.

Mobility

Whether your software is basic budgeting software for individuals or high-end software that handles invoicing, shipping/receiving, billing, and inventory, mobility is everything. Having your software shackled to a single computer simply does not work in the modern world. You must be able to access your software from your tablet, smartphone, or any computer with nothing more than a password.

The most basic premise of keeping your books straight is consistency and accuracy. The longer you wait to enter data, the more likely you are to make a mistake or not do it at all.

Categorization

Knowing where every dollar comes from and goes to is paramount to creating and following a budget. Even the most rudimentary software allows the ability to compartmentalize your income and expenditures. It is absolutely necessary to be fanatical about creating and maintaining separate headers for different types of income and expense. Not only will it give you a clear, overall picture of your financial health, but it will be a lifesaver at tax time.

Software takes much of the headache out of budgeting your finances.

Software takes much of the headache out of budgeting your finances.

Whether you choose the cloud or go with traditional software that runs on your hard drive, choosing the right program is the foundation on which your financial budget will be built. The general rule is to get as much software as you need, and no more. A common mistake is to buy as much as you can afford, but as software gets more expensive, it gets more complicated and comes with a higher learning curve. With budgeting, simplicity is everything. Software should make it simpler, not more complicated.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about small business management and financial software.

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