Moneydance – A Cross-Platform Personal Finance Manager

I have to admit, I am a software junkie. I like good software that works as it should and does it’s job with a minimum of effort on my part. When I first started using a computer at home, one of the first things I started looking for was a software program that would manage my finances and allow me to keep up with what I spend. It is essential for me because although I do not have a lot of different finances to keep up with, I need all the help I can get. I began using Microsoft Money and while I actually like the way it operated, it did have it’s drawbacks. Chief among them is the very obtrusive advertisements and the fact that Microsoft Money (you pick the year) would not open a perfectly good money file that had been opened even once in the next year’s version of Money. I can see that being the case every once in a while, when the file format has to change for whatever reason, but to do it every year is a bit over the top. The next program I used was AceMoney and I used it until I converted from Windows XP to Linux almost two years ago.

When I started using Linux, I knew I could use AceMoney on my Linux system, as long as I installed Wine, which allows Windows applications to run on Linux, but I chose not to do so. I preferred to us a program that was designed to run on Linux itself. After doing some research online, I decided to take advantage of a free trial offered by Moneydance, an open source, cross-platform personal finance manager for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. It took a bit of playing around with the software before I was used to the way it does things, but after I did, I had no problem purchasing the full version for $29.99. In my opinion, it is well worth the price.

As with any software program there are pros and cons to using it. Everyone likes to do things differently and every personal finance manager does things it’s own way, at least a little. One of the main things I do not like about Moneydance is the way it installs on my Mepis system. Actually, I think that has more to do with me getting used to doing things the Linux way, so that really isn’t a complaint. Once installed, Moneydance is relatively easy to use. It opens up to the home page and there are a variety of items you can have showing up there. You can see from the screenshot below that mine is pretty simple. I do not have stocks or bonds, but you can show stock quotes if you want. Just add an investment account and then add the stocks from your portfolio into that account.

One of the things I really like about the way the home page is set up is the transaction reminders, both the list and the calendar. It is very easy to tell what items I have due, coming up or even overdue. It is also very easy to add new reminders by clicking on the link at the top. The great thing about the reminders is that you can use them for transactions or just a general reminder. The transactions can be set up to be entered automatically or just to remind the user to enter them manually.Overall, the home page of Moneydance is very usable and it can be edited to add or remove items that you do or do not need or want. As you can see, I display my checking account, as well as both of my credit card accounts on the left side. That allows me to see at a quick glance what I have in my accounts.

As with any personal finance manger, the main heart of the program lies in it’s register or ledger. That’s where the bulk of the work is done in the program and that is where I spend most of my time, entering transactions and reconciling with my bank account. It is in the register that I had to learn to do things a little differently than I was used to doing. For example, there is no keyboard shortcut to mark a transaction cleared or reconciled. You can do so by right clicking on the transaction and choosing it from the context menu and while it gets the job done, I find it a bit cumbersome to do. However, there is another way to accomplish this that works very well and after getting used to it, I find it much easier to reconcile the register with my online bank statement.

You can see in the screenshot to the right that there is an Actions link at the top left of the register screen. Clicking on it drops down a menu with a reconcile action. Choosing that brings up a dialog that lists the beginning statement balance and asks me to enter the ending statement balance, which is basically the target balance that I need to finish up with. Before I get to this point, I have already looked at my online bank statement and have that figure noted. Once that is entered, Moneydance brings up a small window that lists all of my transactions that are not cleared or reconciled. That window can be positioned directly over the Firefox tab containing my bank statement and from there, I can use the mouse to mark the transactions cleared and see how my register balance matches up with the bank statement. I can see very quickly if there is a mistake in the register, without ever opening the bank statement I receive in the mail.

I have found that using this small window actually speeds up my work in making sure the transactions are correct and the online bank statement and my register balance are correct. It saves me a lot of time and effort by not having to alt+tab back and forth between windows. As I said, it took me a while to get used to doing things that way, but once I did, it makes clearing a lot of transactions much easier and faster. I am pretty set in my ways, but this is one thing I have learned to do differently and glad I did.

Another feature I find very useful is the way Moneydance can backup my money file with no action from me, after the initial setup is performed. I make daily backups in a folder on a completely separate partition and Moneydance takes care of the rest. Trust me, the backups have saved my bacon more than once and even if I don’t have a hardware problem, it really came in handy when I installed SimplyMepis 8. It was a snap to load my backup file and have all of my data at hand. I have found it is essential to keep backups and Moneydance gives you a variety of options to choose from.

There is one other thing that I found to be a bit different from most other personal finance programs I have used and that is the way Moneydance treats accounts and categories the same. I am no accountant, but that is evidently the way most actual accounting software It’s called the double entry method and while I don’t understand it completely, it basically links the different accounts to each other. In KMyMoney and other personal finance managers, you can set up a transfer from one account to another by calling it a transfer. In Moneydance, I had to choose the account in the category section of the transaction in order to get the changes to register in both accounts. Once I got past the difference, it’s a piece of cake.

As with most personal finance managers, Moneydance remembers the transactions and will complete them automatically for you. If I enter a transaction to Aldi’s to purchase groceries, it remembers that and until I tell differently, all transactions to Aldi’s will be entered into the “Food:Groceries” category. That comes in very handy and I can set up a reoccuring transaction by right clicking on the transaction line and telling Moneydance to “Memorize” the transaction. Very quick and very easy to do. I suppose I could say that Moneydance is very intelligent in the register and the way it handles the transactions.

I could go on and on about the features of the program, but this article is already longer than I had anticipated. Suffice it to say that I am quite pleased with Moneydance. Yes, there are things that I would like to see changed. For example, the only way to hide past transactions in the register is to archive them, but I have found that the number of transactions in the register doesn’t seem to slow the program down, so I am living with that. It’s just a matter of personal preference in that regard. The documentation could also be a little more thorough, but I have worked past that as well. If you are looking for an easy to use personal finance manager, I would urge you to give Moneydance a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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Finance Management of Small Business

Managing finances in a business is among the few important things that need to be considered when starting and carrying out a business. It is all about efficiently and effectively utilizing available funds in order to achieve the objectives of the business. Financial management is aimed at planning, observing, organizing and managing the monetary resources of a business.

Small business finance management strategies

Small business finance management is mostly concerned with procurement, allocation and control of financial resources so that a regular and adequate supply of funds is maintained to run a business. Once the funds are in hand, they should be utilized in maximum possible ways at low costs and should be invested intelligently in safe ventures. A few tips that can help you efficiently use your funds while running a small business are:

In the initial years of managing a small business, you need to estimate how much money you need for a decent living and pull out that money from your business income. Now invest the remaining money back into your business for its growth.

Early wins in the form of high profits may urge you to spend it on leisure holidaying or improve your housing status. You need to be firm and defend yourself against such ideas and wait till your business gets a little more established.

The main expense in a business is covering the payroll of your staff. It is advisable not to hire new employees unless you absolutely need them. When things get busy and a lot of work pressure builds up, you may get tempted to hire more people. Try and stretch the existing staff members to their full potential to get through the workload and hire only if necessary.

Try and save up money on applying for loans and procuring inventory. Taking up loans from banks is a common practice in the business world, but it carries an extra cost of its own in the form of interest you pay while returning. Reducing this extra cost can help you add up and save more money in the long run. This can be done by dividing the total money you need as loan and borrowing it in parts over a period of time. This reduces the overall amount of interest you pay back to the bank. Borrowing the entire amount at once will result in you paying interest for the money you are not going to use till later time.

Keep the money separate for paying the taxes and avoid mixing it with other funds. Paying taxes is of utmost importance and since that money is meant to be given away, it should not be kept or used for other purposes.

Bargain the terms of the agreement with the outside contractors and vendors like delivery services, electrician etc., such that you get a grace period in paying your bills. This grace period can be used to manage your funds and prioritize your other bills more efficiently.

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Simple Personal Finance Management Tips

It is important that we start saving for a rainy day as early and as soon as possible. Personal finance management is essential in today’s day. In today’s capitalist society most people don’t think twice about taking loans to buy unnecessary and expensive things. The recession however has woken up most people and scared them into learning to manage their finances. Because of the daunting nature of this task or because of insufficient knowledge most people never know how to effectively manage their finances.

Getting started

There are many steps to follow during personal finance management. These are some of the most essential ones you need to know to get you started.

Prepare your Budget

Preparing a budget will help you to curb overspending. Total your net income from all sources like work salary, any mutual funds, alimony, etc. Prepare a list of all your monthly expenditures and how much it is going to cost. These would include your bills, shopping and household budget, insurance premiums, etc. This is a great way to learn to adjust your expenses and create an estimate of your actual monthly expenses.

Saving

After preparing a budget the next thing you need to do is save money. Preparing a budget gives you an idea of where you overspend. Depending on your income, open a saving account and contribute a suitable percentage of it towards your account. This account should be used only in the case of emergencies.

Invest

Investing is a great way to earn a little extra income. The best place to invest is in the mutual fund of a reputed company. There is minimum risk involved when investing in mutual funds compared to other stocks. Further more you can leave the worrying caused as a result of volatile stock markets to experienced and professional fund managers.

Insure

Insurance is a great way to secure your future. It also reduces the risk of needing to empty out your saving account in the case of an emergency. You must at least take out insurance for your house, car and life. Choose a reputable company whose premium rates suit your income to avoid defaulting and wasting your money.

Tax Planning and Retirement Planning

Plan your tax so as to minimize the amount of your taxes. Reducing your income will bring down your taxable income. An easy way to do this is to contribute towards a retirement plan at work. As a result you can also plan for your retirement while planning your tax. You can also deduct your taxable income by donating to charity. State tax and mortgage interest will also deduct your taxable income. Having more dependents or getting married is another way to deduct your taxable income. You can also get tax credits for adopting children or college expenses.

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Corporate Finance Management

Corporate finance management is a branch of finance that refers to the management of financial resources of a company. The main objective of corporate financing is to maximize the company value by making proper allocation of financial resources, along with taking care of the financial risks. Finance management focuses on analyzing the financial problems and devising the universal solutions, which are applicable to all kind of companies.

There are various topics, which are covered under the study of corporate finance such as working capital management, inventory management, debtor’s management, dividend policy, short term and long term financing and financial risk management. Each of the above mentioned subjects make use of different financial tools in deciding the allocation and management of resources among most competing opportunities. It is one of the highly discussed topics due to its own importance in growing economy of any country.

Finance management is an absolute necessity for all types of business organizations. Earlier it used to be the part of overall finance management of a firm. But, over the last one decade, it has emerges as a separate discipline altogether. Today, in both large and medium sizes corporations, there is a dedicated department involved in taking care of the corporate finance management of the company.

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A Brief Guide To Online Finance Degrees

Online degrees are gaining popularity because they are flexible, accessible and convenient. However, if you plan on getting a finance degree online you need to make sure that Moreover they are also acknowledged by most of the employers provided they are pursued from accredited online universities. You can opt for various levels of degree programs as well as certification programs completely online without discontinuing your existing job.

Types of Online Finance Degrees

Different levels of degreesin finance can be pursued online; this includes undergraduate, bachelor’s, master’s as well as Doctorate Degree in Finance. You can even consider various types of specialization to develop niche careers. Some online colleges even offer a combination of accounting and finance degrees.

Some of the most popularOnline Finance Degrees are:

>Online Finance MBA Programs
>Online Finance Certificate Programs
>Bachelor of Science Finance
>Bachelor of Business Administration Finance
>Master of Science in Finance
>Master of Science in International Finance

Choosing an Online Finance Degree

If you are interested in a specific career in the field of finance, you can consider different levels and types of Online Degrees in Finance. They can help you to develop lucrative careers like finance analyst, finance manager or budget manager. However, while choosing an Online Finance Degree at any level, you should look for credible degree programs. You should conduct adequate research and develop a list of accredited online colleges which ensures quality online education.

You can find out about its accreditation from various accredited agencies which are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. With these accredited degree programs, you can develop a lucrative career in the field of finance. This can enable you to get jobs in various work settings like private banking, financial planning, insurance or investment management.

Curriculum for Online Finance Degrees

The curriculum for an Online Finance Degree is one that can help you to develop a strong foundation in the field by gaining business skills along with gaining knowledge about different areas related to the field like finance, marketing, management, economics and statistics. You can also get in-depth understanding about various aspects of the field like risk management, related concepts, different strategies, investment and banking and financial markets.

The basic curriculum for different types of Online Degrees in Finance includes subjects like:

Financial and Intermediate Accounting
Cost Management
>Business and Finance
>Mathematics and Statistics
>Money Markets
>Commercial Finance
>Fiscal Accounting
>Financial Administration
>Insurance
>Global and Domestic Business Finance
>Introduction to Economics
>Investment Banking

An Online Finance Degree offers a lot of benefits and can help you to get experience as well as pursue higher education without leaving your existing jobs or compromising on other family commitments. You can pursue it at your own schedule and pace and can take it up from anywhere and at anytime.

In these times of uncertainty, a finance degree pursued from a top university is one of those few careers that still promise a good salary and a prestigious job.

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The Future Of Finance Jobs

In the not so long-gone past, many career advisers were advising young people seeking to start out a career to go into finance. The financial markets were doing well then, finance jobs were in plenty and MBA schools were bursting with young students seeking to build a career in finance. And the finance jobs were, of course, not limited to the financial markets. With a strong economy, finance graduates who couldn’t get jobs in the financial markets and investment banks could quite easily be absorbed into commerce and industry accounting jobs. Other would get middle office finance jobs in the public service, and going was good.
Then the bubble burst.

The economy went into recession mode, the financial markets shrunk and finance graduates who had taken up jobs with investment banks found themselves facing the axe, as the investment banks are the worst affected by turmoil in the financial markets. And as if on cue, companies, in a bid to cut costs, were also cutting on their head counts, thus also shaking the fortunes of the finance graduates who found commerce and industry accounting jobs in the private sector. In the midst of all this, it seems that the only secure finance graduates are those who took up middle office finance jobs in the public sector, but even this is not fear-proof for we do not know for sure what the full effects of the economic turmoil will be on civil service staffing.

So in the face of all this, what is the future of finance jobs?
It might seem counter-intuitive to say, but the future of finance jobs is still bright, in spite of the current turmoil in the financial markets. As it were, economists tell us that the current economic turmoil is largely short-term to medium term, which is to say that it won’t be with us forever. Which means that the people who chose to pursue a career in finance need not regret their choice, as better times are coming. But even before the better times arrive, the people with finance backgrounds who are currently getting laid off might not find themselves in the cold for too long.
As governments unveil the various economic stimulus plans, there will be need for people to manage the money as it goes into various sectors which translates to some finance jobs. Of course the finance jobs created in this way will be for the best brains in finance.

And then there is the fact that all companies, like human beings, have a native survival instinct, which they are likely to find handy in these hard economic times. One survival strategies for companies in crises is to hire the experts who are likely to navigate them through the particular crises. And since the current crisis is financial, the companies are likely to find themselves hiring financial experts to help them address the economic crisis. Of course, the companies are not likely to be overtly looking for finance experts to help them address the financial crises. What we are likely to see is an increase in commerce and industry accounting jobs, but the accountants so hired are bound to be almost exclusively tasked with cost and revenue management tasks, geared towards helping their employers sail through the turbulent times successfully.

And finally the good times will surely come back again. If the history of the financial markets is anything to go by, we know that all bursts are always followed by booms.

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How Can You Finance A Mortgage?

Most homeowners purchase their houses through mortgage finance or a loan. There have been many changes in home mortgage financing and loans in the past ten years, bringing many benefits to homebuyers. These changes also bring some significant tradeoffs. The greatest benefit a homeowner received from the changes in mortgage finance is that there are more choices. More choice means a homebuyer can effectively shop around for the best mortgage finance deals and make better decisions.

There are a number of specialized mortgage finance institutions that provide mortgage finance products. Savings and loan mortgage finance institutions are also known as thrift associations, since lenders take the deposits of their customers and use the money to create mortgage finance and loan products. Thrifts declined during the 1980s when interest rates were erratic, and mortgage failures were at an historic highpoint. Thrift institutions were replaced later on by mortgage finance bankers, who originate the mortgage finance product and offer them to investors. In the 1990s, mortgage brokers arrived on the scene. These are freelance mortgage finance agents who handle loans for a number of lenders and sell them to several clients that may include investors or homebuyers. Mortgage brokers remain popular with homebuyers who are looking for mortgage finance advice. Because these brokers have relationships with several lending firms, they represent the best source of mortgage finance advice concerning the current real estate market. Another good source of information for homebuyers who are looking to make a final mortgage decision is the Internet.

The general rule in the 1980s was that only individuals with good credit could obtain a mortgage finance loan. In the current market, nearly anyone can apply for such a loan if they want to buy a house. If you have excellent credit, you will probably find a mortgage finance loan that covers the total purchase price of a home. Having bad credit does not necessarily mean that you will not be able to get a mortgage finance loan, however. It is still possible, but you will pay a higher interest rate. Homebuyers who are getting their first house and how do not yet have a credit rating also have mortgage finance loan options available to them. These loans typically have low down payments and flexible standards defined in the underwriting.

The loan approval process has been made much faster because some of the underwriting has been streamlined. Computers have allowed mortgage finance loan information to be accessed rapidly, In fact, some finance companies offer approvals online or by using computer programs. The concept of credit scores” has also led to a decrease in the number of finance loans that are rejected. Credit scores can offer some relief in usually strict mortgage loan approvals, so applicants have less of a problem.

The modern mortgage finance market has developed a number of new mortgage products as well. When interest rates began to fall, homeowners took advantage of the decreases to refinance their mortgages. In order to reduce the expense of refinancing, lenders than began to offer mortgage finance loans without discount points.

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Where To Get Your Online Finance Degree

An online finance degree is a wonderful option for individuals who want to go to college, but for whatever reason prefer an online forum as opposed to a traditional classroom. Frequently, those who opt for an online finance degree have busy schedules already because of family and work commitments, and juggling a typical class schedule is nearly impossible. Also, individuals who have disabilities often times opt for an online finance degree simply because it is easier to work straight from home. No matter why you want an online finance degree, there are many options out there for you to choose from.

The online finance degree is a very popular major, and because of this almost all of the online universities offer the online finance degree. In addition to this, the online finance degree is not only available in bachelors, but also in masters and in some cases PhD. So, no matter if you want just a bachelor’s online finance degree or want to get an online finance degree at ever level, the choice is totally yours.

Paying for your online finance degree is not as difficult as it ahs been in the past, either, because now you can get student loans and choose different payment plans for your online finance degree. Paying for your online finance degree has never been easier.

In addition to this, you will need to decide exactly what you are looking for in the university where you will obtain your online finance degree. The reason for this is because there are so many online university options that range in popularity, accreditation and cost, that you will need to find out which ones offer the best online finance degree for your budget.

Be sure, however, before you begin studying for your online finance degree that you know your university is accredited and has many successful graduates with their online finance degree.

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