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Importance of Personal Finance Management

In today’s world, money is an essential part of our life. In a way, we can say that money is the life blood that lets us live a comfortable life. True, money can’t buy us happiness, but it certainly gives us the assurance of a secured future and freedom to purchase things which make us and our loved ones happy.

But despite all this, most people are either too careless about managing their personal finances or just don’t know how to do it efficiently. As a result, most people start caring about their money only when they have left with very less of it. In the 21st century world, it has almost become a norm.

The so-called double income families love to a life of every luxury possible in the world and they don’t even think twice before digging into their savings or taking loans to get it. As a result, 8 out of 10 people have at least some loans on their head.

Until two years ago, the effects of bad personal finance management was only seen on a small level. But the current recession has turned the demon of badly managed personal finance into a national calamity.

The failing banks, closing businesses and cost cuttings left a large number of people without a job.

But the unemployment was just a push to create a whole domino effect on the economy. Devoid of any personal savings and buried under loans, people started losing their homes, cars and even health insurance. So many people defaulted on their insurance payment that many insurance companies declared bankruptcy and many others were on the brink of going out of business.

We can blame so many factors for this – the government, the corporates and most of all the banks who gave easy loans to people who could never afford them. But the truth is that it’s the job of banks to encourage us to take loans. That’s how their business. It’s only up to us to make complete sense of the situation.

Your banker would love to get you the huge loan for your second luxury car or a holiday home because he will benefit from it. He will even convince you that you are making the wisest decision by making a bigger purchase than you could ever afford to.

But you must understand that managing personal finances is extremely important. Make sure that you don’t make any purchase that’s out of your reach. We are not suggesting that you don’t take loan, but take it only when and only as much as essential. Try to create a savings account and keep an equivalent of three months of expenses in it, at all times.

In the end, I would say that bad times come in everybody’s life. We all have to go through our shares of difficulties whether its unemployment, sickness, or injury. All we can do is to make sure that we are prepared for it (at least financially).

Author is an expert in matters related to finance, financial software and online marketing. He has years of experience in writing articles on such subjects.

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.

A Look at Finance Managers

Individuals who aren’t in the finance industry may find all the job titles floating around very confusing. In this article we are going to look at what finance managers actually do, other than manage finance in some way.

A finance manager’s responsibilities mainly revolve around providing finance support and advice to clients or colleagues in their organisation and help them make informed and sound finance decisions.

The organisations and workplaces that finance managers can work in are extremely varied and can be in both the public and private sector. These include Financial Institutions, Charities, Trusts, Universities and Multinational Corporations.

Most major business decisions are based on financial decisions and considerations. Companies need to know financial implications of any business decisions before they can be made, so Finance Mangers must help advise these situations and also make sure that all financial practices follow statutory regulations and legislations.

The role of a financial manager can be very varied, and the title of the role often confuses people so great care should always be taken to analyse the responsibilities in each organisation.

When a finance manager is employed in a large corporation, their role will usually be more concerned with strategic analysis, and finance managers working for smaller companies and organisations might only have to prepare and collect accounts.

Typical activities of a finance manager will include interpreting financial data and making recommendations, analysing cash flows and making predictions on future trends. They will often have to formulate long term strategic business plans. Reduce costs for the business by reviewing and evaluating opportunities, find new sources of income to manage the debt of an organisation.

They will also be expected to keep up to date with regulations and legislation for the finance world to make sure that the organisation is doing everything by the books.

There are obviously a lot of tasks and responsibilities not mentioned in this article but when you take a step back from it all, the role of a finance manager does boil down to various tasks that revolve around managing the finances for a given organisation.

The Best Car Insurance Rates

If your car insurance is due for renewal and you are considering buying another policy then this article will provide you with important facts that you should know about. Car insurance policies are getting increasingly expensive and you should do all that you can to reduce your costs. How much you have to pay for your car insurance is dictated by a variety of factors as they apply to you and your vehicle.

In this article we will examine coverage limits, your age, gender and marital status, your location and insuring other household members. All of these factors will have a great influence on how much you will have to pay for your policy.

Coverage limits are generally dictated by the price that you are willing to pay for your insurance. A higher level of coverage will generally result in higher premiums. The best way to find a good value policy is to comparison shop. Nowadays it is generally accepted that the best way to do this is by using a car insurance comparison website.

Your age, gender and marital status will have a great effect on the auto insurance rates that you are offered. Insurers rate drivers using a variety of criteria, if you are a young single male driver you will usually have to pay higher rates. If you are a middle-aged female married driver then your rates will be lower. Insurers calculate the best car insurance rates for you by comparing levels of risk. Those groups which are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident have to pay correspondingly higher rates.

Location plays an important part in deciding how much your premiums will cost. Drivers who live in an urban environment will usually pay more than those from a rural area. This is because drivers who live in cities and heavily populated areas are more likely to be involved in an accident, or to have their car stolen or vandalized. Insurers generally offer better rates if you’re able to demonstrate that you keep your vehicle in a garage at night. You may also be able to improve the security arrangements of your automobile by fitting an alarm, immobilizer and steering wheel lock.

Insuring other household members will have an influence on the cost of your policy and the best car insurance rates that you offered. If you have teenage family members living with you and they are added to your policy, then your costs will increase. This may still work out cheaper than if your teenage driver were to have a separate policy in their own name.

In conclusion, there are a variety of different factors which can affect your ability to be offered the best insurance rates. Some of these are coverage limits, how old you are, whether you are male or female and whether you are married or single. Your rates will also be affected by the area where you live and whether other household members are included in your policy.