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5 Ways to Mess Up Your Personal Finance Software

How Not to Use Personal Finance Software


Here are some short cuts that are guaranteed to cause frustrations with personal finance software sooner or later. The few minutes saves aren't worth the headaches later on.

1. Speed Through Set Up

Taking short cuts with your financial software results in frustration.
Getty Images / Jean Louis Batt
Make the already simple set up for your financial software even easier by leaving out important account information or by fudging details like beginning account balances or budget amounts. Your guess at these numbers will be probably pretty close to the actual amount, and that's good enough. And, you will remember to go back and enter the correct amounts after you've started using the software any way, right?

2. Forget About Using Help in the Software

Quicken provides excellent help right in the personal finance software.
Quicken Help
Screen shot by Shelley Elmblad
Personal finance software isn't difficult to use, but you may try an advanced feature that you don't immediate catch on to. See the Help button in the upper corner of the screen? Do not, under any circumstances, click on Help. If you click on Help, you will miss 37 minutes spent listening to an eclectic mix of Muzak while on hold with tech support (hope they are easy to understand), not to mention the joy of trying to explain what you don't understand about your software to the support rep.

3. Never Register Financial Software

Personal finance software and online bill pay manages money.
Getty Images / Comstock
Just ignore those pop-ups that urge you to register the software you just installed. It takes time to register your personal finance software, and who has three minutes to spare these days? You'll never need to prove that you purchased the software, right? And why would you ever want a discount on new versions? And, who really needs software updates, anyway?

4. Passwords are for Sissies

Quicken transaction password.
Quicken Password
Screen shot by Shelley Elmblad
Passwords slow you down. If you choose to set a password any way, make it something easy to remember, like your dog's name or your phone number, or better yet, make it "password". No one will ever try to peek at your accounts, not even your roommate or the baby sitter.

5. Don't Back Up. Ever.

Avoid making these mistakes with your financial software.
Getty Images / Troy Aossey
You use Windows, Mac, or Linux desktop personal finance software, and you have never bothered backing up any files on your computer. Why would you deal with the hassle of backing up your financial data? If your hard drive crashes, you can always start over. You just need to recreate all your accounts and scheduled transactions, and assign budget categories to transactions. Again. For each account.

You like to live on the edge, so who cares if you had three years of data, but most financial institutions only download three to six months worth of transactions?

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