And while I’m bitching about software…

There really are no decent financial software packages for families out there.  Quicken and it’s clone MS Money both assume that you want to do all your financial management as a single user on a single PC.  And while they add more an more elaborate features, they neglect to put in support for basic real-world things like IOUs.

Meanwhile, the Open-Source alternatives such as GnuCash and KMyMoney2 are so focused on [poorly] mimicking the Quicken experience that they are completely failing to bring a much-needed fresh perspective to the field.

What I want in personal accounting software:

  • Really good budgeting support.  I don’t care how fancy your ledger-entry screen is if your budgeting sucks.  Remember, this is software for REAL FAMILIES, and what real families worry about most of all is BUDGETING.
  • Simple support for one-time, ephemeral debts such as IOUs.
  • Interface-independance.  I want to be able to view and enter information from a web browser, from a PDA, from any PC on the house network, etc.
  • Calendar integration.  It seems like every accounting package has it’s own calendar for reminders.  I don’t want that – I want it to put reminders in my EXISTING calendar.  All it needs to do is publish an iCal calendar that I can subscribe to from any number of PIMs.
  • The ability to set savings goals and have the software calculate how much I need to contribute a month in order to meet them – and re-calculate automatically based on how much I actually contributed.  I think this at least is handled reasonably well in Quicken and Money.
  • Really good online banking support, including smart auto-reconciling.
  • An at-a-glance view of uncomitted funds, i.e. how much money I really have to play with taking into account all predicted debits before the next paycheck.  There should be a way to see this that doesn’t require firing up a big program.
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