Mark E. Buckley

Tax Software

There are several products on the market to do your budgetting and assist with your taxes.

There are several advangates to using these programs. First, you can produce reports to see where your money is going. Second, most of them make it easier to reconcile your bank statements. Third, you can often download your bank statements right into the software. Finally, by having all you financial transactions on your computer, you can do your taxes much faster.

Some basic programs only handle the bookkeeping aspect. Then you need to buy additional software to actually complete your tax forms. If you know how to do your taxes by hand, then at least having the totals for all your deductible expenses will expedite the process dramatically. So you might be able to forgo the tax software.

Another positive aspect of these programs is that they are relatively inexpensive. In fact some computers come with basic versions of the products already installed. Of course you will be reminded often to upgrade to the newest deluxe version of the product.

There are several disadvantages to using these programs. First, if you do not like bookkeeping or budgetting, these programs will seem difficult. This is not really an issue with the program itself. It is just a fact that a program will not magically make something dull and boring suddenly exciting and thrilling.

Second, any of these programs will work best if you stick to a weekly schedule of putting in your transactions. If you are constantly putting in items from several months ago, your accounts will be out of sync and harder to reconcile. Also it will be difficult to recall what exactly that specific purchase was for.

Third, there is a certain learning curve to using the products. You will need to set up your accounts. Then you will need to start putting in transactions. You will need to specifiy the right category. Next you will need to reconcile your bank statements. Finally you will want to generate reports from the system. Each of these steps may seem difficult at first. Once you have done it a few times, they are very easy to complete.

The best course of action is to purchase the least expensive product. Try it out for a while. If you find it difficult or that you are not sticking to a schedule, then try a different approach. If you do get the hang of it, then you could purchase a higher end product and try to learn all the tricks.