by CI Staff
CommonCents is a personal financial management tool designed to help you budget your expenses using the traditional “enveloping” method. The enveloping method involves putting money for expenses or savings aside in envelopes and living on the money left over. This method encourages financial discipline, but it has obvious limitations. CommonCents is designed to help you budget using the enveloping premise while keeping track of your cash, credit cards and bank accounts, loans, mortgages and transactions, making it easy to track your personal finances and set aside money for various purposes.
The program’s main page is divided into four sections—my savings, budget envelope balances, accounts and financial summary. Managers for the 11 various sections of the program are easily accessed through icons at the top of the screen. The vault manager helps you sort through individual accounts. Users can use one account for all of their personal finances or choose to break their assets into several different accounts. Each account can be saved to your hard drive. The account manager allows you to create checking, savings, cash and credit card accounts. The envelope manager is where you create your expense envelopes. Simply check each expense envelope that you want to maintain and edit it for the amount that you want to set aside. You are also able to create new envelopes for expenses that are not pre-loaded into the program. The income manager allows you to input your sources of income. After entering your income and expense envelopes, the budget manager will help you distribute your income to each of your expense envelopes and show you how much you have left over for discretionary spending. You can set up as many different budgets as you wish, and once you link a specific income to a set of expense envelopes, the program will automatically distribute your income to those expenses as it is received, providing an up-to-date picture of your current financial situation.
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To analyze your income and expenses, the program provides a report manager that allows you to run any of the pre-loaded reports or design your own graphs and reports. Furthermore, you are able to produce tax reports. The reconcile manager allows you to reconcile your accounts with statements from financial institutions. A history of reconciliations is kept and you are able to print reports. The program also comes with an import manager that allows you to import data files in Comma-Separated Values, Open Financial eXchange , Quicken Financial Exchange ( , Quicken Interchange Format or Extensible Markup Language formats. The reminder and goal managers are very useful for staying on track to meet your financial aspirations.
Overall, CommonCents is one of the more powerful financial management programs that we have reviewed, and it provides a fresh approach to financial budgeting. The ability to establish the amount you can sensibly use for discretionary spending while setting aside enough for expenses is valuable. The program is not available for free, but it does offer a very reasonable 60-day trial period.
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System Requirements: Windows Operating System; 14MB
Price: $34.95 (Free 60-day trial)