This month’s featured download, Money Manager Ex, monitors household income and expenses and provides a comprehensive picture of your financial health. Beyond being simple to use, the program comes with an extensive help menu that covers all the important functions. The program’s interface separates categories such as bank accounts, stock holdings, assets, repeating transactions, budgeting and reports with smaller sub-groups in each category that provide further detail.
After downloading and installing the program, the first step is to create a new database from the file dropdown menu where all of your financial information and transactions will be stored. Be sure to name the database accordingly (first and last name would be a suggestion). Next, input your bank accounts and credit card accounts by clicking on “New Account” in the accounts tab at the top of the program. Name your account and select whether the account is checking/savings or investments. Checking/savings accounts include all checking accounts, savings accounts, cash accounts and credit card accounts, while investment accounts include accounts that allow you to track stocks and other investments you may own. The next screen allows you to enter additional information that you deem relevant, the most important being initial balance. For obvious reasons, the checking, savings and cash accounts will have a positive initial balance whereas credit cards will have a negative initial balance. Only future transactions need to be entered and previous transactions should be ignored. To enter a transaction, click on the account in the left column, hit the green “New” button at the bottom of the page and fill in the necessary information.
Creating an investment account is very similar to creating a checking account; however, there are slight differences. After selecting “New Account” from the accounts dropdown menu and fashioning an appropriate name, choose the investment account option instead of checking account. The easiest way to set up this account would be to either enter zero or the amount you hold in cash as your initial balance. After the account is created, click on the investment account in the left column of the program and start adding holdings using the “New” button at the bottom of the page. Once you have entered all the applicable information, the program will calculate the holdings’ current values and gains/losses as well as the total values for the account.
Just as the name suggests, this section lists your assets. Click on “Assets” in the left column and input your properties, automobiles, art and jewelry. The program will keep a running total of its value.
This next section is a useful tool that the program provides to keep track of recurring transactions such as income and rent. Clicking on “New Series” allows you to enter information such as the account to which this income or payment stream is tied, the next occurrence date and the monetary amount. The main page will keep track of the payee, the next due date, and the remaining days until the next payment and will inform you if the payment is overdue.
The budgeting section allows you to create a comprehensive budget of your income and expenses for the year and compare it to your actual. The amount of sub-sections in the budget is more than most users need but if you have the patience, a very accurate and detailed breakdown of your finances can be created. Clicking on “Budget” in the left column will bring up the budget year editor where you enter the current year. Click on the year and the right side of the program will show all the sub-sections that can be edited. Double click on any of the sub-sections and input the pertinent data. The actual expenses will automatically update on the main page as you input them into each of your accounts elsewhere.
The reports section of Money Manager Ex allows you to see your financial “big picture.” It shows a summary of all your accounts—where your money goes, where your money comes from—divides your income and expenses into categories, shows to whom your money goes, breaks down your income versus expenses monthly, provides transactions reports, presents your budget performance and forecasts your future cash flows. This section is automatically generated for you based on the information you entered into the other sections of the program.
Money Manager Ex provides a great way to monitor household income and expenses. The program’s interface is clean and user-friendly while the program itself is very thorough. Furthermore, it is available for free. The one downside that should be mentioned is the amount of time it takes to truly track all your finances accurately. Each account, transaction and investment holding needs to be input manually and updated frequently. This characteristic alone is enough to turn some users away, but those who are willing should find Money Manager Ex to be a valuable program.
Money Manager Ex 0.9.6.0
Systems: Windows 95 or higher, including Windows 7, Mac OSX, Linux; 3 MB of hard drive space
Available here at the