Senior Finances: Record-Keeping on the Computer

May 4th, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances

Keeping track of finances is a bug-a-boo for some of us seniors, and for others it’s not a problem.  Many of us used to ‘do our bookkeeping’ by hand on ledger pages we bought at the local office supply store.  With the onset of computers and electronic record-keeping many of us chose to change to an easier system.  Here is a review of accounting systems available for use on your computer:

  1. Spreadsheet: The computer saavy senior can set up her own accounting spreadsheet on a software program such as Excel.  You simply create a column for the date, item description, debits, credits, balance, and more columns if you want to separate expenses and income into categories (e.g., rent/mortgage, utilities, food, entertainment, clothing, etc).  The spreadsheet can be programmed to run totals for the month, quarter and year. At the end of the year, you have the information you need to take to your tax accountant.

  2. Accounting Software:  For years, Microsoft Money and Quicken have dominated the home accounting software market. Now however, there are a variety of software options available for purchase. Microsoft is phasing out their Microsoft Money product in favor of Mint.com, which it purchased last year.  Quicken is still a favorite among many seniors because we started using that software program years ago, and find it easy to continue using its annual updates.  This kind of desktop accounting permits you to do tax planning, savings planning, retirement planning, budgeting and many other helpful financial processes, in addition to tracking ongoing income and expenses.  Reports are easy to generate, and a year-end summary is available to take to your tax accountant.
  3. Online Personal Finance Management:  Seniors now find another online financial management system available, in the ‘cloud’ so to speak.  This accounting option maintains all your financial records online, and you access it through a secure username and password system.  In effect, this new kind of data management is rapidly replacing accounting software that you install on your computer.  Some online financial management  systems are free (Mint.com, Buxfer.com and Wesabe.com).  Quick Books, the online accounting program from Intuit, is probably the premier online system available to senior citizens for a comprehensive approach to personal financial management.  QB can be purchased as desktop software program, or it can be accessed (and personal records can be stored) online.  The QB software must be purchased and online access carries a modest monthly fee.

If you find you have need for help with managing your personal finances, any one of these options is available, depending on how complex or simple your financial picture is.  Your tax accountant, and trusted family and friends who are knowledgeable about financial matters, may be helpful in your decision about what plan to choose.



Tags: , , ,

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.