SOFTWARE - PART 2
Financial software can save you time and money. You can record checks, print checks, easily balance your checkbook, electronically pay bills, set reminders you to pay bills, print reports and more.
- The program's home page shows all of your accounts, cash flow, upcoming bills and deposits, and more. There's also a calendar which shows due dates of bills.
- Most of the time, you'll be using account registers. You manually enter your deposits, checks, withdrawals and Quicken assists you in creating and tracking them. You can easily choose a transaction by type by picking from a list (which you can add to) that has choices such as ATM withdrawal, deposit, online payment, or printed check. Quicken Starter Edition 2010 also lets you print checks if you desire.
- Quicken remembers payees you've already entered, letting you pick them from a list. New payees automatically go into the list.
- In addition to assigning a type to each transaction, you can also associate categories you create, such as "Food", letting you track your spending habits. When you go to the category field of a transaction, the last category you entered for that payee appears, but you can override that. The software lets you split transactions among categories, assigning a certain portion of one purchase to "Food" and another part to "Household" for example.
- Reports and graphs are available as well. The program can easily manage the basics of investments, property, and debt.
Tax Preparation Software
Price (Nov. 2013): FREE to $17.99
TaxACT is recommended for people with simple tax returns to prepare. TaxACT has an interview-mode called "Q&A".
TurboTax features an excellent tax interview system and easy to use navigation. The "Maximize My Deductions" button, will guide you step-by-step through the most popular deductions.
I personally use TurboTax Deluxe Federal + E-File + State 2012 for PC [Download]
- Electronically retrieves W-2 wage, and 1099 investment data for hundreds of participating employers, and financial institutions. Enters data on the right forms - eliminating manual data entry errors.
- One-click Updates gives late-breaking IRS and state forms - without interruptions. You can work on your return while you update your TurboTax software.
- Refund Monitor constantly displays and updates your refund or tax due as you complete your return.
- Minimize audit risk. TurboTax compares your deductions to national averages, so you can quickly see if your deductions fall outside the norm - and might trigger an audit.
- Double-checks your return for accuracy and completeness.
- Electronically file and get your refund in as few as 10 days.
- Picasa 3.9 is a free download from Google that will help you manage all of your photographs. It is a simple tool and does all that is needed. It starts by automatically finding all the image files on your hard drive. You can then view, sort, print, edit, send copies by email or them to a web album for others to view. Editing is easy and useful, and there are some nice special effects.
- Picasa has an easy-to-use "Folder Manager" which enables you to pick the folders you wish to scan for pictures and set those folders in which pictures will be added or removed to be "watched" by Picasa for new pictures. You can go back at any time and alter the settings for any folder.
- In the normal "library" view, there is a section that lists your albums and folders, with a main area showing thumbnails for the currently selected folder. This area contains thumbnails for all your folders, and you can scroll up and down through these. You can select small or large thumbnails and you can then magnify these further with the zoom control. (See Figure SW-1)
- Picasa's Slideshow is easy to use. Select the images you want or select a whole folder then click the slideshow button.
- There are simple editing tools that come with Picasa. There are buttons that automatically correct contrast, color, brightness as well as crop and straighten your pictures and remove red-eye. You can adjusts the changes as needed and also apply several special effects. (See Figure SW-2)
- Picasa can make backups of your images on CD or DVD, so that you won't lose them if your computer fails. It keeps a record of images you haven't backed up and can show them to you, so you don't forget any of them. You can also make 'Gift CDs' to give to other people. (See Figure SW-3)
- Picasa makes it easy to print your photos, in standard or custom sizes to your own printer. It makes it simple to print more than one picture to a page if you want to. (See Figure SW-4)
Among the creative features it provides is the ability to create several different styles of picture collages with groups of photos. (See Figure SW-5)
If you want a really big picture, it can make a poster image using multiple sheets of paper in your printer. You can also select pictures and connect directly to your favorite on-line printing service to order prints.
- Another option for sharing your photos that are built into Picasa include web albums. It takes only a few minutes to set up a free Picasa Web Album. Picasa Web Albums provides 1 gigabyte of free storage -- that's enough space for 4,000 large photos. Check out my Van Gogh Gallery to see what a web gallery looks like.
- Picasa also helps you avoid sending embarrassingly large images to your friends by email, automatically resizing your images (the default is a sensible 640x480 pixels) and opening your email software with them attached to a message.
Price (Nov. 2013): FREE