Microsoft Money Premium 2007 - Page 2

After more than a decade of impressive development on its Money personal finance manager, Microsoft apparently decided to take a breather this year: Money Premium 2007 has changed little since last year, save some new budgeting and spending tools and minor enhancements. It remains a formidable competitor to market leader Quicken, in no small part because of its elegant design and ease of use—but Quicken, which had stronger innovation in its latest update, squeaks past Money Premium this year.

A thorough setup tool and Quicken file converter help automate start-up with Money Premium, although the process can still take some grunt work if you dont already have financial accounts set up online and a Windows Live ID (required for added security and, in some cases, to aggregate accounts—consolidate them so you need just one ID and password to access them all).

Once youve completed setup, the customizable home page clearly lays out the program elements—banking and bill-paying; budgeting, taxes, and planning; and investing—and gives summary views of key financial data such as your accounts, spending, upcoming bills, reminders, and alerts.

Money links to thousands of financial institutions, simplifying your workflow if youre wired for online banking and bill-paying. Alerts and reminders of items such as bills due keep you on your toes, and seamlessly integrated content from MSN Money helps improve your financial acumen. This version of Money Premium adds a Savings & Spending Budget tool to the basic bookkeeping capabilities.

The feature attempts to help you limit committed expenses (regular ones, like mortgage and utilities) to 60 percent of your income. It divides the rest of your income among long- and short-term savings, retirement savings, and occasional expenses. This approach to spending and saving isnt revolutionary, and it can be difficult to follow, but the guidance makes sense and the tool works well.

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