capsule review

FinanceToGo 1.1

FinanceToGo 1.1 is a business and personal accounting software package that uses double-entry accounting techniques to track income, assets, debts, and expenses. This is a compelling feature that is not commonly found in personal finance programs, but FinanceToGo currently lacks the maturity to make it a replacement for more popular programs in its genre.

Double-entry accounting is typically used by businesses to track financial transactions and assumes that every dollar spent must be reflected in two matching ledger entries—a debit account and a credit account; these two ledger entries should theoretically balance each other out. Typically, personal finance software, such as Quicken (   ), uses only a single-ledger entry to track your finances. FinanceToGo attempts to give you more clarity and greater control over your finances by simplifying double-entry accounting for personal use--a promise that the program never quite fulfills.

FinanceToGo allows you to enter financial transactions either by typing them in manually or by importing banking information from a QIF (Quicken Interchange Format) file or Dexia Online data files. The program ships with 44 basic transaction categories, including items you’d expect such as rent, groceries, and clothing, as well as some odder entries like Bicycle ; under transportation expenses. When importing transactions you’ll need to set the transaction’s source account, destination account, and category, a process that I found confusing compared to using Quicken, where you only have to confirm the transaction’s category.

The latest version of FinanceToGo fixes an import problem that was evident to me in earlier versions of the program—the application would crash after importing the third record in a QIF file. This highlights one of FastForward Software’s strong points: they’re very attentive to users’ needs and quick to provide fixes for difficult bugs. In a similar manner, FastForward has recently added an auto-save option to make it less likely that you’ll lose the data you’ve spent valuable time entering.

FinanceToGo still falls short in several key areas. It lacks adequate, detailed documentation, and while it ships with a tutorial data file and PDF User Guide—a document that points out most of the program’s interface features—it lacks an actual tutorial to walk you through the process of working with the program. Also, the program has very limited reporting tools, providing only three different reports: Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement, and Expenses Overview. For those used to the far more robust features found in apps such as Quicken, FinanceToGo is certain to be a disappointment.

Macworld’s buying advice

Double-entry accounting for personal finances is interesting but unnecessary. If you’re in a business environment where double entry accounting is a necessity, you will need a program that’s feature-rich and easy to use. In its current iteration, FinanceToGo is neither. While it appears that FastForward Software will aggressively update this application, there are several other programs on the market that offer more features and functionality for the same or only slightly more money.

[ Jeffery Battersby is a writer, newspaper publisher, and regular contributor to Macworld . You can read his blog at jeffbattersby.com. ]

FinanceToGo can track and graph your income and expenses.
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