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manage personal financesFall semester is about to start for a lot of college students, which is a great time to decide where we can make some changes to our habits from the past academic year. One of my goals is to actually start tracking my expenses. I’ve tried Mint How To Use Mint To Manage Your Budget & Spendings Online How To Use Mint To Manage Your Budget & Spendings Online Read More and even trusted it with my bank information, but I never actually logged on the website much to get an overview of my transactions. At this point, I feel like it’s better to keep it simple when it comes to managing my own finances, and to develop a simple system to make me like the process of money management.

In my search for a simple and free program to keep my finances on track, I found this tiny program, Metalogic Finance Explorer, that seems easy enough for me to learn and even recommend to others.

Getting Started

Finance Explorer is an easy-to-use portable application that can help you manage your financial information. It’s not only portable, but also very small in file size, taking up about 1MB of space. You can download the program from PortableApps Five New Useful Portable Apps For Your USB Stick Five New Useful Portable Apps For Your USB Stick Read More here. The installation is pretty straightforward so just follow the instructions.

The first thing you notice when you launch the program is that it sports a user interface reminiscent of Windows Explorer, which means it’s minimalistic and familiar-looking.

manage personal finances

You can get started by setting up your accounts and adding your bank account information. Finance Explorer doesn’t actually connect to your online bank account. You just need to add your bank account information, and start entering your starting balance.

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manage finances

If your bank allows you to download your transaction history in Quicken or Microsoft Money file formats, then it’s your lucky day. Finance Explorer is compatible with those two programs so you can easily import your transactions files (which will also add your bank account information), avoid entering erroneous data when typing it all manually and save a lot of time.

Setting Up A Budget

To make the most out of your finances, you’ll want to start recording your expenses and general transactions, classifying them into groups or categories so you can total your transactions and get an overview of your finances.

manage finances

The tutorial from the developer’s site provides thorough examples of how you can use the program to keep a budget for each category and see how you’ll end up balancing your income and expenses.

manage finances

Tracking Your Investments & Stocks

You can easily make use of this program to track investments such as retirement accounts, tuition savings, and stocks. Create an account under Investment, e.g. Retirement account, and add details like description and amount. Press Enter and you’ll see your newly created account under Investment.

financial management application

Now click on the account you just created and enter a symbol in the appropriate column, as well as other details in the quantity and purchase price. Press Enter once you’re done.

financial management application

To get updates on your quotes, go to Tools > Update Quotes. The information will then be retrieved and reflected on your grid.

manage personal finances

I haven’t used Quicken or Microsoft Money so I don’t know if those programs use PINs to allow access, but I feel like it’d be nice if Finance Explorer enabled users to password-protect their information on launch. Other than that, Finance Explorer is a handy program to keep track of all your finances on your computer. If you’re concerned about online services having access to your financial information, give this program a go.

What do you use to keep track of your finances? Let us know of your preferred programs or services in the comments!

Image credits: Metalogic, RambergMediaImages

  1. astral cyborg
    August 19, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Finance Explorer is a really nice and easy to learn application.

    Unfortunately, I don't use it as I've already installed MoneyManagerEx, which is also great, with lots of graphs and statistics and more powerful options, some of them useless for the average user. It is a little bit more difficult than FE, but once you get to know it, it's great.

    However, if I'd started from the beginning to monitor and manage my budget, I would definitely use Finance Explorer. Much more easy GUI and it covers my needs.

    • Aibek
      August 20, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      thanks for the input

    • Jessica Cam W.
      August 21, 2011 at 6:59 am

      Graphs and statistics are always handy and would probably help anyone stay motivated to record their expenses. Thanks for the tip!

  2. asi
    August 18, 2011 at 4:44 am

    GnuCash

    • Jessica Cam W.
      August 21, 2011 at 6:38 am

      GnuCash seems to be very popular. I might actually try it. Thanks for the suggestion. 

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