Cash Flow Management: Budgeting Software Is a Misunderstood Concept

by | business cash flow management

Cash Flow Management: Budgeting Software Is a Misunderstood Concept

I find I cannot withhold my comments any longer on this topic of budgeting software. I see too many articles that pretend to be about budgeting software when the author knows nothing about what the word budget actually means. I don’t like it when incorrect information is served up to the public.

Here are some examples of what I find offensive:

A recent article posted on the internet states that “Budgeting software is a computer program that creates a profit or loss plan from data entered into the software. Some of the data to be entered may include earnings and expenditures.” Sorry, but that is NOT budgeting software, that is accounting software.

The correct definition of the word BUDGET is: the amount of money it takes for the organization or household to function, and to attain its goals.

Here’s the good news: living on a budget does not mean you have to cut back on the quality of the things you buy or deny yourself anything fun. What it does mean, is that you have to figure out how to make enough money to afford the things you want, now and in the future, and to keep your spending within the limits of your income.

Therefore, a correct budget is partially a computation of what you have spent in the past and partially a calculation of how much money you will need for specific items in the future to achieve your financial goals. Budgeting is a useless activity unless you use it to do income planning and spending planning. Accounting software does not do that for you. It only records what happened in the past and cannot help you predict the future or plan future actions.

That same article states, “There are many different types of budgeting software…” I challenge the author of that article to name three or four budgeting software products on the market that are not, in fact, accounting software. I can name one; Cash Flow Mojo, and it is NOT accounting software.

And yet another useless statement pretending to be good information is this one from that article, “Any sort of budgeting software can be used to keep track of a personal budget…” Well, it is a useless activity to keep track of a budget, unless you add the useful steps of using the information to plan your financial future and manage your money in a way that guarantees you will achieve your financial goals. Just keeping track of what you spent is a waste of time, unless you use it as part of the whole money management equation of planning the steps to take to reach those goals.

And finally this statement which has nothing to do with budgeting software, and everything to do with accounting software, and so becomes a misrepresentation of the facts to the reader, “Money management software is some of the most comprehensive software on the market today. Products such as Quicken and Microsoft Money will keep track of individual account information with various types of accounts such as checking, savings, and investments. These programs can also track credit card spending and alert you when you have overspent on your monthly budget.”

In fact, Cash Flow Management Software is PLANNING software which is used to plan and execute the actions you can take to reach your financial goals. Therefore, you won’t need an alert that you overspent your budget; you’ll know BEFORE you are going to overspend and make the necessary adjustments so that doesn’t happen. Accounting software, like Quicken and Microsoft Money, is RECORDING software and can only tell you what happened in the past.

Making financial decisions for the future based only on what happened with your money in the past is a dangerous activity. For example, if you read an article in Money Magazine that is raving about some stock that had double digit increases over the past 5 years, and you bought that investment based only on the record of past performance, you could lose your money the next day.

What should you do BEFORE you make that investment decision? You should do your own research into the stock and make an investment decision based on YOUR belief that the future plans of that company will continue to deliver double digit increases.

Bottom line, don’t believe everything you read about budgeting software that is really accounting software. Accounting software serves its purpose to record what happened so we can file our tax returns. I use it myself. If we ever get the FairTax Act passed and we don’t have to file tax returns any more, I’ll still use my Cash Flow Mojo Software because it is my planning tool to make sure I stay on the road to achieving my financial goals.

Cash Flow Management: Budgeting Software Is a Misunderstood Concept