In addition to a loan calculator, which can take the guesswork out of deciding if you can afford that new laptop, Moneydance also features a budget manager, a simple string-based calculator, exchange calculator (with downloadable rates) and some smart-looking printable charts covering everything from cash flow to net worth, plus an even larger selection of printable reports. For security, there's an automated backup system, good encryption and a decent help system should things go awry.
This is a great package for home users and those with modest business interests. The $39.99 price is well justified if you really need ease of use, and extensions ensure that the software can grow with you.
Moneydance offers a trial version that's limited to 100 transactions, so you can get a feel for it without shelling out any money.
Verdict: A proprietary solution that's well worth the small charge.
KMyMoney is designed to integrate with the KDE desktop environment. The package is still in active development, so it's likely that a more KDE4.x-looking edition is on the way.
We opted for the stable 0.8 series release rather than the more fully-featured (and potentially crash prone) 0.9 development branch. Our chosen release was stable, easy to install via Ubuntu's Synaptic and simple to use. The integration with KDE was evident in the ability to pull in addresses from the desktop's address book and the familiar menu structures.
Manual input of transactions is quick and easy, though there are no default categories set up. This gives you total control over the hierarchy of categories and these can be added as and when needed. If a category doesn't exist when you add it, you're given the option to create it and define its location in the hierarchy. On the other hand, this means quite a bit of work before the package is ready to go.
This package was unable to deal with the OFX or CSV files available via our online banking service, so we had to take a round trip into GnuCash to export the file, then import it as a native GnuCash file.
This is a very comprehensive package featuring a great range of workable charts and reports as well as a decent back-up facility. Encryption is available via GPG, but this isn't handled in the Save dialog box, which may make you less likely to use it. We liked the idea of retaining a lot of information about payees, which makes the software usable as a fairly basic work/time management application, but this feature is not as visible as it could be.
KMyMoney is easy to use and makes day-to-day financial management less painful than a paper-based system. However, we'd like to see more obvious encryption options, support for more data formats and a refresh of the user interface.
Verdict: Easy to use, but loses out in the import stakes with its limited format support.
Buddi puts great store in being simple enough for anyone to use. Like Moneydance, it's a Java application, meaning it's possible to install it on virtually any machine that supports Java and share files between different systems. Unlike Moneydance, it has an installer script that, on a standard Debian or Ubuntu system, will drop an icon into the Office section of your menu. We preferred to save the JAR file to a USB drive and use the software from that, which means it works on all three main platforms.
In terms of data import, Buddi is currently only able to handle CSV files, though we had significant difficulty getting our downloaded file into the package as we needed quite a detailed knowledge of the file's structure. This is fine if you're a bit of a geek, but casual users are likely to wonder what all the numbers mean.