All the programs can be used to calculate loan payments, compare mortgages and analyze a savings or investment program, but Managing Your Money is the strongest when it comes to planning and analysis features. It has the ability to determine bond yields, future value of compounded savings accounts and the cost or proceeds of loans. It's the only program that makes it easy to determine the cost of a short-term (less than one year) loan.
Kiplinger's Simply Money has a nice feature that lets you establish an icon for each income source and payee and make payments or deposits by dragging the icon for the payee or income source to the icon for the appropriate account. To pay your phone bill, for example, you just drag the phone company icon to the checking icon. You still have to enter in the amount and write the check, but this feature makes the process a little more pleasant.
The Windows CD-ROM version of Quicken Deluxe has some multimedia features, including "Ask the Experts," an interactive presentation where you get to listen to some basic advice from financial gurus Jane Bryant Quinn and Marshall Loeb. The multimedia element makes it entertaining, but don't expect any great revelations: You can get the same type of information from books and articles.
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