Microsoft makes Accounting free for small businesses

My pals over at Download Squad wrote about this yesterday:  Microsoft is offering Office Accounting Epxress 2007 for free.  It’s the first time I can recall Microsoft offering a business focused application for free.  I’ve been beta testing the new Accounting 2007 for the last 2-3 months, and it seems to have a nice flow and is certainly better than an underpowered Quicken for Home & Business – and nicer than the awkwardly designed Peachtree applications.  I’m going to download this free version and give it a test run.  The early comments on DSQ seem to indicate that it is definitely worth a try.

PearBudget: An elegant alternative to managing personal budgets

It seems like every new edition of Quicken (or Microsoft Money) adds another needless layer of complexity to the personal expense management process. While it is nice to be able import your bank transactions into those applications, most of the time a quick entry into a spreadsheet is faster, more elegant, and more likely to be used on a regular basis. All the fancy pie-charts and 3D graphs are useless if you don’t maintain your expenses in a centralized location. Enter PearBudget. I stumbled upon this nice spreadsheet via LifeHack and find it to be really easy and simple to setup. The author of this spreadsheet does a great job of breaking out the key budget areas into regular expenses, irregular expenses, and variable expenses. By sub-categorizing your expenses, it is easier to enter them as soon as you incur them. There are pre-built tabs for each month, and you simply enter your expense as you incur it. Being a spreadsheet, all calculations are automatically done, and you can monitor your behavior for any given month, or through a Year-to-Date analysis tab.

The nice part about a tool like PearBudget is that it can be used on portable devices that can open spreadsheets.  I was able to open the sheet on my Treo 650 using Docs-to-Go.  PearSheet is also being developed into a Web 2.0 application, but I think this is a great answer for those looking for simplicity in their financial management lives.  Quicken and Money are great but, despite their claims on ease of use, they require a level of rigor that many people can’t commit to.  PearBudget, which by the way is a free download, is much simpler, but gets the job done.