Confusing money manager

A crystal ball may be easier to use than this fussy financial forecaster.

Money Forecaster makes predictions about your financial future based on your current fiscal condition. Although we like the idea of this program and think it could be quite useful, we found it confusing and frustrating to use.

First impressions count, and Money Forecaster's interface is nice enough to look at and seems fairly intuitive. According to the Quick Start guide, the program is quite simple to use: just configure your accounts, add your income and expenses, and set your money goals. However, it turned out to be more complicated than it sounds. Money Forecaster allows you to set up multiple scenarios--a local vacation versus overseas travel, for example. You can then view the forecasts and see how each scenario could affect your finances. It's a pretty cool feature, but there's not a lot of guidance for setting it up. We also had questions about interest rates; when entering income and expenses, users can specify a compound interest rate, but it's not clear where it's applied or even how it's calculated. Importing transactions also proved a mysterious process. Many of these problems could have been solved with detailed instructions, but unfortunately, the built-in Help file is brief and vague.

Money Forecaster has a 30-day trial period. It installs desktop icons without asking but uninstalls without issues. We recommend this program with reservations; there's nothing functionally wrong with it, but it's definitely not easy to use.

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