TECHNOLOGY: HOOK UP YOUR CASH

It's a good time to digitize your finances. The two leading personal- finance software programs, Quicken and Microsoft Money, are out with new, souped- up versions just in time for year-end number crunching. Though some reviewers, like online grader cnet.com, are giving Quicken the slight edge, both programs are great, especially for newbies who still use pen and paper to manage their money. That's just silly. With Money Premium ($50 post-rebate, microsoft.com/money) and Quicken Premier ($70 post-rebate, quicken.com), you get full-featured software that pays bills online, tracks expenses, monitors investments and generally corresponds to the kind of functionality that only Wall Streeters had just a few years ago.

If you're already hooked on one of these programs, there's not much reason to upgrade, as many of the improvements are marginal (like new ways to change the names of expense categories or see stock-market news). Some longtime Quicken users are even complaining that they've lost some connectivity with the latest version, which switches bill-paying companies and bank data formats. You can quibble about these details forever, or just pick one and start using it. Even with their drawbacks, it would be hard to find a better investment.

TECHNOLOGY: HOOK UP YOUR CASH | News