REVIEWS

Personal Finances

With debits, credits, reconciliation, and related accounting arcana, financial management can be an intimidating process. But CheckSum, from Sirius Solutions, takes financial management and marries it to an intuitive interface without all the frus- tration. It compares favorably with industry-leader Quicken (not available under NEXTSTEP) in features and even sports a better user interface.

Each file in CheckSum is a complete financial system. This consists of accounts such as your bank checking or VISA, transactions into and out of accounts, and categories across accounts that describe types of spending like entertainment and housing. A series of well-designed panels in CheckSum manages each of these functions.

Creating accounts is simple. You enter the account name, opening date, balance, type, opening balance, and limit warning. CheckSum allows six account types: bank, cash, other assets, credit card, loan, and other liabilities. In addition, the limit warning is not restricted to liability accounts such as credit cards but can be used to set minimum balances for asset accounts as well.

You'll feel right at home in the Transaction panel. The upper portion of the panel looks like a check register, showing activity in your account, while the lower section is used for entering transactions. There are five transaction types Check, ATM, Teller, Other, and Void and they can be assigned to one or several of the categories from your categories list. There is a flag for tax-related items.

CheckSum makes reconciliation from a bank or charge-card statement a painless process. After entering any bank fees as normal transactions, open the Reconcile panel, enter the range of dates from the statement, double-click the transactions that have cleared, and compare the balance with your statement.

One of the best features of CheckSum is the categories. Categories are split between Income and Expense and come with some preset classes that you can keep or delete, depending on your needs. Unlike most personal financial-management software, CheckSum allows for two layers of subcategories. For example, under your category for cars you might have subcategories for BMW and Lexus, each having additional subcategories for maintenance, gas, and service.

To get the overall picture, there are several reports from which to choose, while income and balance sheets are straightforward and easy to understand. CheckSum also produces reports that print transactions for all accounts, tax-deductible transactions, modified histories, or individual accounts.

For personal financial management, CheckSum is a great application with a comprehensive set of tools to handle most transactions. For small-business needs, however, it falls short in a few areas. For example, custom-generated reports are not available and there are no billing or invoicing options. Businesses may also find that the lack of control over the sort order for categories is a serious deficit.

by Donald Wilson


CheckSum 1.0

3 1/2 Cubes

CheckSum does an excellent job for personal finances but falls short in its claims for small-business accounting. Intuitive organization simplifies management of multiple bank and charge accounts.

$95

Sirius Solutions, 340 Townsend St. #540, San Francisco, CA 94107.

415/957-9044.