CA-Simply Money software is powerful and free to first million callers

June 28, 1993|By Harold Glicken | Harold Glicken,Knight-Ridder News Service

In freshman economics they taught us that there is no such thing as a free lunch. It was a lesson we have taken to heart and to the bank on many occasions.

The folks at Computer Associates have come up with a variation on the free lunch axiom: Free software.

Kiplinger's CA-Simply Money is simply free (except for a $6.95 mailing charge) to the first million callers.

So what do you get for nothing?

What you get is a very powerful personal financial program that makes good use of Windows 3.1. In this program icons are easily identifiable. If you have a Visa card, for example, your account is represented by the familiar Visa symbol. For paying your electricity bill, you get an electricity symbol, and you can personalize your checking and other accounts in similar ways.

You also get financial advice. If you write a check for a million dollars and you're a little short you're reminded that you're overdrawn. If you're in the mood for more advice, you're also told that banks charge for overdrafts. For more mundane advice, each time you go to a function, such as paying bills, a window pops up telling you how to use the function.

This financial program takes drag-and-drop functions to useful extremes. If you want to see a graph for an account, simply drag the account button onto the graph button and a colorful graph pops up. (You then can paste your graphs into other Windows applications.) The same holds true for printing reports: Drag your account icon onto the printer icon and your report prints out. All your account buttons are on one screen, which makes it easy to figure out where you are.

Accounts can be set up for business and household. One calculator helps you figure out whether you should refinance a mortgage.

Spending money uses the familiar check motif that programs such as Quicken use. After entering an amount, you can designate budget categories.

Simply Money is as easy as Quicken to learn and almost as powerful. Quicken's add-on programs for handling business activities such as payroll and invoices make it a better choice for some. But for anyone who wants to handle finances for a home or small business, Simply Money should do the trick. After the million free copies are gone, it will retail for $69.99. To order: (800) FREE-MONEY.

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