How to Use the Free Financial Planning Software Demos
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|General Information and How to Use the Free Demonstration and Evaluation Programs
All of the financial planning software "demos" are the actual programs, with formulas deleted using Paste Special, Values. This makes the Excel financial spreadsheets non-functional and several times smaller (for much faster downloading).
There is more than one "page" in each spreadsheet, called sheets. The labels at the bottom left are called sheet tabs. You switch between the sheet tabs (pages) that make up the workbook (AKA spreadsheet) by either clicking on these tab names, or pressing Control Page Up or Down (hold down the Control key and then press either Page Up or Page Down).
The demos open up to the main results sheet. We call them "presentation pages," because they are the pages financial advisors would print and present to clients.
Most programs use "drill down," so you can see more and more detail as you move rightward through the sheet tabs.
All you'll do is look things over and read the information text boxes (if there are any, they are not on the actual programs). Use the up / down / left / right scroll bars to view all of the text boxes and results.
Use the same process to review all of the sheets.
Be sure to see the sheet that shows what colors should look like (if there is one).
Input sheets are generally grouped in the middle, calculation sheets (where most of the work is done) are to the right of input sheets, and presentation sheets are grouped to the left.
That's all you can do. You basically look at the results sheets to see what the software does, look at the input sheets to see what you'd have to input, then look at the calculation sheets to see how the work flows.
While you're doing this, it helps to have a hard copy print out of the directions on hand. This way you can follow along and see exactly what you'd need to do, without having the directions also be on your monitor.
Basic input concept for most everything: Input your data, which financial planners would gather from clients using Fact Finders, into the green-shaded cells of the input sheets. They turn gray when input is entered, so most will already be gray on the demos.
About the colored cells: Medium or light gray is either a title heading, or an input cell after a non-zero value is input into it (it's green when either zero or empty). Peach (or pinkish, depending on your Excel version) is (usually password protected) a field that changes when input changes. Light gray cells are information-providing, non-input, cells that don't change with input. White cells usually don't have anything in them, except on the unprotected presentation sheets (and change when input changes).
This will make data flow through the calculation sheets (or just areas if there are no separate calculation sheets), which will then populate the presentation sheets that display results.
After inputting, you'd fix mistakes, repeat, format, and print.
If you're seeing this: ####, then increase your zoom magnification number (use the slider at the bottom right). Changing the row height or column width fixes it too.
If you're an investing consumer (not a professional financial planner working with clients), when you read "client, prospect, or they," just think "you and your spouse." You'd be both the advisor and client when reading the product description pages.
If you print a demo directly from your browser, or you just click Print in Excel, it may not work well. How to control printing with six clicks is explained in the second section of this page.
Some programs have free trial versions.
Between the product description pages, demos, directions, free trials, and the sample financial plans, you can get most all of your questions answered before purchasing. This is as transparent as it can get without giving too much away for free.
When downloading, if you regular left-clicked and the spreadsheet opened in your browser, then you can ignore the next paragraph. If it didn't, then to get it to download please read the text above the demo links on the list of all of the free financial plan software demos here, or on the product description pages.
After right clicking and downloading the spreadsheet onto your hard drive, find it, then open it with MS Excel like you would any other workbook. You can do this with Lotus / Quattro Pro too, but not with MS works.
If you can open demos with your Mac, then the actual program will work too (except the IFP - unless you can rename your hard drive from HD to C:\).
If you're getting password errors when trying to open a spreadsheet, then you probably just have MS Works (this also happens on some PDAs, tablets, and cell phones).
Most of the financial plan modules are part of a fictional comprehensive and integrated financial plan prepared by Smart T. Advisor, for his clients, John and Mary Sample. A lot of the presentation pages are also in the free sample comprehensive financial plans in PDF format, so they'll print better than the demos.
Even though these financial planning programs are all separate modules (spreadsheets), they integrate (share data) just like other investment software. About financial plan software integration.
Then there is the fully-integrated financial planner, where everything is already hard-wired to share data.
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