Home Finance Program (HFP) (ACU)Home Finance Program (Amstrad Action)
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Datavise of Northern Ireland has been developing The Home Finance Program for around three years. Like Planlt, a suite from Database Software which included a home accounts program (reviewed in issue 18). HFP makes some pretty big claims. Unlike Planlt. by and large it delivers.

HFP runs within the CPM Plus operating system, and so will work only on the CPC 6128 or either of the PCW machines. It comes on both sides of a single disk. To use it, you must supply two other disks - one for the program, and the other for your data.

Datavise has made the semng-up procedure as simple as possible. First you must enter CPM Plus and use Disckit3 to copy your system disk onto side A of your disk. Then you run a special program on the master disk supplied with HFP. After answering some prompts, the machine will start copying the real program onto both sides of one of your blank disks. This entails your pressing the Return key a few times and flipping the disk over when asked to.

If you have only one disk drive, you will find yourself flipping disks over quite a lot, both in setting up and using HFP. The reason is that the program is very large and just will not fit on one side of a disk.

Before you can start tapping your financial fistory into your computer, you must first open a folder for your information on your data disk. The HFP will do this for you, asking for a name and a date from which to start that session. One folder can hold data covering 18 months to 2 years, so if you use one per year you will have ample space for comments.

Fill in the facts

Once you have a folder in which to store information, you can enter some basic facts about your finances. You can tell it about all the different accounts you have all the places where you store money, be it bank account, wallet or a mattress. Up to 15 different accounts can be handled at once, and they can be deleted and moved around in their reading order quite easily. The HFP also asks about your headings - the different categories on which you spend money. These can be rent, gas and electricty bills, rates and so on. Again, they can be rearranged and deleted, and sorted alphabetically. Up to 16 of these can be supported - this may not seem enough, but read on.

Once you have entered all accounts and headings, you can begin a financial session. This gives you five options:

Budget: Some headings might have to be paid a certain obligatory amount, for instance rent. Budget does not move money about: it merely serves to notify that money is needed for that heading, but has not actually been paid.

Allocate: This option will take an amount of money, put it into an account and then earmark it for a heading. The amount will be added to the account.

Spend: This represents money actually taken out of an account and paid into a heading. The account is reduced and the money spent is added to a running total.

Transfer: This represents money taken from one account and placed into another, but earmarked for a particular heading. Say you had a bill and wanted to pay it by cheque but did not have enough money in your bank to cover the cheque. You could transfer cash from your pocket into the bank, and write your cheque.

Move: Say you had received a large cheque and had allocated it to a holiday heading. Suddenly you get a final demand on the gas bill and you must move the money from the holiday heading to the gas-bill heading, but it is still coming from the same account.

Each of these specifies what categories it wants you to type in. You can also add a comment, to specify details of the transaction - this is why I said 16 headings should be enough. You could specify a special heading for one-off payments and odd expenditure.

Foiling fakers

Once these details have been entered, you can view them but you cannot alter them. If you want to correct an entry, you must make a fresh one, adding or taking away money from a heading and explaining your actions from within the comment. The idea is to make your financial history secure - details cannot be easily faked.

The program is very user-friendly, employing menus and prompts. You can easily print out financial transactions (if, of course, you have a printer) and can specify just one or groups, and your account and heading status, showing how much money is in each. If you become unstire what to type, a help option is included. This will print a help screen, explaining just what the program is expecting. You can edit these help screens if you think they could be better put or if, as the manual points out. you don't understand English very well.

Entering accounts and headmgs into the computer need not be laborious. The program checks letter by letter what you are typing, and compares it to the accounts and headings in memory. For example, if you have two accounts, Midland and Natwest, simply typing M will select Midland.

The manual takes you slowly through stages, explaining things as logically as possible. Sometimes I needed to read over a paragraph and think about what was written, but the manual supplied plenty of examples and was very helpful. Face the fact that you must be committed to putting your finances on computer and throwing away all those ink-stained, scrawled-on envelopes.

In a nutshell, HFP provides you with an accounting system. It helps you to budget your money on neccessary expenditure and save those odd amounts which otherwise would be frittered away. It provides you with a fairly secure financial record, and lets you see how much you are really spending. All the maths operations are handled by the computer, and you can see just what is going on. It's not a magic wand; if you have not got the money coming in, this will not help. HFP needs a lot of determination to make it work, but I think the results are very impressive. It can't handle amounts over £99,999 - if you're in that bracket, the manual advises you to get an accountant instead.


★ PUBLISHER: Datavise (20 Drumnaquoile Road, Castlewellan, Co. Down BT31 9NT Ltd.)
★ YEAR: 1987
★ CONFIG: 128K + CP/M
★ PRICE: £24.95


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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.