Dec 18, 2017 There is now a reference to a path for downloading a patch for Money Plus Deluxe. Microsoft money sunset. Money Quotes by Gaier Software. Microsoft Money is a personal finance management software program by Microsoft. It has capabilities for viewing bank account balances, creating budgets, and tracking expenses, among other features. It was designed for computers using the Microsoft Windows operating system, and versions for Windows Mobile were.
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Microsoft Money is no longer available for purchase. Microsoft has essentially conceded that there’s no demand for the personal finance software product.: With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed. After suspending annual updates of Money Plus in 2008, Microsoft is announcing today that we will no longer offer Microsoft Money Plus for purchase after June 30, 2009. Now that Microsoft has thrown in the towel, where does that leave existing users of Money and Money Plus? Some of them are worried. I’ve received several e-mails about this recently, including this one from Lee G.: “ Microsoft just left us in a lurch by killing Money.
Any suggestions on finance software? I’m not really a fan of Quicken, but would entertain it.” It would have been nice if Microsoft had provided a list of these “personal finance management and planning tools.” Since they didn’t, I spent a couple of hours surveying the current personal finance software options. Here are some powerful personal finance software programs to take the place of Microsoft Money: • is a Windows desktop app that offers all the features you’d expect: downloadable transactions, budgeting, investment tracking, and more. AceMoney costs $30, but a is available. • is a free “upbeat” way to manage your money. It offers standard budgeting and tracking features, as well as international compatibility. One of this program’s stated goals is simplicity; it doesn’t try to do a whole lot other than track your core accounts.
• is “an extremely easy to use tool that helps you balance your checkbook and manage your money. Think of us as an online checkbook register with the added bonus of viewing reports, setting budgets, creating reminders and more.” A premium version adds features. • allows users to create and manage a budget while obtaining support from other members. According to the intro video, Geezeo also has the ability to track investments. And liked the goal-setting and community aspects of the tool. • has become the Big Daddy of online personal-finance apps, with.
Mint offers support for investment accounts, which is cool, and allows users to create personal budgets. I’ve heard both praise and complaints from Mint users, so it sounds like something you’ll need to try to see if it’s right for you. (Here’s an early from a GRS user.) • is a full-featured desktop personal-finance manager.
It’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Moneydance offers budgeting tools, investment tracking, and many built-in reports. Because I prefer a desktop money app, I’m very tempted to try this. • is the new kid on the block. Based in part on a financial management tool from Spain, moneyStrands offers all of the features you’d expect (though no investment-management yet).
This tool offers lots of budgeting goals with highly-configurable alerts (“let me know when I’ve spent $30 on coffee this month!”). It also allows you to compare your finances with other demographics (not individual users, but groups of users).
If you prefer Spanish, this app is for you. • is a web-based version of the system. It automatically connects with most banks and offers a free billpay service. This looks like a slick product, but it’s by far the most expensive program on this list. At a minimum, it costs $7.90 per month.
• is perhaps the most popular personal-finance software available today. It’s fairly comprehensive and well-supported, but not without problems.
Old versions are “sunset-ed” at regular intervals, forcing users to upgrade if they want to continue using certain features. I use, which supposedly updates investment portfolios automatically.
My copy is broken though, and I can’t get it to update correctly. There’s an online version of Quicken, but to be honest, I haven’t heard good things about it. IPhone app available (though ). • sounds like a tool for those who don’t want a lot of extras. As with all of these programs, it allows you to connect to all of your accounts. It also helps you schedule upcoming bill payments.
Rudder claims that its “secret sauce” is a widget to help predict your future cashflow. • is popular among GRS users, especially those for whom budgeting is important. I haven’t used this software myself, but I know that it allows you to import bank transactions, pay bills, etc. YNAB isn’t for users who want to track investment accounts, but is good for those who want to emphasize budgeting. • is the grandpappy of online money-management software. It’s the platform on which many tools, including Mint, are based. But Yodlee also offers its own personal-finance product called MoneyCenter.
As you’d expect, it provides the same account-tracking functionality that most of these applications have, but it doesn’t feature budgeting as prominently. Piaggio Zip 50 Main Jet Size On 2004. Yodlee offers tight integration with most banks, and also has a billpay feature. From what I’ve seen, these apps are a lot alike: the desktop programs offer similar feature sets, and the online tools are all close cousins. There’s not a lot to differentiate them. Wesabe has a great community, Mint tracks investment accounts, and moneyStrands offers a Spanish-language option.
Each program offers something unique. But is there any one app that knocks it out of the park? I don’t know. What do you think?
Which option would you recommend for refugees from Microsoft Money? For myself, I’ll continue to use the desktop version of Quicken on my Mac for my personal finance software. It’s not perfect, but I know its quirks. I’ve been a Microsoft Money user forever, even keeping it running in a VM after switching to the Mac years ago. Due to the shutdown, I’ve been searching for a great Mac money management solution, too, and I found. Its great – I was able to convert my Money data (using QIF files) into it easily, and it kept all my categorizations from Money.
Its sort of an envelope system style budget and it works seemlessly with a lot of banks (all the ones that I use anyways!). But, as with all things, switching software is tough. I will put another vote down for MoneyWell on the Mac. It currently only has cursory support for loan/investment/savings tracking, but the banking and envelope budgeting features are top notch and the developer plans to flesh out the missing aspects in the next version. It has direct connect banking, an iPhone app, and fabulous support.
Because my own finances are complex enough to require something like the mess that is Quicken, I have written my own personal finance tracking database/webapp. Probably not an option for most, but it can allow you to tailor directly to your financial situation. If you are looking for a free personal finance application for managing your bills, try out R6 Bill Tracker. It’s open source and free, so any input/feedback directly benefits others.
I just release 1.5 and you can download it. Btw, I’m also in the process of developing a free and open source personal finance application with the same range of features as Quicken or Moneydance. I would like to say they are both great applications, but I like Moneydance and would suggest anyone looking for a full-featured personal finance application at this time, to take a look at that one. For 5+ years my wife and I used excel to track investments and budget. Worked great, but very time consuming. We then tried Yodlee and Mint out, while still doing excel to see if one of those would work. We liked Yodlee the best, but we ran into a problem on the budgeting.
If we bought some things at Wal Mart (say diapers, milk, and a DVD). Yodlee brought it in to our budget comparison under a general category, or one we named. The problem is, there is not way to break down purchases at these general stores. We like to keep very close tabs on spend in all categories yes, Yodlee allows you to break out the general purchase (diapers to kids/clothing, milk to food, etc). But by the time we go through and break all that out, it was the same time spent doing it in excel.
So we just stayed with excel. I use MS Money still also.my bank stopped giving me the option to download too and basically said it was no longer possible. However, Discover Card gave me the formula for downloading into MS Money with the new limited formatshere it isworks great! Select “Manage Accounts” and click “Recent Activity”.
Select the statement you want to download from the “Activity Period” drop-down list. On the upper-right side of your statement, click on “Download.” 4. Download the.QFX file by selecting Quicken in the Statement Download Options. Save it to Desktop. Execute Microsoft Money. Using the Microsoft Money File Menu: 8.
Go to File >Import >Downloaded Statement 9. Click “Desktop” in the Left-side Menu 10. Select All Files from the “File of type:” pull-down menu 11. Find the downloaded.QFX file and click on it 12. Click “Import” button. Quick note looking back at this post: Mint is still broken this way. Mint has been consistently broken for a very long time now, with things like duplicating transactions, making transactions disappear, and having the “other” category in budgeting (what they call “Everything Else”) utterly fail to add up to the magical number they display.
Many, many people complained about these problems, and Mint has utterly failed to address these problems. I had to give up on Mint because its problems actually made it WORSE than having no budget due to the radically unreliable reporting. I went back to spreadsheets and am now looking for a better alternative that isn’t Quicken-based.
(Apparently Quicken bought Mint a while back and everything went to the dogs then.). I use Gnucash for all my personal accounting. I have never really used any other financial software so I cannot compare, but what I really like about Gnucash is the double entry system which makes entering and tracking transactions simple. One thing it is not good for is budgeting. I don’t budget. I merely alter behaviour based on knowledge of what I am spending.
It is possible to use it for budgeting but it is not its strength. The reports are customisable, but I only use a few of them. I’ll have to jump on the gnucash bandwagon as well. I’ve been using it on Windows and Linux for over a year now, and it works great on both. The double entry approach is great for forcing some discipline on making sure you don’t have “slush” where there’s $20 less in your wallet than you remember spending. The reports (especially the expense and income over time bar and pie charts) are great for visualizing where your money is going. It’s in something like 20+ languages.
Does assets (fixed and variable), liabilities, income, expense, etc. It’s nothing too flashy, but it works great an is easy to use. Never had any trouble importing data (including files supposedly only for Money or Quicken).
And best of all – it’s free (both as in speech and as in beer), so you don’t lose anything by trying it out. @JD – It has a fair amount of tools and reports for small business accounting, so I’m sure you could use it for that too. I’ve never used it for business purposes, but it has worked great for me for personal finance. Thanks for these links, JD. We’ve been using MS Money quite happily for 2 years and were sad to discover they were cutting us off, so to speak. I’ll be taking a close look at the resources you’ve recommended.
Though like Mary @ #22, I do plan to use MS Money until it stops working! We don’t have MS Money set-up to coordinate with our bank or pay bills online, it’s simply a glorified spreadsheet and budget forecaster for usso I’m hopeful it’ll work for quite a bit more time because of that. *fingers crossed*. Any thoughts about Quicken Financial Life for Mac? It’s been “coming this xxx” for two years now. The latest word was this fall, but if you try to find anything on the Intuit site today it’s like it never existed.
When I Google “quicken financial life”, the top hit is Intuit’s link for Mac personal finance apps. Now it takes you to info on Quicken 2007 for Mac, but you can see the info on QFL if you look at the cached page dated June 25. All of the links on that page, though, now point back to Quicken 2007. I wonder if they’ve canceled the project? Jessica @ #40, I used an earlier version of MS Money (with the associated Ultrasoft Money version) for four years with no problems whatsoever, but I don’t do a whole lot online other than download transactions from our bank in the Money format. (Our bank also offers.csv formatted downloads, yay!).
I tried GnuCash for a non-profit group for which I am the treasurer, but I *could not*, despite hours of looking online, figure out how to get the reports looking the way I liked. Gave up and went to an Excel template I found on the Microsoft web site. I know I’m going to have to switch at some point (either MS Money or my Palm will give up the ghost) but I’d really like a replacement that allows me to do the data entry only once, preferably as it occurs, maybe as an SMS, or entry into a plain text file or Docs to Go spreadsheet. I used MS Money for a long time, but then I ditched it for ClearCheckbook because I liked the simple layout. Unfortunately, ClearCheckbook then updated to a really lousy-looking color scheme that made the whole thing look really ugly. On top of that, a few UI changes took me right out of it.
The best way I’ve found is through a spreadsheet and Mint. The spreadsheet allows me to manually enter in transactions (which Mint can’t do) and balance my checkbook, and Mint gives me all the fun features that any commercial piece of software would have (like charts and reports). And the beauty is, Mint updates automatically, so I only need to enter in transactions once! I put together a tutorial on how to do it at this article, “7 Steps to a Complete Money Management System – for FREE!”: You don’t even need to set up the spreadsheet manually! Check it out! Gnucash is my current primary financial tracking program of choice.
The user interface leaves much to be desired on Windows or Mac OS X, and it’s a nightmare to set up on a Mac. However, the functionality and true free-ness of the software are more than enough for me to ignore its quirks. I’ve also been trying out Quicken Online recently. Mint doesn’t track cash and won’t work with my local bank, so it’s right out. Wesabe tracks cash, but doesn’t work with my local bank, so unfortunately it also isn’t an option.
Quicken Online supports mobile access, and has the ability to add upcoming, uncleared, transactions as a sort of placeholder to accurately reflect one’s available balance. I’ll have to keep using it for a while to know whether it’s worth switching or even maintaining two separate systems. I also am a former Quicken user who became frustrated with having to upgrade the software constantly. I switched to Mint and am very happy (especially the email alerts and weekly financial reports). @Jacque – I actually think they’re pretty low pressure about “pushing” products.
I just never click on the tab that gives offers. For savings, you can just create your own budget category and then designate transfers to your savings account. Then you should be able to track how much you save over time. I have to put in a vote for Yodlee. Yodlee as stated is the backbone of Mint, they also provide the My Portfolio function for BoA. If you don’t care for the Web 2.0 glossy look of Mint, but just want raw data for analysis, I must recommend Yodlee. The dashboard is a great overview of your finances, most accounts will link, it can track almost anything including cellphone bills and reward programs, and the asset allocation view is useful.
The budgeting is slightly weak and it is a hassle to break down transactions into categories if you want to be very precise with budgeting. But if it is for general spending reports, net worth tracking, and investment overview, I recommend Yodlee. Thanks for the “neat” comment, JD – we think saving is awesome, and we’re proud to be helping people do that for free. As always, interesting new features are coming around it (July is going to be an exciting month), so stay tuned for more.
I think the last paragraph is in some ways the most interesting one here, mainly because I think it is both wrong and right. I do actually think that the apps are distinct: if you take Thrive and Mint, for example, they are very clearly different in the tone and features. And that is reflected in the populations that use them: Thrive, for example, is actually skewed with slightly more women than men (Mint is dramatically more men than women, at last report) and skews younger, for people who are doing less to track their investments and more to make actual financial decisions about things like first homes and stable accounts and beginning retirement planning. But what is far more interesting is the truth that I don’t think any site out there has it all, and I include Thrive in that. Part of that is just the newness of the marketplace: there aren’t really huge players yet besides Quicken that have been around long enough to truly mature. In Thrive’s case, it is simply a matter of engineering and design power: we know what people need, and we’re working as hard as we can to get it to them, it just takes a serious amount of coding and product-thought to bring that into the hands of consumers in the right way.
We’re doing it, and we’re doing it faster, but we are a long, long way from “complete”. I think that is actually a good thing for consumers.
Mature industries are often both resistant to change and rabidly anti-consumer, as they have fine-tuned the money making machine. In the PFM space, by contrast, you have these companies that are still learning right alongside their user base. At Thrive, that means you can pick up the phone, call our number, and actually get me on the line.
You can say “I wish it did this” or “This would really help me” and we can bring that to the team and find a way to make that happen. Trying doing that in a more “mature” industry and you’ll likely get stonewalled. So I’d like to see that as a strength. For those that use Thrive, consider it a call to send me your thoughts about how we can be better: or give me a call on our toll-free line, 1.888.831.4080. If you’re not a Thrive user, check out, read our blog, and feel free to tell me what you would want anyway: we may already have it, but if we don’t, we can think about how it might help. And now, the response wrapup: @ Bulldog Gin Co: Most of these apps are free, actually. And honestly, given the quality of the free apps, I can’t recommend a pay one.
That said, it is worth knowing how they make their money – if you want some details about how we remain free at Thrive, let me know (it helps that we’re owned by LendingTree, which has always been able to help consumers and still be profitable). @ AmyMo: Just FYI, Mint (like Thrive and many others) actually uses Yodlee as their bank end, so in theory, any account you can connect in Yodlee, you can connect in Mint, Thrive, etc. @ J.D.: We’ve played around with the Google templates – they are a reasonable way to do it if you aren’t looking for an automatic solution, but they basically presume that you know how to interpret the math and are just looking for a shortcut (rather than the vast majority of people, who have indicated in our surveys that they are trying to get actual advice). That said, I think they are interesting and worth checking out, particularly for advanced users. @ Jacque: We at Thrive (www.justthrive.com) have a strong savings component (including plans, which we’ll be doing even more with soon).
You might also think about Wesabe or SmartyPig, which have interesting approaches to saving. I’ve been a Money user since 1997, and personally I have a hard time believing that there is no money to be made in desktop financial software. But, I’ve largely switched to the Mac now and truthfully Money was all that was tying me to Windows. Right now I’m experimenting with Mint.com and finding it okay, certainly worth the price;) But I too would ideally prefer a desktop app, but nothing on the Mac can approach Money’s feature set with the exception of Quicken, which from what I hear is even worse on the Mac than it is on Windows.
Moneydance has a good reputation, but if you care at all about the look and feel of your apps, you’re likely to be disappointed. It’s a Java application which is great for being cross platform, but terrible for a native-feeling user experience (As a Java developer it pains me to say that). At this point I think I’m going to see what the early reviews of Quicken Financial Life are like, which is Intuit’s new Mac only product. I’ll have to check out Moneywell in the meantime though. I’ve been using Quicken for a few years.
I’ve never totally loved it. I enter all my transactions, but I never am really able to figure out what reports are any use to me. I like the Financial Overview tool that shows my net worth by month. It helps me to see how my debt is decreasing.
But one thing that I want to know is where my money actually goes each month. The Quicken reports tend to look at “spending”. When I send $100 to my credit card company, Quicken doesn’t consider that a “spending” transaction.
But that is most definitely part of my monthly cashflow, and I can’t find a way to see it in Quicken. Richie, Quicken (and Money) in the case you are describing use a more sophisticated accounting model. When you pay a credit card, you’re really transferfing money, not spending it.
You spent it already when you made the purchases on your card. Money I know has a specific cash flow report where you will see the CC payment treated more like you’re expecting (an expense), even though it’s not categorized as such. The benefit to this method is that it shows that you’re still spending money when you put things on your credit card, not merely when you pay the card. @Dustin: Indeed – Tree.com acquired Thrive in February of this year. Says a little bit more about our reactions, but the short version is that we’re ecstatic to have the oppurtunity to help even more people.
As a start-up, you’re very resource limited, and being under Tree.com allows us to do more, faster. We’ve hired new engineers, designers, support folks, and I actually only work 14 hour days instead of 16 hour days now. *grins* @Richie: Honestly, we do the same. As Kevin and Tommy pointed out, otherwise you end up “double counting” credit card transactions – once as they happen, once as you pay them off. Makes cash flow look insane.
@Richie: Sheer awesomeness? *grins* I actually think it is because it got logged as spam (probably for going on for too long) and JD had to stick it back in there. I can’t speak to Quicken, but in Thrive, how we handle the case you are talking about is by showing you how much you’ve paid off on your debt right on the dashboard (on the left side, with a nice green/red arrow system). It is tricky, particularly because banks don’t often give us all the information about what is your old revolving debt versus your new purchases, but we do our best to sync it up – that is my best guess as to why Quicken might not be handling it gracefully? Any spreadsheet.
Doesn’t have to be Excel – could be open office (which is free). I echo commenter #11: once you start splitting individual purchases into multiple categories, using an automated tool saves no time. Spreadsheets offer no online advice, budget alerts, or reminders to pay your bills. But all those (distracting) bells and whistles drove me crazy. Quicken, MS Money, (and I suspect most of the rest) are needlessly complex for the average person who just wants to know how much they spend, what they spend it on, and how long until they can go on a permanent vacation. @Scott: Do you mean on a monthly basis, yearly basis, or just an “envelope” that gets used when it gets used?
Coming out later this month, in Thrive, we’ll essentially do this budget tracking month-to-month. So you’ll set a budget (or we’ll set one automatically for you), and then you can see how you are tracking to that, including how much you have left, over the month. We don’t do that yearly yet, though we’ve been talking about how we can implement “fund” style features for things that generally aggregate across months. If you are looking for Mac personal finance software I would have to give iBank first place with Moneywell running a close second. They are both updated regularly and the developers of both make top-notch customer support a high priority. I usually get my questions answered by one of the developers within 24 hours of posting it on their forums.
In comparison, the customer service for programs like Quicken and Money is abysmal. It seems that all they care about is the bottom line and couldn’t care less about the customer (as is shown by Money leaving its customers in the lurch).
@Scott, this is essentially how Mvelopes and Inzolo work. You allocate all your money into virtual envelopes before you spend it. Really, money is not being moved anywhere, the budgeting application is simply a representation of where you want your money to go. So your checking account may say $4000, but its all been allocated to different envelopes such as groceries, gas, utilities, mortgage, christmas, birthdays, etc. So really your account balance is not that important only in that it equals all your envelope balances. It doesn’t matter if your budget category is month to month, year to year or whatever. Whatever you have allocated to that envelope, that is what you have to spend.
I have been using Crown Money Map Financial Software ($60 for Windows, Mac, or Linux) for about 4 months now. I have used and/or tried a lot of others before settling on this one, including Money, Mint, Quicken and GnuCash. They also offer Crown Mvelopes, but this works out to be a lot cheaper than paying the monthly fee for Mvelopes. The Money Map works in the same way as Mvelopes with virtual envelopes and a nice budgeting program. It also allows you to track investments. We are taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course right now and this software meshes perfectly with that course.
I highly recommend it! You can download it from Crown.org. @Dustin: Do you mean “it doesn’t matter” in terms of data or that it doesn’t actually matter in how people behave based on those budgets?
The trouble with envelope style budgeting is that while it is extremely useful and productive for long-term expenses (like medical), it works dramatically less well for monthly and weekly budgeting, because of the features of mental accounting. The problem is that the envelopes become too siloed and non-exchangeable; at least in lab research, people become reluctant to move money between envelopes at the appropriate interval to allow for agile budgeting. Still, the intersection is interesting and I’d love to see more quantitative data on how envelope budgeting performs in life compared with other styles.
@Matt: I guess I should say for me it doesn’t matter if the envelope type is month to month or year to year because the principle is the same, once your envelope is out of funds you either don’t spend or fund it from another envelope. But I think it does matter to some people as friends have suggested it to me. That is why I have envelope types (fixed, paced, and rollover).
While the implementation isn’t quite finished yet, it is something that makes inzolo a little different from Mvelopes. What “lab research” are you referring to? Is this testing that Thrive has done? I would be interested to see these lab results. As far as performance, the envelope system has been a blessing to me.
I’ve been using it for over 3 years now. I’ve paid off $41,000 in consumer debt. I used to go into overdraft almost monthly.
Since using the virtual envelope system I have not hit overdraft at all. That said, I can see where you are coming from about not wanting to move money between envelopes. Generally I have a few envelopes with negative balances and I don’t want to move money for various reasons (waiting for reimbursements for example). But I know I have enough in my account that it is not a problem and that I will soon fund those negative envelopes to make up for it. But I’ve added some reporting that helps track negative balances to ensure that overall I’m safe within my budget. Also I don’t understand some people’s requirement for connecting to banks’ online feeds?
It only takes seconds to enter a transaction, why would you discount an application because it can’t do that? How many transactions must you do in a day anyway? Maybe I don’t understand because I use envelope-style budget buckets within Money with subaccounts so downloading wouldn’t work for me, but it seems you’re not doing much more than duplicating the banks reports if you do that, instead of tracking for yourself. Where’s the benefit? Hi JD – Thanks for the list! I’m a long time(1997) money user and have loved it all along. I do have a Mint account, and while I like it, I’d be more thrilled if they had a register while knowing what I have today is good, I prefer to know what I have *after* all the bills are paid for the month.
I “virtually” pay all the bills for the month on the 1st and while some don’t actually leave my account until the middle or end of the month, I know what I have to work with when things come up because of the register. Anyway, I went ahead and tried the latest version of quicken and after two weeks requested a refund because it was awful – wouldn’t download my transactions from ING (my primary bank and I learned from ING that they wont’ allow quicken to do it anymore), the import from Money was all wrong, and customer service left much to be desired. So, thanks again for the list and to everyone else for all the other suggestions! I feel like now I might find something that will work well. I’ve been using Wesabe for a month or so, and recommend it. There are currently some temporary issues because it is in the midst of an update: for example, the community-data-based Tips section that was a major attraction to me isn’t running right now.
But they are adding Investment accounts tracking, and it has neat tricks like a flexible Tagging system, excel-like automatic mathematics (e.g. I can put my total spent as “=(24*3)+6.5” and it calculates it for me), Cash accounts that count towards your budget but don’t hold a balance, lots of graphs and spending trackers, etc. And it’s free!
Hadn’t heard of moneydance before, I might have to give it a try. I used money for a few years, now Quicken, but I am ready to move on. I liked Money better than Quicken, its quirks were way less annoying the Quicken. My version of Quicken doesn’t play to nice with my multitude of accounts in ING, which is a huge no no for me. I really like to have investment accounts, so Mint was on the top of my list. Does MoneyDance do investment accounts? I have heard the most positive buzz around Mint and Wesabe for what it is worth.
@matt #87 (and @dustin) What Dustin is describing is essentially what I’m referring to. It’s not dependent upon time (i.e. Monthly, yearly).
It is very much like the envelope scenario I guess. This account is totally separate from all our other finances. It could sit at a zero balance if we don’t have money that we need to set away for something. We use it for example, like if people give our son money (he’s 3 months old)we set it in there then use it for clothes, baby stuff, etc.
Once it’s gone, its gone. I have never thought of, but never run into either, a problem of not wanting to switch money between ‘envelopes.’ I guess thats the point; I put it in there because that’s what its been designated for.
I think maybe a good idea for your program would be that one option when you make a new ‘account’ would be an envelope-type account. Fidelity has long offered an online feature called “full view” where you can aggregate all your accounts and credit cards (and email and rewards programs and calendars and other web-based stuff) in one place – it shows your assets, liabilities, net worth, transactions, etc. I was thrilled that when I moved to Australia (and kept most of our US-based financial instruments) I could add our Aus accounts to the picture. I’ve been dying to find a mint.com sort of thing with international capability (and autouploading and refreshing of account info – as in Fidelity full view – so, not Budgetpulse) I tried Wesabe but it doesn’t seem to recognize my ANZ accounts as checking and savings and lists them as “other” (I have not played around in there much to try to tweak / fix my accounts).
Long story short, I saw today that Fidelity is upgrading full view to add budgeting & tracking features. So, my prayers are answered! Fidelity customers should check it out. (It is Yodlee-powered, BTW.). The programs listed in your post and the comments are in deed powerful but what about those people who just want a simple solution to help with their budgeting?
Some people who may have basic Excel skills, but don’t have the ability (or time) to pull together a budget spreadsheet but still want something of that nature to work through their budget. They don’t necessarily want or need a complicated solution, don’t want to integrate into their personal banking system or want to go “online” to update their budget. At, I have created a solution that is helping people all over the world get back in control of their personal finances via regular budgeting. Take a look and tell me what you think. Regards Rhys. I too used money for about 10 years, but have switched already to Moneydance. So far, I highly reccommend it.
I moved 5 years of Money data with very few issues, and have all the functionality of Money. If you try it, be sure to check out all the extensions available for it.
I use 3 or 4, and overall the product has been better for analysis than Money, and faster with large files. It is also cross platform. My investment portfolio seems more accurate with Moneydance than it was with Money Plus. I am somewhat surprised by the number of people here that just plan to use Money till it breaks.
I depend heaviily on financial software, and on electronic download of transactions. My copy of Money Plus will stop downloading on September 30, and I wanted to start early to find an alternative, and actually run in parallel with Money for a while, just to make sure it is accurate.
No matter what package you choose, you may want to rethink when you change, if you depend on electronic download. When its gone, its gone.
Does anyone else have the concern that on many of these websites you are providing ALL of your financial user names and passwords to a single site and they are stored somewhere on an external server? I’m sure that they all have a privacy statement and they make guarantees about the safety of your information, but there are so many of these financial tracking products popping up that not all of them will survive and it’s likely they are not all as concerned about security as they should be. What happens to your information when the company goes out of business? What if the employees losing their jobs get desperate and take advantage of the information at hand? Also, from the comments above, some of these companies use others to provide the services, so by signing up with one you are exposing your information to several different companies. So you may not know who ends up with your data. Most financial companies have access to a significant amount of your information, but they don’t have access to ALL of it.
By providing these tracking services with EVERYTHING, I think that you are exposing yourself to a much greater possibility of having your ID stolen and your financial security threatened. Your concerns are RIGHT ON, Steven.
I am very hesitant to give my the key to all of my accounts to a third party site and their information security implementation. For instance, how many of these sites are independently tested for attacks and penetrations? How many have Third-party Assurance (SSAE16 SOC2) for the robustness of their internal controls?
If they did, you can bet they’d be market the heck out of it. Until these sites talk about one-way encryption where the account holder is the only authorized person to access the information, I’m not signing up for the online service which aggregates all of my asset and liability accounts into one website which is a sitting duck. In other words, if I’m working to steal a lot of money, would I target the BIG BANKS directly with all of their security controls, or one of these small start-ups with minimal controls? I feel like I’m missing something so, as previously stated, I’ve been using MSMoney forever now – part of the reason I liked it was that even back in 1997 I could automatically update my accounts through the software i.e.: I didn’t have to connect to each back/investment broker individually to update my account registers with their download files.
So far, I have not found any replacement programs that will do this for all or even most of my accounts. While, for example, Moneydance has a nice register and reports, it doesn’t touch any of my banks – ing direct (the main one) or bank of America (I’m in WA and it has a different login than all the others – don’t ask me why), but I can manually do it by downloading the files from the bank website. Once Money stops supporting the update feature, it’s not as if the program itself will stop working – I can still manually download everything, so unless someone else does this, why switch? So, a) am I wrong that the Money will continue to work, and b) does anyone else do this with the register option (ie – while Mint and Thrive are great, they don’t have a register, which is a must for me). Thanks for a great article. I am looking for an envelope system to try, and have narrowed it to either YNAB Pro, or Inzolo at this point. But during my search I came upon and it sounds simple enough.
But I can’t find a single site with a review of it, and when I google for it, I find some comments all from the same few days in June that just call it simple and great. There are no screen shots on the site either. So the whole thing seems sketchy to me, but I was wondering if anyone had actually taken a look at it and written a review. Admittedly I haven’t found a ton on Inzolo either, but at least the creator seems to be blogging about it, and commenting on relevant articles in regards to it, so that is reassuring.
The idea of paying a monthly fee does not appeal to me, so I think mvelopes is out. So, had anyone actually tried trypiggybanks? Thanks in advance. @Scott: I think I have it.
Truthfully, I don’t think we’re quite moving that direction, and here is why: One of the primary issues facing people when they start budgeting and working with their money is that they have the tendency to deal with what psychologists call “mental accounting.” That is, they assign things to categories and then are reluctant to move between those categories, even when they logically should. For example, let us imagine two situations. In one, you buy a concert ticket for $10. When you get to the concert, you discover that you’ve lost the ticket. In the second, you always planned to buy the ticket.
When you get to the door, you discover you lost $10 on the way to venue. In the first case, your envelope budget would prevent you from buying another ticket, because you only had $10 in your “concert going” envelope and you spent it already – another $10 would be cheating. In the second case, you would be free to buy it, because the $10 wasn’t yet assigned to a cause, and so you still have the $10 in your “concert going” envelope.
The trouble is that either way, the concert cost $20. And when you consider this across the board, in a large number of categories with rather a large amount of money, things get dramatically bad.
For example, a shocking number of Americans have both credit card debt and money in their savings account. Not because they are logically setting a small amount aside for an emergency fund, but because “saved” money “shouldn’t” be spent on paying down credit card debt.
Consequently, they drown in interest that they shouldn’t really be paying. I’m not saying we’ve decided this firmly at Thrive. But I’ve spent some time thinking about it, read a good deal of my colleagues research, and it does seem like “envelope” budgeting has some pretty serious drawbacks that we haven’t found an effective way of dealing with. Again, doesn’t mean there isn’t a way, just means we haven’t found one yet. @Steve: I absolutely worry about that, and I’m glad you do to: being cautious of a site that you are trusting with your financial information is always, always a good idea.
We want consumers are to be intelligent in the world and to understand the risks and rewards, so we try to be as clear about them as we possibly can. Here are a few things to think about (I’m summarizing from a variety of responses I’ve written over time about this issue, so apologies if you’ve read this from me elsewhere): For one, and I think this is big: you can actually call us. We pick up the phone, we talk back, we’ll answer questions and address security concerns. We even welcome visitors in the office, if they are in NYC – you can come check on the people that accepted your sign-in data and we’ll usually buy you lunch, if someone is free. I’d love to see other companies make the same commitment (and even banks, for that matter). Another difference: unlike many of the startups that, as you point out, may go away, we’re owned by a major company.
We were purchased by LendingTree in February, which gives us the stability and resources to be a proactive force on the consumers. We’re actively out there in the world, talking about bank and data security, and what people can and should do to keep themselves safe. We consider increasing financial literacy (which includes security discussions) part of what personal finances need to do to help the public and serve their members – heck, we’ve even submitted stuff to Congress to try to get them to back financial education on a federal level. Unlike some others, we also ask for your name and phone number. Because in the event of a data emergency, we want to be able to contact you immediately, verify your identity, and get to work dealing with the problem. Anonymity is a double-edged sword: less for hackers for steal, but less ability to actually help you with security issues.
These combined serve to reinforce one of your points: if you are going to work with a personal finance site, you want one that is actually interested in your welfare and will help you with any issues that you have. We are not a churn-and-burn shop and we were founded to help people. A few notes that apply to the way Thrive handles your data (I can’t speak to other’s systems – I’m sure you could write them and they might answer).
The way I like to explain the one-way security tunnel is as a multi-step process. When you first login, we take your sign-up credentials and they are sent to your bank, to create the secure tunnel. We DO NOT store the logins on our server – after the secure tunnel is created, it simple sits as a one-way tunnel for information. Banks can push information to us, and we cannot push it back. If you change your login credentials, your bank breaks the tunnel and lets us know – we then request updated credentials for you. Again, your credentials are not stored on our servers, they are simply used to recreate the tunnel.
So there are two data-loss situations. In one case, you Thrive account credentials are hacked and someone can log in as you. What can they see?
Your balances, your transactions, what types of accounts you have, and what banks you use. Damaging information, to be sure.
But they don’t have your bank passwords or logins, they can’t change anything at your bank or move any money around. They can only view some sensitive information about you, which they could get straight from your mailbox – it is the same information on any paper statement you receive. The other data-loss situation is a hacking of our servers, not just your account. The same information is available, but on a vastly larger number of people. You sum it up well: everyone has to choose for themselves, based on the positives and negatives, whether joining a site like Thrive is right for them. And honestly, if someone understands all the considerations and still chooses not to use Thrive, we’re totally fine with that – it isn’t for everyone and some people are less comfortable than others. I simply care that people understand what they are and aren’t making accessible by using such a site, and all the things they stand to gain.
I’m a behavioral psychologist and we’ve worked hard to make sure that Thrive gives measurable help to our members. We can see, in concrete numbers, how our system changes people’s financial behaviors, and the money they save by making infrastructure improvements, understand where they spend and why, and working towards their goals and plans in an organized way. So for all this talk of data security, there is a very real upside to joining Thrive and I wouldn’t want to have a security discussion without ending on that note. @Matt: your concert example doesn’t make sense to me.
If you are using the envelope system, EVERY dollar has a name. If I lose $10 cash while going to a concert, that cash was likely coming from my “blow money” envelope – because for me personally, that is the only envelope I cash out. So if I lost my ticket and didn’t have any more money in my concert envelope then I would decide whether to use money from another envelope or to forgo the concert. It really is that simple. @Scott: As far as security goes I can give you an idea of how Inzolo works. You do not have to connect to any of your banks to use Inzolo. You can create manual accounts and enter transactions manually or import from Quicken or MS Money exported files from your account.
This would be the safest method because we don’t have any confidential information that could be stolen. That said, we also support automatic download transactions via OFX. To do this, you bank generally has a username/id and password/pin to work with their OFX server. Not all banks support OFX so really this only applies to those that do. When Inzolo connects to your bank account, it downloads an OFX file containing your transactions. This is essentially the same file you would get if you logged in to your account and downloaded a MS Money export as it passes through the same import function.
In the case of my bank, if someone were to obtain my OFX login information, they still don’t have my security questions to log in to my account. I know Yodlee and those that use their account aggregation ask for your security questions.
This allows them to log in as me and basically download the transactions via screen scraping or some other method. I’m not trying to say that I feel this is unsafe because I use their services as well. @Dustin: The problem is in that last bit – deciding whether to take money from another envelope. The trouble becomes that people are unwilling to be flexible in their accounting when using an “envelope-like” system in their mind and on paper, which can create some serious oddities that can hurt them financially. You want people to have budgets, but you don’t want them to be so rigid that they cannot adapt.
Check out and some of the associated Wikipedia articles for some work by Dick Thayler and others pointing out the sort of irrationalities that can occur because of this, or check out Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational”. Science – it’s awesome.
I have tried many of the services, YNAB, Yodlee, Wesabe and none of those services had what I was looking for, or their program linking accounts would not work as well. I had a problem with some of YNAB’s feature, but there is a dedicated forum to helping out new users. I switched over to GnuCash, and enjoy it. This a powerful program, and although it does not feature a budget feature (as some readers have mentioned), it is a useful program to view your expense, income, and liability accounts and you can make adjustments from there. OK, everyone – give me your opinions here! Which of these sites best incorporates the following: 1) Budgeting 2) Account Registers 3) Cash Transactions (manual entries) I’m looking for a single online or desktop tool that will allow me to create a budget, manage my checking and savings account balances, and track my cash expenditures as manual entries, so that I can get a true, complete picture of our total cash flow. Also important to me is an iPhone app.
I have an infant, and don’t spend much time sitting at a computer, but I have LOTS of time to sit with my iPhone. So, a robust iPhone app would be super.
Thrive looked really good until I realized that they don’t allow manual transactions. Can’t stick to a budget if I can’t track cash. Same goes for Mint.
Please help!! @krys: I too would really like something with an iphone app that does what I want, but haven’t found it yet.
After following this discussion for several days, I decided to download YNAB and give it a try. I’m at the end of my first week using it and I’ve got to say, I’m loving it! At first, the simplicity of it made me miss MS Money and it’s automatic transaction downloads but after going thru the tutorial videos on the site, I’m cruising along just fine. I set up a budget for the rest of this month based on what I currently had in the bank, and then started manually entering my transactions. Then each day, I’ve been going to my bank and downloading the previous days transactions.
YNAB imports them and then matches them with my manually entered transactions. I then have to verify and approve the matched transactions. When I do that, it marks the transaction as cleared. I’m really excited about what this might mean for my household financially. If I can truly build my buffer until I’m budgeting and paying the bills using last months income, I’ll be doing great and finally be out of the living paycheck to paycheck cycle I’ve been in for so many years.
It took watching the well put together, short video tutorials to get me excited, but once I understood it and finally “got it”, I’ve decided I’m gonna purchase the software when my trial expires. I think it covers the 3 areas you’re looking for well, but no iphone app yet.:-(. @Krys: Feel free to try out Inzolo.com.
It is a envelope based budgeting tool so the focus is on the budget. It supports imports from Money & Quicken files and has automatic OFX import support. It also allows you to add manual transactions. I don’t have anything yet to match uncleared transactions as Chris has described and I don’t yet have an iPhone app. I do have an iPhone though so it is definitely on my to do list! It is all web based so you can access it on Safari on your iPhone, but there are a few limitations I need to work out with that method. @Chris – Thanks for the details on YNAB!
I was an MS Money user for many years, and I guess I’m looking for something similar. I found it hard to “keep up” with Money, and ended up binge entering data once a month. With a newborn, I’m looking for something a little less labor intensive. @Dustin – I’ll take a look at Inzolo! The iPhone app is a must for me. Safari access is OK, but I’ve found that data entry on pages not designed for iPhone are really, really tough. But, as a fellow iPhone user, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
@Craig – How do you compare to PearBudget? They’re a budget-only site, and I’m in the middle of my trial month with them. I’m really looking for an application that can do both budgeting and “checkbook balancing” in one location. Do you offer that? I am a graduate school teacher. I want to assign to incoming students at my school a problem that will introduce them to a computer finance program. I have come to believe that the most important thing in financial management is keeping track, and if students will start tracking their spending they will be less likely to get over their heads in debt.
I’ve used Quicken since it first came out in the late 1980s, and it has helped me keep track of my finances. However, the company has gotten worse and worse – eliminating support after three years to force people to update, coming out with multiple stripped-down starter versions and moving to much more expensive programs, and adding tons of unnecessary bells and whistles. I’m so committed to the program that I can’t yet get myself to change, but I wouldn’t recommend the program to someone starting out.
I also want something free. I’ve used web site programs like Yodlee and Mint, and they are great at consolidating information from your on-line accounts, but they are not good entering and reconciling your transactions. They give you the bank’s balance, but it’s not so easy to know what checks or charges are outstanding. They are better as a backup for a real accounting system. I have played with quite a few programs, and I am leaning towards gnucash. Unfortunately, it has a bigger learning and setup curve than most programs have. For people who do not understand double entry accounting, I suspect it would be a bit confusing at first.
But it is also very powerful, and would be a great program for new people to learn. My idea is to give the students some fake check registers, credit card receipts, and bank statements, and require them to reconcile the bank statements and answer some questions to show that they understand the balances. My hope is that once they do it for the assignment, they will set up their own accounts. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? JD, thanks for posting this. I am a longtime MS Money user, and hate to lose it.
I could never balance on paper, but never failed with Money. (However, much of their extra features were lost on me.) FWIW, I have used Pocket Money on my PDA for years too, and loved it. For those who want portability, it is a great program. It is a comprehensive enough register that it could be used as a standalone product, and will accept downloaded bank transactions. It also has an iphone app.
(If I weren’t so old-fashioned, I might actually skip the desktop app and just use Pocket Money on my PDA.) @Classical, your plan sounds like a grand one. @krs: Keep checking back with us – we’re working on manual transaction editing. Really, what I need to get in there is transaction splitting, so that you can take the withdrawal (for example, from an ATM) and split it into different categories. Like most things, it is simply that we only have so many hands: we will add it, but I don’t have a current timeline. Also, on the subject of iPhone app, that is coming (and sooner than transaction splitting). I can’t confirm exact date, but I can confirm that it is already designed and is in the hands of engineers.
@Classical: Having been a graduate student, I’m curious: why do you think this is the exercise that is most worthwhile? That is, the reconciling of charges is something that banks seldom get wrong, particularly as things become increasingly automated and done over ACH networks. Indeed, you state that the value is in “keeping track”; I’d argue that actually has two functions: monitoring for the modification of current spend and understanding regarding overall balance sheet and cash flow. For the monitoring of current spend, I’m not sure you need to be doing it on paper and matching each expense to a corresponding transaction on your balance sheet.
That is, unless you believe that the credit card charge you made won’t actually show up on your account (and with a high degree of accuracy, we can be sure it will), the value is in being forced to interact with the costs of your actions. Doing this electronically seems infinitely more effective: watching kids go “wow, I spend that much of my income on restaurants?” is more effective then watching them go through each receipt to discover that (if they discover it at all, as paper doesn’t have the same auto-categorizing functions that electronic programs do). Indeed, do you actually expect that your kids will go home and then do this themselves for the rest of their lives?
They might, I’ll admit. But everything, in a psychologist’s model, is competing pressures and the heavy time pressure not to do what you’re suggesting that means most your kids won’t actually do it for their own finances. So even if manual transactions are more effective at teaching (and I’d argue they aren’t), you’ll reach perhaps one or two of your students, while an automatic electronic system will reach a greater percentage. Perhaps I can make the difference more clear by using an analogy. Think about a calculator, which abstracts away basic math.
The reason we use them is because they allow for higher order thinking, and so we teach basic math at young ages so people understand it, and then move on so that they can progress. Understanding “money in, money out” is a fairly basic concept that most people get.
So let’s take them to the next level. Let’s use programs like Thrive and Wesabe and others to say “look, you get the money in, money out, bitnow let’s look at what it means.” We take care of that manual lifting so that they have time to do the part that matters: outcomes, higher order thinking, actual life planning. That ended up a bit rantish, but I’m passionate about this subject: the sort of “manual transaction” system is what has been taught in almost every single major financial literacy initiative and has been shown to be ineffective. Let’s try something different. Let’s teach our kids not how to balance a checkbook but how to understand compound interest and how to apply that to the best use of their money. Let’s teach them how to buy a home instead of how to work a ledger. Because ultimately, if one check every few years slips by, it will harm that much less than not having the knowledge they need to actually make the financial decisions.
@Matt – thanks for the personal response. I’m opening a Thrive account tonight, to give it a shot. Comparing it to Mint and Wesabe. Spending a lot of time setting up all of these separate accounts, but I think it’s a worthwhile exercise. @Craig – I’ve eliminated BudgetPulse as an option for me.
Some thoughts, from the peanut gallery: I think the design is eye-catching and the charts were pretty, but the interface didn’t work well for me, and none of the uploads from my bank included any “descriptions”, so I would have had to manually enter each payee AND category. That’s more work than I was looking to do. Thanks for your thoughts, Matt. There are two problems with people relying on their bank balance. First, they often bounce checks because of outstanding items that have not cleared yet.
Bounced checks can be VERY expensive and damage one’s credit. It’s not a problem if you keep a lot of money in your checking account, but that’s not a great idea because checking account interest rates are usually very low and some don’t have extra money. The banking rules allow banks to maximize the damage for overdrafts by allowing them to put the highest check received in the day through first, often causing lots of smaller overdrafts.
Better to know what is in your account when you write the check, which is what the law expects. As far as I can tell, there is no easy way to do that with an on-line system.
Second, you may not catch mistakes and fraud if you don’t check your transactions against another record. When you buy something for $22.50, and the charge shows up as $32.50, how are you going to catch it? I enter all of my checks and charge card receipts, and then reconcile to the bank statement. I’ve caught many mistakes over the years, some made by me, some made by the bank, and some made by the store. Don’t get me wrong – if you use an on-line system, and put your transactions into proper categories, you’ll be doing a lot better than most people who have no idea where their money goes. And you’re right that my main goal is to get people to think about making expenditures and watch what they are spending. It’s just not completely verifiable without a matching system.
The big question is whether this exercise would be a waste of time because the students won’t set up a tracking system for themselves. And I’m sure you’re right – many of them won’t. If all of them don’t, then I’m wasting my time and their’s. Is it worth the exercise to force them to download and install the software, set up the accounts, enter the transactions, and reconcile the statements? @Classicalguy – I wish someone had taught me how to track expenses and create even a rudimentary budget much earlier in my life than I did.
My folks have always been extremely good about not buying on credit, never overspending, and not having debt. But they never taught me about their good habits. And, therefore, I made a LOT of mistakes in my life. Luckily, none of the mistakes have caused any damage to my credit rating, and I’ve always been good about living within my means. But, I learned it on my own, and I know I could be so much further ahead if I’d know more earlier on. I guess what I’m saying is that any lessons you can teach your students about finance in the real world will be useful and worthwhile. Last night I opened a new Thrive account and OMG I love it!
The interface is so much more intuitive and practical than Mint. I think I need to get with Matt for a few tweaks but once those are resolved, I will definitely be canceling Mint in favor of Thrive. @JD Thank you very much for this post. I am sure it took a while to research but it is the core organizational tool for a lot of people who mostly handle their finances online and it’s nice to know the different options out there to decide “what works [best] for us.”;) @DY in Comment # 111: I highly recommend that you try CalendarBudget for cashflow prediction (www.calendarbudget.com).
@Katherine: Glad you’re enjoying itby all means, do please shoot us a note with how we can improve; we’re always looking for feedback! And stay tuned – new stuff coming soon that will make Thrive even better. @ClassicalGuy: My pleasure and let me be very clear: I’m very much in favor of educating students, just a matter of taking the opportunity to do it in the best possible way. Regarding bouncing checks: I’m a little confused by your response here. The whole concept of an online tracking program is that we actually pull in your transactions and account balances every day. We also have automatic alerts when your account balance is low to prevent overdrafts, and use regression analysis of your purchases to predict when you may be getting towards bouncing a check.
Indeed, though I’ve never actually done a scientific test, I feel safe in assuming that any of your students that use online financial management are more likely to know their account balance that your students that don’t, by a statistically significant margin. I’m actually willing to put in the time to do a test of that, if it would be useful.
Fraud: It is absolutely true that you might be more likely to catch fraud if you manually balance your checkbook. But if it were large fraud, you’d notice, because you’d see a giant transaction occur in your online account and Thrive would surface it to you.
And if you get charged $32.50 instead of $22.50, that is $10. And on average, this might happen what, perhaps three times a year (though I suspect it is less than that)? So $30 a year. Let’s say balancing your checkbook by hand takes an hour a week, every week. So basically, I’m working for about 75 cents when I’m balancing my checkbook. This isn’t actually how I think about it, as a psychologist. In truth, it is probably true that your students are willing to spend an hour or so a week on their finances, regardless of what they are doing.
So I’d rather have them using that hour to do actual financial planning and playing attention to both the big picture and their daily transactions than spending that hour balancing a checkbook. I’d argue that if you want to really do the best you can for your students, it would to help them with financial decision making and the larger issues around personal finance. There are programs like Thrive that are free, automatic, and online. They take less than 5 minutes to setup. And they provide personalized advice based on their unique financial situation. But we are not a substitute for the wisdom that can come from a direct teacher, and I’d much rather see all your students using Thrive or another similar website to take care of the balancing and using you as a resource for the more important, and much larger, issue of financial decision making and a lifetime of experience.
Re bounced checks: The balance reported by your bank does not reflect checks that have not yet cleared. There is usually less money available than your bank reports because of this. People who rely on their bank balance without taking account of outstanding items(uncleared checks) risk bouncing. Also, I think it takes more time to correct the category guesses (which in my experience are very often wrong or incomplete) than the adverts for these systems suggest.
Because you are categorizing well after purchase, I find the process much slower and more tedious than just entering the transaction at or near the time of purchase. In fact, I’ve given up trying to get accurate categories.
Most of the on-line systems don’t track investments at all. That should be an important feature to future users. Finally, will all of these new on-line companies be around in the long term, and what happens to all of that category work you’ve done if the on-line service goes out of business, or starts imposing fees after you’ve come to rely on it?
I won’t be sold on on-line services until they can be reconciled with off-line accounts. I use both Yodlee and Mint, and get useful information from both of them, but neither could serve as my primary accounting system. With respect to your proposal for a study, I’m sure that people who look up their bank balance know more about what it is than people who don’t keep track.
But they don’t how how much is available better than someone who keeps a running bank balance (like me). And balancing a single checkbook for someone who inputs all of their checks is a monthly exercise and shouldn’t take anywhere near four hours. If you want to do an interesting study, find out how many regular users of an offline product like quicken or money have switched entirely to an on-line system and been happy with it. I suspect the number is low. @Matt – I agree with ClassPro & ClassicalGuy – I specifically don’t rely on my bank balance because it’s not accurate.
Say I have $1500 in my checking account and I know that my rent for $1150 will auto-withdraw tomorrow, so I know with a little math that that will leave me with $350. But, say I forgot that I wrote a check last week for $300 and sent it via snail mail – well that’s not reflected in my account anywhere so I go ahead a spend $100 on something thinking I had $350 in my account, but actually I only have $50, so when the check for $300 shows up, it’ll bounce. That’s why I think having a register is imperative – between the bank balance and the register you always know exactly how much you have – no surprises. Could you forget to write the check in the register? Sure, but I’d be willing to bet that most folks who use one for that reason, specifically do remember to do that.
But even if it’s not a check you write, you can “pre fill” the bills for the month and always know exactly how much you have. In Money, for example, when I look at the register, I have already “paid” all my bills for the month – whether or not they’ve come out of the bank – and when I spend other money and the register is updated with the bank balance, it’s accurate for what I really have left after all is said and done. I know that you said you will be adding a register and I’m glad of that because like ClassPro said, being a Money user all these years and having both – the register and the daily bank balance is what I like and need – a product that won’t do both won’t work for me and quite frankly I’m surprised that there aren’t more out there that will do both. @kelleigh2 – AMEN!
This is what I was getting at in my comment above (#131). It is really the only thing I loved about MS Money – the ability to predict where my bank balance would be at any point in the next month. I think a lot of these online programs are really missing the boat on this. How are you supposed to PLAN if you can’t SEE what’s happening a week (or even a day) from now? Tracking spending is nice, but if they’re not letting me look forward, they’re not really helping me manage my money. @Classpro: I certainly think that this can occur, don’t let me be misunderstood.
But the frequency (which I can actually see from empirical data, given that we have lots of users that I can query on the aggregate) is lower than you think. The majority of checks that most young people write are regular checks, like rent, which Thrive predicts and starting in the early fall, will forward-predict. So we can actually tell how much money you’ll have left by knowing, without having watched you write the check, that you always need to have X dollars in your account at this time of the month because there is going to be a check clearing that requires it. It is built into the padding that we leave in your account, based on bill expenditures that we know you make every month. As for categorization, it certainly takes a little while to train the algorithm when you first log on.
But as with any good scientifically-based design, it does learn from you and adapts, so that when you correct the category that a transaction is made in, the system actually learns to recognize that category in the future and it will improve over time. Also, we do community-based adaptation as well, so the more people use it in your area, the better your categorization will be automatically. And eventually, I’d love to integrate the Yellow Pages and other business directory information, so that we can actually take it from an authoritative source – arguably, your credit card company also know the classification, so we’re looking at getting access to that as well. I can’t speak to other sites, but Thrive tracks investments and we will eventually do more in that area. We concentrate first on helping people who don’t have access to white-shoe advisors, and arguably if you have significant investments that need daily tracking, you aren’t in our core audience. So we’d love to do more there, but it will take some time.
Again, regarding that test, I’m happy to accept it takes less than four hours. And may well be more effective. But that is rather like saying earning a PhD in Economics makes you better at this sort of thing: it doesn’t actually matter if you can’t get people to do it. You seem to presume that your students don’t do it because they don’t know happy: I’m suggesting that they don’t do it because it isn’t convenient, and educating them on how is less effective then something that you have in ready supply to give them, which is the wisdom of your experience. Actually, we’ve asked that question and the number is very, very high. In the 80% range (the scale used was around “If you switched from X, how satisfied are you with Y”, and the high 80’s encompasses anyone that was “satisfied” or above). I think the sample is a little bias, in that it was skewed towards younger, more web-savvy folks, but I don’t have access to a broader population at the momentwhen I do, I promise to re-run and report back.
As for whether we’re going to be around: we’re owned by LendingTree, a publicly traded company. So I can’t speak to other companies, but at Thrive, we’re in it for the long haul.
*grins* And the day we start charging fees, I guarantee you that everyone working on the project will quit. It is one of our core beliefs: you can’t charge for good, solid, free advice. I can see us maybe one day charging for some sort of premium advice model which gave you access to a live financial planner, or something along those lines, but even then, we’d try to find a way to make it as cheap as possible. We are all here to help people, just like you’re trying to help your students – have a little faith. @Kelleigh2 and @Krys: We’re working on just that featurenot the manual register, but rather using the quite accurate information that we have about your past bills to set aside the correct amount of money at the beginning of the month. We’ll also set aside the amount you’ve indicated for your savings goals, then divide the rest into your automatic budgets, which you can then customize.
Full scheme should be in place in September, I’m hoping. Believe me, we’re with you, it is just harder than it looks to do it reliably for people in an automatic, free environment. I just started using Wesabe and so far have not found it very useful for me. I am a paycheck-paycheck, just starting to use online resources to manage money person. I have never used anything before but a notebook and my online banking.
What I want is a system that will pull the data from my bank account and tell me where I’m spending the most money. The issue with Wesabe (although they know this and they are working on it) is that I have to go in and manually tag every single debit card purchase to get it to show up in a group, and any transactions that come through have to be the exact word or phrase to go to one of your categories. The idea is right, but it needs to be easier than that or it kind of defeats the purpose. What would be great would be to be able to create a label, say “Groceries” and under that label enter sub-tags (all the places I buy groceries), and when a new charge comes through my bank, the money management system would find a keyword in the description and send it to the appropriate tag. There would be a little pool of uncatagorizable transactions that I would have to go through every time I logged in, but eventually the system would get to know most of my spending habits, and the more I used it, the fewer uncatagorized transactions there would be.
I read on one of these that you can set limits on certain expenditures and set alerts for when you go over (I think it was MoneyStrands). I like that a lot. Wesabe is getting there, and of course it’s great they are free.
I think I will try some of these others for now though. Great article!!
@Matt – While I like Thrive, and look forward to the register, I have to ask if you plan to either correct or let us correct if our accounts are savings or checking (or something else). I use ING for my primary checking and savings and both accounts are listed as savings which throws off all the numbers. All month long my checking account gets smaller as bills are paid and your savings and financial health trackers keep getting worse and worse because the checking balance is a few thousand dollars shorter at the end of the month than the beginning. I’d love to be able to change the ING checking account to reflect that it’s actually a checking account rather than a savings account – if I can’t, then the all the reports for savings and such aren’t helpful at all since they aren’t accurate. @Kelleigh2: Alas, ING Direct is a rather special case – they are stubborn about how they integrate with any aggregator and it causes no end of problems. I had a chat with their COO not too long ago and he promised better support by the end of the year; they are scaling up a new tech service that should alleviate the issue.
Our control is minimal, unfortunately, as we rely on your bank to give us the correct data – if they don’t, we’re a bit stuck. That said, I have another new feature coming: the ability to change how we consider your accounts, with some limitations. You won’t be able to make a debit account into a credit account (no changing your credit card to be counted as a savings account) but you will be able to move small parts, like checking to be savings, and vice versa.
No timeline yet on that, though I would hope to have it up by the end of September; I’ll do my best to get a firm date for you soon. After many failed attempts to use fancier software, my wife and I use Google Docs’ spreadsheet program as our checkbook register and Dave Ramsey’s My Total Money Makeover subscription software to track our budget and car loan. I like this approach because a) we have no identifying bank information, b) the Ramsey software makes no distinction between spending with cash or a debit card (I HATED how you had to set up a “cash register” on Quicken), and c) We can update our finances from any computer with an Internet connection. If I had an iPhone, I would look more at some of the other programs. However, I’m a Verizon customer in an area where AT&T reception is really bad. I’ve been checking these sites out. I am looking strictly for an online tool and although I don’t see many votes of confidence it seems that Quicken online has everything.
It doesn’t look as nice as others but it has features others lack. Including cash tracking and an iphone app. I wish they had an Android app:-( Maybe Quicken Online wasn’t active when this review was written but I’m leaning towards it. I prefer the community feel of other products but they need to do what I want them to do. And right now Quicken look right so I’ll probably give it a try.
@Carrie: Unfortunately, Thrive can’t. Even when do launch our investing section, I doubt it will be this detailed, if only because we’re targeted at a difference audience. For experts, more information can be better but for most of us, more information actually leads us to make worse decisions (there are exceptions, but from a general psychological perspective, this remains true). So we’ll likely boil our information down more than that.
Let me ask around and see if anyone on our team knows of an online program that will help you do thatI’ll repost if I can find an answer for you. “Carrie Says: August 7th, 2009 at 3:51 pm I am looking for a program that will work on my Mac that will allow me to display on one page all of my investment accounts, the stocks or mutual funds that is in each, the number of shares, their current value, cost basis, yield, and current gain/loss. I really like how MS Money does this, and updates the prices every time you open it, however, I want a more secure site.” Carrie and I are looking for same program. Mine is for Windows XP.
My Money Plus is now expired for online services and I don’t like entering stock prices manually.Can someone help? I have been trying to use Mint for the last year. It has great reporting and tracking functionality, offes decent advice and can help you project cash flows and overall networth. The BIG BIG BIG problem I have with it is that it struggles with financial institutions that have multi-layer customer recognition questions (the old, “What is your Mother’s maiden name?”). I bank with Huntington Bank in Columbus, OH and Countrywide holds my mortgage and it cannot consistently update the balances in my accounts therefore throwing off pretty much all cash flow and spending advice. I complained and they basically told me to try and “jiggle the handle” if you know what I mean. In the name of safety/security, I will probably head back to a desktop solution.
One site nobody ever mentions when discussing PFM software is Budgettracker (www.budgettracker.com). I have been looking this site over for quite a while now and the developers are very responsive to input.
I’ve also tried Mint, Thrive, Moneywell, Moneydance, iCash, Cha-ching, and a huge list of others. If you are OK with online finance or want a replacement for your desktop app take a look at BudgetTracker. As the product is now it is a good desktop replacement except that it is online.
It also offers access via cellphone if that is something you desire. They offer the ability to retrieve information from financial institutions automatically. I would assume this is similar to Mint and others. I don’t happen to use the direct connect to financial institutions just because I won’t give that access to anybody – period. You will have to evaluate that area yourself. One other thing I like is that they don’t “mine” your data to third parties and then market stuff to you. Disclosure: I don’t have any affiliation with any of the software developers mentioned – this is just my opinion and observation.
” My biggest beef is that none (quicken, Yodlee, Mint, Geezeo, MoneyStrands) seem to allow budgeting for a two week time period. This is something that holds us back, as I like to plan for each pay period, not monthly. I would certainly like to see this implemented.” A spread sheet (excel) that Lampo uses in their financial counseling does this and it’s one of the few places I’ve seen it. It takes your monthly budget and then lets you can assign each item to a particular paycheck whether it be bi weekly, twice monthly etc. They also have a sheet that tracks savings for various things within one account. I don’t think their online product does either of these, but supposedly it will track savings for various goals soon.
Both are really useful features that would be appreciated in commercial software. @Jennifer: I understand the desire for a bi-weekly cycle; we’d love to develop it, we just have other features slated first. In the meantime, though we budget on a monthly basis, Thrive actually is using average incomes to compute your cash flow, so it will take into account your bi-weekly paychecks. @Mike: At Thrive, we actually do allow for Plans within savings accounts, and that is one of the features that we’re looking to expand over the next few months. I’ll try to remember to come back and leave a note here when the new features are launch, which improve over what we have there already. @matt- ok, I will give it a spin. The thing is, I have already done my homework to determine exactly what our obligations are for each paycheck.
In most program, if I want to create a budget, I have to enter a monthly amount. I have also done the math to change my bi-weekly budget into a monthly one, but in my head, it just doesn’t translate. @Dustin – the envelope system may be what I’m after, but it does not tell me how much money I should have standing in my checking account at any given time.
I understand mvelopes.com does this, but I don’t want to pay for software. We have set a goal to spend “$X.xx” each pay period, after the bills have come in, lumping all other costs in one single amount. This would be ok, but we still go past that amount at times, seeing that there is money in the books. I want to avoid that. @Matt – thank you. I certainly don’t think I am a special case. There are millions of households in America that get paid on a bi-weekly basis.
I can’t be the only person who has computed our living costs to fit in on a paycheck by paycheck basis. The main difference is, we don’t count on those two “extra” paychecks a year that do not have obligations with them. I have not played with the mvelopes website or method, but I suspect it works the way I have described above. Also, I had trouble locating a split transaction feature on the Thrive site. It is very possible that I overlooked it. Thank you again for your time.
@Jennifer: You’re right, let me say that differently. Tons of people are paid biweekly (including me), but not as many of them actually want to budget on a bi-weekly budget, especially as most bill expenses are on a monthly basis. Rather than splitting all the transactions, it seems vastly easier to actually look at things on some aggregate average levels.
Indeed, there are some nice psych studies that show that the longer period that people use for budgeting, the closer they actually get to real values (yearly better than monthly better than weekly). The nice thing about Thrive is that we’re using your real data, so theoretically it reduces the impact of time period, but I think some of it is still in there. As for split transactions, you haven’t missed a thing – we don’t currently support it.
It is on the roadmap for the near future, we’re just finishing up some of the cashflow and budgeting features. @Kelleigh2: It is currently slated for released in this sprint, which should be out on the 28th. It is possible, however, that we may be delaying it until the next sprint (launching in mid-November) in order to allow for some improved functionality that will increase the ability to differentiate between revolving and non-revolving debt and to coincide with the new feature that will correct your other issues. I appreciate your patience: I know you’re eager for us to improve, and we’re working on it just as fast we can!
@ Christina: The Moneydesktop.com looks interesting, but it’s $200 a year! I’d like to try it without having to give them my credit card first. Can you tell me if it has an account register that I can manually add in transactions like I can in Money or is the register an automatic thing like Mint that just pulls the info from the bank and you can’t add anything in yourself? I’ve been trying to find another solution since my Money program ran out of it’s online service contract and now each time I want to update my accounts I have to go out to every single bank or broker website to get the info – what a pain. Mint and Thrive are nice, but don’t have the register feature I need – I want to manually add in my bills each month to know what the balance will be after they are paid AND have my accounts auto update.
No one seems to do this besides quicken and money (not anymore)and I really dislike quicken. I have created an Excel spread sheet to account for all money spent. I save all receipts and then daily update manually and does not connect to the outside world. It is accomplished on a month to month basis and saved for tax purposes.
The constant bills are in an area with the set amount entered. As deposits are accomplished the amount is entered and the constant bills are automatically deducted. I also enter the daily bank balance to compare to the manually accounted balance and can determine better availability of funds.
Connected to all this is a monthly accounting of balances in all account for a total of cash available (net worth). It may sound complicated but takes only about two minutes a day to update and five minutes on the first of each month to set up for that month. I have spread sheets already set up to and including the year 2012. Hey, I’m retired and have the time to mess with this. We have not over spent any of our accounts in over five years.
A stitch in time will save a dime, I said so. I too use Mvelopes and think it is very different from the others. It shows you how much is left in your budget category (envelope) as opposed to how much money you have in the bank. That way, you don’t look at your bank balance and think you have money when really you owe half of it to your credit card company. I have used Quicken and Money in the past only to find out at the end of the month that I had exceeded my budget. Even with the automation help from all these programs, it still takes time, so I think it is mandatory to have a program tell me where I am at all times. If it’s too complicated to know exactly where you are on any given day, it’s all a waste of time.
@Matt: I had a quick question before I decide which program to use. I’m a recently graduated college student and while I do work and support myself there are a few things my parents pay for, namely, groceries and gas. I want to track these expenses as well (so I’m not breaking their bank). It all goes onto a specially relegated credit card that is paid off by them, but my own income won’t ever be put into it, which seems like it would make the tracking and budgeting a bit confusing, since Thrive could see the expenses from the card, but not the account or money that ends up paying it. I really like Thrive but I guess I wasn’t sure if my varied means of income could be supported by the site.
@Donna: I absolutely agree that at any given time, you should be able to log in to a PFM and know exactly where you are with regard to your budget. Frankly, I’m surprised at any option that doesn’t do that: Thrive does. Mvelopes does.
@Jill: If I understand the situation correctly, there is actually a way to work this into Thrive, although it will result in one small oddity that I can think of. Basically, track your expenses as normal.
Then, when your parents pay off the special credit card, mark that payment as “allowance income”. That should actually balance out the issue and help you to budget effectively. The one note is that the site may give you reminders about paying off the credit card, since it won’t see the payment (since we retagged it as allowance income) and won’t know that you’ve paid. But other than that small warning message, you should be in the clear and on your way to financial health! Feel free to let me know if that doesn’t work for you at and I’ll see what we can figure out for your situation. @Ranjan: Thrive supports the UK (and all countries); the only actual issue is trying to support the individual banks within them.
We have many of the major UK banks already in the system, and if yours isn’t in there, feel free to let me know and we’ll reach out to them to work on getting them connected. “What is the Envelope Method.” As I understand it, you allocate your income (paycheck) into various “envelopes” to cover your anticipated expenses. For example, you might allocate $500 of your paycheck to a “rent” envelope, $300 to a “food envelope” and so forth.
Then you pay the expenses out of the envelope. If the envelope runs dry, you don’t eat (unless you have an “emergency” envelope).
In the electronic world, it’s really just a budget by which you track your espenditures. The software, I guess, creates virtual envelopes for people who like the metaphor.
“Student Loans in Quicken”: You can create a liability account for any debts, including student loans, and you can create a recurring transaction for any payment, including a student loan payment. There should be no problem tracking your student loans if you understand what you’re doing.
First, you owe the principal amount of your student loan debt. Let’s say for example that this is currently $20,000. You would create a liability account with an opening balance of $20,000. Your monthly payment consists of a principal and interest component.
In the early years the payment is mostly interest, and in the later years the payment is mostly principal. You can use a loan amortization calculator to print an amortization schedule showing what portion of each payment is principal and what portion is interest if you don’t get a bill from the lender allocating the payments (and if you do get a bill, it’s not a bad idea to verify that they are calculating things correctly). When you write a check for the student loan, you would split the transaction and “charge” the principal amount to the liability account that you created, and “charge” the interest portion to an interest expense account.
8 That way you can always see how much is your principal balance, and how much you have paid in interest (which may be deductible up to $2,500 per year, subject to income phaseouts as provided in section 221 of the Internal Revenue Code.). Clearcheckbook is by far the best personal finance site i have ever seen or used. In the past i have used MS Money, Quicken, Wesabi, Buxfer, Mint (a friend recommended it) and expensr. Clearcheckbook allows you to manually enter transaction into the checkbook. Also has capability of updatating your acct via AOL, SMS, ICQ, Yahoo!msngr or Google Talk. Forums are comparable to your local public library, reports are awesome, can set a budget, plus much much more.
The creator/owner of the site is a wealth of knowledge and is willing to help with any issue. He actually personally answers a lot of memeber questions you may post. Highly suggest atleast trying Clearcheckbook.com I still use Mint because it is linked to all my bank and CC acctsgives me an accurate total at all times Oh best of all: It is free with a premium option that has a few added feat. I am coming into this late but just found out about MS ending Money.
I have been using Money for yearsbut I don’t use any of the functions except the check register, electronic bill pay, and account balance for forcasting. I have my income and bills (some direct withdrawal like mortgage and others that I use EPAY for a few days before the due date) registered and I always know my lowest balance into the future. I have started investigating options for replacing Money and have not seen any that do these basic functions or than Quicken who charges $10/month for bill pay. Many show balances and let you know bills are duebut I don’t want to know when they are due, I want them to be paid on the date that I set in the future. To me this is the most common function for finance management but I can’t find one that does it other than Quicken and who wants to pay $120/year to Quicken and then $72 per year ($6/month) to your financial institution for the electronic data transfer into Quicken (I pay that for the data coming into Money now)so almost $200/year just to pay bills electronically. I have used Money for so long and nothing else that I just assumed Quicken and others did the same thingor atleast the same thing without an additional fee to use bill pay. Any suggestions on a software that will do this?
Carl: I am surprised that Microsoft Money let you pay bills for free from your desktop software. Many years ago, this was a free feature in Quicken.
I really liked it. Then they started charging, so I stopped using it.
I now use free on line banking from my bank to pay bills. I have to re-enter the transactions in Quicken, but most are on my scheduled transactions list so it doesn’t take long. Yodlee and Checkfree allow me to charge some bills to my credit card, which is nice because of the cash back. But only select billers participate. Still, bill payment from the off-line software was a real nice feature when it was free. I’ve now stopped paying for quicken updates. I have to download stock quotes by hand.
I just won’t support Quicken any more. I pay US Bank $5.95/month for electronic bill pay and that is it. I haven’t paid MS anything since I upgraded to 2007 in 2007. I just installed the Quicken Starter Edition to see how it looks and feelsand it isn’t as nice as the register in Money, but that could be just because I am used to it. The sad part is that I installed Quicken on another machine, than the one that has MS Money, because it newer and in the kitchen.thinking that I could use the MS Money backup file to load into Quicken but when I tried to import the file, it says the MS Money 2007 or 2008 has to be on the same machine as Quicken.
Somore work to do. The interesting thing is that this came up when I wanted to upgrade my XP box to 7 and have to re-install all of the software. I had MS Money 2005 but when I upgraded to 2007, I just downloaded it from the MS website.and didn’t make a back up file for the install. So if I want to go to Windows 7, I need to reinstall Money but don’t have the 2007 disk and it isn’t being supported or sold any longer.
Life is so fun. They don’t charge for bill pay online, just the bill pay option through Money, Quicken, or Quick books. I will look at GNU Cash to see if that fits my needs.
I think there is a really good opportunity for a enterprising entrepreneur. I would think if some one built just the check register portion similar to Money with the bill pay function (without the monthly bill for using it other than from the bank), they would have a successful product. I suspect that the majority of Money users mainly, or in my case only, use that part. Mr Bear: I don’t understand the problem.
If you enter a transaction in your check register to pay at a future date, quicken (and I assume any other off-line program) will show the transaction and the balance in the account on the date of the transaction (it would only be accurate, of course, if the transaction cleared on that date, but that is what you should assume). You can also schedule automatic transactions to enter (either automatically or by prompting you) whenever you want. For example, you could say, in essence “on the 20th of each month enter a $300 payment for my rent to be deducted on the 1st of the following month.” On the 20th of each month it would enter the transaction, and you could look up your account balance any time after that and it would show the balance both before and after that deduction. Before the 1st (the “cleared date”), it would show up shaded to reflect the fact that it should not have cleared yet. Is that what you want to do?
Thank you for your attempt, Classicalguy. You’re right, you not getting what I’m driving. Are you familiar with MS Money? There is a feature called Cash Flow, which is actually a report that projects how much much the balance will be after each transaction. The time period is customizable. Since I get paid every two weeks, I generally set the report to project for the next two weeks.
The Cash Flow projection pulls its information from the Bills & Deposits, a feature that is common to the other programs available, using such names as Scheduled Transactions, for example. The problem is that MS Money seems to be the only program that projects new balances in dollars and cents. The rest all do it with a graph, which is of no use to me. I do my planning based on knowing more or less what’s going to happening in the next 2-4 weeks. Does that make it more clear? I’m really quite desperate to find a program that duplicates this feature. Thanks for any help you can provide.
I have yet to find any equivalent to MSMoney – I’ve been looking since this article came out because I knew my copy would expire in October ’09. I’ve tried just about everything and haven’t yet found anything that works as well. The other thing to note is that I had to change computers due to a crash and because my copy expired, I can’t activate it now, so I’ll lose all functionality in 60 days and won’t be able to use it at all. I contacted them to see if they could provide a code that will still allow me to use the basic program without the online functionality and am still waiting.
If not, then I’ll have no choice but to change programs, but I have no idea to what nothing so far does what I need it to wrt forecasting, register and online ability. It’s sad, really, that it’s so hard to find something that will work the way you want it to. Classicalguy – I’m fine with change – I work with computers for a living and am always trying new or upgraded software, but I would like something that works as well or better than the program I’m switching from. I bought quicken early in the summer and used it for 2 months before I gave up on it for a number of reasons. I’ve also downloaded and tried several other programs mentioned here. I really like Mint and think it’s better than Money in many ways and if they had a register built in, I’d go with that in a heartbeat. I’d also stick with Money, even without the online services, if I can get them to give me a code that will unlock it.
It seems to me, that many of us here want the same type of tools from our financial software, and can’t find it outside of Money it can’t just be because we’re all resistant to change. For me, I want one stop shopping like I had with Money before it expired.
Now I have to go to several places to get the same information. @Jon – No, I was never able to find anything that would do what I needed (and that Money already does), but I bought a new computer in October (just after my copy expired) and because it had expired, I couldn’t get it installed to even use it without the on-line access. Apparently it needs the key to get it installed and if it’s expired, too bad. So I called tech support and told them that I couldn’t even get the product installed because it had expired and that I just wanted to use it locally without the online part (as they stated on their website that you could do – use without the online peice) and after many back and forth emails, they finally sent me a new key and low and behold it ended up being a renewal key that’s good until next year. I was thrilled since the online stuff works as well! One lesson learned, though, is that once it’s expired you can’t install it at all. If it’s already installed, you can keep using it, though, after it expires.
Anyway, you might want to contact them and see what they can do. I’m hoping that in another year, there will be something out there that does what I need it to do. I have used Quicken for Windows for a few years and recently have moved to using a Mac. I no longer use a PC (though I still have my PC Quicken file) and have not yet chosen a Mac-compatible program/service to use.
Could I ask for suggestions as to which program(s) might work best for me. What I require/desire (in no particular order): 1.
Prefer a desktop program rather than web-based 2. Want to be able to import my old Quicken data 3. Want to be able to download data from bank, brokerage, and credit card accounts 4. Do not require budgeting capabilities 5. I use personal finance software to track my assets/liabilities and to identify and track spending by category and vendor/store. Not opposed to paying for the service. I’ve been a Microsoft Money user for at least 15 years.
The latest version that I used was the Plus issued in 2007. I had procrastinated and finally broke down and bought Quicken Premier 2010. Last week, I installed and transferred my data. It was a relatively painless conversion and online updating of accounts. I did have a problem re-opening the file the next day and ended up reinstalling the program. I left it alone until this past Sunday and ran into the same problem.
I did an online chat session with their tech support and got the problems ironed out. (It was as simple as copying the file, renaming and running their validation feature.) Yesterday, I ran all of the reports I needed to do my taxes and am happy as a clam with the ease that they ran. I am disappointed that the program does not let you create custom reports from scratch, but that is remedied by customizing existing. Is there a website that compares these apps based on features. I’m looking for: 1) web access & iPhone app, 2) ability to enter future (one time or repeating) & uncleared transactions to project cash flow, 3) allows me to categorize and split transactions between multiple categories for reporting purposes (mostly tax-related), 4) pulls transactions automatically from banks yet allows me to RECONCILE and 5) allows me to manually set up accounts for which I can’t connect to an existing bank and for CASH. Bill pay would be nice.
I don’t need investment tracking. I currently use Quicken Home & Business 2007 but that doesn’t allow the iPhone or web access.
I’ve tried Mint but without the Cash feature, it’s a disappointment. I’m using Quicken Online now, but just discovered a MAJOR BUG that is sending me packing immediately if not sooner. I’m a Bank of America customer, so am eyeing their “MyPortfolio” which is a Yodlee app.
I’m quite familiar with accounting software, so GnuCash looks promising, but they don’t seem to have an iPhone app. I need a way for my husband to view balances and transactions so he knows where the finances are. That’s where something like Mint is very helpful.
I have many many accounts to track, so I hope to just do this switch one time. It’s very time intensive! Does anyone know of a single app that has the features I need? Or of a website that compares all of these by feature sets?
I haven’t seen anyone mention classifications. We use to call them divisions. Money offers two class boxes and suggests “family members, properties, projects, hobbies, vacations, job expenses, other.” This is one of the fun things for me in MS Money. I have the standard categories and I use the two provided classification boxes.
One is set up for properties.expenses for my cabin rental, summer camp, house, etc. I use the other for family.kids, mother, personal, business. Quickbooks and Quickbooks online have one classification box as I recall (it costs more with the online version). But I haven’t found anything else with this feature. I am fascinated by Yodlee.
I travel a great deal and don’t always have internet access. Online accounting is therefore a problem, but having something working even when I can’t is great. But then I had a password problem and got locked out. Solving that has been truly awful. I don’t think I’ve been able to get in for a couple of months now.
It’s fixable, I just have to be in one place for a while. I plan next to look at MoneyDance and Thrive. I tried probably at least 10 of the options on this list, but in the end decided on Yodlee. I’ve been using Yodlee for about 3 months now and can’t complain at all. Chase charges $10/month to download your statements, so a desktop option was out of the question. I also wanted something to track my spending automatically. Yodlee isn’t as flashy as Mint or a few of the other sites, but it WORKS.
Mint seems to be a pretty website with financial management software. Yodlee IS financial management software without worrying about how pretty everything is.
Their customer service is great, especially considering that there is no monthly charge. I love their “Expense Analysis” section, which shows my expenses for any time period. I mainly use that to ensure that I stay within my monthly budget. I also have about a dozen different accounts setup in Yodlee, and have never had a problem accessing any of my banks, including investment sites like Sharebuilder and Prosper, and a few student loan providers. It even tells me how much my cable bill is! I’ve tried a bunch on the list but still haven’t found what I”m looking for which is a very simple, easy on the eyes, easy to use program that makes it easy to set up a budget, visually see what you’ve spent in a nice pie graph, color coded way, and plan for future expenses.
We use Mint currently, but it duplicates data from our credit card,, I spend way too much time cleaning up my account. I’ve tried buxfer, wesabe, same types of problems w/ categories and such not working, or duplicating, or deleting info, can’t ever get an accurate budget set up. I’m on a Mac, don’t have the latest OS (I’m at OSX 10.4), definitely need something that lets you import transactions from bank accounts.
@Jon I successfully imported 15 years of data, covering around 50 accounts in multiple currencies from MS Money to Quicken 2010 (Windows). This would have involved thousands, if not tens of thousands of transactions. There were some cleanup issues afterwards and I spent a couple hours getting Quicken configured the way I wanted, but it was not too bad. I can fully report on all the historical data, so that is working pretty well. However many other people have had reported crashes and other problems with Quicken, so maybe I just got lucky.
Also I really, truly hate Intuit and their obsolescence policies, and the fact the product has not improved in so many years (I switched from Quicken to MS Money in 2000 and the current product has virtually no new features.) But it is now the only product which does most of what I need. @Stephen I have the same requirement of US and international banks and investments. MS Money did handle international stock price updates, but that is being discontinued. I have been very impressed with moneyStrands because it is the first system I have ever found which supports automatically downloading Australian bank transactions (as well as US banks). Also they seem very responsive about adding important features, while Mint has oddly refused for years to add incredibly basic things like manual accounts, which could relieve many issues.
However until moneyStrands adds support for investment accounts (supposedly underway), it will not replace Quicken for me. I do hope when they add investment accounts, they support updating stock prices from overseas exchanges (which MS Money handled, but Quicken does not.) So for now I use Quicken, and have to manually update foreign transactions and stock prices, while watching hopefully for moneyStrands or others to fill the gap. I have recently started trying out some of the new personal finance/budgeting software options that are now on the market. I have tried YNAB and for the most part like its simplicity, but for some I could understand that the program is a bit too simple.
It is primarily a budgeting program and, unless I have over looked the feature, I do not believe it offers the more advance options, such as online bill pay, that other programs use. One thing about YNAB that really bothers me is the lack of password protection. I am still looking into trying out Mint.com and iBank, so as of now my search continues. I know this was written a long time ago, but I’d like to point out that I have been using Microsoft Money 99 since it came out and to this day it is the best program for me, even better than later versions of Money, Mint, Moneydance, and GNUGash. It does everything I need, with some complex transactions, including home purchases and refinances. I have set up custom reports that export to text files and automatically update eXcel spreadsheets when I open them. Also, the.ofx file format is still used by my banks and is read flawlessly by Money, so I can download statements.
The online stock quotes also work. You can buy a copy of Money 99 for about $15,though Money 07 is available as a free download called the ‘sunset’ version. I keep trying to find a replacement, but I don’t really know why.
I keep coming back to Money 99! Side note, Microsoft is a partner with the site, which is much like Mint. I use a free software called spending viewer It is a windows application that is isolated to your local computer.
It does not ask for your bank website credentials. You can track all of your accounts in single page. Setting up takes less than 5 mins. It allows you to upload transactions in a bulk or manually enter them as needed. It automatically assigns categories based on your settings.
It has various reports allowing you to track better. Report by category, by month, by year, by payees, by budget. You can choose various time periods for all of these reports. Setup budget by weekly/monthly, and track it. It is really fast, shows years worth of data in less than a second, and all in a single screen with single click. I’m personally very frustrated with Mint. It’s ALMOST perfect, but the particular ways it falls from perfection actually make it worse than useless to me.
It randomly loses transactions and counts the same transaction in different categories of my budgeting (and in particular their “Everything Else” category makes no sense at all – apparently $100 + 300 = $1200). These are not new issues; I tried Mint shortly after they were bought by Quicken and had these problems and was among the throng of people complaining about these issues, to which Mint replied that they’d be right on it. And the problems are still vividly there. I spent many months manually entering each transaction into an Excel spreadsheet I had created for budgeting, and it works but it’s quite time-consuming. For several months I had three jobs, which required me to utterly abandon my spreadsheet during that time. This seems silly to me when there’s technology like Mint available to keep at least rough tabs on my finances. But virtually all the programs listed here require me to enter my transactions manually very much like I would in Excel anyway.
I think Mvelopes is the only exception. So, if I’m looking for a program that automatically synchronizes with my bank, classifies my expenses, and lets me use that information to create a budget, are my only options Mint and Mvelopes?
If so, I’ll pay for the service Mvelopes provides, but it strikes me as silly if there’s a free technology out there that does what I’m looking for. The problem with almost all of these alternative programs is that the only allow one or two levels of categories. That may be fine for someone keeping track of a checkbook, but as one’s financial life expands there is much more to keep track of (investments and rental properties).
Quicken allows multiple levels of categories (Rentals:San Diego:Condo:Income:Rent, Rentals:San Diego:Condo:Expenses:Repairs:Plumbing). That is a very important feature to me. I guess it’s a question of what features you need.
2014-Dec: In this day and age of hacking, where the US Pentagon, Sony, Google, JPMorganChase, etc are ALL getting breached by hackers, the **last** things I would ever consider are (1) putting my house on the internet to lock doors, turn on lights, etc and (2) allow MINT dot com to have FULL online access to my banking accounts and, yes, that is precisely what it required. Even as of 2014, I have continued to use the SUNSET version of MS Money – which remains free to download and install without a license key – without issue. Call it ‘old school’ but I sleep better by balancing safety vs. I am currently on XP and am contemplating going on Windows 7. I am told that my Windows ‘Money2004’ is not compatible. Apart from recording all my expenses and income, I need to record all my ‘payee’s and income details (pensions etc). My Money2004 also recorded when all DD’s were payable and automatically registered them in the account when due, ie., I did not have to put them in manually.
I do not need access to the banks, I already have that. Can anyone tell me what is out there, that is as good as Windows Money 2004. Kindest regards, Jeff P.
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O/S Platforms • Windows XP • Windows XP Professional • Windows XP Home Edition Manufacturer's Description Getting started is easy. Whether you are upgrading, switching from Quicken or using Money for the first time, getting started is a breeze. Money Plus Deluxe can automatically download your account information, update your existing Money file or convert Quicken information, so you can get started managing your finances easily. Bills, Cash Flow and Spending Insights. Insights, with alerts customized by you, are smart new tools that keep you in the know about the information you need most, right from your desktop, even when Money isn’t open.
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By attaching links to receipts, rebates, and warranties, you can keep tax, insurance and home inventory records readily available right in Money. You can easily link to product or warranty information on a manufacturer’s website, so you won’t have to worry about a misplaced owner’s guide.
Get tips, tools, articles, and integration with MSN Money. Check out articles from the experts on MSN Money related to a category to help improve your financial picture. Share your ideas and hear from others on the spending message boards. See where your money goes. It’s simple to track spending in categories you want to watch closely—like dining out, entertainment or clothing. Easy-to-understand charts show you exactly where your money is going. Manage your bills with ease.
Money Plus Deluxe allows you to manage your bills using multiple online accounts. Schedule payments in advance. Know what has been paid and what is due, so there are never any surprises.
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Money Plus includes a savings & spending budget to help you plan for retirement, savings, and debt reduction as well as your monthly expenses. It is the comprehensive budget solution that helps you see your savings grow and your debt shrink. Feature List • All your finances in one place • Improve your financial picture • Understand your spending • Get a desktop glance at the information you need most • Improve your investment strategy with help from the experts at MSN Money.