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Best Finance Software
Old 11-07-2004, 04:48 PM   #1
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Best Finance Software

Hey all, wasn't sure where to post this.

What have you found to be the best financial software to track investments, budgets, etc ?

Quicken, MS Excel or something else?

Thanks in advance for your input!

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Re: Best Finance Software
Old 11-07-2004, 06:40 PM   #2
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Re: Best Finance Software

I can't claim to have made a fair comparison of these programs, so I have no idea which is best. *I use Microsoft Money because a free copy of the program came with one of my computers years ago. *I've had no reason to go through the pain of changing to another program. *From previous discussions, I think a lot of folks on this board use Quicken and many seemed pleased with it.

I simply used an Excel spreadsheet for years. *But after several years, the sheet becomes fairly complex and difficult to modify/update. *

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Here's the way these replies usually go.
Old 11-07-2004, 06:42 PM   #3
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Here's the way these replies usually go.

BTW, welcome to the board, elb!

I see this question about once a month on various boards.

First all the Quicken users chime in ("Works great! Love Quicken!") and then the Money users respond ("Works great! Love Money! Quicken sucks!") and then Quicken users rebut ("You Microsoft weenies, tools of the great evil imperialist monopolistic dictator!") and then someone offers a third choice ("I've been programming Excel macros since 1989 and here's a little gem I just whipped up"...) and the hand grenades start flying.

Quicken or Money both work pretty well. Quicken tends to be much more commercial & relentless in their advertising but I've used their software since 1992 and I haven't been totally disgusted (yet) by their pandering. Quicken is a bonus if you blissfully (mindlessly?) export data to Turbotax. But their main advantage is user inertia-- I'm used to it, it doesn't cost a lot, and I don't care enough to put forth the effort to learn a new program. I only upgrade when I'm afraid that they'll change the data format so much that I won't be able to convert at all. So far that's worked out to be once every 2-3 years.

Money doesn't have all of Quicken's power & options (or Intuit would've abandoned the field years ago) but Money has all the basics plus a few features that Quicken doesn't care about. If Quicken disgusts you then try Money.

Both of these programs may be bundled with computer purchases, other software, mutual fund companies, brokerage accounts, etc. If you can try before you buy then you might avoid wasting $40-$50 and some effort. But I'm not sure that one is better than the other unless you experience a strong personal emotional reaction.

If you have no fear of Excel then do your own thing. The advantage of this approach is that you can include only the features you care about, you won't have to put up with ads or lectures, and you can change the program to suit your needs. And it probably won't mutate its data format unless you tell it to!

Another advantage of Excel is that someone here may have already set up a spreadsheet that they're willing to share. Two other boards where I see a lot of Excel are M*'s "Investing DURING Retirement" and "Hands On" discussion boards.

As someone has already pointed out in another post, Bud Hebeler's "Analyze Now!" website also has some planning/budgeting software that may suit your needs.

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Re: Best Finance Software
Old 11-07-2004, 07:46 PM   #4
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Re: Best Finance Software

I have never tried Money, so I can't compare.

I have used Quicken for tracking and reporting for the last 5 years and find it sufficient for tracking investments, monitoring cash flow, account reconcilation, and tracking net worth.

I like the categories feature in Quicken and use it to monitor spending, but I don't fully use the budget feature. I am not sure if its the software functionality that I don't like or lack of financial discipline which is another indicator that I have a long ways to go to ER.

When I need more control and want to model different what-if scenarios, and make projections, I still turn to trusty Excel.

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Re: Best Finance Software
Old 11-07-2004, 07:49 PM   #5
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Re: Best Finance Software

I've used both money and quicken, in many of their annual guises.

For starters, be prepared to buy the new one every year. Good news is you can usually get it for free or nearly free through moderately simple bundling/coupon/rebate scenario's via one of the many office supply stores.

Next, a lot of work up front to get everything in there, and then a fair amount of time spent making sure everything gets regularly synchronized properly.

After that, finding and correcting many little glitches. For example, ameritrade downloads some information to quicken incorrectly, and after several years of haunting them about it and them promising to fix it and not doing so, I quit using ameritrade.

After that, you can in fact funnel the info into turbotax, but be sure to read every line of every form produced, as my ameritrade to quicken to turbotax combo produced a schedule "D" once that the IRS was highly interested in and wanted to ask me lots of questions about. Turned out to be nothing more than a re-write of that form and no taxes or penalties, but that wasnt one of my favorite couple of weeks.

I'm pretty happy at this time doing all my investing through vanguard, and all my banking at the same place I've been with for 25 years. At the end of the year I'll use the free vanguard turbotax for the web tool, type in a couple of 1099's I'll get, all my deductions, and being done with taxes in an hour or two, minus buying any software, building my life into financial s/w, or proofreading anything to make sure some piece of s/w didnt screw me up.

But some people live in quicken/money and cant get by a day without firing up a graph of their monthly fish fly usage broken out by type and cost bands.
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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