Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quicken, You Really Frustrate Me.

You know how people sometimes joke about new products and say "Now with Less!" Well, it's no joke, apparently, if you're talking about Quicken for Mac.

As I've mentioned in many posts, I track my expenses religiously, using a combination of Quicken on my Mac, and Pocket Quicken on a series of Palm OS devices, currently a Treo. I got an email from Intuit recently touting their latest version of Quicken for Mac, and hoped it might offer some improvements, but when I looked into the details, I found it completely bizarre.

They're introducing an "all-new Quicken Essentials for Mac" sometime this month. They say it's improved and redesigned, but on the "using a prior version of Quicken Mac?" tab, they give these caveats:

We're very excited about the all-new Quicken Essentials for Mac. Not only does it solve the core Quicken jobs better, it also provides the ease of use and elegant user interface Mac customers have come to expect from their applications.

Our Quicken Mac 2007 and earlier users should note that this is a brand new product, so some of the features you've grown used to may not be included.
Gee, what might those not-included features be?
1. Can I track my investments?

Yes, Quicken Essentials for Mac allows you to track the overall value of your investment accounts and the value of your specific holdings. It will not, however, track investment buys and sells, nor will it provide some advanced investment performance reports. If you need more more advanced investment features, try Quicken Mac 2007.

2. Can I export my data to TurboTax?

Quicken Essentials for Mac does not support that capability. If you'd like that functionality, we recommend trying Quicken Mac 2007.

3. Can I pay my bills within Quicken?

While you cannot pay bills within the product itself ("direct bill pay"), you can track your bills and make sure you have enough cash to pay them when they're due. A few alternatives available include using Quicken Mac 2007 or using the bill pay functionality on Quicken Bill Pay.

I happen to like tracking my buy and sell transactions and performance in investments accounts, though I don't use the TurboTax import or direct bill-pay. Maybe not everyone needs these features, but it seems very lame to introduce a new product-- for $60-- that takes so many steps backward. And I continue to be frustrated by their approach to mobile devices.
Palm OS seems to be fading away (though apparently you can run old Palm apps on the new Pre smartphone with a software add-on). My Treo is a few years old now and I'm worried it's going to die one of these days. I keep thinking it would be nice to have an iPhone, but one of the main things holding me back is that the Quicken iPhone app does not synchronize with any desktop versions of Quicken, only the stripped-down online version (which is now merged with Aren't paid-for, premium versions of software supposed to give you MORE features than free online versions?

I'm not sure what my financial record-keeping future will be. I have so much history in Quicken, I'd really like to stick with them, and I would happily pay for new versions of the software as they update it. But not being able to enter new transactions on the fly is a major deal-breaker for me. I'll be continuing to research new options for expense tracking-- for instance, Wesabe seems to offer the ability to enter cash transactions on the iPhone, but I haven't played around with it to see if it will meet my other needs. I'm sure I'll write more about it in a future post, but would welcome suggestions from readers in the meantime!


Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of MoneyDance on the mac, but it takes some getting used to and I'm not sure if it supports importation of expenses. (I only use it to track net worth.)

The big benefit of MoneyDance is its use of double-entry bookkeeping while retaining a front-end that's friendly to non-accountants.

Anonymous said...

If you're having issues due to limitations of Mac versions, don't forget you can always get a virtualization product for your Mac to run Windows and Windows apps within your Mac. I recommend VMware Fusion, although Parallels works well, too. You would need a license for whatever version of Windows you wish to run as well, but that can allow you to run any Windows app without having to buy another computer or reboot into "boot camp".

Anonymous said...

I used microsoft money for a long time until it just recently is/was being phased out. I bought quicken and migrated my data. But I used a palm tungsten e (ancient! but mobile! and doesn't have a monthly fee!) to hold all my data until I could sync it with my pc.

I currently run Quicken on Windows through boot camp on my mac. It seems to work the best. I think there is a WSJ Mossberg solution column on this very problem about Quicken on the mac.

I wanted to ask you how well the mobile works for you, and what kind of charges are associated with the Treo, because I really miss the mobile data entry and syncing part! And the part about it being old (and free after purchase of the device) but very functional.

Kris in JP

Madame X said...

Kris, I only use my Treo as a phone (and the Palm OS apps), not for email/web etc, so it only costs me about $35 a month for the most basic T-Mobile plan.

And, yes, I may look into running Windows on my Mac, but I wish it didn't have to be that complicated!

Thanks for the ideas...

khicks said...

I have tried all of the different financial software options and have only been completely happy since moving to While it does cost me a small fee each month (about $9), every morning it connects with all of my banking, credit card, and investment accounts and allows me to be proactive in my budgeting rather than reactive. I can access it from any computer. The information can be easily exported into excel, but I rarely use that feature as it has many reports built in. The customer service has been great. (I know this sounds like a product endorsement, but I truly think it is great!)

meara said...

I've been using Mint, and the mint application for iPhone--mostly I put in my cash things in a different application, as I do them, and later "split" ATM withdrawals within mint, using those notes (I could, in theory, do this from the mint iPhone application, but it would take a little more time than just jotting them down in a cash tracking app). This isn't entirely satisfactory to me, but it works OK.

ParisGirl111 said...

I used Mint for my tranactions. I also have quickbooks..but I would be lost using quicken or a mac. lol :)

Custom Essay said...

Yeah i m using it! it is going good. thanks for the sharing.

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Justin's Advice said...

I used to use Quicken, but now just use Mint for most of my tracking and stuff.

Quicken was nice (I didnt use the online stuff though), but I like being able to do it from wherever- work or home.

Anonymous said...

I feel your frustration with quicken. It is set up on my computer, but it doesn't download all my transactions once they have cleared. For some reason it has to sit for a few days. It has been about 3 months, but I am starting to get the hang of it.

Debt Freedom Blog said...

That's awesome that you have been able to come up with a way to track your expenses that works for you!

Most people don't get anywhere near the level of budgeting and financial tracking that you do!

I'm just putting the finishing touches on my own buget tracking software based in MS Excel. I'm planing on relasing it on my blog next week 3/2/10. Best of all its all free (provided you have excel on your computer!)!

Anyway, I invite you to check it out if you get the chance!!

Charles said...

Madame X,

Did you see Mossberg's review here:

he comes to the same conclusions. Shame I really was looking forward to the upgrade.

Madame X said...

Charles, I did read that, and I've also received a review copy of the new version from Intuit in the meantime. I hope to post my own review soon.

Wealth Coach said...

I agree Quicken can be a pain, but is there really anything better? We recommend our clients use it, or The reality is most people don't track their expenses and even fewer budget and plan.