Microsoft Money

I’ve been using Quicken for years. I’m currently running a very old copy – version 2001. It worked pretty well until they cut off their service entirely earlier this year, and it now throws warnings all over the place. I looked into upgrading, but the $80 price tag combined with mediocre online reviews and potential loss of QIF import scared me away.

There are a couple of big things I look for in my checkbook program:
– Ease/Flexibility of data input. I need to be able to periodically import data from investment accounts, but mostly I manually input. So while I need the QIF import feature, mostly I need quick type-aheads.
– Great reporting
– Good investment tracking. I really like my instant quotes, and I’ve been living without them for far too long.

And of course, I’ve been pretty annoyed with Quicken’s move into the online space. Their product just got bogged down, and lost a lot of it’s snappiness and trustworthiness.

So, while standing at Best Buy last week looking to buy my Tax software (I bought TaxCut for the 3rd year in a row – $10 cheaper than TurboTax), I found myself drooling over a new financial program. I decided I needed the “premium” version of Quicken – to get the online quotes. Amazingly, the packaging and feature breakdowns with Microsoft Money was nearly identical. And since I work for Microsoft, I decided to get that one instead.

Today I finally got a chance to try it, and I have to say, its really great so far. It imported all my quicken data with almost no trouble. (It did lose a couple of minor categories). But the investment tracking is far more accurate – it immediately pointed out a few accounting errors I had, and I was able to fix them after getting acquainted with the new layouts and terminology. I was also impressed that it auto-detected several of my recurring payments, and figured out a rudimentary monthly budget for me. On more careful glance, though, I did discover it wasn’t very smart about it and sometimes misses payments.

The online integration seems a lot smoother than Quicken’s was too. Maybe its just 5 years of product updates, but they managed to make the interface pretty clean. I do actually trust Microsoft to respect my privacy a bit more than Intuit as well. The one big annoyance was a flash-based Geico ad in the middle of the Investments page, but I think I’ll just not use that page very often.

Anyway, if you are like me and tired of Quicken, it might be worth trying Microsoft Money. The Premium version retails for about $75, but it has a $40 mail-in rebate. That is almost exactly the same price as Quicken’s equivalent version. So far, I like it.

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