Poll: Best personal finance software?

Poll: Best personal finance software?

Summary: A little while ago, before the massive recession threw everyone into the depths of their portfolios, I thought it would be prudent to graduate tracking my expenses from pen and paper to software.My parents have dabbled with Quicken, and I wasn't really impressed with Microsoft Money.

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MintA little while ago, before the massive recession threw everyone into the depths of their portfolios, I thought it would be prudent to graduate tracking my expenses from pen and paper to software.

My parents have dabbled with Quicken, and I wasn't really impressed with Microsoft Money. After I saw a post about the site Mint.com -- and liked what I heard and saw -- I gave the online service a whirl. It's clean, intuitive and polished -- no spreadsheets necessary.

Just yesterday, I came across a great head-to-head finance software showdown in Slate by Mason Currey, which somewhat justified my choice. In it, Currey pits Quicken Deluxe against Money against Mint against Wesabe against Quicken Online. The verdict? Quicken Online over Mint by a hair, with noting that Quicken Online's very existence (and much of its features) is owed to competitive startup Mint.

Which got me thinking: Now that the market turmoil has everyone re-examining their 401(k) and their banking accounts, what's the best way to go?

As tech-savvy ZDNet readers, what do YOU use to track your personal finances?

Quicken OnlineSo far, Mint's been relatively good to me, even though it's had trouble loading in my 401(k) and it strangely counts my savings account as a checking account. The graphical interface is top-notch (ING Direct users, rejoice!), the e-mail reminders are helpful once you've got more than a month of finances entered into the system, and most of all, it's useful enough for me to want to check it on a regular basis.

On the downside, Mint requires you to upload you account information, which is a scary prospect for security-minded users out there, and it doesn't update balances and pending charges as quickly as I'd like. Also, it counts my long-term savings account as money on hand, which though true, is something I'd like to have the choice to factor out of my running total (same goes for student loans!).

Microsoft MoneyBut I'd like to hear the pros and cons of Quicken, Money, Mint, Wesabe and other sites from readers who have tried them. Not just for me, but for the benefit of the entire ZDNet community.

With whom do you trust your finances, and why? Tell us in TalkBack.

[poll id=6]

Topics: Software, Banking, CXO, IT Employment

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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Talkback

35 comments
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  • Moneydance

    Moneydance - moneydance.com
    bilihor
    • moneydance

      I use moneydance as well. It's a nice program that is
      cross-platform (I started with the linux version and
      am now using the Mac version without having to buy
      another license) and isn't storing all of your
      financial information on the web somewhere.
      kiz
      • Strange...

        I am not really a fan of storing all my financial data on one company's web server... in fact I keep quicken loaded on a stand alone old PC that only gets connected to the internet long enough to download the info from various banks. I would think quicken online would be a hacker's dream to break into...especially since some people probably have it store their passwords to other banking sites within it...

        Security on the internet is tough... keeping all your eggs in one basket is probably not good.
        notlehs
        • If you have

          solid security measures in place, a hardware firewall and use some common sense then having your finance data on a local machine is no big deal. Back-up to an external drive or DVD or thumb drive, even to another server in your network if you are concerned about losing data. Simple really.
          Linux User 147560
          • DVDs?

            Security is not just a matter of "loosing" data but having your personal life hijacked - DVDs don't help with preventing this at all.

            I'm in full agreement with poster 'notlehs' - you get what you deserve when all your personal info is hosted outside of your control. What's a firewall going to do for this scenario, eh?
            Meesha
    • Ditto!

      Drat! Ya beat me to the punch! ]:)
      Linux User 147560
  • SplashMoney

    Great little app originating for the Palm OS. Has been ported to Windows and iPhone worlds. I can keep track of my expenses on my iPhone and sync it via wireless connection with my desktop. Good tool set and it is a darn sight cheaper then the competition.
    rmlounsbury@...
  • RE: Poll: Best personal finance software?

    We've just begun using Mint in my house and so far so good. It takes a good couple of hours to input all your account information, and we are having similar issues with our 401K accounts and uploading some of our account information, but overall we like it and the price tag really pushed us over into using it. It was recommended to us by several other twenty-something couples who also liked it, so it may be something that is trending for young urban dwellers. For what it's worth my parents swear by Quicken and have the highest credit score of anyone I know. ;-)
    kaeup
  • RE: Poll: Best personal finance software?

    http://www.youneedabudget.com

    I recently went searching for budgeting software and started looking over reviews of Quicken and MS Money. While they are OK for investments most seem to think for everyday expense budgeting they were lacking. During that process I came across You Need a Budget Pro. What sold me was all the positive reviews on Amazon. I had never seen a piece of software on Amazon with so much positive feedback. I have been using it for a couple months now and have been quite happy with it. Updates are free and the developer seems to be regularly working on new features. The software takes the approach that you should always live on last months income so you can't easily overdraw your accounts but even if you are getting caught up on a credit card or two it is very helpful to have all your accounts listed in one place so you can see where you stand. It does import both Quicken and MS Money data files put out by most banks and credit card companies so there is very little manual data input. Works very nice.
    flyerbry
  • GnuCash

    ...
    DarkFalcon
  • None Of The above!

    I've tried 'em all recently, commercial and open source. MS Money came the closest to being acceptable for me, but just wasn't quite good enough. I continue to use the system I wrote in VB 3 years ago (written because nothing filled the bill then either).
    Mr_Wizard
    • None of the above, but ...

      I don't use any personal finance software. What's it good for?
      I keep my various stock portfolios in Yahoo finance for quick access and if I care to I can go to I can go to the broker sites for trading.
      My checking account, credit cards, and mortgage are all online. I can't even imagine what I'd use a personal finance program for.
      Am I missing something?
      Badge3832
      • Automation

        Well with Quicken (see my other comments about it later) you can DL account information which makes life a lot easier.
        More importantly you can pay all your bills without writing a check, depending on your bank (BoA for me) they include it free.
        Even when I had to pay for the bill pay service, it was a lot cheaper han the cost of checks, envelopes and stamps. Not counting the time saved not having to write checks by hand, just make an entry in the checkbook.
        And if you like to pay when due, not weeks ahead, and not forget it you can tell it when to pay.
        And of course the time saved on those bills you pay month after month, I've used it long before most offered automatic withdrawls.
        And again since you don't write a check, many payments are electronic, security is improved.
        knudson
        • Automation?

          I pay almost all my bills online. I don't believe any of the ones I write checks for would benefit from a personal finance program, i.e. the vendor doesn't have an electronic program.
          Where is the added value with Quicken vs. going online to my bank and credit card company?
          Badge3832
        • Re Automation

          Have you not had any of the download missing and/or inaccurate data problems that so many of us have had since ~8/01/08? One thread on their forum was closed after about 1500 complaints.

          A new thread seems headed the same way.
          hhdawrs
  • RE: MoneyDance

    Yeah tick one more for MoneyDance. I tried GnuCash and Money and Quicken and found them all to be much too complex for my needs. And putting my financial data on a website out there? No thanks.
    Olderdan
  • Money 98

    I started with Money when there was little else. Over years the data built up to 278kB. I "upgraded" to Money 98 and found that it offered no noticeable benefits but the data transferred from the earlier version immediately occupied 3.8MB. Now I have a lot more data and dare not upgrade to the latest Money since I only have a 160GB disk and if the new version is as bloated compared with Money 98 I would not have enough disk space
    misceng
  • Money 06 didn't work on Vista so I use Quicken

    I used Money for over 12 years and I was very happy with the product. When I installed Vista I developed a problem where I was sometimes unable to open my money file and I had to restore the backup. I tried upgrading to 07 but it didn?t fix the problem. I think that it was caused by UAC not letting me open my file but I couldn?t fix it. This is one of the reasons I hate Vista ?because it doesn?t work with MS products! I bought Quicken deluxe when my backup file failed to open.
    I really like the online banking in Quicken but I don?t like the look of the home page. I also feel that I have less control of accounts. When I used Money I felt like I knew where every penny was. I feel like Quicken gives me an approximate value. The online banking is great but I don?t trust the reconcile feature.
    Now I am not happy with either product but I don?t know of a good alternative.
    KLS 12.5
  • RE: Poll: Best personal finance software?

    I have tried most of the above and find that they are complicated, lots of banks charge you for a download, very large files, and they are not private.
    I still use Andrew Tobais's "Managing Your Money".
    I know it is outdated and clunky, but it is simple and tracks all aspects of my finance.
    behusmc@...
  • RE: Poll: Best personal finance software?

    Quicken Deluxe 2005 - anything newer is buggy and not all features work - read the forums. Upgraded to 2007 it has screen flicker, billminder doesn't work, downloads sometimes don't show up, held out for patches and nothing came that helped, if I want to be able to download to the one card I use it for I have to stay the course - otherwise load 2005 back on and make up the transactions - ugh.
    Northlite