Open Source version of Quicken?

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Open Source version of Quicken?

Postby SJean » Wed May 16, 2007 8:41 pm

Hearing the raves about quicken got me thinking about buying. While it's not wildly expensive, I prefer FREE!

Has anyone tried any open source personal finance software? Seems there are a few out there: GnuCash, jGnash, Grisbi....

I'm thinking I'll try one out.

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Postby jac » Wed May 16, 2007 10:24 pm

I almost started a discussion about this the other day :) I recently decided to upgrade from my homegown bloated excel spreadsheet to a purpose-built program, where FREE was the only category udner consideration.

I tried pearbudget, but it can't (yet) cope with fortnightly payments well (the author tells me it's in the pipeline). I also tried jGnash but it seemed overly complicated for my fairly simple finances. I looked at grisbi but didn't like it (can't remember why), and I finally found MoneyManagerEx, which I have begun using. It allows you to create recurring transactions, as many accounts as you like, it generates reports based on category, date, or whatever, and it's very simple to use. I have no interest in actually downloading my transactions from my bank account, which seems to be a big issue for many people, so I barely even looked at Wesabe, but I did find another online one that almost chose -, which lets you enter current, future and repeating transactions and shows basic account summaries. It's still in development I believe, and it looks like it has an active team behind it.

I left JD a comment about these a few weeks ago, just before I joined the forum, and if he has that around somewhere I included some more detailed impressions of the programs I tried, that I've since forgotten.

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Postby jdroth » Wed May 16, 2007 10:24 pm

Yet another topic I hope to cover eventually on the blog. By the way: I'm happy to publish any reviews you folks might have of various personal finance software. If you're a fan of GnuCash and want to write up a few paragraphs, just let me know. I think a lot of people are curious about how this software compares to the big-name stuff.

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Postby Latro » Thu May 17, 2007 5:44 am recently published a review of an alternative to Quicken. Although it does cost something like $30 the review was generally positive as an alternate finance software.

Moneydance Review

It looks like its built on Java so it will run on OSX, XP, Linux, and anything else Jave runs on.

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Postby Siobhan » Thu May 17, 2007 5:53 am

My husband used GnuCash when single, and liked it just fine (sorry I can't give more details than that! :) ).

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Postby brad » Thu May 17, 2007 6:10 am

Latro recently published a review of an alternative to Quicken. Although it does cost something like $30 the review was generally positive as an alternate finance software.

Moneydance Review.

I tried out Moneydance for a month or two and was underwhelmed. For one thing it did a poor job of importing my existing Quicken might work better if you're starting from scratch rather than trying to import QIF files from your bank or from Quicken. But my main complaint is that it's your standard ugly Javascript feels bare-bones, the graphs are chartjunky, and overall it seemed like a big step down from Quicken...even the Mac version of Quicken, which is saying something.

Honestly I think Quicken or (for Windows) Microsoft Money are worth the price; just resist the annual upgrades and use the same version as long as you can; that spreads the cost out over several years. I'm still using Quicken 2005 for Mac and will probably stick with that for at least a few more years; in fact I shouldn't have upgraded to 2005 and could have easily stayed with the 2002 version I was using before that.

Also it goes without saying that you should never buy computer checks from Quicken; they're at least double the price you'd pay for checks anywhere else, and most of their other services are overpriced. I buy the software from them and that's it, nothing else.

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Postby squished18 » Thu May 17, 2007 6:38 am

I find that MS Money is often included as part of software included with new computers. So if somebody close to you just got a new computer, you might want to check if they received MS Money with it (or MS Works, as it comes packaged in Works too). If they're not going to use it, somebody else might as well use it.


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Postby CTBoss » Thu May 17, 2007 7:36 am

Gnucash just released a windows version

I've generally heard good things about this program but I am waiting for a stable windows version to be released.

I tried using Quicken but I never figured out how to set it up properly and it seemed to cause more work than it saved. And my accounts NEVER matched my statements no matter how hard I tried. Now I use a combination of checking my online balances, yodlee(called easyview through HSBC) and excel spreadsheets.

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Postby elasticdog » Thu May 17, 2007 8:13 am

I'm a big open source guy and have tried a lot of them. GnuCash is one of the oldest and most well known for double-entry accounting in the Linux world especially. If you're a Linux person, GnuCash was stuck using GTK1 for a LOOOOONG time and is a huge dependency nightmare when trying to install it. The new 2.x series has been updated to use GTK2, but from what I've heard from other users, it's a bit buggy and not quite up to the stability that it used to have. I personally used the older version for a couple months and thought it was alright. Kind of a weird interface and not very user friendly. Aside from that, it was powerful, but I never had enough data to really look in to the reporting features and see how it did.

I currently use and like jGnash (have been for almost 2 years straight now!), which is a Java-based personal finance application (meaning it should work on any operating system). I liked it since it is still a double-entry accounting program, it didn't have the dependency craziness of GnuCash, and I could directly import my GnuCash data (as well as QIF data if you're using Quicken). It does pretty much everything I want, and isn't too hard to figure out once you've got your basic account setup done. The real trick is to only use the register tab to enter things in and hide all the accounts that are only for categorization from view. For instance my register tab only lists things like checking, savings, credit cards, cash, and loans.

The reporting feature of jGnash could use some expansion to be more useful, but it's not horrible and the developer will be focusing more on reports in the future. That's another thing that I like about jGnash, and that is the developer is quick to respond to bug reports and is open to ideas about new features. He releases updates fairly regularly and is great at communicating with his users. Try getting that with Quicken :-)

It's definitely not perfect, but I think it's moving in the right direction and I've been happy with for the time being. It does not download your bank data automatically, but that's how I prefer it. I use it more like a software ledger that can give me more interesting information than if it were on paper. Anyway, if anyone has any specific questions regarding jGnash, I can probably answer them.

I have also tried some of the other ones mentioned here (albeit briefly), but felt that they didn't really click with the way that I want to track my finances. That includes Pear Budget, Grisbi, and a couple others I can't remember. Another one to look at if you use Linux and KDE would be KMyMoney.

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Postby srowl » Thu May 17, 2007 8:42 am

I also have used jGnash for nearly two years and love it. If there had been a Windows version of GnuCash back then I probably would have used that, but I'm more than happy with jGnash. The reports are lacking, but if I think of a new report I make it for myself. That's the best part about using Open Source, the ability to modify the software for your needs. Of course, it helps I'm a programmer. :)

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