Good-bye, Microsoft Money! 12 powerful personal finance programs

Good-bye, Microsoft Money! 12 powerful personal finance programs

Microsoft Money is no longer available for purchase. Microsoft has essentially conceded that there's no demand for the personal finance software product. From the website:

With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed. After suspending annual updates of Money Plus in 2008, Microsoft is announcing today that we will no longer offer Microsoft Money Plus for purchase after June 30, 2009.

Now that Microsoft has thrown in the towel, where does that leave existing users of Money and Money Plus? Some of them are worried. I've received several e-mails about this recently, including this one from Lee G.: “Microsoft just left us in a lurch by killing Money. Any suggestions on finance software? I'm not really a fan of Quicken, but would entertain it.”

It would have been nice if Microsoft had provided a list of these “personal finance management and planning tools.” Since they didn't, I spent a couple of hours surveying the current personal finance software options. Here are some powerful personal finance software programs to take the place of Microsoft Money:

  • AceMoney is a Windows desktop app that offers all the features you'd expect: downloadable transactions, budgeting, investment tracking, and more. AceMoney costs $30, but a free “lite” version is available.
  • Budgetpulse is a free “upbeat” way to manage your money. It offers standard budgeting and tracking features, as well as international compatibility. One of this program's stated goals is simplicity; it doesn't try to do a whole lot other than track your core accounts.
  • ClearCheckbook is “an extremely easy to use tool that helps you balance your checkbook and manage your money. Think of us as an online checkbook register with the added bonus of viewing reports, setting budgets, creating reminders and more.” A premium version adds features. iPhone app available.
  • Geezeo allows users to create and manage a budget while obtaining support from other members. According to the intro video, Geezeo also has the ability to track investments. Mrs. Micah tried Geezeo and liked the goal-setting and community aspects of the tool.
  • Mint has become the Big Daddy of online personal-finance apps, with almost a million registered users. Mint offers support for investment accounts, which is cool, and allows users to create personal budgets. I've heard both praise and complaints from Mint users, so it sounds like something you'll need to try to see if it's right for you. (Here's an early Mint review from a GRS user.) iPhone app available.
  • Moneydance is a full-featured desktop personal-finance manager. It's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Moneydance offers budgeting tools, investment tracking, and many built-in reports. Because I prefer a desktop money app, I'm very tempted to try this.
  • moneyStrands is the new kid on the block. Based in part on a financial management tool from Spain, moneyStrands offers all of the features you'd expect (though no investment-management yet). This tool offers lots of budgeting goals with highly-configurable alerts (“let me know when I've spent $30 on coffee this month!”). It also allows you to compare your finances with other demographics (not individual users, but groups of users). If you prefer Spanish, this app is for you. iPhone app available.
  • Mvelopes is a web-based version of the envelope budgeting system. It automatically connects with most banks and offers a free billpay service. This looks like a slick product, but it's by far the most expensive program on this list. At a minimum, it costs $7.90 per month.
  • Quicken is perhaps the most popular personal-finance software available today. It's fairly comprehensive and well-supported, but not without problems. Old versions are “sunset-ed” at regular intervals, forcing users to upgrade if they want to continue using certain features. I use Quicken for Mac, which supposedly updates investment portfolios automatically. Supposedly. My copy is broken though, and I can't get it to update correctly. There's an online version of Quicken, but to be honest, I haven't heard good things about it. iPhone app available (though users don't like it).
  • Rudder sounds like a tool for those who don't want a lot of extras. As with all of these programs, it allows you to connect to all of your accounts. It also helps you schedule upcoming bill payments. Rudder claims that its “secret sauce” is a widget to help predict your future cashflow. iPhone app available.
  • YNAB is popular among GRS users, especially those for whom budgeting is important. I haven't used this software myself, but I know that it allows you to import bank transactions, pay bills, etc. YNAB isn't for users who want to track investment accounts, but is good for those who want to emphasize budgeting.
  • Yodlee is the grandpappy of online money-management software. It's the platform on which many tools, including Mint, are based. But Yodlee also offers its own personal-finance product called MoneyCenter. As you'd expect, it provides the same account-tracking functionality that most of these applications have, but it doesn't feature budgeting as prominently. Yodlee offers tight integration with most banks, and also has a billpay feature. iPhone app available.

From what I've seen, these apps are a lot alike: the desktop programs offer similar feature sets, and the online tools are all close cousins. There's not a lot to differentiate them. Wesabe has a great community, Mint tracks investment accounts, and moneyStrands offers a Spanish-language option. Each program offers something unique. But is there any one app that knocks it out of the park? I don't know. What do you think? Which option would you recommend for refugees from Microsoft Money?

For myself, I'll continue to use the desktop version of Quicken on my Mac for my personal finance software. It's not perfect, but I know its quirks.

Addendum: Many commenters also recommend gnucash, a free Open Source money-management tool. I considered listing gnucash, but discarded the idea because the software is billed as an “accounting” package. GRS readers report that it's actually very suitable for personal finances.

Note: There are many other specialized personal-finance apps out there: PearBudget for budgeting, Fuelly for tracking gas mileage, etc. I'll do a run-down of these in the future.

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Maggie
Maggie
11 years ago

I’d wholeheartedly recommend Moneydance. I’m a refugee from Quicken, and have been using MD for about 16 months, very happily. I’ve no connection with MD other than being a very satisfied user.

Leighton
Leighton
11 years ago

These online tools are cool, but in my experience they don’t work for those of us who use small community banks. I would use mint or wesabe in a heartbeat, but so far my bank’s online banking system isn’t compatible.

Terrin
Terrin
11 years ago

If you want a desktop application, I also agree that Moneydance is a good place to start especially if you are looking for a Mac application.

Mike
Mike
11 years ago

I just dumped Quicken Mac for MoneyWell. Got it as part of the macupdate promo and love it.

mikemc
mikemc
11 years ago

A great mac option is Moneywell, by NoThirst software. Great tool to control your spending and the best customer service out there!!! I switched from Quicken to Moneywell in Jan. ’09 and have not overspent a cent since. Love it…

Philip
Philip
11 years ago

I’ve been a Microsoft Money user forever, even keeping it running in a VM after switching to the Mac years ago. Due to the shutdown, I’ve been searching for a great Mac money management solution, too, and I found Moneywell. Its great – I was able to convert my Money data (using QIF files) into it easily, and it kept all my categorizations from Money. Its sort of an envelope system style budget and it works seemlessly with a lot of banks (all the ones that I use anyways!). But, as with all things, switching software is tough…

Bulldog Gin Co.
Bulldog Gin Co.
11 years ago

Anything for free? My personal finance tool is a simple spreadsheet I calculated, with growth and amortization figures.

Bulldog Gin Co.

Peter Thorson
Peter Thorson
11 years ago

I will put another vote down for MoneyWell on the Mac. It currently only has cursory support for loan/investment/savings tracking, but the banking and envelope budgeting features are top notch and the developer plans to flesh out the missing aspects in the next version. It has direct connect banking, an iPhone app, and fabulous support.

Because my own finances are complex enough to require something like the mess that is Quicken, I have written my own personal finance tracking database/webapp. Probably not an option for most, but it can allow you to tailor directly to your financial situation.

AmyMo
AmyMo
11 years ago

I can happily and whole-heartedly endorse Yodlee Money Center for folks comfortable with online money management options. Using Yodlee has completely changed my personal finance life and while it isn’t as sexy as Mint, and I do find the budgeting feature a bit confusing, it tracks absolutely everything for me and I’ve yet to find an account it couldn’t link with.

Chris Roland
Chris Roland
11 years ago

If you are looking for a free personal finance application for managing your bills, try out R6 Bill Tracker. It’s open source and free, so any input/feedback directly benefits others. I just release 1.5 and you can download it at http://www.r6software.com. Btw, I’m also in the process of developing a free and open source personal finance application with the same range of features as Quicken or Moneydance. I would like to say they are both great applications, but I like Moneydance and would suggest anyone looking for a full-featured personal finance application at this time, to take a look at… Read more »

Scott
Scott
11 years ago

For 5+ years my wife and I used excel to track investments and budget. Worked great, but very time consuming. We then tried Yodlee and Mint out, while still doing excel to see if one of those would work. We liked Yodlee the best, but we ran into a problem on the budgeting. If we bought some things at Wal Mart (say diapers, milk, and a DVD). Yodlee brought it in to our budget comparison under a general category, or one we named. The problem is, there is not way to break down purchases at these general stores. We like… Read more »

Neil S
Neil S
11 years ago

I don’t like going online with my money. I’m old-fashioned that way, I suppose.

I use GnuCash (http://www.gnucash.org/) on GNU/Linux. It has a Windows port, but I’ve never tried to use GnuCash on any other platform.

Seamus
Seamus
11 years ago

J.D., definitely look into iBank. You can download a trial version and see what you think. I originally was using Quicken Mac and couldn’t stand the UI of the program. iBank is everything you want from a personal finance software program with the great Mac UI we like. It should be included on your list above.

Wise Money Matters
Wise Money Matters
11 years ago

Of all those, I’ve only used Mint and Quicken and have settled on Mint as the best for me. Looks like I might have some more things to look at though.

Technically I did try Wesabe but could never get it to work for me.

David
David
11 years ago

If you don’t need fancy widgets jumping in your face all the time, then I recommend GnuCash (gnucash.org). It has a nice simple interface with all the features you’ll need (online banking, investing tracking, double entry accounting).

infinion0
infinion0
11 years ago

Isn’t Mint based on Yodlee software? They sure seem to have about the same functionality. I use Yodlee myself. It has it’s problems, but it usually does everything I need it to.

Martin
Martin
11 years ago

Another option is gnucash, which is a free and open source program that is similar to Quicken or Quickbooks. It’s been in development by the open source community for many years, but they only began releasing a Windows version a year or two ago.

http://gnucash.org/

Beth @ Smart Family Tips
Beth @ Smart Family Tips
11 years ago

I recently started using YNAB and love it so far. I’m a former Quicken user and like YNAB much better. I believe a Mac version is in the works, if it’s not available already.

Luke
Luke
11 years ago

My wife and I use GnuCash to balance our checkbook. We found it meets our needs. This is a free and open-source option.

http://www.gnucash.org/

Adam
Adam
11 years ago

I love YNAB. It doesn’t allow you to pay bills though, which is fine by me. I just wish the Mac version would come out soon.

Luke
Luke
11 years ago

I’ve created an envelope based budget system called NeoBudget (http://www.neobudget.com). It’s much cheaper than the other envelope-based budget alternatives out there, and is very powerful and easy to use.

Mary
Mary
11 years ago

I personally will keep using MS Money until I can’t get it to install on my computers any more – it works so very very beautifully with Ultrasoft Money on my Palm Centro. It’s all antique technology but by gosh it *works* !!

Luis
Luis
8 years ago
Reply to  Mary

As you Im still with ms money but wondering IF something compatible similar and better available.. Are you thingking The same?

Thanks for share thougths

Jimmy
Jimmy
7 years ago
Reply to  Luis

Microsoft Money Won’t run on Windows 8 – the 64 bit. Don’t know about the 32 bit version.
Pity since I have been using it for decades.
I am looking closely at MoneyDance.

Todd H.
Todd H.
7 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy

My bank will no longer download in the money formats, so I’m being forced to hand key all transactions. It’s a pain but I’ve tried quicken several times and really find it a PAIN, and do not like it.
Have you have another program to use for Windows 7

kat
kat
7 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy

I use MS Money still also….my bank stopped giving me the option to download too and basically said it was no longer possible. However, Discover Card gave me the formula for downloading into MS Money with the new limited formats…here it is…works great! 1. Select “Manage Accounts” and click “Recent Activity”. 2. Select the statement you want to download from the “Activity Period” drop-down list. 3. On the upper-right side of your statement, click on “Download.” 4. Download the .QFX file by selecting Quicken in the Statement Download Options. 5. Save it to Desktop. 6. Execute Microsoft Money. 7. Using… Read more »

jacen
jacen
7 years ago
Reply to  Mary

I just wanted to let everyone know that Microsoft money will run on newer pc’s. I have money 97 running on my windows 8 pc right now. the online stuff doesn’t work, but then again, I like to do stuff manually anyway! I don’t like the idea of having software access all my financial data. Anyway, if you are wanting to keep using ms money, it will run on windows 8!

BOSS
BOSS
7 years ago
Reply to  jacen

Thanks JACEN, I just installed money 98 on windows 8 After being told from Best Buy that they could not get it to work. So I didn’t even try to install it. I am glad to have stumbled across your comment. Back up and running again, Thank so much, BOSS

Tyler@FrugallyGreen
11 years ago

I’ve been using Mint for about 6 months and it certainly beats the pants off my old spreadsheets, but everyone should know that it is very difficult, currently, to track cash transactions and you cannot manually enter transactions. Mint says they’re working on this and will have a solution for us soon. I will recommend Mint, but not without that caveat. If you make many cash transactions at all, I would look somewhere else for the time being.

Michael Smith
Michael Smith
8 years ago

Quick note looking back at this post: Mint is still broken this way. Mint has been consistently broken for a very long time now, with things like duplicating transactions, making transactions disappear, and having the “other” category in budgeting (what they call “Everything Else”) utterly fail to add up to the magical number they display. Many, many people complained about these problems, and Mint has utterly failed to address these problems. I had to give up on Mint because its problems actually made it WORSE than having no budget due to the radically unreliable reporting. I went back to spreadsheets… Read more »

Anon
Anon
7 years ago
Reply to  Michael Smith

Michael, thanks for sharing your insight on Mint.com. It was a bummer when Intuit (Quicken) bought out Mint. It seemed like they simply purchased Mint because it was a direct threat to their cash cow desktop software, Quicken. So, I’m not surprised Intuit isn’t doing much to improve the functionality of Mint.

Chris
Chris
11 years ago

The real question is which of these programs (if any) will let you import the account registers from MS Money.

Sara
Sara
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Chris,

That was my question, and I found at least one program that will do it! I downloaded GnuCash and it imports QIF files. You can export your Microsoft Money entries as a QIF file and import into GnuCash. It worked for me and I am happy with GnuCash.

Sara

Money
Money
2 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Sara, I’m so glad to have come across your response. I’m still using MS Money and love using it. But some banks are starting to stop the download to Money so I might have to find another financial software. It looks like GnuCash might be it.

Stephen
Stephen
11 years ago

I use Gnucash for all my personal accounting. It is great. I have never really used any other financial software so I cannot compare, but what I really like about Gnucash is the double entry system which makes entering and tracking transactions simple.

One thing it is not good for is budgeting. I don’t budget. I merely alter behaviour based on knowledge of what I am spending. It is possible to use it for budgeting but it is not its strength.

The reports are customisable, but I only use a few of them.

Rik Scarborough
Rik Scarborough
11 years ago

I’ll second the suggestion for gnucash. I’ve been using it for years under Mac OS X and Unix/Linux.

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

YNAB anyday! Love it! Using it for my personal and (very) small business finances.

Jason
Jason
11 years ago

I also agree that MoneyDance is a great finance app. I’ve been using it for ~2 years now and love it. It does what I need it to do (track finances, investments, bills, etc), and is fairly active at being kept up to date — the next version is supposed to come out in October.

J.D.
J.D.
11 years ago

So many gnucash users! I came this close to including it in this list, but opted against it because it bills itself as “accounting software”. This made me think it was more like QuickBooks than Quicken, and so I left it out. I’ll have to take a closer look. 🙂

Martha
Martha
11 years ago

I’ve used Quicken and Money, but have settled on Mint. It’s free, easy and has kept both my husband and me on track, thanks to its budgeting and alert functions.

J.D.
J.D.
11 years ago

Has anyone used the personal finance templates from Google Docs? I wasn’t aware of these until this morning. I’ll have to take a look at them and report back in the future.

ross
ross
11 years ago

I tried most, if not all, of the apps listed and the only one I could stand using for more than a week was ClearCheckbook.com.

I have been using it for nine months now and I have even tried some of the other apps during that time, but I always come back to clearcheckbook.

Yes, you have to manually enter your transactions (like an online checkbook register), but the functionality is simple/intuitive and does exactly what you need it to if you want to track every penny you spend.

Gert
Gert
11 years ago

I use GnuCash on windows and really like it. Especially the fact that it uses the double-entry principles of accounting.

It may take some time to completely understand it, but I still really like it.

Kevin M
Kevin M
11 years ago

Does Moneydance allow tracking of “other assets” and liabilities like autos, home, mortgages, etc? I couldn’t find it in their screenshots or features section.

Steve
Steve
11 years ago

I have been searching for a financial package that will work with the local credit unions and might have to either use Quicken or Ms Money as the institutions only provide exports in those formats.

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

Just switched from MS Money to Mvelopes in May. Mvelopes is amazing. There is a learning curve but once your over the hump, it’s fantastic. I know it’s not free or the least expensive, but it’s value seems to be exceptional.

Kearn
Kearn
11 years ago

I’ll have to jump on the gnucash bandwagon as well. I’ve been using it on Windows and Linux for over a year now, and it works great on both. The double entry approach is great for forcing some discipline on making sure you don’t have “slush” where there’s $20 less in your wallet than you remember spending. The reports (especially the expense and income over time bar and pie charts) are great for visualizing where your money is going. It’s in something like 20+ languages. Does assets (fixed and variable), liabilities, income, expense, etc. It’s nothing too flashy, but it… Read more »

Dustin
Dustin
11 years ago

Hi, I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I’m the developer of http://inzolo.com. I would love to get some beta testers on board to give me some feedback!

Maggie
Maggie
11 years ago

Yes, Moneydance does allow tracking of assets such as home/auto etc.

You can also adapt it to budget proactively in the way that YNAB does, via an envelope budget system. It’s not explicit in the software, but it can easily be done by using subaccounts and the facility to shows future transactions. Hard to explain but easy to do! I love Moneydance!

Jessica the hedgehog
Jessica the hedgehog
11 years ago

Thanks for these links, JD. We’ve been using MS Money quite happily for 2 years and were sad to discover they were cutting us off, so to speak. I’ll be taking a close look at the resources you’ve recommended.

Though like Mary @ #22, I do plan to use MS Money until it stops working! We don’t have MS Money set-up to coordinate with our bank or pay bills online, it’s simply a glorified spreadsheet and budget forecaster for us…so I’m hopeful it’ll work for quite a bit more time because of that. *fingers crossed*

JB
JB
11 years ago

Any thoughts about Quicken Financial Life for Mac? It’s been “coming this xxx” for two years now. The latest word was this fall, but if you try to find anything on the Intuit site today it’s like it never existed. When I Google “quicken financial life”, the top hit is Intuit’s link for Mac personal finance apps. Now it takes you to info on Quicken 2007 for Mac, but you can see the info on QFL if you look at the cached page dated June 25. All of the links on that page, though, now point back to Quicken 2007.… Read more »

Jacque
Jacque
11 years ago

I recently tried mint.com on the recommendation of a co-worker. It was easy to set up and I initially liked it. Unfortunately, it is not geared towards savings (not even a category option!) and seems to be just one financial advertisement after another. After a week, I’m already tired of hearing pitches about how I can “save” by transfering a credit card balance to a new low-rate offer!

Mary
Mary
11 years ago

Jessica @ #40, I used an earlier version of MS Money (with the associated Ultrasoft Money version) for four years with no problems whatsoever, but I don’t do a whole lot online other than download transactions from our bank in the Money format. (Our bank also offers .csv formatted downloads, yay!). I tried GnuCash for a non-profit group for which I am the treasurer, but I *could not*, despite hours of looking online, figure out how to get the reports looking the way I liked. Gave up and went to an Excel template I found on the Microsoft web site.… Read more »

Tom "The Practical Nerd"
Tom "The Practical Nerd"
11 years ago

I used MS Money for a long time, but then I ditched it for ClearCheckbook because I liked the simple layout. Unfortunately, ClearCheckbook then updated to a really lousy-looking color scheme that made the whole thing look really ugly. On top of that, a few UI changes took me right out of it. The best way I’ve found is through a spreadsheet and Mint. The spreadsheet allows me to manually enter in transactions (which Mint can’t do) and balance my checkbook, and Mint gives me all the fun features that any commercial piece of software would have (like charts and… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
11 years ago

Ive been jonesing to join the financial software crowd but its hard to give my excel spreadsheets and old fashioned check ledger.

Josh
Josh
11 years ago

Gnucash is my current primary financial tracking program of choice. The user interface leaves much to be desired on Windows or Mac OS X, and it’s a nightmare to set up on a Mac. However, the functionality and true free-ness of the software are more than enough for me to ignore its quirks. I’ve also been trying out Quicken Online recently. Mint doesn’t track cash and won’t work with my local bank, so it’s right out. Wesabe tracks cash, but doesn’t work with my local bank, so unfortunately it also isn’t an option. Quicken Online supports mobile access, and has… Read more »

Rachel
Rachel
11 years ago

I also am a former Quicken user who became frustrated with having to upgrade the software constantly. I switched to Mint and am very happy (especially the email alerts and weekly financial reports).

@Jacque – I actually think they’re pretty low pressure about “pushing” products. I just never click on the tab that gives offers. For savings, you can just create your own budget category and then designate transfers to your savings account. Then you should be able to track how much you save over time.

abdullah syahbal
abdullah syahbal
11 years ago

give me suggestion best one from that 16?

Sam
Sam
11 years ago

I use a little application called ChaChing for my Mac and I love it. I use it in tandem with Numbers, iWork program from Apple, as ChaChing’s major flaw is it doesn’t do daily balances.

Facets of Nature
Facets of Nature
11 years ago

What is a good application for new small (as in tiny home-based) business? One that tracks expenses as well as revenue.

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