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 websites 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 had 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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There are 297 comments to "Good-bye, Microsoft Money! 12 powerful personal finance programs".

  1. Maggie says 01 July 2009 at 05:09

    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.

  2. Leighton says 01 July 2009 at 05:12

    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.

  3. Terrin says 01 July 2009 at 05:15

    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.

  4. Mike says 01 July 2009 at 05:18

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

  5. mikemc says 01 July 2009 at 05:19

    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…

  6. Philip says 01 July 2009 at 05:20

    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…

  7. Bulldog Gin Co. says 01 July 2009 at 05:34

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

    Bulldog Gin Co.

  8. Peter Thorson says 01 July 2009 at 05:36

    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.

  9. AmyMo says 01 July 2009 at 05:38

    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.

  10. Chris Roland says 01 July 2009 at 05:45

    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 that one.

  11. Scott says 01 July 2009 at 05:51

    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 to keep very close tabs on spend in all categories… yes, Yodlee allows you to break out the general purchase (diapers to kids/clothing, milk to food, etc). But by the time we go through and break all that out, it was the same time spent doing it in excel. So we just stayed with excel.

  12. Neil S says 01 July 2009 at 05:53

    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.

  13. Seamus says 01 July 2009 at 05:58

    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.

  14. Wise Money Matters says 01 July 2009 at 06:02

    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.

  15. infinion0 says 01 July 2009 at 06:10

    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.

  16. David says 01 July 2009 at 06:11

    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).

  17. Martin says 01 July 2009 at 06:12

    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/

  18. Beth @ Smart Family Tips says 01 July 2009 at 06:14

    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.

  19. Luke says 01 July 2009 at 06:15

    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/

  20. Adam says 01 July 2009 at 06:17

    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.

  21. Luke says 01 July 2009 at 06:19

    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.

  22. Mary says 01 July 2009 at 06:20

    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 says 27 April 2012 at 18:49

      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 says 30 November 2012 at 20:58

        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. says 25 December 2012 at 11:31

          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 says 26 January 2013 at 15:46

          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 the Microsoft Money File

          Menu:

          8. Go to File > Import > Downloaded Statement

          9. Click “Desktop” in the Left-side Menu

          10. Select All Files from the “File of type:” pull-down menu

          11. Find the downloaded .QFX file and click on it

          12. Click “Import” button

    • jacen says 21 August 2013 at 00:35

      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 says 05 October 2013 at 21:10

        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

  23. Tyler@FrugallyGreen says 01 July 2009 at 06:33

    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 says 26 May 2012 at 12:25

      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 and am now looking for a better alternative that isn’t Quicken-based. (Apparently Quicken bought Mint a while back and everything went to the dogs then.)

      • Anon says 24 August 2013 at 06:14

        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.

  24. Chris says 01 July 2009 at 06:33

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

    • Sara says 19 February 2015 at 12:05

      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 says 08 June 2018 at 23:11

        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.

  25. Stephen says 01 July 2009 at 06:41

    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.

  26. Rik Scarborough says 01 July 2009 at 06:43

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

  27. Jason says 01 July 2009 at 06:45

    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.

  28. Amy says 01 July 2009 at 06:45

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

  29. J.D. says 01 July 2009 at 06:48

    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. 🙂

  30. Martha says 01 July 2009 at 06:51

    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.

  31. J.D. says 01 July 2009 at 06:57

    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.

  32. ross says 01 July 2009 at 07:00

    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.

  33. Gert says 01 July 2009 at 07:05

    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.

  34. Kevin M says 01 July 2009 at 07:06

    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.

  35. Tim says 01 July 2009 at 07:18

    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.

  36. Steve says 01 July 2009 at 07:18

    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.

  37. Kearn says 01 July 2009 at 07:23

    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 works great an is easy to use. Never had any trouble importing data (including files supposedly only for Money or Quicken).

    And best of all – it’s free (both as in speech and as in beer), so you don’t lose anything by trying it out.

    @JD – It has a fair amount of tools and reports for small business accounting, so I’m sure you could use it for that too. I’ve never used it for business purposes, but it has worked great for me for personal finance.

  38. Dustin says 01 July 2009 at 07:29

    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!

  39. Maggie says 01 July 2009 at 07:38

    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!

  40. Jessica the hedgehog says 01 July 2009 at 07:38

    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*

  41. JB says 01 July 2009 at 07:50

    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.

    I wonder if they’ve canceled the project?

  42. Jacque says 01 July 2009 at 07:58

    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!

  43. Mary says 01 July 2009 at 08:03

    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.

    I know I’m going to have to switch at some point (either MS Money or my Palm will give up the ghost) but I’d really like a replacement that allows me to do the data entry only once, preferably as it occurs, maybe as an SMS, or entry into a plain text file or Docs to Go spreadsheet.

  44. Tom "The Practical Nerd" says 01 July 2009 at 08:08

    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 reports). And the beauty is, Mint updates automatically, so I only need to enter in transactions once!

    I put together a tutorial on how to do it at this article, “7 Steps to a Complete Money Management System – for FREE!”: http://www.thepracticalnerd.com/2009/05/29/7-steps-to-a-complete-money-management-system-for-free/

    You don’t even need to set up the spreadsheet manually! Check it out!

  45. Jessica says 01 July 2009 at 08:18

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

  46. Josh says 01 July 2009 at 08:20

    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 the ability to add upcoming, uncleared, transactions as a sort of placeholder to accurately reflect one’s available balance. I’ll have to keep using it for a while to know whether it’s worth switching or even maintaining two separate systems.

  47. Rachel says 01 July 2009 at 08:25

    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.

  48. abdullah syahbal says 01 July 2009 at 08:28

    give me suggestion best one from that 16?

  49. Sam says 01 July 2009 at 08:37

    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.

  50. Facets of Nature says 01 July 2009 at 08:50

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

  51. Bryce says 01 July 2009 at 08:53

    Another free personal finance program out there is HomeBank. http://homebank.free.fr/
    It is cross platform. It has rudimentary importing (QIF/OFX/CSV)

    All in all, it’s pretty simple, doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, but has most of the stuff I find important.

    Also, does anybody know of a program that implements the steps of “Your Money or Your Life”?

  52. Randall says 01 July 2009 at 09:02

    What? No GNUCash? This was tops on my list when I was looking at different applications and the one I went with. It can be as simple or as powerful as you need it to be. And it is FREE and open source.
    http://www.gnucash.org/

  53. Cara says 01 July 2009 at 09:05

    Maggie,

    Were you able to import your Quicken data into Moneydance? I have over 8 years of Quicken data that I don’t want to lose, so I’ve been nervous to make a change.

    Thanks!

  54. Nolan says 01 July 2009 at 09:21

    I run a small fitness studio and we use Mint to watch our expenses and manage our budget. It beats using excel.

  55. abdullah syahbal says 01 July 2009 at 09:22

    i still use MS money, and i think is not bad.

  56. Craig says 01 July 2009 at 09:24

    @Leighton BudgetPulse does not sync with banks, allowing users from smaller or local banks to utilize our tool. It requires manual input of data or import of financial bank statements.

  57. Craig says 01 July 2009 at 09:27

    @Chris BudgetPulse allows you to import MS Money files straight into the system in a matter of minutes. It may be a good option for those looking to switch.

  58. Craig says 01 July 2009 at 09:28

    @Steve BudgetPulse allows you to import MS Money files straight into the system in a matter of minutes. It may be a good option for those looking to switch.

  59. Craig says 01 July 2009 at 09:31

    Full Disclosure: BudgetPulse.com is a great manual personal budgeting software for people of all ages, including students. We strive on simplicity and functionality. We don not sync with banks for those users more concerned with security threats. We do allow imports of financial bank statements and Quicken and MS Money files. If anyone has any questions about our tool, please feel free to ask.

    Craig Kessler
    Marketing Director at BudgetPulse
    [email protected]

  60. Brian says 01 July 2009 at 09:45

    I have to put in a vote for Yodlee. Yodlee as stated is the backbone of Mint, they also provide the My Portfolio function for BoA. If you don’t care for the Web 2.0 glossy look of Mint, but just want raw data for analysis, I must recommend Yodlee. The dashboard is a great overview of your finances, most accounts will link, it can track almost anything including cellphone bills and reward programs, and the asset allocation view is useful. The budgeting is slightly weak and it is a hassle to break down transactions into categories if you want to be very precise with budgeting. But if it is for general spending reports, net worth tracking, and investment overview, I recommend Yodlee.

  61. matt @ Thrive says 01 July 2009 at 09:47
    Thanks for the “neat” comment, JD – we think saving is awesome, and we’re proud to be helping people do that for free. As always, interesting new features are coming around it (July is going to be an exciting month), so stay tuned for more.

    I think the last paragraph is in some ways the most interesting one here, mainly because I think it is both wrong and right. I do actually think that the apps are distinct: if you take Thrive and Mint, for example, they are very clearly different in the tone and features. And that is reflected in the populations that use them: Thrive, for example, is actually skewed with slightly more women than men (Mint is dramatically more men than women, at last report) and skews younger, for people who are doing less to track their investments and more to make actual financial decisions about things like first homes and stable accounts and beginning retirement planning.

    But what is far more interesting is the truth that I don’t think any site out there has it all, and I include Thrive in that. Part of that is just the newness of the marketplace: there aren’t really huge players yet besides Quicken that have been around long enough to truly mature. In Thrive’s case, it is simply a matter of engineering and design power: we know what people need, and we’re working as hard as we can to get it to them, it just takes a serious amount of coding and product-thought to bring that into the hands of consumers in the right way. We’re doing it, and we’re doing it faster, but we are a long, long way from “complete”.

    I think that is actually a good thing for consumers. Mature industries are often both resistant to change and rabidly anti-consumer, as they have fine-tuned the money making machine. In the PFM space, by contrast, you have these companies that are still learning right alongside their user base. At Thrive, that means you can pick up the phone, call our number, and actually get me on the line. You can say “I wish it did this” or “This would really help me” and we can bring that to the team and find a way to make that happen. Trying doing that in a more “mature” industry and you’ll likely get stonewalled.

    So I’d like to see that as a strength. For those that use Thrive, consider it a call to send me your thoughts about how we can be better: [email protected] or give me a call on our toll-free line, 1.888.831.4080. If you’re not a Thrive user, check out http://www.justthrive.com , read our blog, and feel free to tell me what you would want anyway: we may already have it, but if we don’t, we can think about how it might help.

  62. matt @ Thrive says 01 July 2009 at 09:55

    And now, the response wrapup:

    @ Bulldog Gin Co: Most of these apps are free, actually. And honestly, given the quality of the free apps, I can’t recommend a pay one. That said, it is worth knowing how they make their money – if you want some details about how we remain free at Thrive, let me know (it helps that we’re owned by LendingTree, which has always been able to help consumers and still be profitable).

    @ AmyMo: Just FYI, Mint (like Thrive and many others) actually uses Yodlee as their bank end, so in theory, any account you can connect in Yodlee, you can connect in Mint, Thrive, etc.

    @ J.D.: We’ve played around with the Google templates – they are a reasonable way to do it if you aren’t looking for an automatic solution, but they basically presume that you know how to interpret the math and are just looking for a shortcut (rather than the vast majority of people, who have indicated in our surveys that they are trying to get actual advice). That said, I think they are interesting and worth checking out, particularly for advanced users.

    @ Jacque: We at Thrive (www.justthrive.com) have a strong savings component (including plans, which we’ll be doing even more with soon). You might also think about Wesabe or SmartyPig, which have interesting approaches to saving.

  63. Lucia @ moneyStrands says 01 July 2009 at 09:58

    Thanks for including us on the list JD. Just a quick note that Expensr (which is also listed) is owned and operated by moneyStrands. We are currently working on integrating some of their features into moneyStrands, so stay tuned for some cool product updates.

    Cheers,

    Lucia @ moneyStrands

  64. Bill says 01 July 2009 at 10:03

    Another happy Mac MoneyWell user here. Excellent for those of us getting started with a budget and getting out of debt.

  65. Tommy says 01 July 2009 at 10:20

    I’ve been a Money user since 1997, and personally I have a hard time believing that there is no money to be made in desktop financial software. But, I’ve largely switched to the Mac now and truthfully Money was all that was tying me to Windows. Right now I’m experimenting with Mint.com and finding it okay, certainly worth the price 😉 But I too would ideally prefer a desktop app, but nothing on the Mac can approach Money’s feature set with the exception of Quicken, which from what I hear is even worse on the Mac than it is on Windows. Moneydance has a good reputation, but if you care at all about the look and feel of your apps, you’re likely to be disappointed. It’s a Java application which is great for being cross platform, but terrible for a native-feeling user experience (As a Java developer it pains me to say that). At this point I think I’m going to see what the early reviews of Quicken Financial Life are like, which is Intuit’s new Mac only product. I’ll have to check out Moneywell in the meantime though.

  66. Richie says 01 July 2009 at 10:26

    I’ve been using Quicken for a few years. I’ve never totally loved it. I enter all my transactions, but I never am really able to figure out what reports are any use to me.

    I like the Financial Overview tool that shows my net worth by month. It helps me to see how my debt is decreasing.

    But one thing that I want to know is where my money actually goes each month. The Quicken reports tend to look at “spending”. When I send $100 to my credit card company, Quicken doesn’t consider that a “spending” transaction. But that is most definitely part of my monthly cashflow, and I can’t find a way to see it in Quicken.

  67. matt @ Thrive says 01 July 2009 at 10:32

    Quick side note for Mac users (of which there seem to be many): Thrive is actually developed on Macs, so it is validated against Safari and the Mac version of Firefox – if you ever have trouble with the site in any Mac platform, it is easy for us to troubleshoot, just let us know.

  68. Dustin @ Inzolo says 01 July 2009 at 10:42

    I had no idea Thrive was owned by LendingTree. That is very interesting. I have also heard that many of these sites use Yodlee for their back-end. I would be curious to know how much these free sites pay Yodlee to use their account aggregation service.

  69. Tommy says 01 July 2009 at 10:50

    Richie, Quicken (and Money) in the case you are describing use a more sophisticated accounting model. When you pay a credit card, you’re really transferfing money, not spending it. You spent it already when you made the purchases on your card. Money I know has a specific cash flow report where you will see the CC payment treated more like you’re expecting (an expense), even though it’s not categorized as such. The benefit to this method is that it shows that you’re still spending money when you put things on your credit card, not merely when you pay the card.

  70. kg says 01 July 2009 at 10:59

    I have used quicken pc for 8 years or so and just can’t bring myself to give it up. It has all my history and hours put into making it just right and like the OP I am used to its glitches.

    All though I have set up mint as well. Even if you sign up for mint and never go back to it, it is worth it for the balance alerts, bill reminders, and the like that you can get over sms or email.

  71. JP says 01 July 2009 at 11:07

    I recommend MoneyDance… I have been using it for about 2 yrs now & I LUV IT! I am also a refugee from Quicken [use Microsoft Money also *yuck*] & MD is so much simpler to use.

    I love the fact that it’s cross-platform since I use Windows & Linux. Actually that’s the main reason I use it. Also, the plugins for MD really made me love it more.

    I try others but I still prefer MoneyDance so far.

  72. Benjamin says 01 July 2009 at 11:10

    I’ve used Moneydance for at least 8 years, since I needed something that would work on something other than Windows. It’s been great all that time. They’ve made small improvements over time, but it’s always remained solid and functional. It pulls online bank info, does local budgets, graphs, reports, imports QIF from Quicken. I’m a happy customer.

  73. Steve says 01 July 2009 at 11:26

    I rather liked Microsoft Money and have been using it for years. Rather a pity that it has been discontinued.

  74. Kevin M says 01 July 2009 at 11:30

    @Richie – the $100 to your credit card is not “spending”. It is paying off a liability created by earlier spending (charging stuff on the card).

  75. graddawg says 01 July 2009 at 11:44

    A bit off topic, but my current Money subscription ends at the end of this year and I completely forgot to buy a new version in order to use the product until the drop dead date in 2011. Does anyone know where I can find the software for purchase? Thanks.

  76. Chris says 01 July 2009 at 12:06

    The only thing that makes me abandon online versions is not being able to enter transactions that haven’t cleared yet! All of these do a great job of sucking in your bank data but what about the 10 transaction I have outstanding that haven’t shown up yet? That’s where MS Money always shined for me. I can enter my receipts at the end of every night and each day when it synchs with my bank, it matches the transactions and removes them from my “pending” register. I really want this functionality.

  77. Richie says 01 July 2009 at 12:17

    Why is Matt @ Thrive’s post highlighted with a gray background?

  78. Matthew says 01 July 2009 at 12:21

    Your frustrations with Quicken for Mac may soon come to pass: http://bit.ly/1aguH3

  79. Richie says 01 July 2009 at 12:24

    Kevin, I understand that paying a credit card is really just a transfer of assets/liabilities, and the expense happened back when I used the card. But as I am working to reduce my debt, I am regularly trying to look at my cashflow each month. If I get paid $500 this week, I want to know where all of that $500 goes. If I use the whole thing to pay a credit card, most of the Quicken reports will imply that I spent no money this week, but the $0 balance in my bank account says otherwise. 😉

  80. mary b says 01 July 2009 at 12:35

    I have been a Money user for several years and knew it was time to explore some new options.
    I have been dabbling with Quicken and reading about NeoBudget that Luke also mentioned in a post above.
    Thanks for the comprehensive list!

  81. matt @ Thrive says 01 July 2009 at 12:36

    @Dustin: Indeed – Tree.com acquired Thrive in February of this year. http://blog.justthrive.com/2009/02/you-me-and-treecom/ says a little bit more about our reactions, but the short version is that we’re ecstatic to have the oppurtunity to help even more people. As a start-up, you’re very resource limited, and being under Tree.com allows us to do more, faster. We’ve hired new engineers, designers, support folks, and I actually only work 14 hour days instead of 16 hour days now. *grins*

    @Richie: Honestly, we do the same. As Kevin and Tommy pointed out, otherwise you end up “double counting” credit card transactions – once as they happen, once as you pay them off. Makes cash flow look insane.

  82. Chris says 01 July 2009 at 12:43

    I tried signing up for Thrive and it said I couldn’t have more than 2 numbers in a row in my password…lol

  83. matt @ Thrive says 01 July 2009 at 12:43

    @Richie: Sheer awesomeness? *grins* I actually think it is because it got logged as spam (probably for going on for too long) and JD had to stick it back in there.

    I can’t speak to Quicken, but in Thrive, how we handle the case you are talking about is by showing you how much you’ve paid off on your debt right on the dashboard (on the left side, with a nice green/red arrow system). It is tricky, particularly because banks don’t often give us all the information about what is your old revolving debt versus your new purchases, but we do our best to sync it up – that is my best guess as to why Quicken might not be handling it gracefully?

  84. Brian says 01 July 2009 at 13:35

    Any spreadsheet. Doesn’t have to be Excel – could be open office (which is free). I echo commenter #11: once you start splitting individual purchases into multiple categories, using an automated tool saves no time. Spreadsheets offer no online advice, budget alerts, or reminders to pay your bills. But all those (distracting) bells and whistles drove me crazy. Quicken, MS Money, (and I suspect most of the rest) are needlessly complex for the average person who just wants to know how much they spend, what they spend it on, and how long until they can go on a permanent vacation.

  85. matt @ Thrive says 01 July 2009 at 13:51

    @Chris: I just tested it and was able to put two numbers in a row…you are not, however, allowed to use the same number three times in a row (to prevent easily hackable passwords; we like security). Shoot me a note at [email protected] and I can try to help – don’t know why you are getting an error state.

  86. Scott says 01 July 2009 at 13:54

    We have a separate savings account that acts as a “holding tank” of sort. Say we set aside $500 for medical bills, it goes in to the account then I have a spreadsheet that I enter the amount into. Then say when the bill comes, it comes to $200. On my spreadsheet I just go type in we used $200 and it shows that balance as now only having $300 set aside for medical bills. I’m curious, how do some of these programs handle this type of scenario?

  87. matt @ Thrive says 01 July 2009 at 13:58

    @Scott: Do you mean on a monthly basis, yearly basis, or just an “envelope” that gets used when it gets used? Coming out later this month, in Thrive, we’ll essentially do this budget tracking month-to-month. So you’ll set a budget (or we’ll set one automatically for you), and then you can see how you are tracking to that, including how much you have left, over the month. We don’t do that yearly yet, though we’ve been talking about how we can implement “fund” style features for things that generally aggregate across months.

  88. Phillip says 01 July 2009 at 14:13

    If you are looking for Mac personal finance software I would have to give iBank first place with Moneywell running a close second. They are both updated regularly and the developers of both make top-notch customer support a high priority. I usually get my questions answered by one of the developers within 24 hours of posting it on their forums.

    In comparison, the customer service for programs like Quicken and Money is abysmal. It seems that all they care about is the bottom line and couldn’t care less about the customer (as is shown by Money leaving its customers in the lurch).

  89. Dustin @ Inzolo says 01 July 2009 at 14:16

    @Scott, this is essentially how Mvelopes and Inzolo work. You allocate all your money into virtual envelopes before you spend it. Really, money is not being moved anywhere, the budgeting application is simply a representation of where you want your money to go. So your checking account may say $4000, but its all been allocated to different envelopes such as groceries, gas, utilities, mortgage, christmas, birthdays, etc. So really your account balance is not that important only in that it equals all your envelope balances. It doesn’t matter if your budget category is month to month, year to year or whatever. Whatever you have allocated to that envelope, that is what you have to spend.

  90. Maggie says 01 July 2009 at 14:28

    To Cara at no.53 – yes, I was able to import all my Quicken data. MD has a helpful forum and good support in case of problems.

  91. Laura says 01 July 2009 at 14:51

    I have been using Crown Money Map Financial Software ($60 for Windows, Mac, or Linux) for about 4 months now. I have used and/or tried a lot of others before settling on this one, including Money, Mint, Quicken and GnuCash. They also offer Crown Mvelopes, but this works out to be a lot cheaper than paying the monthly fee for Mvelopes.

    The Money Map works in the same way as Mvelopes with virtual envelopes and a nice budgeting program. It also allows you to track investments. We are taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course right now and this software meshes perfectly with that course. I highly recommend it!

    You can download it from Crown.org

  92. matt @ Thrive says 01 July 2009 at 15:04

    @Dustin: Do you mean “it doesn’t matter” in terms of data or that it doesn’t actually matter in how people behave based on those budgets? The trouble with envelope style budgeting is that while it is extremely useful and productive for long-term expenses (like medical), it works dramatically less well for monthly and weekly budgeting, because of the features of mental accounting. The problem is that the envelopes become too siloed and non-exchangeable; at least in lab research, people become reluctant to move money between envelopes at the appropriate interval to allow for agile budgeting.

    Still, the intersection is interesting and I’d love to see more quantitative data on how envelope budgeting performs in life compared with other styles.

  93. Dustin @ Inzolo says 01 July 2009 at 15:19

    @Matt: I guess I should say for me it doesn’t matter if the envelope type is month to month or year to year because the principle is the same, once your envelope is out of funds you either don’t spend or fund it from another envelope. But I think it does matter to some people as friends have suggested it to me. That is why I have envelope types (fixed, paced, and rollover). While the implementation isn’t quite finished yet, it is something that makes inzolo a little different from Mvelopes.

    What “lab research” are you referring to? Is this testing that Thrive has done? I would be interested to see these lab results.

    As far as performance, the envelope system has been a blessing to me. I’ve been using it for over 3 years now. I’ve paid off $41,000 in consumer debt. I used to go into overdraft almost monthly. Since using the virtual envelope system I have not hit overdraft at all.

    That said, I can see where you are coming from about not wanting to move money between envelopes. Generally I have a few envelopes with negative balances and I don’t want to move money for various reasons (waiting for reimbursements for example). But I know I have enough in my account that it is not a problem and that I will soon fund those negative envelopes to make up for it. But I’ve added some reporting that helps track negative balances to ensure that overall I’m safe within my budget.

  94. Chris Roland says 01 July 2009 at 16:08

    Hey JD,

    Thanks for the personal finance Google Docs. They are are really cool.

  95. deb says 01 July 2009 at 16:50

    I have a question for everyone downloading bank info into financial applications – do you pay for this service? I’m new to all this and am trying out Moneywell right now. In order for the program to automatically download my Bank of America info I would have to pay $9.95 a month. I’m too cheap to do that. The download/import is kind of clunky so I’ve pretty much just given up on it.

  96. Chris says 01 July 2009 at 16:53

    @deb: I use Bank of America and with MS Money, it doesn’t cost anything to download my transactions and synch….I have a bad feeling that may change now that I have to choose something else.

  97. Phillip says 01 July 2009 at 16:58

    @deb: Bank of America typically does charge around $10 for this service. The only free way is to use the download/import method.

    @Chris: Either you maintain high bank balances (in which case the service is free) or it may just be an oversight. I think you’ll be okay changing finance software, I just wouldn’t tell BOA about it.

  98. Anne says 01 July 2009 at 17:04

    I thought it was worth mentioning that if you have a bank or credit-card account with Bank of America, you already have access to their My Portfolio tool. I think it runs on the Yodlee platform, but you use your existing B of A login, so there’s no need to create and track another online account.

  99. S says 01 July 2009 at 17:36

    Never could MS Money to work with my credit union accounts – checking and savings would end up mixed together and my balance was always off.

    My CU only allows transactions to be downloaded to Excel, Quicken and MS Money….

  100. Not My Mother says 01 July 2009 at 18:21

    Hmm. I’m a current user of MS Money and was thinking about changing to Quicken in the hopes that it would be better able to calculate loan interest and repayments (Money NEVER gets it right), but have now been put off by the news that Quicken forces you to upgrade. Are you really forced to, or only if you use the online functionality? The only updates I get online are share prices.

  101. Not My Mother says 01 July 2009 at 18:29

    Also I don’t understand some people’s requirement for connecting to banks’ online feeds? It only takes seconds to enter a transaction, why would you discount an application because it can’t do that? How many transactions must you do in a day anyway?

    Maybe I don’t understand because I use envelope-style budget buckets within Money with subaccounts so downloading wouldn’t work for me, but it seems you’re not doing much more than duplicating the banks reports if you do that, instead of tracking for yourself. Where’s the benefit?

  102. Kelly says 01 July 2009 at 19:11

    Hi JD – Thanks for the list! I’m a long time(1997) money user and have loved it all along. I do have a Mint account, and while I like it, I’d be more thrilled if they had a register… while knowing what I have today is good, I prefer to know what I have *after* all the bills are paid for the month. i.e. I “virtually” pay all the bills for the month on the 1st and while some don’t actually leave my account until the middle or end of the month, I know what I have to work with when things come up because of the register. Anyway, I went ahead and tried the latest version of quicken and after two weeks requested a refund because it was awful – wouldn’t download my transactions from ING (my primary bank… and I learned from ING that they wont’ allow quicken to do it anymore), the import from Money was all wrong, and customer service left much to be desired. So, thanks again for the list and to everyone else for all the other suggestions! I feel like now I might find something that will work well.

  103. Phillip says 01 July 2009 at 19:42

    @Not My Mother: The benefit is that if you can automatically download your bank statements, it makes it easy to reconcile the transactions you have entered with the data your bank has.

  104. Jason says 01 July 2009 at 21:51

    I use MoneyDance on the Mac. I give it a B for power and a C- for intuitiveness. I compare this with Quicken, which I give the reverse grades. Neither one is as satisfying as Windows Quicken 2000. But I love my Mac so much I suffer Moneydance.

  105. Emma says 01 July 2009 at 23:02

    I’ve been using Wesabe for a month or so, and recommend it. There are currently some temporary issues because it is in the midst of an update: for example, the community-data-based Tips section that was a major attraction to me isn’t running right now. But they are adding Investment accounts tracking, and it has neat tricks like a flexible Tagging system, excel-like automatic mathematics (e.g. I can put my total spent as “=(24*3)+6.5” and it calculates it for me), Cash accounts that count towards your budget but don’t hold a balance, lots of graphs and spending trackers, etc. And it’s free!

  106. The Happy Rock says 02 July 2009 at 06:25

    Hadn’t heard of moneydance before, I might have to give it a try.

    I used money for a few years, now Quicken, but I am ready to move on. I liked Money better than Quicken, its quirks were way less annoying the Quicken. My version of Quicken doesn’t play to nice with my multitude of accounts in ING, which is a huge no no for me.

    I really like to have investment accounts, so Mint was on the top of my list. Does MoneyDance do investment accounts?

    I have heard the most positive buzz around Mint and Wesabe for what it is worth.

  107. beforewisdom says 02 July 2009 at 06:41

    This useful list could be made even more powerful by listing what operating systems other than Windows it also runs on, next to the name of the software.

  108. matt @ Thrive says 02 July 2009 at 07:30

    @Kelly: A feature similar to what you’re asking for (where we can predict your bills and income, and show you how much is left) is coming to Thrive in the Fall. I don’t have an exact date yet, but I’m hoping for mid-September, depending on how busy our engineers are.

    @TheHappyRock: Mint should support investments, as does Thrive. Wesabe doesn’t at the moment but is adding it.

  109. Kelly says 02 July 2009 at 07:54

    @Matt –

    Thanks for the info! I’ll be sure to check it out!

  110. Scott says 02 July 2009 at 11:58

    @matt #87 (and @dustin) What Dustin is describing is essentially what I’m referring to. It’s not dependent upon time (i.e. monthly, yearly). It is very much like the envelope scenario I guess. This account is totally separate from all our other finances. It could sit at a zero balance if we don’t have money that we need to set away for something. We use it for example, like if people give our son money (he’s 3 months old)we set it in there then use it for clothes, baby stuff, etc. Once it’s gone, its gone. I have never thought of, but never run into either, a problem of not wanting to switch money between ‘envelopes.’ I guess thats the point; I put it in there because that’s what its been designated for. I think maybe a good idea for your program would be that one option when you make a new ‘account’ would be an envelope-type account. Thoughts?

  111. DY says 02 July 2009 at 12:43

    ___________________________________________________________
    matt @ Thrive says:
    02 July 2009 at 7:30 am

    @Kelly: A feature similar to what you’re asking for (where we can predict your bills and income, and show you how much is left) is coming to Thrive in the Fall. I don’t have an exact date yet, but I’m hoping for mid-September, depending on how busy our engineers are.”
    ___________________________________________________________

    I’m looking forward to a service with this feature. Like Kelly, I want to plan my cashflow. I like seeing when in the future my balance might be getting low, or when I’ll have a surplus, and then schedule transfers or extra payments on debts, etc.

  112. Matt Crane says 02 July 2009 at 16:52

    You can also have a look at our free online budget planner @ http://www.weeklyenvelope.com . It takes less than a minute a day to keep track of your progress.

    It’s not a substitute for home accounting, but definitely gives a clear picture of how much money can be spent while not breaking the bank

  113. mary says 02 July 2009 at 21:23

    Earlier I was using spreedsheets to track my expenses till I learnt about rudder.com and also they have launched Rudder iPhone app! now I can use rudder as and when required, no need to switch on the pc.

  114. Lisa says 02 July 2009 at 23:54

    Fidelity has long offered an online feature called “full view” where you can aggregate all your accounts and credit cards (and email and rewards programs and calendars and other web-based stuff) in one place – it shows your assets, liabilities, net worth, transactions, etc. etc. I was thrilled that when I moved to Australia (and kept most of our US-based financial instruments) I could add our Aus accounts to the picture. I’ve been dying to find a mint.com sort of thing with international capability (and autouploading and refreshing of account info – as in Fidelity full view – so, not Budgetpulse)… I tried Wesabe but it doesn’t seem to recognize my ANZ accounts as checking and savings and lists them as “other” (I have not played around in there much to try to tweak / fix my accounts). Long story short, I saw today that Fidelity is upgrading full view to add budgeting & tracking features. So, my prayers are answered! Fidelity customers should check it out. (It is Yodlee-powered, BTW.)

  115. Val @ Finance Software Store says 03 July 2009 at 05:39

    YNAB (for Windows) is very popular for users more concerned with budgeting and does a good job. A popular program at the moment for Mac seems to be MoneyWell, which is also great for budgeting. And for those Microsoft Money users with years of data and over 10,000 transactions – Quicken and Microsoft are working on an import tool to get all those transactions over into Quicken (should you decide to give Quicken a try).

  116. Rhys says 03 July 2009 at 18:48

    The programs listed in your post and the comments are in deed powerful but what about those people who just want a simple solution to help with their budgeting?

    Some people who may have basic Excel skills, but don’t have the ability (or time) to pull together a budget spreadsheet but still want something of that nature to work through their budget. They don’t necessarily want or need a complicated solution, don’t want to integrate into their personal banking system or want to go “online” to update their budget.

    At http://www.easybudgetingusa.com, I have created a solution that is helping people all over the world get back in control of their personal finances via regular budgeting.

    Take a look and tell me what you think.

    Regards
    Rhys

  117. Steve Henry says 03 July 2009 at 19:37

    I am another former Quicken user who has been happily using Moneydance for 3-4 years now. Not quite as polished as Quicken or Money, but it is just as powerful.

    Quicken pushed me over the edge when I had to start paying for updates to maintain my online functionality. I didn’t need the new bells and whistles, I just wanted to maintain my existing functionality. I was frustrated with this, switched to MoneyDance, and have been happy ever since.

  118. Randy says 04 July 2009 at 08:29

    I too used money for about 10 years, but have switched already to Moneydance. So far, I highly reccommend it. I moved 5 years of Money data with very few issues, and have all the functionality of Money. If you try it, be sure to check out all the extensions available for it. I use 3 or 4, and overall the product has been better for analysis than Money, and faster with large files. It is also cross platform. My investment portfolio seems more accurate with Moneydance than it was with Money Plus.

    I am somewhat surprised by the number of people here that just plan to use Money till it breaks. I depend heaviily on financial software, and on electronic download of transactions. My copy of Money Plus will stop downloading on September 30, and I wanted to start early to find an alternative, and actually run in parallel with Money for a while, just to make sure it is accurate.

    No matter what package you choose, you may want to rethink when you change, if you depend on electronic download. When its gone, its gone.

  119. Robbie says 04 July 2009 at 14:03

    If this can help anyone here, here’s a software directory that lists hundreds of accounting/financial apps: http://www.all-finance-software.com .

    I’m currently using Quicken Online and it’s been of great help so far. I tried Mint months ago and didn’t like it.

  120. Steve says 05 July 2009 at 06:33

    Does anyone else have the concern that on many of these websites you are providing ALL of your financial user names and passwords to a single site and they are stored somewhere on an external server?

    I’m sure that they all have a privacy statement and they make guarantees about the safety of your information, but there are so many of these financial tracking products popping up that not all of them will survive and it’s likely they are not all as concerned about security as they should be. What happens to your information when the company goes out of business? What if the employees losing their jobs get desperate and take advantage of the information at hand? Also, from the comments above, some of these companies use others to provide the services, so by signing up with one you are exposing your information to several different companies. So you may not know who ends up with your data.

    Most financial companies have access to a significant amount of your information, but they don’t have access to ALL of it. By providing these tracking services with EVERYTHING, I think that you are exposing yourself to a much greater possibility of having your ID stolen and your financial security threatened.

    • Anon says 24 August 2013 at 06:38

      Your concerns are RIGHT ON, Steven. I am very hesitant to give my the key to all of my accounts to a third party site and their information security implementation.

      For instance, how many of these sites are independently tested for attacks and penetrations? How many have Third-party Assurance (SSAE16 SOC2) for the robustness of their internal controls? If they did, you can bet they’d be market the heck out of it.

      Until these sites talk about one-way encryption where the account holder is the only authorized person to access the information, I’m not signing up for the online service which aggregates all of my asset and liability accounts into one website which is a sitting duck. In other words, if I’m working to steal a lot of money, would I target the BIG BANKS directly with all of their security controls, or one of these small start-ups with minimal controls?

  121. Kelly says 05 July 2009 at 10:02

    I feel like I’m missing something… so, as previously stated, I’ve been using MSMoney forever now – part of the reason I liked it was that even back in 1997 I could automatically update my accounts through the software… i.e.: I didn’t have to connect to each back/investment broker individually to update my account registers with their download files. So far, I have not found any replacement programs that will do this for all or even most of my accounts. While, for example, Moneydance has a nice register and reports, it doesn’t touch any of my banks – ing direct (the main one) or bank of America (I’m in WA and it has a different login than all the others – don’t ask me why), but I can manually do it by downloading the files from the bank website. Once Money stops supporting the update feature, it’s not as if the program itself will stop working – I can still manually download everything, so unless someone else does this, why switch? So, a) am I wrong that the Money will continue to work, and b) does anyone else do this with the register option (ie – while Mint and Thrive are great, they don’t have a register, which is a must for me). Thanks!

  122. Corey says 05 July 2009 at 14:29

    Thanks for a great article. I am looking for an envelope system to try, and have narrowed it to either YNAB Pro, or Inzolo at this point. But during my search I came upon http://www.trypiggybanks.com and it sounds simple enough. But I can’t find a single site with a review of it, and when I google for it, I find some comments all from the same few days in June that just call it simple and great. There are no screen shots on the site either. So the whole thing seems sketchy to me, but I was wondering if anyone had actually taken a look at it and written a review. Admittedly I haven’t found a ton on Inzolo either, but at least the creator seems to be blogging about it, and commenting on relevant articles in regards to it, so that is reassuring. The idea of paying a monthly fee does not appeal to me, so I think mvelopes is out. So, had anyone actually tried trypiggybanks?

    Thanks in advance.

  123. matt @ Thrive says 05 July 2009 at 20:58

    @Scott: I think I have it. Truthfully, I don’t think we’re quite moving that direction, and here is why:

    One of the primary issues facing people when they start budgeting and working with their money is that they have the tendency to deal with what psychologists call “mental accounting.” That is, they assign things to categories and then are reluctant to move between those categories, even when they logically should.

    For example, let us imagine two situations. In one, you buy a concert ticket for $10. When you get to the concert, you discover that you’ve lost the ticket. In the second, you always planned to buy the ticket. When you get to the door, you discover you lost $10 on the way to venue.

    In the first case, your envelope budget would prevent you from buying another ticket, because you only had $10 in your “concert going” envelope and you spent it already – another $10 would be cheating. In the second case, you would be free to buy it, because the $10 wasn’t yet assigned to a cause, and so you still have the $10 in your “concert going” envelope.

    The trouble is that either way, the concert cost $20. And when you consider this across the board, in a large number of categories with rather a large amount of money, things get dramatically bad. For example, a shocking number of Americans have both credit card debt and money in their savings account. Not because they are logically setting a small amount aside for an emergency fund, but because “saved” money “shouldn’t” be spent on paying down credit card debt. Consequently, they drown in interest that they shouldn’t really be paying.

    I’m not saying we’ve decided this firmly at Thrive. But I’ve spent some time thinking about it, read a good deal of my colleagues research, and it does seem like “envelope” budgeting has some pretty serious drawbacks that we haven’t found an effective way of dealing with. Again, doesn’t mean there isn’t a way, just means we haven’t found one yet.

  124. matt @ Thrive says 05 July 2009 at 20:59

    @DY: We’re working on it, I promise. I may not have the full thing until September, but the idea is that we’ll be able to tell you, which a high degree of specificity and confidence, that you can move X money between accounts safely, and help you find the right distribution for it. Soon as I can get it out there, I will. =]

  125. matt @ Thrive says 05 July 2009 at 21:08

    @Steve: I absolutely worry about that, and I’m glad you do to: being cautious of a site that you are trusting with your financial information is always, always a good idea. We want consumers are to be intelligent in the world and to understand the risks and rewards, so we try to be as clear about them as we possibly can.

    Here are a few things to think about (I’m summarizing from a variety of responses I’ve written over time about this issue, so apologies if you’ve read this from me elsewhere):

    For one, and I think this is big: you can actually call us. We pick up the phone, we talk back, we’ll answer questions and address security concerns. We even welcome visitors in the office, if they are in NYC – you can come check on the people that accepted your sign-in data and we’ll usually buy you lunch, if someone is free. I’d love to see other companies make the same commitment (and even banks, for that matter).

    Another difference: unlike many of the startups that, as you point out, may go away, we’re owned by a major company. We were purchased by LendingTree in February, which gives us the stability and resources to be a proactive force on the consumers. We’re actively out there in the world, talking about bank and data security, and what people can and should do to keep themselves safe. We consider increasing financial literacy (which includes security discussions) part of what personal finances need to do to help the public and serve their members – heck, we’ve even submitted stuff to Congress to try to get them to back financial education on a federal level.

    Unlike some others, we also ask for your name and phone number. Why? Because in the event of a data emergency, we want to be able to contact you immediately, verify your identity, and get to work dealing with the problem. Anonymity is a double-edged sword: less for hackers for steal, but less ability to actually help you with security issues.

    These combined serve to reinforce one of your points: if you are going to work with a personal finance site, you want one that is actually interested in your welfare and will help you with any issues that you have. We are not a churn-and-burn shop and we were founded to help people.

    A few notes that apply to the way Thrive handles your data (I can’t speak to other’s systems – I’m sure you could write them and they might answer). The way I like to explain the one-way security tunnel is as a multi-step process. When you first login, we take your sign-up credentials and they are sent to your bank, to create the secure tunnel. We DO NOT store the logins on our server – after the secure tunnel is created, it simple sits as a one-way tunnel for information. Banks can push information to us, and we cannot push it back.

    If you change your login credentials, your bank breaks the tunnel and lets us know – we then request updated credentials for you. Again, your credentials are not stored on our servers, they are simply used to recreate the tunnel.

    So there are two data-loss situations. In one case, you Thrive account credentials are hacked and someone can log in as you. What can they see? Your balances, your transactions, what types of accounts you have, and what banks you use. Damaging information, to be sure. But they don’t have your bank passwords or logins, they can’t change anything at your bank or move any money around. They can only view some sensitive information about you, which they could get straight from your mailbox – it is the same information on any paper statement you receive.

    The other data-loss situation is a hacking of our servers, not just your account. The same information is available, but on a vastly larger number of people.

    You sum it up well: everyone has to choose for themselves, based on the positives and negatives, whether joining a site like Thrive is right for them. And honestly, if someone understands all the considerations and still chooses not to use Thrive, we’re totally fine with that – it isn’t for everyone and some people are less comfortable than others. I simply care that people understand what they are and aren’t making accessible by using such a site, and all the things they stand to gain.

    I’m a behavioral psychologist and we’ve worked hard to make sure that Thrive gives measurable help to our members. We can see, in concrete numbers, how our system changes people’s financial behaviors, and the money they save by making infrastructure improvements, understand where they spend and why, and working towards their goals and plans in an organized way. So for all this talk of data security, there is a very real upside to joining Thrive and I wouldn’t want to have a security discussion without ending on that note.

  126. Dustin @ Inzolo says 06 July 2009 at 04:01

    @Matt: your concert example doesn’t make sense to me. If you are using the envelope system, EVERY dollar has a name. If I lose $10 cash while going to a concert, that cash was likely coming from my “blow money” envelope – because for me personally, that is the only envelope I cash out. So if I lost my ticket and didn’t have any more money in my concert envelope then I would decide whether to use money from another envelope or to forgo the concert. It really is that simple.

    @Scott: As far as security goes I can give you an idea of how Inzolo works. You do not have to connect to any of your banks to use Inzolo. You can create manual accounts and enter transactions manually or import from Quicken or MS Money exported files from your account. This would be the safest method because we don’t have any confidential information that could be stolen.

    That said, we also support automatic download transactions via OFX. To do this, you bank generally has a username/id and password/pin to work with their OFX server. Not all banks support OFX so really this only applies to those that do. When Inzolo connects to your bank account, it downloads an OFX file containing your transactions. This is essentially the same file you would get if you logged in to your account and downloaded a MS Money export as it passes through the same import function. In the case of my bank, if someone were to obtain my OFX login information, they still don’t have my security questions to log in to my account.

    I know Yodlee and those that use their account aggregation ask for your security questions. This allows them to log in as me and basically download the transactions via screen scraping or some other method. I’m not trying to say that I feel this is unsafe because I use their services as well.

  127. matt @ Thrive says 06 July 2009 at 07:41

    @Dustin: The problem is in that last bit – deciding whether to take money from another envelope. The trouble becomes that people are unwilling to be flexible in their accounting when using an “envelope-like” system in their mind and on paper, which can create some serious oddities that can hurt them financially. You want people to have budgets, but you don’t want them to be so rigid that they cannot adapt.

    Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_accounting and some of the associated Wikipedia articles for some work by Dick Thayler and others pointing out the sort of irrationalities that can occur because of this, or check out Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational”. Science – it’s awesome.

  128. Dustin @ Inzolo says 06 July 2009 at 08:00

    @matt: fortunately I have a wife that keeps my envelope budget very adaptable! 😀 I would love to see some actual case studies of people being hurt financially by using an envelope based budgeting system. I find that people are looking for budget that will help them be more rigid. I would love for our government to be more rigid and stop being so adaptable with OUR money.

  129. steve says 06 July 2009 at 19:27

    I have tried many of the services, YNAB, Yodlee, Wesabe and none of those services had what I was looking for, or their program linking accounts would not work as well. I had a problem with some of YNAB’s feature, but there is a dedicated forum to helping out new users.

    I switched over to GnuCash, and enjoy it. This a powerful program, and although it does not feature a budget feature (as some readers have mentioned), it is a useful program to view your expense, income, and liability accounts and you can make adjustments from there.

  130. Jacqui says 08 July 2009 at 19:31

    I’m a proud and very happy Moneydance user – have been since 2006. Best feature? Installed on my Mac and my husband’s PC (without having to buy additional license) so we can share the file back and forth as necessary. He likes to actually see our financial status every once in a while – go figure 😉

    I don’t do budgets, but offline access, OFX import, and balance forecasting based on reminders are all key to my decision to stay with Moneydance.

  131. Krys says 09 July 2009 at 09:22

    OK, everyone – give me your opinions here!

    Which of these sites best incorporates the following:

    1) Budgeting
    2) Account Registers
    3) Cash Transactions (manual entries)

    I’m looking for a single online or desktop tool that will allow me to create a budget, manage my checking and savings account balances, and track my cash expenditures as manual entries, so that I can get a true, complete picture of our total cash flow.

    Also important to me is an iPhone app. I have an infant, and don’t spend much time sitting at a computer, but I have LOTS of time to sit with my iPhone. So, a robust iPhone app would be super.

    Thrive looked really good until I realized that they don’t allow manual transactions. Can’t stick to a budget if I can’t track cash. Same goes for Mint.

    Please help!!

  132. Chris says 09 July 2009 at 10:03

    @krys: I too would really like something with an iphone app that does what I want, but haven’t found it yet. After following this discussion for several days, I decided to download YNAB and give it a try. I’m at the end of my first week using it and I’ve got to say, I’m loving it! At first, the simplicity of it made me miss MS Money and it’s automatic transaction downloads but after going thru the tutorial videos on the site, I’m cruising along just fine. I set up a budget for the rest of this month based on what I currently had in the bank, and then started manually entering my transactions. Then each day, I’ve been going to my bank and downloading the previous days transactions. YNAB imports them and then matches them with my manually entered transactions. I then have to verify and approve the matched transactions. When I do that, it marks the transaction as cleared. I’m really excited about what this might mean for my household financially. If I can truly build my buffer until I’m budgeting and paying the bills using last months income, I’ll be doing great and finally be out of the living paycheck to paycheck cycle I’ve been in for so many years. It took watching the well put together, short video tutorials to get me excited, but once I understood it and finally “got it”, I’ve decided I’m gonna purchase the software when my trial expires. I think it covers the 3 areas you’re looking for well, but no iphone app yet. 🙁

  133. Dustin @ Inzolo says 09 July 2009 at 10:10

    @Krys: Feel free to try out Inzolo.com. It is a envelope based budgeting tool so the focus is on the budget. It supports imports from Money & Quicken files and has automatic OFX import support. It also allows you to add manual transactions.

    I don’t have anything yet to match uncleared transactions as Chris has described and I don’t yet have an iPhone app. I do have an iPhone though so it is definitely on my to do list! It is all web based so you can access it on Safari on your iPhone, but there are a few limitations I need to work out with that method.

  134. Craig says 09 July 2009 at 11:04

    @Krys Our tool budgetpulse.com is a manual budgeting tool that can import Quicken or MS Money formats into the system in minutes. We can handle cash transactions. We do not however have an iphone app. It may be a tool thaty ou want to check out based off of what you are looking for. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions.

  135. Krys says 09 July 2009 at 13:05

    @Chris – Thanks for the details on YNAB! I was an MS Money user for many years, and I guess I’m looking for something similar. I found it hard to “keep up” with Money, and ended up binge entering data once a month. With a newborn, I’m looking for something a little less labor intensive.

    @Dustin – I’ll take a look at Inzolo! The iPhone app is a must for me. Safari access is OK, but I’ve found that data entry on pages not designed for iPhone are really, really tough. But, as a fellow iPhone user, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

    @Craig – How do you compare to PearBudget? They’re a budget-only site, and I’m in the middle of my trial month with them. I’m really looking for an application that can do both budgeting and “checkbook balancing” in one location. Do you offer that?

  136. Craig says 09 July 2009 at 13:08

    @Krys We are similar as we are strictly budgeting as well, but a lot of our users tell us they use the tool in a way like a checkbook balance. It’s more versatile that way. Our tool is free if you want to check it out and see if it’s what you are looking for.

  137. Classicalguy says 09 July 2009 at 17:29

    I am a graduate school teacher. I want to assign to incoming students at my school a problem that will introduce them to a computer finance program. I have come to believe that the most important thing in financial management is keeping track, and if students will start tracking their spending they will be less likely to get over their heads in debt.

    I’ve used Quicken since it first came out in the late 1980s, and it has helped me keep track of my finances. However, the company has gotten worse and worse – eliminating support after three years to force people to update, coming out with multiple stripped-down starter versions and moving to much more expensive programs, and adding tons of unnecessary bells and whistles. I’m so committed to the program that I can’t yet get myself to change, but I wouldn’t recommend the program to someone starting out. I also want something free.

    I’ve used web site programs like Yodlee and Mint, and they are great at consolidating information from your on-line accounts, but they are not good entering and reconciling your transactions. They give you the bank’s balance, but it’s not so easy to know what checks or charges are outstanding. They are better as a backup for a real accounting system.

    I have played with quite a few programs, and I am leaning towards gnucash. Unfortunately, it has a bigger learning and setup curve than most programs have. For people who do not understand double entry accounting, I suspect it would be a bit confusing at first. But it is also very powerful, and would be a great program for new people to learn.

    My idea is to give the students some fake check registers, credit card receipts, and bank statements, and require them to reconcile the bank statements and answer some questions to show that they understand the balances. My hope is that once they do it for the assignment, they will set up their own accounts.

    Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

  138. HollyP says 10 July 2009 at 18:09

    JD, thanks for posting this. I am a longtime MS Money user, and hate to lose it. I could never balance on paper, but never failed with Money. (However, much of their extra features were lost on me.)

    FWIW, I have used Pocket Money on my PDA for years too, and loved it. For those who want portability, it is a great program. It is a comprehensive enough register that it could be used as a standalone product, and will accept downloaded bank transactions. It also has an iphone app. (If I weren’t so old-fashioned, I might actually skip the desktop app and just use Pocket Money on my PDA.)

    @Classical, your plan sounds like a grand one. Good luck!

  139. matt @ Thrive says 10 July 2009 at 18:34

    @krs: Keep checking back with us – we’re working on manual transaction editing. Really, what I need to get in there is transaction splitting, so that you can take the withdrawal (for example, from an ATM) and split it into different categories. Like most things, it is simply that we only have so many hands: we will add it, but I don’t have a current timeline.

    Also, on the subject of iPhone app, that is coming (and sooner than transaction splitting). I can’t confirm exact date, but I can confirm that it is already designed and is in the hands of engineers.

    @Classical: Having been a graduate student, I’m curious: why do you think this is the exercise that is most worthwhile? That is, the reconciling of charges is something that banks seldom get wrong, particularly as things become increasingly automated and done over ACH networks. Indeed, you state that the value is in “keeping track”; I’d argue that actually has two functions: monitoring for the modification of current spend and understanding regarding overall balance sheet and cash flow.

    For the monitoring of current spend, I’m not sure you need to be doing it on paper and matching each expense to a corresponding transaction on your balance sheet. That is, unless you believe that the credit card charge you made won’t actually show up on your account (and with a high degree of accuracy, we can be sure it will), the value is in being forced to interact with the costs of your actions. Doing this electronically seems infinitely more effective: watching kids go “wow, I spend that much of my income on restaurants?” is more effective then watching them go through each receipt to discover that (if they discover it at all, as paper doesn’t have the same auto-categorizing functions that electronic programs do).

    Indeed, do you actually expect that your kids will go home and then do this themselves for the rest of their lives? They might, I’ll admit. But everything, in a psychologist’s model, is competing pressures and the heavy time pressure not to do what you’re suggesting that means most your kids won’t actually do it for their own finances. So even if manual transactions are more effective at teaching (and I’d argue they aren’t), you’ll reach perhaps one or two of your students, while an automatic electronic system will reach a greater percentage.

    Perhaps I can make the difference more clear by using an analogy. Think about a calculator, which abstracts away basic math. The reason we use them is because they allow for higher order thinking, and so we teach basic math at young ages so people understand it, and then move on so that they can progress.

    Understanding “money in, money out” is a fairly basic concept that most people get. So let’s take them to the next level. Let’s use programs like Thrive and Wesabe and others to say “look, you get the money in, money out, bit…now let’s look at what it means.” We take care of that manual lifting so that they have time to do the part that matters: outcomes, higher order thinking, actual life planning.

    That ended up a bit rantish, but I’m passionate about this subject: the sort of “manual transaction” system is what has been taught in almost every single major financial literacy initiative and has been shown to be ineffective. Let’s try something different. Let’s teach our kids not how to balance a checkbook but how to understand compound interest and how to apply that to the best use of their money. Let’s teach them how to buy a home instead of how to work a ledger. Because ultimately, if one check every few years slips by, it will harm that much less than not having the knowledge they need to actually make the financial decisions.

  140. Krys says 10 July 2009 at 19:27

    @Matt – thanks for the personal response. I’m opening a Thrive account tonight, to give it a shot. Comparing it to Mint and Wesabe. Spending a lot of time setting up all of these separate accounts, but I think it’s a worthwhile exercise.

    @Craig – I’ve eliminated BudgetPulse as an option for me. Some thoughts, from the peanut gallery: I think the design is eye-catching and the charts were pretty, but the interface didn’t work well for me, and none of the uploads from my bank included any “descriptions”, so I would have had to manually enter each payee AND category. That’s more work than I was looking to do.

  141. Classicalguy says 10 July 2009 at 20:31

    Thanks for your thoughts, Matt.

    There are two problems with people relying on their bank balance. First, they often bounce checks because of outstanding items that have not cleared yet. Bounced checks can be VERY expensive and damage one’s credit. It’s not a problem if you keep a lot of money in your checking account, but that’s not a great idea because checking account interest rates are usually very low and some don’t have extra money. The banking rules allow banks to maximize the damage for overdrafts by allowing them to put the highest check received in the day through first, often causing lots of smaller overdrafts. Better to know what is in your account when you write the check, which is what the law expects. As far as I can tell, there is no easy way to do that with an on-line system.

    Second, you may not catch mistakes and fraud if you don’t check your transactions against another record. When you buy something for $22.50, and the charge shows up as $32.50, how are you going to catch it? I enter all of my checks and charge card receipts, and then reconcile to the bank statement. I’ve caught many mistakes over the years, some made by me, some made by the bank, and some made by the store.

    Don’t get me wrong – if you use an on-line system, and put your transactions into proper categories, you’ll be doing a lot better than most people who have no idea where their money goes. And you’re right that my main goal is to get people to think about making expenditures and watch what they are spending. It’s just not completely verifiable without a matching system.

    The big question is whether this exercise would be a waste of time because the students won’t set up a tracking system for themselves. And I’m sure you’re right – many of them won’t. If all of them don’t, then I’m wasting my time and their’s. Is it worth the exercise to force them to download and install the software, set up the accounts, enter the transactions, and reconcile the statements?

  142. Krys says 10 July 2009 at 20:46

    @Classicalguy – I wish someone had taught me how to track expenses and create even a rudimentary budget much earlier in my life than I did. My folks have always been extremely good about not buying on credit, never overspending, and not having debt. But they never taught me about their good habits. And, therefore, I made a LOT of mistakes in my life. Luckily, none of the mistakes have caused any damage to my credit rating, and I’ve always been good about living within my means. But, I learned it on my own, and I know I could be so much further ahead if I’d know more earlier on.

    I guess what I’m saying is that any lessons you can teach your students about finance in the real world will be useful and worthwhile.

  143. Kelly says 10 July 2009 at 22:01

    @Classicalguy – I agree – I wish someone had shown me something…anything about money when I was younger. I struggled for a while in my 20’s before I finally got the hang of things in my 30’s. I think even if you only reach one student, that its worth it.

  144. Nathan @ The Small Step says 11 July 2009 at 06:35

    I am a huge fan of Mint.com. It is so easy to set up and use. Check out this review http://www.thesmallstep.com/2009/03/18/mint-review/

  145. Katherine says 13 July 2009 at 18:27

    Last night I opened a new Thrive account and OMG I love it! The interface is so much more intuitive and practical than Mint. I think I need to get with Matt for a few tweaks … but once those are resolved, I will definitely be canceling Mint in favor of Thrive.

    @JD
    Thank you very much for this post. I am sure it took a while to research but it is the core organizational tool for a lot of people who mostly handle their finances online… and it’s nice to know the different options out there to decide “what works [best] for us.” 😉

    @DY in Comment # 111:
    I highly recommend that you try CalendarBudget for cashflow prediction (www.calendarbudget.com).

  146. matt @ Thrive says 13 July 2009 at 23:15

    @Katherine: Glad you’re enjoying it…by all means, do please shoot us a note with how we can improve; we’re always looking for feedback! And stay tuned – new stuff coming soon that will make Thrive even better.

    @ClassicalGuy: My pleasure and let me be very clear: I’m very much in favor of educating students, just a matter of taking the opportunity to do it in the best possible way.

    Regarding bouncing checks: I’m a little confused by your response here. The whole concept of an online tracking program is that we actually pull in your transactions and account balances every day. We also have automatic alerts when your account balance is low to prevent overdrafts, and use regression analysis of your purchases to predict when you may be getting towards bouncing a check.

    Indeed, though I’ve never actually done a scientific test, I feel safe in assuming that any of your students that use online financial management are more likely to know their account balance that your students that don’t, by a statistically significant margin. I’m actually willing to put in the time to do a test of that, if it would be useful.

    Fraud: It is absolutely true that you might be more likely to catch fraud if you manually balance your checkbook. But if it were large fraud, you’d notice, because you’d see a giant transaction occur in your online account and Thrive would surface it to you. And if you get charged $32.50 instead of $22.50, that is $10. And on average, this might happen what, perhaps three times a year (though I suspect it is less than that)? So $30 a year. Let’s say balancing your checkbook by hand takes an hour a week, every week. So basically, I’m working for about 75 cents when I’m balancing my checkbook.

    This isn’t actually how I think about it, as a psychologist. In truth, it is probably true that your students are willing to spend an hour or so a week on their finances, regardless of what they are doing. So I’d rather have them using that hour to do actual financial planning and playing attention to both the big picture and their daily transactions than spending that hour balancing a checkbook.

    I’d argue that if you want to really do the best you can for your students, it would to help them with financial decision making and the larger issues around personal finance. There are programs like Thrive that are free, automatic, and online. They take less than 5 minutes to setup. And they provide personalized advice based on their unique financial situation. But we are not a substitute for the wisdom that can come from a direct teacher, and I’d much rather see all your students using Thrive or another similar website to take care of the balancing and using you as a resource for the more important, and much larger, issue of financial decision making and a lifetime of experience.

  147. Sonja Elen Kisa says 14 July 2009 at 04:09

    I’m surprised you didn’t include FreshBooks.com

  148. Classpro says 14 July 2009 at 05:07

    Re bounced checks: The balance reported by your bank does not reflect checks that have not yet cleared. There is usually less money available than your bank reports because of this. People who rely on their bank balance without taking account of outstanding items(uncleared checks) risk bouncing.

    Also, I think it takes more time to correct the category guesses (which in my experience are very often wrong or incomplete) than the adverts for these systems suggest. Because you are categorizing well after purchase, I find the process much slower and more tedious than just entering the transaction at or near the time of purchase. In fact, I’ve given up trying to get accurate categories.

    Most of the on-line systems don’t track investments at all. That should be an important feature to future users.

    Finally, will all of these new on-line companies be around in the long term, and what happens to all of that category work you’ve done if the on-line service goes out of business, or starts imposing fees after you’ve come to rely on it?

    I won’t be sold on on-line services until they can be reconciled with off-line accounts. I use both Yodlee and Mint, and get useful information from both of them, but neither could serve as my primary accounting system.

    With respect to your proposal for a study, I’m sure that people who look up their bank balance know more about what it is than people who don’t keep track. But they don’t how how much is available better than someone who keeps a running bank balance (like me). And balancing a single checkbook for someone who inputs all of their checks is a monthly exercise and shouldn’t take anywhere near four hours.

    If you want to do an interesting study, find out how many regular users of an offline product like quicken or money have switched entirely to an on-line system and been happy with it. I suspect the number is low.

  149. Kelleigh2 says 14 July 2009 at 07:20

    @Matt – I agree with ClassPro & ClassicalGuy – I specifically don’t rely on my bank balance because it’s not accurate. Say I have $1500 in my checking account and I know that my rent for $1150 will auto-withdraw tomorrow, so I know with a little math that that will leave me with $350. But, say I forgot that I wrote a check last week for $300 and sent it via snail mail – well that’s not reflected in my account anywhere so I go ahead a spend $100 on something thinking I had $350 in my account, but actually I only have $50, so when the check for $300 shows up, it’ll bounce. That’s why I think having a register is imperative – between the bank balance and the register you always know exactly how much you have – no surprises. Could you forget to write the check in the register? Sure, but I’d be willing to bet that most folks who use one for that reason, specifically do remember to do that. But even if it’s not a check you write, you can “pre fill” the bills for the month and always know exactly how much you have. In Money, for example, when I look at the register, I have already “paid” all my bills for the month – whether or not they’ve come out of the bank – and when I spend other money and the register is updated with the bank balance, it’s accurate for what I really have left after all is said and done. I know that you said you will be adding a register and I’m glad of that because like ClassPro said, being a Money user all these years and having both – the register and the daily bank balance is what I like and need – a product that won’t do both won’t work for me… and quite frankly I’m surprised that there aren’t more out there that will do both.

  150. Krys says 14 July 2009 at 07:31

    @kelleigh2 – AMEN!

    This is what I was getting at in my comment above (#131). It is really the only thing I loved about MS Money – the ability to predict where my bank balance would be at any point in the next month.

    I think a lot of these online programs are really missing the boat on this. How are you supposed to PLAN if you can’t SEE what’s happening a week (or even a day) from now?

    Tracking spending is nice, but if they’re not letting me look forward, they’re not really helping me manage my money.

  151. Dustin @ Inzolo says 14 July 2009 at 08:11

    Krys & Kelleigh2 – Can I invite you to try Inzolo. I’d love to get your feedback. The whole emphasis is on the planning. Transactions are there to keep you on your plan.

  152. matt @ Thrive says 15 July 2009 at 19:23

    @Classpro: I certainly think that this can occur, don’t let me be misunderstood. But the frequency (which I can actually see from empirical data, given that we have lots of users that I can query on the aggregate) is lower than you think.

    The majority of checks that most young people write are regular checks, like rent, which Thrive predicts and starting in the early fall, will forward-predict. So we can actually tell how much money you’ll have left by knowing, without having watched you write the check, that you always need to have X dollars in your account at this time of the month because there is going to be a check clearing that requires it. It is built into the padding that we leave in your account, based on bill expenditures that we know you make every month.

    As for categorization, it certainly takes a little while to train the algorithm when you first log on. But as with any good scientifically-based design, it does learn from you and adapts, so that when you correct the category that a transaction is made in, the system actually learns to recognize that category in the future and it will improve over time. Also, we do community-based adaptation as well, so the more people use it in your area, the better your categorization will be automatically. And eventually, I’d love to integrate the Yellow Pages and other business directory information, so that we can actually take it from an authoritative source – arguably, your credit card company also know the classification, so we’re looking at getting access to that as well.

    I can’t speak to other sites, but Thrive tracks investments and we will eventually do more in that area. We concentrate first on helping people who don’t have access to white-shoe advisors, and arguably if you have significant investments that need daily tracking, you aren’t in our core audience. So we’d love to do more there, but it will take some time.

    Again, regarding that test, I’m happy to accept it takes less than four hours. And may well be more effective. But that is rather like saying earning a PhD in Economics makes you better at this sort of thing: it doesn’t actually matter if you can’t get people to do it. You seem to presume that your students don’t do it because they don’t know happy: I’m suggesting that they don’t do it because it isn’t convenient, and educating them on how is less effective then something that you have in ready supply to give them, which is the wisdom of your experience.

    Actually, we’ve asked that question and the number is very, very high. In the 80% range (the scale used was around “If you switched from X, how satisfied are you with Y”, and the high 80’s encompasses anyone that was “satisfied” or above). I think the sample is a little bias, in that it was skewed towards younger, more web-savvy folks, but I don’t have access to a broader population at the moment…when I do, I promise to re-run and report back.

    As for whether we’re going to be around: we’re owned by LendingTree, a publicly traded company. So I can’t speak to other companies, but at Thrive, we’re in it for the long haul. *grins* And the day we start charging fees, I guarantee you that everyone working on the project will quit. It is one of our core beliefs: you can’t charge for good, solid, free advice. I can see us maybe one day charging for some sort of premium advice model which gave you access to a live financial planner, or something along those lines, but even then, we’d try to find a way to make it as cheap as possible. We are all here to help people, just like you’re trying to help your students – have a little faith.

    @Kelleigh2 and @Krys: We’re working on just that feature…not the manual register, but rather using the quite accurate information that we have about your past bills to set aside the correct amount of money at the beginning of the month. We’ll also set aside the amount you’ve indicated for your savings goals, then divide the rest into your automatic budgets, which you can then customize. Full scheme should be in place in September, I’m hoping.

    Believe me, we’re with you, it is just harder than it looks to do it reliably for people in an automatic, free environment. I’m trying! =]

  153. George says 16 July 2009 at 10:03

    I highly recommend Fortora Fresh Finance. It’s available for both Mac and Windows, and has all the features most people need. Very simple to learn and use. http://www.fortora.com

  154. Jim M. says 18 July 2009 at 11:52

    I am long time user of Money and really don’t want to giveup things like Cashflow, Lifetime Planner, Bills, Portfolio Review. I have read of all of the comments and don’t see one product that does all of this. Has anyone put together a table comparing the features of all of these products to Money?

  155. Laura M says 24 July 2009 at 07:31

    I just started using Wesabe and so far have not found it very useful for me. I am a paycheck-paycheck, just starting to use online resources to manage money person. I have never used anything before but a notebook and my online banking. What I want is a system that will pull the data from my bank account and tell me where I’m spending the most money. The issue with Wesabe (although they know this and they are working on it) is that I have to go in and manually tag every single debit card purchase to get it to show up in a group, and any transactions that come through have to be the exact word or phrase to go to one of your categories. The idea is right, but it needs to be easier than that or it kind of defeats the purpose. What would be great would be to be able to create a label, say “Groceries” and under that label enter sub-tags (all the places I buy groceries), and when a new charge comes through my bank, the money management system would find a keyword in the description and send it to the appropriate tag. There would be a little pool of uncatagorizable transactions that I would have to go through every time I logged in, but eventually the system would get to know most of my spending habits, and the more I used it, the fewer uncatagorized transactions there would be. I read on one of these that you can set limits on certain expenditures and set alerts for when you go over (I think it was MoneyStrands). I like that a lot. Wesabe is getting there, and of course it’s great they are free. I think I will try some of these others for now though. Great article!!

  156. matt @ Thrive says 26 July 2009 at 10:34

    @Laura: We actually use something like this for our categorization system at Thrive. It uses both your categorizations and those of people in your area to attempt to interpret what your transactions are, and learns from you over time…we’re rapidly expanding our coverage, and we have some innovative ideas about how to do even better, just a matter of getting the engineering time to put them into place.

  157. icewater says 02 August 2009 at 11:51

    Another recommendation for GnuCash! I’ve never tracked my finances before, and after spending a total of 3 hours with it this weekend, all my accounts are set up, I have a week’s worth of transactions entered, and I’m tracking everything in detail.

  158. Raman says 02 August 2009 at 17:43

    Another vote for gnucash. i have been using for a year and i am very happy with it. it is very powerful.
    it is opensource.

  159. Kelleigh2 says 03 August 2009 at 07:19

    @Matt –

    While I like Thrive, and look forward to the register, I have to ask if you plan to either correct or let us correct if our accounts are savings or checking (or something else). I use ING for my primary checking and savings and both accounts are listed as savings which throws off all the numbers. All month long my checking account gets smaller as bills are paid and your savings and financial health trackers keep getting worse and worse because the checking balance is a few thousand dollars shorter at the end of the month than the beginning. I’d love to be able to change the ING checking account to reflect that it’s actually a checking account rather than a savings account – if I can’t, then the all the reports for savings and such aren’t helpful at all since they aren’t accurate.

  160. matt @ Thrive says 03 August 2009 at 17:33

    @Kelleigh2: Alas, ING Direct is a rather special case – they are stubborn about how they integrate with any aggregator and it causes no end of problems. I had a chat with their COO not too long ago and he promised better support by the end of the year; they are scaling up a new tech service that should alleviate the issue. Our control is minimal, unfortunately, as we rely on your bank to give us the correct data – if they don’t, we’re a bit stuck.

    That said, I have another new feature coming: the ability to change how we consider your accounts, with some limitations. You won’t be able to make a debit account into a credit account (no changing your credit card to be counted as a savings account) but you will be able to move small parts, like checking to be savings, and vice versa. No timeline yet on that, though I would hope to have it up by the end of September; I’ll do my best to get a firm date for you soon.

  161. Dallon says 06 August 2009 at 19:41

    After many failed attempts to use fancier software, my wife and I use Google Docs’ spreadsheet program as our checkbook register and Dave Ramsey’s My Total Money Makeover subscription software to track our budget and car loan. I like this approach because a) we have no identifying bank information, b) the Ramsey software makes no distinction between spending with cash or a debit card (I HATED how you had to set up a “cash register” on Quicken), and c) We can update our finances from any computer with an Internet connection.

    If I had an iPhone, I would look more at some of the other programs. However, I’m a Verizon customer in an area where AT&T reception is really bad.

  162. Nas says 06 August 2009 at 19:47

    I’ve been checking these sites out. I am looking strictly for an online tool and although I don’t see many votes of confidence it seems that Quicken online has everything. It doesn’t look as nice as others but it has features others lack. Including cash tracking and an iphone app. I wish they had an Android app 🙁

    Maybe Quicken Online wasn’t active when this review was written but I’m leaning towards it. I prefer the community feel of other products but they need to do what I want them to do. And right now Quicken look right so I’ll probably give it a try.

  163. Carrie says 07 August 2009 at 15:51

    I am looking for a program that will work on my Mac that will allow me to display on one page all of my investment accounts, the stocks or mutual funds that is in each, the number of shares, their current value, cost basis, yield, and current gain/loss. I really like how MS Money does this, and updates the prices every time you open it, however, I want a more secure site. Can Thrive, Moneydance, iBank, or Moneywell do this?

  164. matt @ Thrive says 09 August 2009 at 11:00

    @Carrie: Unfortunately, Thrive can’t. Even when do launch our investing section, I doubt it will be this detailed, if only because we’re targeted at a difference audience. For experts, more information can be better but for most of us, more information actually leads us to make worse decisions (there are exceptions, but from a general psychological perspective, this remains true). So we’ll likely boil our information down more than that.

    Let me ask around and see if anyone on our team knows of an online program that will help you do that…I’ll repost if I can find an answer for you.

  165. Nick says 13 August 2009 at 05:10

    J.D. I’m a little surprised that you saw all of these programs as “a lot alike.” I definitely don’t see it that way. There are tracking programs like Quicken that also include monthly budgeting features to compare with what you spent. Then there are envelope method based programs which help you look forward. I couldn’t survive without an envelope method program, and believe they are far and away better at saving those in financial distress than anything else on the market.

  166. Chris says 17 August 2009 at 15:37

    J.D. I was just on the Money website trying to find an update that would help my version of Money 2002 run on my new Vista machine and I saw this announcement…

    Update (8/5/09): Later this year, Microsoft will release versions of Money Plus Deluxe and Money Plus Home & Business that will not require online activation. Check back here for additional information or look for future announcements in Money Plus.

  167. Blake says 18 August 2009 at 08:48

    MS Money’s future cash-flow feature is extremely important. Quicken does this, but only up to a few weeks . I need something that will look at the next 30/60 days and up to a year.

  168. matt @ Thrive says 30 August 2009 at 16:15

    @Blake: Something like that is coming from Thrive (www.justthrive.com); should be live within the next few months.

  169. Eric says 01 September 2009 at 18:58

    I have been using MS Money for a few years. While it was not perfect, one thing I could do was reconcile my transactions, at least for the most part. I just tried Rudder and it doesn’t seem they do it. Mint does not, at least not yet. Do any of these websites track investments, help you budget, AND reconcile transactions? Personally, I don’t know why else I would use any of these programs if they don’t reconcile.

  170. Scott J says 03 September 2009 at 05:02

    I have used a lot of financial management software and there is a new one in the market that basically throws all the financial management tools out the park. Check it out for yourself!!

    http://www.guidique.com/managemyfinancials.html

  171. A Tucker says 03 September 2009 at 08:27

    I tried an aggregator account but my brokerage account was frozen because of too many inquiries. Something to think about if you want to use Yodlee, Mint, etc.

    I’m a long time Money user and HAVE to have a robust system to track investments. Anybody have any good suggestions?

  172. matt @ Thrive says 04 September 2009 at 08:55

    @Eric: When you say “reconcile transactions”, can you say a little more? That means different things to different people, and I want to add it to our suggestion list for http://www.justthrive.com but I want to make sure I know what it is you mean.

  173. Vicki says 07 September 2009 at 06:17

    “Carrie Says:
    August 7th, 2009 at 3:51 pm
    I am looking for a program that will work on my Mac that will allow me to display on one page all of my investment accounts, the stocks or mutual funds that is in each, the number of shares, their current value, cost basis, yield, and current gain/loss. I really like how MS Money does this, and updates the prices every time you open it, however, I want a more secure site.”
    Carrie and I are looking for same program. Mine is for Windows XP. My Money Plus is now expired for online services and I don’t like entering stock prices manually.Can someone help?

  174. Christopher D says 11 September 2009 at 13:10

    I have been trying to use Mint for the last year. It has great reporting and tracking functionality, offes decent advice and can help you project cash flows and overall networth. The BIG BIG BIG problem I have with it is that it struggles with financial institutions that have multi-layer customer recognition questions (the old, “What is your Mother’s maiden name?”). I bank with Huntington Bank in Columbus, OH and Countrywide holds my mortgage and it cannot consistently update the balances in my accounts therefore throwing off pretty much all cash flow and spending advice. I complained and they basically told me to try and “jiggle the handle” if you know what I mean. In the name of safety/security, I will probably head back to a desktop solution.

  175. Paul B says 12 September 2009 at 08:27

    One site nobody ever mentions when discussing PFM software is Budgettracker (www.budgettracker.com). I have been looking this site over for quite a while now and the developers are very responsive to input. I’ve also tried Mint, Thrive, Moneywell, Moneydance, iCash, Cha-ching, and a huge list of others. If you are OK with online finance or want a replacement for your desktop app take a look at BudgetTracker. As the product is now it is a good desktop replacement except that it is online. It also offers access via cellphone if that is something you desire. They offer the ability to retrieve information from financial institutions automatically. I would assume this is similar to Mint and others. I don’t happen to use the direct connect to financial institutions just because I won’t give that access to anybody – period. You will have to evaluate that area yourself.

    One other thing I like is that they don’t “mine” your data to third parties and then market stuff to you.

    Disclosure: I don’t have any affiliation with any of the software developers mentioned – this is just my opinion and observation.

  176. Manuel says 12 September 2009 at 12:12

    If you are looking for a simple application for tracking your expenses against a budget you can look at Piggybudget, which I have written.

    It is freeware, runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, and is designed for simplicity rather than being a full featured accounting package. Plus it has cute icons.

    Would love to hear some feedback about it.

  177. Matt says 14 September 2009 at 13:44

    I actually tried Manage My Financials, the offline version and it actually is really good. They have a free trial of the software and the transition to the software was really smooth. I personally think it added a lot of value to my financial management. One drawback is that it only runs on Windows.

  178. Jennifer says 22 September 2009 at 05:54

    I have taken several of these for a test drive, and they each seem to have glitches that are being improved over time. My biggest beef is that none (quicken, Yodlee, Mint, Geezeo, MoneyStrands) seem to allow budgeting for a two week time period. This is something that holds us back, as I like to plan for each pay period, not monthly. I would certainly like to see this implemented.

  179. Dustin @ Inzolo says 23 September 2009 at 10:08

    Jennifer: I now get paid every two weeks. Just changed with my new job last month. My budget system doesn’t change at all though. Inzolo has a monthly focus because most bills are due on a monthly basis. But It doesn’t matter when you get paid using an envelope system. You just make sure you allocate your money before you spend it. It’s totally flexible and all up to you.

  180. Mike says 24 September 2009 at 11:15

    ” My biggest beef is that none (quicken, Yodlee, Mint, Geezeo, MoneyStrands) seem to allow budgeting for a two week time period. This is something that holds us back, as I like to plan for each pay period, not monthly. I would certainly like to see this implemented.”

    A spread sheet (excel) that Lampo uses in their financial counseling does this and it’s one of the few places I’ve seen it. It takes your monthly budget and then lets you can assign each item to a particular paycheck whether it be bi weekly, twice monthly etc. They also have a sheet that tracks savings for various things within one account. I don’t think their online product does either of these, but supposedly it will track savings for various goals soon. Both are really useful features that would be appreciated in commercial software.

  181. matt @ Thrive says 24 September 2009 at 12:00

    @Jennifer: I understand the desire for a bi-weekly cycle; we’d love to develop it, we just have other features slated first. In the meantime, though we budget on a monthly basis, Thrive actually is using average incomes to compute your cash flow, so it will take into account your bi-weekly paychecks.

    @Mike: At Thrive, we actually do allow for Plans within savings accounts, and that is one of the features that we’re looking to expand over the next few months. I’ll try to remember to come back and leave a note here when the new features are launch, which improve over what we have there already.

  182. Jennifer says 25 September 2009 at 11:54

    @matt- ok, I will give it a spin. The thing is, I have already done my homework to determine exactly what our obligations are for each paycheck. In most program, if I want to create a budget, I have to enter a monthly amount. I have also done the math to change my bi-weekly budget into a monthly one, but in my head, it just doesn’t translate.

    @Dustin – the envelope system may be what I’m after, but it does not tell me how much money I should have standing in my checking account at any given time. I understand mvelopes.com does this, but I don’t want to pay for software.

    We have set a goal to spend “$X.xx” each pay period, after the bills have come in, lumping all other costs in one single amount. This would be ok, but we still go past that amount at times, seeing that there is money in the books. I want to avoid that. Ideas?

  183. matt @ Thrive says 27 September 2009 at 21:58

    @Jennifer: I hear you. Let me noodle on it – your’s is a bit of a special case, but I don’t see why we can’t find a way to accommodate it.

  184. Jennifer says 28 September 2009 at 05:24

    @Matt – thank you. I certainly don’t think I am a special case. There are millions of households in America that get paid on a bi-weekly basis. I can’t be the only person who has computed our living costs to fit in on a paycheck by paycheck basis. The main difference is, we don’t count on those two “extra” paychecks a year that do not have obligations with them.
    I have not played with the mvelopes website or method, but I suspect it works the way I have described above.
    Also, I had trouble locating a split transaction feature on the Thrive site. It is very possible that I overlooked it. Thank you again for your time.

  185. matt @ Thrive says 29 September 2009 at 13:55

    @Jennifer: You’re right, let me say that differently. Tons of people are paid biweekly (including me), but not as many of them actually want to budget on a bi-weekly budget, especially as most bill expenses are on a monthly basis. Rather than splitting all the transactions, it seems vastly easier to actually look at things on some aggregate average levels. Indeed, there are some nice psych studies that show that the longer period that people use for budgeting, the closer they actually get to real values (yearly better than monthly better than weekly). The nice thing about Thrive is that we’re using your real data, so theoretically it reduces the impact of time period, but I think some of it is still in there.

    As for split transactions, you haven’t missed a thing – we don’t currently support it. It is on the roadmap for the near future, we’re just finishing up some of the cashflow and budgeting features. Stay tuned.

  186. Paul W says 02 October 2009 at 07:09

    I just bought YNAB (You Need A Budget), and am liking it so far, except for the lack of reporting features. It does a pie chart, and a bar graph, and that’s it. I am looking for a desktop program (not online), that can give me text reports on how much we spent on each sub category, each master category, within my choisce of time frames, and be able to import files. I’m afriad I have a feeling that may be only Quicken or MS Money that can do that.

  187. Chris says 02 October 2009 at 18:09

    @Paul W: I too bought YNAB, and they are getting ready to release their new version which may have the reporting you’re looking for…since you just bought yours, you should be able to upgrade for free when it’s released later this month or next.

  188. Kelleigh2 says 05 October 2009 at 08:43

    @Matt

    Any word on the feature you mention below? Until it happens, I can’t use your site as it tells me each month that I’m doing a terrible job since it thinks my checking is a savings account… Thanks.

    “That said, I have another new feature coming: the ability to change how we consider your accounts, with some limitations. You won’t be able to make a debit account into a credit account (no changing your credit card to be counted as a savings account) but you will be able to move small parts, like checking to be savings, and vice versa. No timeline yet on that, though I would hope to have it up by the end of September; I’ll do my best to get a firm date for you soon.”

  189. matt @ Thrive says 09 October 2009 at 09:59

    @Kelleigh2: It is currently slated for released in this sprint, which should be out on the 28th. It is possible, however, that we may be delaying it until the next sprint (launching in mid-November) in order to allow for some improved functionality that will increase the ability to differentiate between revolving and non-revolving debt and to coincide with the new feature that will correct your other issues.

    I appreciate your patience: I know you’re eager for us to improve, and we’re working on it just as fast we can!

  190. Christina says 16 October 2009 at 07:28

    I have recently come upon a software that aggregates all of your finances, but it it literally all of the ones you have listed combined! It’s called Money desktop (www.moneydesktop.com). It was shown to me bya friend and the more I have looked at this the more impressed I am. It shows you how to budget, save, plan, and an in detail report of what specifically is keeping you from wealth. It’s like Mint on steroids 🙂 It’s awesome!!!

  191. Kelleigh says 16 October 2009 at 09:53

    @ Christina: The Moneydesktop.com looks interesting, but it’s $200 a year! I’d like to try it without having to give them my credit card first. Can you tell me if it has an account register that I can manually add in transactions like I can in Money or is the register an automatic thing like Mint that just pulls the info from the bank and you can’t add anything in yourself? I’ve been trying to find another solution since my Money program ran out of it’s online service contract and now each time I want to update my accounts I have to go out to every single bank or broker website to get the info – what a pain. Mint and Thrive are nice, but don’t have the register feature I need – I want to manually add in my bills each month to know what the balance will be after they are paid AND have my accounts auto update.. no one seems to do this besides quicken and money (not anymore)and I really dislike quicken…

  192. Gregg W says 16 October 2009 at 12:33

    I believe that Mint is joining with Quicken, so that will make the “Quicken” experience alot better

  193. Jay Turner says 16 October 2009 at 12:50

    I have created an Excel spread sheet to account for all money spent. I save all receipts and then daily update manually and does not connect to the outside world. It is accomplished on a month to month basis and saved for tax purposes. The constant bills are in an area with the set amount entered. As deposits are accomplished the amount is entered and the constant bills are automatically deducted. I also enter the daily bank balance to compare to the manually accounted balance and can determine better availability of funds. Connected to all this is a monthly accounting of balances in all account for a total of cash available (net worth). It may sound complicated but takes only about two minutes a day to update and five minutes on the first of each month to set up for that month. I have spread sheets already set up to and including the year 2012. Hey, I’m retired and have the time to mess with this. We have not over spent any of our accounts in over five years. A stitch in time will save a dime, I said so.

  194. matt @ Thrive says 16 October 2009 at 15:12

    @Kelleigh: If you want to shoot me an email at [email protected], I can try to get you access to a demo of the new feature we built to solve the problem you’re having – it is still being tested internally, but I may be able to get you an advance look.

  195. KathyN says 16 October 2009 at 18:53

    I have been using mvelopes for three years and absolutely LOVE IT!! I am not at all inclined toward money management and this has made it so easy for me to come up with a spending plan and track how I’m doing…I cannot believe how this has literally changed my life… I actually feel financially competent now and even notice little charges on my credit card that aren’t right and are able to protest them. If you are intimidated by money – this is a great program!

  196. Donna says 17 October 2009 at 12:01

    I too use Mvelopes and think it is very different from the others. It shows you how much is left in your budget category (envelope) as opposed to how much money you have in the bank. That way, you don’t look at your bank balance and think you have money when really you owe half of it to your credit card company. I have used Quicken and Money in the past only to find out at the end of the month that I had exceeded my budget. Even with the automation help from all these programs, it still takes time, so I think it is mandatory to have a program tell me where I am at all times. If it’s too complicated to know exactly where you are on any given day, it’s all a waste of time.

  197. Jill says 18 October 2009 at 09:26

    @Matt: I had a quick question before I decide which program to use.

    I’m a recently graduated college student and while I do work and support myself there are a few things my parents pay for, namely, groceries and gas. I want to track these expenses as well (so I’m not breaking their bank). It all goes onto a specially relegated credit card that is paid off by them, but my own income won’t ever be put into it, which seems like it would make the tracking and budgeting a bit confusing, since Thrive could see the expenses from the card, but not the account or money that ends up paying it.

    I really like Thrive but I guess I wasn’t sure if my varied means of income could be supported by the site.

  198. George says 20 October 2009 at 09:22

    Fortora Fresh Finance is also another great personal finance manager. It’s available for both Mac and Windows. You can find it at http://www.fortora.com

  199. Dave says 20 October 2009 at 11:43

    I posted about Yodlee’s MoneyCenter a while back. If you are interested in learning more, check out the post here:

    http://www.omniswami.com/2009/09/microsoft-money-is-gone-yodlee-personal-finance-software/

    I haven’t found anything that works better for me.

    Best, Dave

  200. Rajan says 21 October 2009 at 04:20

    For the UK users out there, our only options are to use Wesabe (which isnt great) or a newcomer to the scene Kublax.com, which uses the Yodlee platform.

    Would be great to see some iPhone coverage for the UK….

  201. Dustin @ Inzolo says 21 October 2009 at 07:48

    @Rajan I’m sure those are not the only options. I’m actually surprised at the number of foreign users using Inzolo.com. I have quite a few users from overseas. Looking at my stats from just this month I have visitors from Canada, UK, Germany, Russian Federation, Australia, Turkey, Honk Kong, India, & New Zealand among others. It is fun to watch. I didn’t realize it would gain popularity in other countries. I’ve now had to consider removing all $ to make it more applicable to everyone.

  202. Lucia @ moneyStrands says 21 October 2009 at 09:22

    @Rajan Another option is http://www.moneyStrands.com. We support a limited number of UK banks however we also offer manual accounts. With a manual account, you can import your information in GBP. We have a free iPhone app available on the UK App Store that allows you to enter in transactions to your manual account from your phone.

  203. matt @ Thrive says 23 October 2009 at 12:01

    @Donna: I absolutely agree that at any given time, you should be able to log in to a PFM and know exactly where you are with regard to your budget. Frankly, I’m surprised at any option that doesn’t do that: Thrive does. Mint does. Mvelopes does.

    @Jill: If I understand the situation correctly, there is actually a way to work this into Thrive, although it will result in one small oddity that I can think of.

    Basically, track your expenses as normal. Then, when your parents pay off the special credit card, mark that payment as “allowance income”. That should actually balance out the issue and help you to budget effectively. The one note is that the site may give you reminders about paying off the credit card, since it won’t see the payment (since we retagged it as allowance income) and won’t know that you’ve paid. But other than that small warning message, you should be in the clear and on your way to financial health!

    Feel free to let me know if that doesn’t work for you at [email protected] and I’ll see what we can figure out for your situation.

    @Ranjan: Thrive supports the UK (and all countries); the only actual issue is trying to support the individual banks within them. We have many of the major UK banks already in the system, and if yours isn’t in there, feel free to let me know and we’ll reach out to them to work on getting them connected.

  204. Shane says 26 October 2009 at 15:57

    Although I’ve learned a lot from this article and the comments, I still haven’t seen evidence of any alternative that has an adequate replacement of MS Money’s “Cash Flow” view. I need a 12-month forecast (ideally both graphical and a table grid showing individual transactions) that shows recurring bills and deposits as well as one-time entries for a specific account. It must allow me to edit individual instances of recurring items (date and or amount), and it must reconcile transactions that are downloaded from my financial institution (although MS Money is terrible at matching transactions correctly). My wife refers to this as the “scary orange chart” because it easily shows when (in the next 12 months) our cash runs out. Knowing that, we can move money from savings, tweak payment dates as necessary, etc.

    Does anything out there do this??? I want software that lets me manage one year out, not just a few weeks.

  205. Vicky says 28 October 2009 at 23:25

    What does the envelope system mean? And why is it so good?

  206. Dave says 29 October 2009 at 10:40

    Does anyone have recommendations for a budget tool that allows you to add your student loan accounts? This is a HUGE part of my budget, but Quicken doesn’t seem to support these types of accounts…

  207. Chris says 29 October 2009 at 11:06
  208. Classicalguy says 29 October 2009 at 11:11

    “What is the Envelope Method.” As I understand it, you allocate your income (paycheck) into various “envelopes” to cover your anticipated expenses. For example, you might allocate $500 of your paycheck to a “rent” envelope, $300 to a “food envelope” and so forth. Then you pay the expenses out of the envelope. If the envelope runs dry, you don’t eat (unless you have an “emergency” envelope).

    In the electronic world, it’s really just a budget by which you track your espenditures. The software, I guess, creates virtual envelopes for people who like the metaphor.

    “Student Loans in Quicken”: You can create a liability account for any debts, including student loans, and you can create a recurring transaction for any payment, including a student loan payment. There should be no problem tracking your student loans if you understand what you’re doing.

    First, you owe the principal amount of your student loan debt. Let’s say for example that this is currently $20,000. You would create a liability account with an opening balance of $20,000.

    Your monthly payment consists of a principal and interest component. In the early years the payment is mostly interest, and in the later years the payment is mostly principal. You can use a loan amortization calculator to print an amortization schedule showing what portion of each payment is principal and what portion is interest if you don’t get a bill from the lender allocating the payments (and if you do get a bill, it’s not a bad idea to verify that they are calculating things correctly).

    When you write a check for the student loan, you would split the transaction and “charge” the principal amount to the liability account that you created, and “charge” the interest portion to an interest expense account.
    8
    That way you can always see how much is your principal balance, and how much you have paid in interest (which may be deductible up to $2,500 per year, subject to income phaseouts as provided in section 221 of the Internal Revenue Code.)

  209. EDM says 30 October 2009 at 12:12

    Hello, thanks for the information detailing MSMoney alternatives.

    There is one thing I think you missed [unless I did not read your reviews thouroughly] and that is the ability of the alternatives to import MS Money files.

    I am not sold on the online security of the web based apps, so a desktop app that I could export my Money files to would be the way I would like to go.

    Thx-N-Advnc

  210. Erik says 01 November 2009 at 08:11

    I just opened Microsoft Money and was presented the following website for $10 off Quicken 2010. I guess it makes sense for them to make money through advertising, but it just felt wrong seeing a Quicken ad in MS Money.

    http://quicken.intuit.com/personal-finance-software/transfer-from-microsoft-money.jsp?priorityCode=5301360928&cid=sta_msft_lp

  211. Chris says 01 November 2009 at 17:51

    @Erik:

    …and it’s not even a great deal…with the coupon, they’re offering Quicken Deluxe 2010 for $49.99 when you can buy it on Amazon for $34.99 without a coupon!

  212. Captain Jeff says 03 November 2009 at 19:29

    Clearcheckbook is by far the best personal finance site i have ever seen or used. In the past i have used MS Money, Quicken, Wesabi, Buxfer, Mint (a friend recommended it) and expensr.
    Clearcheckbook allows you to manually enter transaction into the checkbook. Also has capability of updatating your acct via AOL, SMS, ICQ, Yahoo!msngr or Google Talk. Forums are comparable to your local public library, reports are awesome, can set a budget, plus much much more.
    The creator/owner of the site is a wealth of knowledge and is willing to help with any issue. He actually personally answers a lot of memeber questions you may post.
    Highly suggest atleast trying Clearcheckbook.com

    I still use Mint because it is linked to all my bank and CC accts…gives me an accurate total at all times

    Oh best of all: It is free with a premium option that has a few added feat

  213. Carl says 04 November 2009 at 19:28

    I am coming into this late but just found out about MS ending Money. I have been using Money for years…but I don’t use any of the functions except the check register, electronic bill pay, and account balance for forcasting. I have my income and bills (some direct withdrawal like mortgage and others that I use EPAY for a few days before the due date) registered and I always know my lowest balance into the future.

    I have started investigating options for replacing Money and have not seen any that do these basic functions or than Quicken who charges $10/month for bill pay. Many show balances and let you know bills are due…but I don’t want to know when they are due, I want them to be paid on the date that I set in the future.

    To me this is the most common function for finance management but I can’t find one that does it other than Quicken and who wants to pay $120/year to Quicken and then $72 per year ($6/month) to your financial institution for the electronic data transfer into Quicken (I pay that for the data coming into Money now)…so almost $200/year just to pay bills electronically. I have used Money for so long and nothing else that I just assumed Quicken and others did the same thing…or atleast the same thing without an additional fee to use bill pay.

    Any suggestions on a software that will do this?

  214. Classicalguy says 04 November 2009 at 20:18

    Carl: I am surprised that Microsoft Money let you pay bills for free from your desktop software. Many years ago, this was a free feature in Quicken. I really liked it. Then they started charging, so I stopped using it. I now use free on line banking from my bank to pay bills. I have to re-enter the transactions in Quicken, but most are on my scheduled transactions list so it doesn’t take long. Yodlee and Checkfree allow me to charge some bills to my credit card, which is nice because of the cash back. But only select billers participate. Still, bill payment from the off-line software was a real nice feature when it was free.

    I’ve now stopped paying for quicken updates. I have to download stock quotes by hand. I just won’t support Quicken any more.

  215. Carl says 04 November 2009 at 20:47

    I pay US Bank $5.95/month for electronic bill pay and that is it. I haven’t paid MS anything since I upgraded to 2007 in 2007.

    I just installed the Quicken Starter Edition to see how it looks and feels…and it isn’t as nice as the register in Money, but that could be just because I am used to it.

    The sad part is that I installed Quicken on another machine, than the one that has MS Money, because it newer and in the kitchen..thinking that I could use the MS Money backup file to load into Quicken but when I tried to import the file, it says the MS Money 2007 or 2008 has to be on the same machine as Quicken. So……more work to do.

    The interesting thing is that this came up when I wanted to upgrade my XP box to 7 and have to re-install all of the software. I had MS Money 2005 but when I upgraded to 2007, I just downloaded it from the MS website….and didn’t make a back up file for the install. So if I want to go to Windows 7, I need to reinstall Money but don’t have the 2007 disk and it isn’t being supported or sold any longer. Life is so fun……

  216. Classicalguy says 04 November 2009 at 21:07

    Carl: None of the banks and credit unions I use charge for bill pay. And I suspect I earn a higher rate of interest on checking than the majors pay as well. You might want to consider a better banking deal.

    I hope your data converts cleanly from money to quicken. I have so much quicken data that conversion attempts have not been pretty.

    I really like the accounting theory behind GNU Cash, but it’s not as finished feeling as quicken or money. There is no perfect solution yet.

  217. Carl says 05 November 2009 at 05:29

    They don’t charge for bill pay online, just the bill pay option through Money, Quicken, or Quick books. I will look at GNU Cash to see if that fits my needs.

    I think there is a really good opportunity for a enterprising entrepreneur. I would think if some one built just the check register portion similar to Money with the bill pay function (without the monthly bill for using it other than from the bank), they would have a successful product. I suspect that the majority of Money users mainly, or in my case only, use that part.

  218. Mr. Bear says 08 November 2009 at 16:53

    I am desperately searching for another program that will do Cash Flow like MS Money does. No luck so far.

    Quicken impresses me greatly. Moneydance looks fairly good, too. The trouble is that for projection of cash flow, the best I can find is a graph, which does me absolutely no good.

    I need a list-style cash flow projector that shows what the balance will be after the transaction is completed, just like Money.

    Is there any hope for me?

  219. Classicalguy says 08 November 2009 at 18:52

    Mr Bear: I don’t understand the problem.

    If you enter a transaction in your check register to pay at a future date, quicken (and I assume any other off-line program) will show the transaction and the balance in the account on the date of the transaction (it would only be accurate, of course, if the transaction cleared on that date, but that is what you should assume).

    You can also schedule automatic transactions to enter (either automatically or by prompting you) whenever you want. For example, you could say, in essence “on the 20th of each month enter a $300 payment for my rent to be deducted on the 1st of the following month.” On the 20th of each month it would enter the transaction, and you could look up your account balance any time after that and it would show the balance both before and after that deduction. Before the 1st (the “cleared date”), it would show up shaded to reflect the fact that it should not have cleared yet. Is that what you want to do?

  220. Classicalguy says 08 November 2009 at 18:55

    Carl: I don’t understand this “who wants to pay $120/year to Quicken and then $72 per year ($6/month) to your financial institution for the electronic data transfer into Quicken” What is the $120 per year plus $72 per month?

  221. Mr. Bear says 08 November 2009 at 21:31

    Thank you for your attempt, Classicalguy. You’re right, you not getting what I’m driving at.

    Are you familiar with MS Money? There is a feature called Cash Flow, which is actually a report that projects how much much the balance will be after each transaction. The time period is customizable. Since I get paid every two weeks, I generally set the report to project for the next two weeks.

    The Cash Flow projection pulls its information from the Bills & Deposits, a feature that is common to the other programs available, using such names as Scheduled Transactions, for example.

    The problem is that MS Money seems to be the only program that projects new balances in dollars and cents. The rest all do it with a graph, which is of no use to me. I do my planning based on knowing more or less what’s going to happening in the next 2-4 weeks.

    Does that make it more clear? I’m really quite desperate to find a program that duplicates this feature.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  222. Kelleigh says 09 November 2009 at 10:49

    I have yet to find any equivalent to MSMoney – I’ve been looking since this article came out because I knew my copy would expire in October ’09. I’ve tried just about everything and haven’t yet found anything that works as well. The other thing to note is that I had to change computers due to a crash and because my copy expired, I can’t activate it now, so I’ll lose all functionality in 60 days and won’t be able to use it at all. I contacted them to see if they could provide a code that will still allow me to use the basic program without the online functionality and am still waiting. If not, then I’ll have no choice but to change programs, but I have no idea to what… nothing so far does what I need it to wrt forecasting, register and online ability. It’s sad, really, that it’s so hard to find something that will work the way you want it to.

  223. Classicalguy says 09 November 2009 at 12:02

    Folks: I’ve never used Microsoft Money, and don’t know about the cash flow projection feature that you are so enamored of. However, from the sound of it, any modern system can be made to do what you are describing – show the balance of an account after future bills are paid. I don’t know whether the format will be as pleasing to you as the system you’re used to, but change is always difficult. I still remember fondly Quicken for dos…

  224. Kelleigh says 09 November 2009 at 12:39

    Classicalguy – I’m fine with change – I work with computers for a living and am always trying new or upgraded software, but I would like something that works as well or better than the program I’m switching from. I bought quicken early in the summer and used it for 2 months before I gave up on it for a number of reasons. I’ve also downloaded and tried several other programs mentioned here. I really like Mint and think it’s better than Money in many ways and if they had a register built in, I’d go with that in a heartbeat. I’d also stick with Money, even without the online services, if I can get them to give me a code that will unlock it. It seems to me, that many of us here want the same type of tools from our financial software, and can’t find it outside of Money… it can’t just be because we’re all resistant to change. For me, I want one stop shopping like I had with Money before it expired.. now I have to go to several places to get the same information.

  225. BreezeMoney says 26 November 2009 at 00:59

    BreezeMoney provides a simple and intuitive way to manage your money. You may try it for free.
    Download it:

    http://www.breezemind.com/breezemoney/download.html

  226. Rahul says 08 December 2009 at 01:45

    I know MS Money is gone but mint is here is stay…even intuit realised it….by the way I also saw a interesting site in India called Perfios (www.perfios.com) – its supposed to mean PERsonal FInance One Stop….hence the name…interesting huh 🙂 it does more than what mint does….give it a try…in Indian context !!

  227. james says 31 December 2009 at 12:29

    tried many of these only to revert back to our excel spreadsheet of 8+ years. Wish I could store it online and acces it from work or my Droid. Google apps loses some of the features we put in our spreadsheet.

  228. Niraj says 07 January 2010 at 10:34

    Try out FAssistant (Personal Finance Assistant) which has lots of feature like income, expense, stocks, mutual funds, bank accounts, loan or policy accounts, personal address book, reminder messages, password manager, and various reports.

    Check it out at:
    http://sites.google.com/site/fassistanttool/home

  229. Jon says 03 February 2010 at 12:43

    I am a MS Money user for many years and since I procrastinated I am now in the lurch. Is there anyone out there who was a MS Money user that has successfully transferred Money files onto a new personal financial program successfully, and with relative ease? To me that is the key question; I don’t want to start from scratch building a whole new data base for a new financial software program Thanks

  230. kelleigh2 says 03 February 2010 at 13:41

    @Jon –

    No, I was never able to find anything that would do what I needed (and that Money already does), but I bought a new computer in October (just after my copy expired) and because it had expired, I couldn’t get it installed to even use it without the on-line access.. apparently it needs the key to get it installed and if it’s expired, too bad. So I called tech support and told them that I couldn’t even get the product installed because it had expired and that I just wanted to use it locally without the online part (as they stated on their website that you could do – use without the online peice) and after many back and forth emails, they finally sent me a new key and low and behold it ended up being a renewal key that’s good until next year.. I was thrilled since the online stuff works as well! One lesson learned, though, is that once it’s expired you can’t install it at all. If it’s already installed, you can keep using it, though, after it expires. Anyway, you might want to contact them and see what they can do. I’m hoping that in another year, there will be something out there that does what I need it to do…

  231. Jeff says 15 February 2010 at 11:09

    I have used Quicken for Windows for a few years and recently have moved to using a Mac. I no longer use a PC (though I still have my PC Quicken file) and have not yet chosen a Mac-compatible program/service to use. Could I ask for suggestions as to which program(s) might work best for me.

    What I require/desire (in no particular order):
    1. Prefer a desktop program rather than web-based
    2. Want to be able to import my old Quicken data
    3. Want to be able to download data from bank, brokerage, and credit card accounts
    4. Do not require budgeting capabilities
    5. I use personal finance software to track my assets/liabilities and to identify and track spending by category and vendor/store.
    6. Not opposed to paying for the service

  232. Al says 16 February 2010 at 10:38

    I’ve been a Microsoft Money user for at least 15 years. The latest version that I used was the Plus issued in 2007. I had procrastinated and finally broke down and bought Quicken Premier 2010.
    Last week, I installed and transferred my data. It was a relatively painless conversion and online updating of accounts.
    I did have a problem re-opening the file the next day and ended up reinstalling the program. I left it alone until this past Sunday and ran into the same problem. I did an online chat session with their tech support and got the problems ironed out. (It was as simple as copying the file, renaming and running their validation feature.)
    Yesterday, I ran all of the reports I needed to do my taxes and am happy as a clam with the ease that they ran. I am disappointed that the program does not let you create custom reports from scratch, but that is remedied by customizing existing.

  233. Angie says 11 March 2010 at 09:45

    Is there a website that compares these apps based on features. I’m looking for: 1) web access & iPhone app, 2) ability to enter future (one time or repeating) & uncleared transactions to project cash flow, 3) allows me to categorize and split transactions between multiple categories for reporting purposes (mostly tax-related), 4) pulls transactions automatically from banks yet allows me to RECONCILE and 5) allows me to manually set up accounts for which I can’t connect to an existing bank and for CASH. Bill pay would be nice. I don’t need investment tracking.

    I currently use Quicken Home & Business 2007 but that doesn’t allow the iPhone or web access. I’ve tried Mint but without the Cash feature, it’s a disappointment. I’m using Quicken Online now, but just discovered a MAJOR BUG that is sending me packing immediately if not sooner. I’m a Bank of America customer, so am eyeing their “MyPortfolio” which is a Yodlee app.

    I’m quite familiar with accounting software, so GnuCash looks promising, but they don’t seem to have an iPhone app. I need a way for my husband to view balances and transactions so he knows where the finances are. That’s where something like Mint is very helpful.

    I have many many accounts to track, so I hope to just do this switch one time. It’s very time intensive! Does anyone know of a single app that has the features I need? Or of a website that compares all of these by feature sets?

  234. Don says 15 March 2010 at 10:04

    I haven’t seen anyone mention classifications. We use to call them divisions. Money offers two class boxes and suggests “family members, properties, projects, hobbies, vacations, job expenses, other.”

    This is one of the fun things for me in MS Money. I have the standard categories and I use the two provided classification boxes. One is set up for properties..expenses for my cabin rental, summer camp, house, etc. I use the other for family..kids, mother, personal, business.

    Quickbooks and Quickbooks online have one classification box as I recall (it costs more with the online version). But I haven’t found anything else with this feature.

    I am fascinated by Yodlee. I travel a great deal and don’t always have internet access. Online accounting is therefore a problem, but having something working even when I can’t is great. But then I had a password problem and got locked out. Solving that has been truly awful. I don’t think I’ve been able to get in for a couple of months now. It’s fixable, I just have to be in one place for a while. I plan next to look at MoneyDance and Thrive.

  235. Mike C says 15 March 2010 at 14:02

    So many to choose from! I like the idea of not having to enter the transactions myself with the online sites like Mint, Buxfer, Strands, etc.. But at the same time, I know if I do that, I’ll get lazy and not keep a hard copy register. So the question is, which of these sites allow you to export everything so in case they fold, I will still have all my data? It looks like Strands offers this but can’t really tell how useful it is…..

  236. Don says 15 March 2010 at 22:07

    Thrive is fun to use but I don’t see that I can get the category break downs that I want for taxes and information. Although it does a lot. Budgets might be a very strong area, but I don’t use them.

    Maybe I’m working myself back to spreadsheets.

  237. Mike C says 15 March 2010 at 22:17

    I tried a bunch of the above listed today and I’m liking Moneydance the best now. It’s simple, simple is what we need these days. The data is on your computer and it’s safe.

  238. Don says 21 March 2010 at 12:08

    Well, I fixed my Yodlee login issue. No problems there.
    And in MoneyDance I have found ‘tags’ which look they will work like Money’s ‘Classifications.’ I am in this in between area of Windows / OSX and curious about Linux. It looks like MoneyDance is a winner for me for desktop applications.
    I can’t believe have much time it has taken to find a good application and without this forum I feel like I would still be wandering.

  239. S says 05 April 2010 at 07:51

    Well, Mint is/was useless as it shows my car loan and mortgage held at my CU as credit card accounts.

    Can anyone recommend a financial software that works from the get-go with a CU that shows future cashflow (like Money did)? Thanks.

  240. Andrew says 22 April 2010 at 09:52

    I tried probably at least 10 of the options on this list, but in the end decided on Yodlee. I’ve been using Yodlee for about 3 months now and can’t complain at all. Chase charges $10/month to download your statements, so a desktop option was out of the question. I also wanted something to track my spending automatically. Yodlee isn’t as flashy as Mint or a few of the other sites, but it WORKS. Mint seems to be a pretty website with financial management software. Yodlee IS financial management software without worrying about how pretty everything is. Their customer service is great, especially considering that there is no monthly charge. I love their “Expense Analysis” section, which shows my expenses for any time period. I mainly use that to ensure that I stay within my monthly budget. I also have about a dozen different accounts setup in Yodlee, and have never had a problem accessing any of my banks, including investment sites like Sharebuilder and Prosper, and a few student loan providers. It even tells me how much my cable bill is!

  241. Stephen Graham says 26 April 2010 at 18:44

    Can anybody recommend a personal finance software which allows you to manage multiple international investment and bank accounts (namely, US, Canada, UK and Netherlands?

    Stephen

  242. Maria says 13 May 2010 at 06:48

    I’ve tried a bunch on the list but still haven’t found what I”m looking for which is a very simple, easy on the eyes, easy to use program that makes it easy to set up a budget, visually see what you’ve spent in a nice pie graph, color coded way, and plan for future expenses. We use Mint currently, but it duplicates data from our credit card,, I spend way too much time cleaning up my account. I’ve tried buxfer, wesabe, same types of problems w/ categories and such not working, or duplicating, or deleting info, can’t ever get an accurate budget set up. I’m on a Mac, don’t have the latest OS (I’m at OSX 10.4), definitely need something that lets you import transactions from bank accounts.

  243. Joe Moore says 27 May 2010 at 08:45

    Moneydance is awsome!. It takes a little work to import the data, but well worth it. The development team is really active at improving the product, and the support is amazing. I asked a support question and had a reply in 15 minutes!

  244. BruceT says 03 June 2010 at 19:41

    @Jon
    I successfully imported 15 years of data, covering around 50 accounts in multiple currencies from MS Money to Quicken 2010 (Windows). This would have involved thousands, if not tens of thousands of transactions. There were some cleanup issues afterwards and I spent a couple hours getting Quicken configured the way I wanted, but it was not too bad. I can fully report on all the historical data, so that is working pretty well.

    However many other people have had reported crashes and other problems with Quicken, so maybe I just got lucky. Also I really, truly hate Intuit and their obsolescence policies, and the fact the product has not improved in so many years (I switched from Quicken to MS Money in 2000 and the current product has virtually no new features.) But it is now the only product which does most of what I need.

  245. BruceT says 03 June 2010 at 19:50

    @Stephen
    I have the same requirement of US and international banks and investments. MS Money did handle international stock price updates, but that is being discontinued.

    I have been very impressed with moneyStrands because it is the first system I have ever found which supports automatically downloading Australian bank transactions (as well as US banks). Also they seem very responsive about adding important features, while Mint has oddly refused for years to add incredibly basic things like manual accounts, which could relieve many issues.

    However until moneyStrands adds support for investment accounts (supposedly underway), it will not replace Quicken for me. I do hope when they add investment accounts, they support updating stock prices from overseas exchanges (which MS Money handled, but Quicken does not.)

    So for now I use Quicken, and have to manually update foreign transactions and stock prices, while watching hopefully for moneyStrands or others to fill the gap.

  246. Joyce says 16 June 2010 at 22:33

    I’m looking for a tool to use for keeping books for a small non-profit corp. I just need basic income and expense, budgeting and simple reports. I don’t like the idea of giving out banking info and passwords to anyone though. Is Quicken the best option?

  247. HollyP says 22 June 2010 at 20:09

    It is interesting to read all the feedback from those who’ve tried the different programs. I’m still searching for a non-Money option, and am hoping for a follow-up post from JD or April, who started using Mint last winter.

  248. JenM says 11 August 2010 at 21:09

    Does anybody know anything about SplashMoney?

  249. Tracy says 09 September 2010 at 10:45

    I have recently started trying out some of the new personal finance/budgeting software options that are now on the market. I have tried YNAB and for the most part like its simplicity, but for some I could understand that the program is a bit too simple. It is primarily a budgeting program and, unless I have over looked the feature, I do not believe it offers the more advance options, such as online bill pay, that other programs use. One thing about YNAB that really bothers me is the lack of password protection. I am still looking into trying out Mint.com and iBank, so as of now my search continues.

  250. Eddie says 20 May 2011 at 07:13

    I know this was written a long time ago, but I’d like to point out that I have been using Microsoft Money 99 since it came out and to this day it is the best program for me, even better than later versions of Money, Mint, Moneydance, and GNUGash. It does everything I need, with some complex transactions, including home purchases and refinances. I have set up custom reports that export to text files and automatically update eXcel spreadsheets when I open them. Also, the .ofx file format is still used by my banks and is read flawlessly by Money, so I can download statements. The online stock quotes also work. You can buy a copy of Money 99 for about $15,though Money 07 is available as a free download called the ‘sunset’ version. I keep trying to find a replacement, but I don’t really know why. I keep coming back to Money 99!
    Side note, Microsoft is a partner with the site http://www.bundle.com , which is much like Mint.

  251. Luis says 07 July 2011 at 12:29

    I just came across this article. I just wanted to mention that Yodlee has upgraded their web based software to version 10. And it is a complete disaster in comparison to version 9.

    Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find anything similar that is online.

  252. Ryan says 12 August 2011 at 09:34

    I got an recommendation from a friend about Moneyager. That was very very easy to use application and free. It tracks your income and expenses. use it here http://www.moneyager.net

  253. Glenn says 25 September 2011 at 06:50

    Just a note on Quicken, I am getting rid of it, I updated to Quicken 2011, and now my accounts are incredibly screwed up.

  254. Ron says 17 November 2011 at 03:27

    You should also mention the open-source Personal Finance Manager package on SourceForge. I developed this package, and our family uses it to manage our finances and balance our checkbook. It is a server-side application, so it runs on a web server.

    It is located here: Personal Finance Manager

  255. john says 16 March 2012 at 18:18

    i use a free software called spending viewer http://spendingviewer.apphb.com It is a windows application that is isolated to your local computer. It does not ask for your bank website credentials. You can track all of your accounts in single page. Setting up takes less than 5 mins. It allows you to upload transactions in a bulk or manually enter them as needed. It automatically assigns categories based on your settings. It has various reports allowing you to track better. Report by category, by month, by year, by payees, by budget. You can choose various time periods for all of these reports. Setup budget by weekly/monthly, and track it. It is really fast, shows years worth of data in less than a second, and all in a single screen with single click.

  256. Jen says 01 April 2012 at 22:24

    Hello,

    Would love to see an updated listing of the personal finance software offerings out today (2012). Thanks!

    Jen

  257. Alan says 26 April 2012 at 09:24

    Hi,
    all great applications but I would like to suggest one more. It’s name is Home budget box http://www.homebudgetbox.com . Great application, really nice GUI, powerful features and the thing I like the most is great support. On the other hand there is http://www.budgetable.com and that is great to but unfortunately there is no support for my country.

  258. Michael Smith says 26 May 2012 at 12:50

    I’m personally very frustrated with Mint. It’s ALMOST perfect, but the particular ways it falls from perfection actually make it worse than useless to me. It randomly loses transactions and counts the same transaction in different categories of my budgeting (and in particular their “Everything Else” category makes no sense at all – apparently $100 + 300 = $1200). These are not new issues; I tried Mint shortly after they were bought by Quicken and had these problems and was among the throng of people complaining about these issues, to which Mint replied that they’d be right on it. And the problems are still vividly there.

    I spent many months manually entering each transaction into an Excel spreadsheet I had created for budgeting, and it works but it’s quite time-consuming. For several months I had three jobs, which required me to utterly abandon my spreadsheet during that time. This seems silly to me when there’s technology like Mint available to keep at least rough tabs on my finances. But virtually all the programs listed here require me to enter my transactions manually very much like I would in Excel anyway. I think Mvelopes is the only exception. Alas!

    So, if I’m looking for a program that automatically synchronizes with my bank, classifies my expenses, and lets me use that information to create a budget, are my only options Mint and Mvelopes? If so, I’ll pay for the service Mvelopes provides, but it strikes me as silly if there’s a free technology out there that does what I’m looking for.

  259. Hareiana says 23 June 2012 at 18:36

    I use a little known great online personal budgeting web app called Out Of The Dark (OOTD) Budgeting, it offers easy budgeting and expense tracking side by side on one page, some great features like Cash Put-Aside management and the Credit Card Debt Terminator built into my budget, it’s 100% safe because I don’t give out access to my bank accounts or even my personal identity, and it’s unconditionally free.

  260. Vadim says 01 October 2012 at 23:54

    Hi,
    I’d like to suggest another free windows tool for personal finance: Cash And The City.
    It’s very simple and even suits for dummies who don’t need complicated functionality but only basic and useful one. You can easily plan and track your income and expenditures in it.

  261. Ben says 16 October 2012 at 22:00

    I have used both Mint and Yodlee and found them both to margin on useless because every time I log in it can’t connect to one of my accounts, it duplicates my account 3 times, etc…

    Any suggestions of something that is better at aggregating accounts. Mint and Yodlee are pathetic.

  262. Carol Holm says 14 November 2012 at 10:59

    I too am annoyed with Quicken after having some statements completely fouled up after I unknowingly Grandfathered out after two years. This has happened before. I am not your top computer technician and it takes a while before I realize what is going on. I do not have a business anymore, only need a checking/savings tracking system and an investment tracking system. Simple needs…more and more simple as I get older.
    What do all of you suggest?

  263. Kelly says 07 December 2012 at 09:57

    I’m running windows 8 – 64bit – and MS money runs fine. I’ve been running their sunset version which can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20738

    Hope that helps!

  264. Arthur Conley says 19 December 2012 at 17:50

    I have been a user of Quicken since they started. I recently upgraded and found that the software has known problems for which they charge you to find out how to correct their defects.

    I am looking for another accounting package.

    Art

  265. Dave says 05 January 2013 at 12:41

    YNAB has received a ton of awesome upgrades since this webpage was published. It has a mac app, iPhone/Android apps, and it does auto-syncing between all devices. I use it and love it. Awesome “method” associated with it, and above-and-beyond support (live training sessions available very regularly, including special topics sessions).

  266. Classpro says 07 January 2013 at 10:55

    The problem with almost all of these alternative programs is that the only allow one or two levels of categories. That may be fine for someone keeping track of a checkbook, but as one’s financial life expands there is much more to keep track of (investments and rental properties). Quicken allows multiple levels of categories (Rentals:San Diego:Condo:Income:Rent, Rentals:San Diego:Condo:Expenses:Repairs:Plumbing). That is a very important feature to me. I guess it’s a question of what features you need.

    • xega says 17 January 2013 at 17:25

      I’ve tested dozins and dozins of programs, both online and off and I ended up with a spreadsheet in Excel. An important criteria for me is that the software is free, I am deep in debt due to an illness and I want to spend what little money I have on paying what I owe.

      Other “must haves” are:
      * Has to be able to handle DKK as a currency.
      * Has to allow creation of customized categories.
      * Has to include debt management.
      * Has to have the relevant reports.
      * Has to be able to handle letters such as ð, æ, þ, ø, å etc.
      * Recurring bills.

      Nice-to-haves are f.ex. the ability to view the same data on two different pc’s. Not a problem if its in the cloud, but different if we’re talking about software.

      Maybe I’m being too demanding, but one can always dream 🙂

      • etr says 18 August 2014 at 13:10

        You could do something similar to this with Tags in Microsoft Money.

  267. CJOttawa says 02 February 2013 at 20:24

    Microsoft Money Plus Sunset Deluxe is a free download from Microsoft.

    You can still log in to your financial institutions and import .OFX files into this version of MS Money.

    It works flawlessly and is still the most comprehensive personal financial management software available.

  268. phreebie says 11 February 2013 at 18:04

    Just a quick FYI. Your link above for “Thrive” now re-directs to a page making loan offers.

    Thanks for the tips, I was searching for something ‘money’ like that will sync with all of my devices. Unfortunately Mint is no good in my country.

    Cheers
    PB

    • Ellen Cannon says 12 February 2013 at 08:43

      Thrive was owned and operated by Lending Tree. They have shut the site down since this story was written.

  269. TDC says 10 February 2014 at 20:20

    I have used Quicken and Mvelopes to download transactions so I can manually enter into YNAB. YNAB is the best for budgeting. I have Tried Mint, Yodlee, and a few others. None of these free online programs allow you to add a TRUE cash account. If you have any type of cash income and like to buy stuff with cash, these programs don’t give a true picture of your finances.

    • Mark says 28 February 2014 at 16:45

      Perhaps a spreadsheet might be the way to go in this case.

    • AJW says 17 May 2014 at 17:41

      Money Plus Sunset allows you to add a cash account. Set up new acct as other, hit next, then select cash. The software is free.

  270. AJW says 17 May 2014 at 17:35

    I downloaded Money Plus Sunset Deluxe…

    Money Plus Sunset is available in two versions:

    Money Plus Deluxe Sunset — designed to replace Essentials, Deluxe and Premium
    Money Plus Home & Business Sunset — designed to replace Home & Business

    A quick search will get you to the appropriate Microsoft download page.

    They are both free.

  271. Lowell @ Spam Free Search says 29 June 2014 at 07:39

    Believe it or not, I am still a Money 98 user. I could never get my old money files to integrate into newer MS Money versions, so I just stuck with it. It still works on a lap top I have, but will no longer install on a new computer I just bought, so I am in the market for something new. Thanks for the options.

    • etr says 18 August 2014 at 13:14

      I bumped up from Money 98, which I got for fee with a Windows98 computer back in 2000, to the 2004 edition because I happened to get a free copy. Money 98 is still the best I’ve seen. Unfortunately, they finally shut down the quotes server and stock prices no longer update. Other than that, it runs fine on a Windows 7 machine.

  272. web design company says 15 July 2014 at 09:38

    I also agree that Money Dance is a great finance app. I’ve been using it for ~2 years now and love it.

  273. sirma says 17 August 2014 at 23:34

    I use the simple budgeting tool expensetoday.com It has simple interface for adding expenses but very powerful budgeting and reporting available. you can also share the expenses with your friends.

  274. Ahmet Dereci says 19 November 2014 at 04:31

    Alzex Personal Finance is a good one.Alzex Personal Finance software is based on the idea of dividing income (and expenses) by categories. This allows you to see areas of expenditure and amount of money spent without having to analyze reports. The system of categories is designed in the form of a tree with unlimited nesting.

  275. Mr Reality says 22 December 2014 at 08:45

    2014-Dec: In this day and age of hacking, where the US Pentagon, Sony, Google, JPMorganChase, etc are ALL getting breached by hackers, the **last** things I would ever consider are (1) putting my house on the internet … to lock doors, turn on lights, etc and (2) allow MINT dot com to have FULL online access to my banking accounts … and, yes, that is precisely what it required.

    Even as of 2014, I have continued to use the SUNSET version of MS Money – which remains free to download and install without a license key – without issue. Call it ‘old school’ but I sleep better by balancing safety vs. convenience.

  276. Jeff says 28 January 2015 at 10:49

    I am currently on XP and am contemplating going on Windows 7. I am told that my Windows ‘Money2004’ is not compatible. Apart from recording all my expenses and income, I need to record all my ‘payee’s and income details (pensions etc). My Money2004 also recorded when all DD’s were payable and automatically registered them in the account when due, ie., I did not have to put them in manually . I do not need access to the banks, I already have that. Can anyone tell me what is out there, that is as good as Windows Money 2004. Kindest regards, Jeff P

  277. etr says 02 February 2015 at 15:56

    Jeff,
    I have 2004 running on Windows 7 with no issues. Have you tried installing it in ‘Compatibility Mode’?
    Right click on the .exe file and select ‘Properties’. There should be a ‘Compatibility’ tab. You can select your version of XP for compatibility mode.

  278. George says 15 February 2016 at 22:58

    Moneyspire is the best Microsoft Money alternative! It is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS. http://www.moneyspire.com

  279. Roger says 04 May 2016 at 15:02

    I have again been “obsoleted” by Quicken. I have learned that they drop support (with little or no notice) when the product is 3 years old. Thus, Quicken 2013 stopped downloading from my financial institutions after April 30, 2016. I’m dead in the water. I’m tired of Intuit doing this, so I’m looking for something else. I am not worried about budgeting, but I do want to download data from multiple institutions. Basic investment tracking is good. What do you like these days?

  280. LR says 25 October 2017 at 13:48

    This is an old article, but I’m tired of Quicken forcing me into updates, and now they are making it a yearly program fee.

    Any tips on how to keep the older versions of Quicken going? They typically end up having issues with the manual downloads for me. And I don’t want my data on a cloud somewhere. GRRR

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