• Freeware Spotlight — Free alternatives to Quicken

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    #2407159

    ISSUE 18.49 • 2021-12-20 BEST UTILITIES By Deanna McElveen Let’s be honest here. If your finances are tight or in a shambles, the last thing you need
    [See the full post at: Freeware Spotlight — Free alternatives to Quicken]

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    • #2407170

      I use Quicken 2002 (sic) which still runs fine. When it finally breaks, Quicken will not be an option since they stopped marketing in the UK many years ago. In addition there is the dreaded subscription issue.  Looking for an alternative, my son found Moneydance which he uses and so does my wife. It seems to have all the functionality they need and they are both happy with it.

      Chris
      Win 10 Pro x64 Group A

    • #2407178

      ISSUE 18.49 • 2021-12-20 BEST UTILITIES By Deanna McElveen Let’s be honest here. If your finances are tight or in a shambles, the last thing you need
      [See the full post at: Freeware Spotlight — Free alternatives to Quicken]

      Thank you for this article.   I’ve used Quicken for many, many years.   I used to upgrade it every year (“just because”) and I foolishly would discard the older program CDs.  I wish I had kept the more recent (pre-subscription) versions because now I’m in their subscription program.   Meanwhile, the program has become bloated…and I’m receiving junk mail from Quicken about Medicare health plans!     Once my subscription expires next year I think I’ll convert to one of your picks.   I’ve tinkered with HomeBank and it looks quite nice.

       

      Rob

    • #2407172

      I use KMyMoney which I found on OlderGeeks.
      It is loaded with features which can be found on the features page https://kmymoney.org/screenshots.html
      The strongest plus is KMyMoney is under constant and active development. There are literally daily updates. Thus, if you have a bug or a feature request, you submit a bug report and if it makes sense, the developers follow up. In the last couple of years I have only submitted one bug report.
      KMyMoney is available for Linux, Windows and macOC.
      If you use the Windows version, you need to be aware of how they update. The most stable version is what is found on the download server. In addition, the stable and master branches are updated daily. The master branch is used for development and is bleeding edge. The stable version is the full featured daily update. That being said, bug fixes will show up in the stable version. Basically, I update a couple of times a year. You do not need to delete the old installation so you can try the new version before deleting the old.

      • #2407175

        I forgot to log in for the “anonymous” post. I highly recommend KMyMoney.

    • #2407176

      I thought intuit sold Quicken to H.I.G a few years ago. I love the app and it’s support and would never give it up.

       

    • #2407182

      Quicken is not owned by Intuit. Assuming it is Intuit Quicken means that the author hasn’t looked at the program for several years. The subscription cost is justifiable when one considers what it does. It is great for financial monitoring finances and preparing income tax information

    • #2407211

      Thanks, Kim for letting me know that Intuit no longer owns Quicken. I must have slept through that transaction.

    • #2407203

      Great review but I worry about “FREE”! What is the business model for these programs? I remember hear that Mint sold your information to CC companies who want you to sign up for their CC.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2409200

        Great review but I worry about “FREE”! What is the business model for these programs? I remember hear that Mint sold your information to CC companies who want you to sign up for their CC.

        @anonymous: If that’s your main concern, the option I’d recommend is GnuCash.  You don’t have to worry about any company’s business model; since there’s no company involved.  GnuCash is an open source project developed and supported by a community of volunteers.  If you’re so inclined, you can even get involved in the project yourself in any number of ways:

        Also with GnuCash, there’s no need to offer up your financial information or data to any organization — or to “the Cloud”.  You can keep all that data safely air-gapped away from the Internet on your own local storage.  Anyway, GnuCash would be my recommendation.

    • #2407228

      Has anyone done a full comparison of today’s Quicken to all the alternatives? I, too, am one that is not satisfied with the state of Quicken but have never found an alternative that suits a couple needs: Almost seamless synchronization with my financial institutions and mobile transaction entry.

      I find these two items to be the most valuable Quicken features I use. The syncing works fine and a lot of institutions support the integration. It’s not perfect, I need to ignore a month of transactions once a month as one of my credit cards sends the full month of transaction after sending each one as it comes.

      The mobile entry works good for entering transaction on the go. When things go wrong, though, watch out! I stopped syncing my checking account because it would delete some transactions and duplicate others. That’s scary when it syncs back to Quicken Desktop and appears to corrupt the entire account. At least Quicken is good at making backup copies of the important files.

      • #2407229

        I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed this article. 🙂

    • #2407236

      You did not answer my major questions about switching from Quicken.
      1) Will any/all of theses “download” directly from all of my financial institutions as Quicken does? I download almost daily to avoid having to do manual data entry, so that is a biggy.
      2) Will any/all of them open my OLD Quicken files which go back to 2000!!!!??

      Many thanks!
      Louise Smith

      • #2407263

        I agree, Louise, will any of them take years of Quicken data?

        I’m sure that this is way beyond anything Deanna was thinking about. I think she did a good job telling us what was out there. It would be so great to find an application that could replace Quicken.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2407367

        Louise

        According to their website, Moneydance can both import Quicken files and download from financial institutions. However, the bad news is that it appears not (no longer) to be free. It is currently priced at £46.22 for a family (multiple copies for home use). Personally, that would be money well spent if/when Quicken falls over, but that obviously is up to you.

        Chris
        Win 10 Pro x64 Group A

    • #2407264

      Thanks so much for the article on free finance/budget programs. Now, I’m trying to decide whether I want to go to the trouble to change, which might be a lot of trouble. For likely 20 years (?) I’ve been using Microsoft Money, which went open source like ten years ago. I’m still pretty happy with it, however fairly often it will just close itself. That may be a ram issue, as I’m not so sure it does that as much on my laptop which has 16gb of ram.
      Still, I may investigate the programs in your article, so thanks again. When Microsoft Money went to be free, the feature where it automatically downloads data from websites stopped, but I don’t mind that. I got used to just going to those sites myself.

      • #2407309

        I too use Microsoft Money Sunset Edition (formerly Deluxe edition) for now going on 22 years, and have 20 years of archived annual files. I’m very happy with it and plan to continue to use it, since it works fine with Windows 10 Home all versions. I also use GnuCash for Windows, which also works on Windows 10. GnuCash for Windows does “double-sided” entries automatically, which as a retired accountant is something more recognizable to me and something I’m familiar with. Both software programs are free downloads. Microsoft Money does the “other side” of your transactions automatically as well but hides them in the background; you never actually ever see them (most people don’t really need to). And Microsoft Money has much nicer and fancier reports and graphs in full color that can all be easily customized to suit your individual needs or taste. However, the Sunset Edition of Microsoft Money no longer connects to the internet because the software is no longer updated or maintained by Microsoft; so you don’t want it connecting to the internet anyway.

         

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    • #2407270

      I too am looking for a Quicken alternative since they went to a subscription model.  My hangup has been the same as Anon and Grandma suggest. Finding an alternative that can:

      1. download directly from all of my financial institutions as Quicken does?
      2. [provide] seamless synchronization with my financial institutions.

      Older non-subscription Quicken versions don’t allow this now either.

      So, are there non-subscription alternatives out there that do?

    • #2407305

      Thanks so much for the article on free finance/budget programs. Now, I’m trying to decide whether I want to go to the trouble to change, which might be a lot of trouble. For likely 20 years (?) I’ve been using Microsoft Money, which went open source like ten years ago. I’m still pretty happy with it, however fairly often it will just close itself. That may be a ram issue, as I’m not so sure it does that as much on my laptop which has 16gb of ram.
      Still, I may investigate the programs in your article, so thanks again. When Microsoft Money went to be free, the feature where it automatically downloads data from websites stopped, but I don’t mind that. I got used to just going to those sites myself.

    • #2407372

      Deanna,

      Let me start by saying that I am an antique stick in the mud, but it works for us.

      We are still using MS Money 2010 on our Win 7 machine. So far, it is the only one that will let us make the entries in the checkbook register the way WE want to make them. Our bookkeeping methods are a bit off the wall, but they work for us. It has an account balance feature that makes it a breeze to reconcile it with the bank statement. On average it takes me about 10 to 15 minutes to get it done. Sure beats the old pencil and paper method we used before. (Used to take SEVERAL hour to get it done.) Also, we love the annual archive feature to help keep down the size of the file.

      We have tried Quicken and a few others in the past and didn’t like the way they felt. At this point we have no intention of switching to anything else.

      Dave

    • #2407388

      I know this is not for everybody, but years ago I created my own alternative to Quicken using an Excel Workbook and some basic Excel formulas.  For every account I have, I get up to date info down to the penny and have some features Quicken never heard of …change Font color, boldness, when amounts go over set budget amounts.  While I’m no novice in Excel, I’m definitely not an Excel expert, so moderate users of Excel can do this.  After all, Quicken is a spreadsheet type app with formulas.

      Nothing like seeing how much you spent eating out to help curb tail the bad (and unhealthy) habit.  The last 3 year average of each account helps create a realistic budget projection for the next year.  I’m not sure if Quicken or these other fin. apps can do this, so that’s why I created the Excel Workbook.  Since the data is there, I can create formulas for any new aspect that I desire….more flexibility than any written app.

      HTH, Dana:))

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2408068

        I did the same.

        With pivot charts, vlookups, filters and a bit of Excel creativity, I have built a personal finance tool that is super powerful, free and won’t have to be changed constantly. It remains compatible with Excel after each version.

        Since I control the tool and the transactions, it is very easy to create new categories or reassign some transactions to a different category. I have categories and super categories for reporting in a more aggregate form when needed.

        I have one sheet that stores all formatted transactions with the following fields :

        Month (like “2021-12”), Year, SuperCat, Acccount, Full Date, ForWho, Entity (who the money has been paid to), Category, Detailed Description, Amount and a few other fields to help split and keep together a transaction if it goes into multiple categories (in which case I create one line for each category).

        I have another sheet that describes each category so I can easily see if a transaction goes into a category or another when in doubt, that assigns that category to a super category and that also tells if a category is a necessity or luxury.

        I have one sheet where each unique transaction description goes from the transactions I accumulate from the bank files, along with the category and default detailed description it should use so next time a similar transaction is made it is automatically labelled entirely or not (with indications to manually validate if it can be ambiguous after suggesting the category). So my tool uses vlookups to do suggestions in imported transactions and once I verified them and validate them, I copy-paste them per value in the first sheet that is static. A version of the first sheet with formulas is used to create the suggestions.

        The last sheet is another way to pre assign a category, detailed description and hints based on looser descriptions that are more generic and can be used by different type of transactions if there was no exact match in the other sheet.

        Those last two sheets use a combination of who the money is paid to and the description of the transaction from the bank to suggest the appropriate category and detailed description.

        I download my transactions once a month, then import them and my tool suggests categories based on specific or loose descriptions. It also traces who is spending and for who so I can see if I am too loose in my spending or if it is for someone else. Hint: always be nice if you use that feature.

        You can also split expenses that way by automatically calculating who paid what for who and issue summaries of money owned at the end of the month if you are splitting expenses instead of putting everything together or if you use a hybrid method.

        Once you have the raw data categorized and clean, with pivots tables and charts, you can easily see averages per year, month or other period.

        I have all my transactions from the early 2000s in this file. I felt open-source software offered me things I didn’t need and wasn’t super comfortable using bank logins in those, so that is why I created my own tool. I have only a bit of old macro code for importing and pre-formatting the transaction files manually downloaded from the bank and that I drop in a folder, but this could be done manually without the macro that basically just saves me a bit of time. The rest is pure Excel.

        My tool works well if you download your transactions once a month. If you have the time, you can do it more often, but the downside is it is a bit annoying to download manually your files from the bank vs an automatic download. I like to download once a month, because I take the whole monthly statement and next month I know to use the next monthly statement. I don’t need day to day or week to week tracking, although you can do it if you can select only the transactions you want per date.

        I hope this helps someone wishing to do the same to see that it is possible to create a good tool yourself if you are into this and if your needs are mostly budgeting, not tracking investments or reminding you of what you have to pay like other software do.

    • #2407661

      A bit off topic, but maybe someone knows —

      For my wife’s small jewelry business (at the wholesale level), we need a normal small business accounting program that ALSO handles:

      1. Inventory – entering new items, dealing with sold, lost or returned items and keeping track generally.
      2. Consignment of goods to retailers — we are the consignor — and we haven’t found this anywhere, just complicated workarounds involving fake invoices and “warehouses”, which is too complicated to use.
      3. Ideally, creating a tiny Q-code label to attach to each separate item in inventory (ideally with a short thin tiny plastic thread) that can later be scanned with a portable scan gun to do physical inventory checks, with the scan gun connecting to an iPhone app and with a module for the Q code scanner/iPhone app to dump its info to the program later.

      Any ideas?

    • #2407983

      Loved your article and its light and humorous tone, Deanna. It’s super timely as I was trying to decide what to use to manage our and our small biz budgets. Last year I used a custom Excel program I found on the Internet that some kind person had put together. It worked, but had several issues that frustrated me (perhaps because I’m an Excel novice).

      So now I have a choice of free programs to use. It’s embarrassing to think how long I’ve stumbled along without using any program. I can now correct this, thanks to all your suggestions. My only problem is deciding which one to use!

      On a more general topic, thank you for Older Geeks. It’s such a treat to have no nonsense, simplified advice delivered in such a “we’re with you” manner! Thanks!

      Linda

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2410107

      I, like others, prioritize automatic downloading of transactions. It’s what has kept me on Quicken in spite of the ‘subscription model’ which I hate. But unlike others, I ONLY used it for investment accounts, not for daily expense tracking and reporting.

      For over two years now I have been testing in parallel an on-line-only free service, personalcapital.com after seeing it recommended elsewhere. It does both expenses and investments, with automatic downloading after setting up each account, so I have been tracking expenses as well. It has a nice but limited set of charts etc. and allows to reassign expense categories of a line item. Overall, for free it’s great… with a few caveats.

      Its ‘catch’ is they would like to sell you on wealth management services. I get phone calls at least weekly (that I just don’t pick up) wanting to have a review of strategies etc. They have not given me any ‘or else’ to stop me using the free tools.

      A few things have kept me from dropping Quicken. -On personalcapital you can download a time range of transactions with some filtering, but no way I’ve found to download an investment holdings list, which I use in an excel long-term budgeting / tracking worksheet. -Twice now with one institution, the ‘connection’ quit working for several weeks, with no way to restore transactions from the lost period. -With Quicken, the records are under MY control including historical backup save files.

      And of course, the biggie: security. If they get hacked, are all my accounts at risk? No issues so far, and I do keep on top of things weekly on both platforms… but so far I haven’t been able to ‘let go’. This New year, I’ve resolved to try adding the banking institutions to Quicken, and to try Moneydance, and make a choice to keep up only one.

      I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s feedback.

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