Moneydance 2010

In the spring of 2010 I’d been a Quicken user for a little more than ten years (since 1999 to be exact).  In the summer of 2008 I made the switch from Windows to a Mac but I had to hang onto Windows XP for a couple applications for which I just couldn’t find Mac equivalents.  One of these two applications was Beyond Compare for which I finally found a suitable replacement in DeltaWalker.  The other was Quicken.  Quicken for Mac does exist but every review I’ve ever read about it is completely unfavorable.  I’ve never seen a product more universally panned.  It hasn’t been updated since version 2007 and the first proposed update since (Quicken Financial Life) had a fraction of the features of its Windows counterpart.  That initiative was scrapped by Intuit (generally read sentiments being that it was pretty terrible) and has since been tasked to a company Intuit recently purchased called Mint.com.  That product at the time of this writing is called Quicken Essentials for Mac (the title really a euphemism meaning fewer features for the same price).  It’s still pretty lame in comparison to its Windows counterpart, so much that I’m not willing to spend $60 on it only to likely have to request a refund (since I can’t seem to get a trial version).

So after having the Mac for about a year and a half I went on the search once again for a suitable Quicken replacement for the Mac.  There were more players than I had originally thought but most of them did not have a comparable feature set to Quicken.  After doing some research I ended up settling on four possible replacements; iBank, GnuCash, Moneywell, and Moneydance.  What I found is that I experienced such poor performance on many of the replacement solutions I was unable to test most of these “feature by feature”.  All of the other applications had problems of varying degree importing my Quicken data as well.  Instead this is more of a review of Moneydance than anything else.  For more extensive reviews on multiple personal finance products click here.

(I’ve added an addendum review to include a short review on a Mac personal finance application called SEE Fiance after it was recommended in a comment below by Robert Tell.  I’ve also added a follow up review on iBank 4.)

Requirements

I began by compiling a list of my requirements.  First, I was looking for a Mac-native Quicken replacement so I could finally get rid of my Windows XP virtual machine.  Second, I had to have the ability to track all the different account types I had; checking, savings, investments, loans, credit cards, assets, and cash accounts.  It needed to be relatively straight-forward and easy to use and I needed to have the ability to create customized graphs and reports that I could save for quick reference later.  I also needed to be able to import my existing Quicken financial records; I couldn’t afford to lose any history.  That requirement was crucial.  I also needed to be able to split a transaction between different accounts and categories.  If I could find a replacement personal finance application that did all these things, along with a $60 price point, then I was set.

Quicken also has a nasty policy of crippling prior versions to force users to upgrade to new versions (I never wanted to upgrade to Quicken 2009 and was disappointed after I did).  I was also hoping I could get away from that with a replacement solution.

To test these applications I exported my entire 10 year Quicken history into a QIF file and imported it into each application.  I then tested the various features, as well as how well the import went.

iBank 3.5.4

My first impression of iBank was good.  It looks great visually and it seems like it’s got great potential.  There were a couple things that turned me off to it.  First was how slow it was.  It took 4 seconds or more to view the register each time I clicked an account.  That might sound trivial, but when jumping back and forth between accounts it became tedious.  It has great-looking charts and graphs but they also took more time than I was willing to wait to load.  I honestly didn’t get much further than that in my testing because of how slow everything was (documented here as well).

It also did a poor job importing my existing Quicken data; account totals were all over the place and fixing it was going to take a while.  Also iBank would only allow me 15 minutes of “playtime” with it in demo mode before quitting.  This limited my ability to preview the software thoroughly to ensure it met my needs.

iBank is Mac-only and does not run on Linux or Windows; not a show-stopper but it does impose a limit on where I can use the software.

In the end I had to pass on iBank.  It looks great and it looks to have great potential but for me it wasn’t quite ready.  It also has a $60 price tag, the same as Quicken deluxe, which put it at the top of my price range.  If it had one-to-one feature parity with Quicken Deluxe I could justify the cost; truth is it doesn’t, so it was difficult to justify it.  I would have felt more comfortable at $40.

[Update 5/8/2011: iBank 4 has now been released, resolving the performance issues I experienced with version 3 during this evaluation.  Click here to read more about it.]

GnuCash 2.2.9

GnuCash is a Linux personal finance/accounting application that has been ported to both Windows and the Mac.  This is great from a cross-platform perspective.  It also uses double-entry accounting.  The problems for me were that it was extremely slow on my Mac and the import of my existing Quicken data didn’t go so well.  Again, things were all over the place, requiring a massive effort to clean it up.  Generating a single chart took what seemed like forever-upward of 10-15 seconds-and clicking on a register caused me to wait much longer than I had patience for.  I also ran into problems when GnuCash tried to redraw the screen but this could just be the Mac port.  Regardless, it was still a problem.  It looks a little rough, nowhere near as polished as I’d like, but that in and of itself isn’t a show-stopper.  Aesthetics are low on my list though; accuracy is key for a financial app.

Ultimately I had to pass on GnuCash.  Although I can’t argue with the price (free) it just had too many problems for me to make the switch.  I have a friend who uses it so I believe it is a viable option, just not for me at this time.

MoneyWell 1.4.13

Moneywell showed the most promise out of any of the applications I tested but didn’t actually choose.  It also looks great, tapping into OSX built-in technologies (as does iBank), but it too was really slow.  It showed the same lag when viewing an account register or reports.  Moneywell focuses a lot on budgeting but I don’t really have many requirements for that.  My wife does all the budgeting and I just track all the expenses, providing her with information to help her adjust her budgets.  It also had trouble importing my existing data; it was pretty messed to be honest and would have caused quite a bit of rework for me.  The evaluation was reasonable (200 transactions and no 15 minute time limits) so I was at least able to get a decent look at it.  MoneyWell is Mac-only which is, as I’ve said, not show-stopper but is minor limitation for me.

Despite the very reasonable trial I wasn’t able to pull the trigger on MoneyWell in the end.  It looks great and it’s got great potential but it didn’t really do the job for me.  Maybe with less historical data it would be more responsive.  MoneyWell also might appeal to those who are more budget-oriented since budgeting is a key focus of the product.  Moneywell came in below my price point though-around $42-which seems like a very reasonable price given the maturity and feature-set.

Moneydance 2010 r3

Home Page
Home Page

Moneydance had a lot going for it right out of the gate.  First off, it was fast.  Really, really fast.  Clicking on an account register displayed the transactions immediately, without any noticeable lag.  The interface has been updated to look more like a native OSX application, despite its Java underpinnings.  I used to think Java apps were slow; I now no longer have this opinion.  I imported all my 10 years of Quicken history into Moneydance with only a few minor errors.  Six, to be exact.  A couple correcting transactions and 15 minutes later all my totals were matching to the penny against Quicken.  Moneydance brought in my loan accounts as liabilities so I had to convert the open loans manually over to loan type accounts.  This wasn’t “wrong” per se; I just needed them to be in a loan account type so Moneydance would automatically calculate my principle and interest.  I left all my closed loan accounts as liability accounts since they’re functionally the same.

One thing that really caught my attention with Moneydance was the home page.  It’s simple and useful, kinda like Quicken used to be before all the bloat.  It shows me all my account balances and then calculates my net worth at the bottom.  It shows me a list of upcoming scheduled transactions in a list and in a monthly calendar view.  There’s an expense graph that looks very similar to the graph in iTunes showing used/open disk space (see below).  It looks great and is very useful to see at a glance exactly what you’ve spent for the month.  it doesn’t show percentages like Quicken but honestly I prefer seeing the actual dollar amounts now.  That’s turned out to be more useful to me.  By clicking on a segment of the graph you can drill down to the components that make up that segment and then all the way to the register transaction itself.  Very cool.

Expense Graph on the home page
Expense Graph on the home page

Speaking of those loan accounts, Moneydance allowed me to easily set up a loan.  It tracks my principle and interest for me and set up reminders for the loan payment.  The principle and interest splits matched Quicken exactly.  Moneydance also allowed me to set up reminder transactions, just like Quicken.  One drawback is that Moneydance only allows for escrow to be sent to a single account.  So if you have an escrow account for both fire insurance and taxes you can’t split them in the loan payment.  I worked around this by creating an asset account to hold the money transferred to escrow, then entering two transactions in that new escrow account (one for fire insurance and one for taxes) to account for the split of the total escrow payment.  It’s a couple extra steps, but I only pay one mortgage, once per month, so it’s trivial really.  Effectively I’m accomplishing exactly what Quicken did.

All the account types I need are supported in Moneydance, satisfying one of my major requirements. As a bonus, Monedydance also allows me to update my Vangard Roth IRA though it’s online banking features.   I can also split transactions just as I could in Quicken; another requirement met.

Graphing and reporting are included but are admittedly not quite as “pretty” as Quicken, MoneyWell, and iBank.  As I said though, I’m not as concerned about aesthetics.  The important thing was that I could recreate all my existing Quicken customized reports and graphs in Moneydance.  Moneydance has what’s called a “Search” report that accomplishes what Quicken’s “Easy Answer” reports provided as well as net worth, income & expense, account balances, investment tracking, and other reports and graphs one would expect from personal finance software.

[Update 7/23/2010: A particularly useful feature I’ve recently discovered is the concept of “tags”.  A tag can be used to further group categories of expenses.  So if, for example, I take a vacation and want to track the total cost I could create a tag for it and then assign that tag to expenses in various categories associated with the trip.  I might have spent money in categories like “Travel”, “Gas”, and “Food” which would normally appear as unrelated on a category report but on a tag report they’ll all be grouped together.  Moneydance provides a convenient tag report to show the sum of these exepenses.  I believe Quicken also provides this functionality but so does Moneydance, so that’s another requirement met.]

Moneydance also allowed me to store additional information for accounts, such as account numbers and other attributes, just like in Quicken.  It uses double-entry accounting for increased accuracy.  The nice thing is that it does it under the covers, exposing it as accounts and categories, allowing Quicken users to more easily transition.

Another thing that I like about Moneydance is that it’s cross-platform.  With a single license I can run it on the Mac, Windows, and Linux.  I’ve tested it on all three platforms and it works great.  This will allow me to also work on my finances on my laptop (which is a dual-boot of Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux) and not just my Mac .  Similar to Moneywell the trial is very reasonable; 100 transactions before you have to buy a license.  That gave me plenty of time to evaluate the software.

Moneydance can also be set to encrypt its data file, similar to Quicken (I’m not entirely sure if Quicken encrypted the file or if it just locked access to a binary file with a password).

For all the things Moneydance gets right there were a few caveats.  As I said, graphing and reporting aren’t quite as pretty but they’re practical and easy to use.  Also Quicken allows a user to store checks and other documents and associate them with a particular transaction.  It allows a user to store bank statements and associate them with an account as well.  It also can encrypt these if you like.  Moneydance doesn’t support this so to get around it I just store the statements in a subfolder along with my Moneydance file on a password-protected disk image.  Not as convenient but not a showstopper.

Quicken also has some retirement planning features but I used them only once or twice and then kinda just dropped it.  Replacement software didn’t have to have that kinda stuff to meet my requirements.

The interface took a bit of getting used to.  It’s not as flashy as Quicken and to be honest I was kinda used to that.  After a couple days I started to feel at home though and I really never think about it now.

Moneydance also crashed once during the evaluation but nothing was lost or damaged.  Overall it’s been stable; stable enough for me to not really worry about it.  [Update 2/22/2010: Moneydance has crashed a couple more times in the past two weeks or so I’ve been using it.  None of my data was corrupted but it has been a little frustrating.  I save more often now and the problem isn’t chronic enough to cause me any major headaches.][Update 7/23/2010: I’m now using the 2010 r3 release and Moneydance hasn’t crashed since.  Prior versions seemed to be unstable while working with reports and graphs but I’ve been working extensively with reporting and graphing and have had no stability issues.]

[Update 2/22/2010: Moneydance has an open API, which allows developers to write extensions for it.  These are free, by the way; you just click through a wizard to install them.  I now use an extension to check my stock prices and to check for software updates.  The coolest one is an extension called Payoff! to help me payoff my debt early.  That extension used my Moneydance financial data to structure a plan that will leave me completely debt-free in 8 years.  That’s worth the price of the software alone.]

[Update 4/27/2010: Another really useful feature of Moneydance is the ability to perform calculations within virtually any amount field.  So if my receipt breaks out tax by grocery/non-grocery, I can simply type .86+1.59 and it’ll automatically calculate the value.  Very useful, fast, and cool.]

There’s also now an iPhone application released by the developer that allows you to enter transactions and then sync them with Moneydance over wifi.  It can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store.

Untested or Moderately Tested Applications

There were a few other applications that I really didn’t get to test because I just ran out of time and patience.  You might want to check these out in your search.  They are Money from Jumsoft, Cha-Ching from Midnight Apps [Update 8/26/2010: Cha-Ching was recently purchased by Intuit and subsequently discontinued; their developers are now working on their Quicken/Mint products], and iFinance from Synium Software.  I very briefly tested Money from Jumsoft; it looked great and it did import my financial data but it crashed when I tried to view my checking account.  Again, probably too much data.  There’s also YNAB (You Need A Budget) which focuses primarily on budgeting.  You might also want to check out Squirrel.

I also briefly tested KMyMoney (for Linux) with only my checking account data.  The import completed and the software was able to handle the volume of transactions but it made assumptions about my accounts that couldn’t be changed.  For example, it decided my credit card accounts were actually checking accounts and the would not allow me to change the type of account.  I do not know if KMyMoney would be able to handle all of my data (probably ten to fifteen times what I actually loaded) but without being able to fix the incorrect assumptions the QIF importer made I’d have to start all over again, not to mention it has no Mac port (both of which are show-stoppers).  It also provided only reporting (no graphing).  Both the reports and the app looked great though, it appears to have lots of potential, and it’s free.

Conclusion

If you’re starting from scratch and don’t have lots of existing data to import, iBank, GnuCash, or MoneyWell might very well suffice.  iBank and MoneyWell (from a Mac perspective) both looked very nice. In the end, however, I chose Moneydance.  It had all the essential features I needed and all at a reasonable price, with no crippling “sunsetting” policy that I’m aware of.  [Update 12/19/2010: Moneydance (at the time of this update) sells for $49.99 as a download from their online store.  You can “like” Moneydance on Facebook and receive a 20% discount code, resulting in a $39.99 price tag.  The software is well worth the purchase price, with or without the discount.]  Since it was so feature-rich (and most of the other products I evaluated were so excruciatingly slow) spending a significant amount of time studying every nuance of the competition soon became pointless.  Moneydance runs natively (well, counting the JVM) on the Mac-as well as Linux and Windows-and has now allowed me to turn off my Windows XP virtual machine, freeing up 1 gb of RAM on my Mac.

Although Moneydance doesn’t have exact feature parity with Quicken for Windows, it does have parity with what I consider to be the important features and that was enough for me to make the switch.  It was also the most Quicken-like out of the bunch (I’d say Moneydance most closely resembles the “Deluxe” version).  Not that being different is bad at all, but I was explicitly looking for a Quicken replacement.  I bought a Moneydance license this past Friday and at this point consider it money well spent.

»Download Moneydance


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52 Replies to “Moneydance 2010”

  1. Nice review. Appreciate how comprehensive this is. I am looking for an alternative to Quicken, after being a loyal customer for many years. After seeing the poor job they did with their Mac version (I never bought it) and how they treat their customers, it’s time to move on. I’ll give Moneydance a try on my iMac and see how I like it.

  2. @Bob
    Thanks for the comments. While Moneydance isn’t perfect (what software is?) it’s proven quite adequate for my needs. I’m glad the review was helpful and I hope your experience is equally as positive.

  3. I’ve been using Moneydance for around two years and think it is a great application. It does everything I need it to do. I run it on Ubuntu 9.04 and Mac 10.4 machines at home and use dropbox to sync the file (encrypted, of course). I would like to try out GnuCash, but I’ve been having trouble importing all of my data into it. Glad you like it.

  4. I have been a long-time Quicken user and was looking for an alternative. Still use Quicken 2008 Premier but decided to try Moneydance 2010 after reading the comments and reviews of others.

    Am currently running both programs and it provides a check even though more time comsuming.

    My experience of transferring more than 10 years of data went much smoother than I would have anticipated. Very few glitches or changes had to be made.

    I am becoming increasingly frustrated with Quicken unable to download transactions from my bank and credit card companies. Moneydance allows much more flexiblity here.

    The payoff calculator in Moneydance is a “sweet” feature. Very useful and much better than Quicken’s attempt.

    Quicken does have much better reports but I can see that Moneydance is making some serious attempts to catch up in this area with their updates. IMO they are still adequate.

    Overall, I have been happy that I have started to make the switch away from Quicken as I keep learning Moneydance’s nuances.

  5. @Matt
    Not being able to afford a Mac laptop as well as a desktop I have a dual-boot Windows XP/Ubuntu Linux laptop that I also run Moneydance on. Works great across all three platforms. I also had trouble importing my data into GnuCash, not to mention performance issues. So far Moneydance has been the clear winner for me.

  6. @David
    Hopefully you’ll be able to switch completely over to Moneydance soon. I ran parallel with Quicken for about two weeks and then completely made the cut over to Moneydance. Luckily I haven’t had to reconsider that decision.

    Good luck!

  7. Thank you for a very well written evaluation. I was considering iBank and MoneyDance. Based on your review I’ll be going with MoneyDance.

    1. Really helpful review, Brian. Thank you. Any information on how MoneyDance treats employee stock option accounts and other “alternative” investments and investment transactions? Would be very helpful. Like you, I an enthusiastic Mac convert and 10+ year Quicken User.

      1. @GSH,
        I by no means would consider myself a stock market expert nor even an expert at tracking them. Fortunately for straightforward stock tracking (transferring cash to a stock account, buying stock, receiving dividends, etc.) Moneydance pretty much has it covered. Luckily most of my investment accounts fit this model.

        I’m not quite sure how exactly your employee stock option accounts are set up. Apparently it doesn’t fit the normal method of stock tracking but without the details I’d be guessing. I can say that my wife has an “alternative” retirement fund that does not provide detailed stock information. She earns yearly interest on her money there. In that case I just transfer her bi-monthly paycheck contribution into the investment account and leave it there without “buying” stocks.

        When she earns interest on this account, I enter that as a dividend of 1 share of a “placeholder” stock for the amount of the interest earned. This placeholder stock is just something I made up to fill the spot where a normal stock would be. All I really care about is that I accurately track the interest she’s earning; I’m pretending it’s a real stock to force it into the stock purchasing model. For me this works well enough; others might not find it useful or might have a better method.

        Of course there’s really no reason why you couldn’t just set up an asset account to track these types of accounts too. The benefit of using an investment account is that MD will track the stock prices (or will allow you to set them). Way back when I did exactly this; I had a profit sharing account that just had money deposited randomly into it. I just set it up as an asset and then added money to it to match my quarterly statement. This alleviates having to set up “placeholder” stocks; you just simply add or subtract funds to the account. You can set up an income and expense category to track the movement of the money in and out of the account.

        If you were tracking this in Quicken already then I think you should be able to mimic the same method in Moneydance (since it’s so similar to how Quicken tracks investments).

        Hopefully this helps a bit. Good luck.

  8. Really helpful, Brian, thanks. I am ready to try it out. Now if I can just figure out how to salvage my corrupted (10 year) Quicken Data File!!!

    1. Good luck recovering that data. Moneydance has a very good QIF importer; it’s been the best one I’ve seen out of all the products I reviewed. This was critical for me since I’m not about to throw away 10 years of hard work (and trend analysis).

      MD imported my Quicken file with only a couple minor errors I was able to easily fix. I then did some tweaking on my end to customize the data a bit more but that’s not something I think the average user would have cared about.

      Good luck!

  9. I want to recommend SEE Finance by Scimonoce Software LLC. In the last month or so I’ve tried Moneydance, iBank, Money, Squirrel, iCash, MMEX, Tonidomac, Gnucash, Quicken Essentials and Mint. What a huge waste of time!!! Every one of these programs messed up the import from Quicken and none of them had responsive customer service like SEE’s to help walk me through the process. Mint was the best in terms of direct download, but it couldn’t download investment transactions and, anyway, I didn’t feel comfortable having all of my information on-line. SEE was my last hope before resigning myself to sticking with Quicken 2007 with all of it’s limitations for Mac. They really came through and I believe SEE Finance is a superior product.

    1. Robert,

      SEE is very, very good software. It’s so good I think people should know about it. I added it to the review and I’ll be keeping an eye on development.

      Thanks again for the info.

      Brian

  10. Excellent review. Very helpful to hear that you found See Finance and found it to be high potential to be the best option amount iBank, Moneywell and MoneyDance. I too have been testing these programs and settled on iBank last Dec. I participated for over a year in the beta testing for Quicken Essentials and, to say the least, was extremely disappointed by the outcome. Even after several updates, it still lacks the capability to be a great program.

    My needs are fairly sophisticated/demanding and I’m doing “OK” with it, but honestly it has a good ways to go before I could say it is truly superior to Quicken. The reports feature, for one example, leaves a lot to be desired. And the investment graphs are a joke. I am encouraged that so many of us are searching hard for a better way to manage personal finances. Our efforts can only help these developers generate some good solutions. Thanks for your contributions to this process.

    1. Glad the review was helpful. It’s getting a little out of date, particularly since Moneywell is scheduled to release an important update to their software in early 2011. I’m sure the other guys are working like mad on their offerings as well. Moneydance has proven for me to be a wonderful Quicken replacement. I’ve been using it for over a year now and have gotten things so tweaked and perfected in it that I’ll be very hard-pressed to make a move to something else. The cross-platform aspects have proven to be more useful than I’d originally thought too. I’ve learned the product inside and out and have about three dozen saved reports/graphs, all dialed in exactly the way I want them. It really does everything I need.

      I agree with you, our interest in software with robust feature sets will drive these developers to produce better products. Intuit is so out of step it’s laughable. These small shops know what customers want because they’re actually listening.

  11. With Quicken’s recent announcement that Quicken 2007 is not compatible with the upcoming Lion (on the mac) and their suggestion to either use Essentials (which has severe limitations) or use Quicken/Win, there will be a lot of users looking for a new financial app. Thanks for your info.

    1. That’ll be great news for Intuit’s competition on the Mac (a market which I believe Intuit just doesn’t care about anymore). Moneydance 2011 is killer software; I’m very happy with it. Glad the article was useful.

  12. I am also looking for a mac quicken 2007 replacement. Looking at Moneywell, Ibank and Moneydance. This review was very helpful. You don’t mention investment transactions. Does Moneywell do those well? did it import them OK from Quicken?

    I started with quicken in 1990 and I moved from quicken mac to quicken windows in 1998. and it was a horrible experience with none of the investment accounts coming over properly. and then from quicken windows to quicken mac in 2005 and again the investment transactions didn’t come overwell

    1. I didn’t get far enough with Moneywell to test investments out, so I can’t say for sure whether or not it’ll handle them well (or at all). I can say that both Moneydance and iBank handled investments very well.

      From what I hear Quicken Essentials is a joke. I personally use Moneydance, but iBank is perfectly capable as well. I’d recommend installing trial versions of both and giving them a spin with your Quicken data.

      Good luck!

      1. Thanks. I downloaded ibank, moneydance and moneywell. So far it looks like ibank and moneydance have the best imports from my mac quicken 2007 qif file. Moneywell was terrible showing very incorrect data for the investment accounts. I still have a lot of work to verify, but it looks like either ibank or moneydance. did you also try SEE at all?

        1. I did try SEE Finance, actually. (http://musingpanda.com/2010/11/14/see-finance/) It did a great job importing my Quicken 2009 (Windows) data. Out of all the applications I tested Moneydance, iBank, and SEE Finance were the strongest. Unfortunately I had trouble with Moneywell too. I’m currently using Moneydance exclusively now and I’m very happy with it. I hope you find a solution that works for you.

  13. Thank You for the very comprehensive report, I wish I’d found it sooner. I was a very big Microsoft Money fan and when they initially announced that they would be shutting down I immediately switched to Quicken even though I never liked it. Now after using it for two years, I still hate it, so I started looking for alternatives. I’m also shifting to a Linux base so I was looking for something compatible with both Windows and Linux Ubuntu. To make a long story short I agree with all Brian’s comments, except I haven’t had a crash yet. The import was with minimal corrections. The ability to save the data file and use it across platforms is perfect during my transition and although not as pretty as Quicken or Money, the more I get used to it, the more I like the simplicity.

    1. Terry,

      Glad the review was helpful. I’ve used MD sparingly on Ubuntu, but when I did it performed beautifully. I’m currently using MD 2011 primarily on the Mac, but now I’m also using it on a Windows 7 netbook. I’ve used it extensively on Windows XP too (both without issue).

      I honestly can’t remember the last time I crashed it. It’s one of the most solid applications I’ve ever used.

      I’ve found that I can customize the reports so much that they’re even more useful than Quicken was. I keep finding things I like about it.

      In short, I love Moneydance. Kinda weird saying that about a personal finance app, but there, I said it. 🙂

  14. Thanks for your review and to the comment contributors. I had pretty much decided on Moneydance to replace my Quicken 2010/Win_Parallels setup after 10 years use. I use the Australia/NZ version and was incredibly annoyed to discover that Intuit stripped the QIF export ability from the program several versions ago! I assume this was deliberate attempt to block people migrating to other finance packages! This made me more determined than ever to change – for goodness sake (or worse words!) the computer world is moving towards cross platform and software compatability and Quicken does that! I won’t tarnish your blog with the language I would like to use……
    I am faced with starting from scratch with MD and your review helped enormously in giving me the courage to do so.
    Greg
    New Zealand

    1. Hi Greg,

      That’s really unfortunate to hear that you’re unable to export your Quicken data. My frustration with Intuit seems to grow more and more as time goes on; I can only imagine yours.

      Can you export from Quicken to csv maybe? I believe Moneydance has a text file importer extension that might help.

      Good luck with everything. Hope it goes well.

  15. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this review.

    I am a 2011 Quicken Deluxe/PC user but am switching to Mac by the end of the year.

    What was not implicit in your review was how well MD (2011) does what I rely on Quicken to do without fault: seamlessly pay bills electronically (using a direct-connect with the bank or other institution’s secure website), either as a “manually” entered transaction or as a pre-defined automatic “recurring” payment, i.e. Pay things like credit card bills, car payments, utility bills, AND send a “paper” check via my bank to anyone at any address.

    When I “sync” Quicken with my bank, it does a 2-way handshake (sends payment & account update info, receives cleared transaction data, etc), using a single password that I can store in a “vault”. Does MD work this way?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Paul,

      You’re right; there is very little mention of Moneydance’s online capabilities in my articles. The reason is I rarely use them, so I can’t really comment. I have only two accounts that update online: a Roth IRA with Vanguard, and a credit card with Citibank. Everything else I enter manually. I can say that both of these accounts work online as I would expect them to, and I’ve had no issues.

      Moneydance uses the same protocol that Quicken uses, OFX I believe, so hypothetically it should behave the same way Quicken does. You might want to pose the question on the Moneydance support forum (http://help.infinitekind.com), plus you can download the Moneydance trial and test it out for yourself.

      As far as the PIN vault goes, I’m pretty sure MD doesn’t have this concept. It will remember your passwords per account though, and if you encrypt your MD data file then those passwords are effectively behind one master password, entered when you open the file at the start of Moneydance. That’s how I do it.

      Hope this helps,
      Brian

  16. Brian, Some very hepful stuff here! Thanks in advance! I, like you, have been a loyal Quicken user since around 1995 and currently use Quicken Deluxe 1998 for Windows File Version 7.0.40.1 with data going back to 1996! How pathetic is that!!
    I have recently bought an IMac and am in the process of moving files across. Is my best bet to use MoneyDance or Quicken Essentials for MAC? Do I neeed to convert the QDF files with a Quicken Converter before tryiing to import into MD or QE?? I really use Quicken for keeping track of investments and accounts and do not need any budgeting routines.

    Many thanks again in advance.

    Robin

    1. Hi Robin,

      I’ve learned to embrace my inner nerd, and now brag about my financial data going back to 1999. 🙂

      There are some limitations to tracking investments in Quicken Essentials. From the Intuit site:

      “1. Can I track my investments?
      Yes, Quicken Essentials for Mac allows you to track the overall value of your investment accounts and the value of your specific holdings. It will not, however, track investment buys and sells, nor will it provide some advanced investments performance reports.”

      Based on this statement, along with the overwhelmingly large number of negative QE reviews I’ve read, I would think you’d be better off with Moneydance. I’m closing in on two years with Moneydance and it’s rock-solid. It tracks all my investments, along with every single account of any kind I have. I have around 60 customized reports. It’s not half-bad for budgeting either. I’m very happy with it.

      Hope this helps. Good luck on your conversion and congratulations on your new iMac. I know I’m never going back to Windows (or Quicken) again.

      Brian

      1. Brain,

        Many thanks. Do you know if I am likely to be able to convert my old data for Lion? I have read somwhere that you need to convert in Windows first but that if you use the Quicken converter you loose the original data and are locked in for ever to Quicken? Do you know the best way to convert my old stuff for MD if I am goig to use Lion?
        Robin

        1. The problem with Lion is that Quicken for Mac stops working after the upgrade, so if you had data in Quicken on the Mac the application would no longer launch. Exporting to QIF from Quicken for Mac *before* upgrading allowed users access to their raw data, despite the Quicken app no longer being functional.

          You don’t have to worry about this. You will need to export your data into a QIF file before importing into Moneydance. I haven’t used Quicken 98 for a while, but there should be a File -> Export menu command (or something similar). I exported all my accounts at once into one file, then imported into Moneydance.

          You can also check the Moneydance help pages for more info on importing your Quicken data. http://help.infinitekind.com/discussions/switching-from-quicken

          Since you still have your old PC up and running, you can run Quicken parallel to Moneydance for a while after you’ve done the conversion. It’s more work since you have to do everything twice, but it’s the safest route. Once you’re satisfied Moneydance is solid (took about two weeks for me), then you can switch over permanently. If you have problems with Moneydance that you can’t solve then you still have Quicken as-is until you can explore other options.

          Good luck!
          Brian

          1. Brian,
            Many thanks again for your helpful advice. I will try your suggestions and let you know!

            Robin

  17. Brian,
    I can’t seem to work out how to export all files at once? I can export one at a time but that seems tedious! Any further tips??

    Robin

    1. You should be able to export all accounts at once, all into the same QIF file, unless your version of Quicken doesn’t support this. Unfortunately I don’t remember off-hand.. If not, you might be relegated to exporting each account into a separate file, which I think you can still import into Moneydance one by one. That’s conjecture on my part though. You might just have to try it and see what happens. You can always blow away your Moneydance file and create a new one.

  18. Wow!

    This is the first knowledgable review of Quacken replacements I have seen. So thoughtful and useful.

    I’m pretty happy with SEE, it does have issues, but it seems like the place I want to end up. Never would have known about them without your super great reviews…

    -jj

    1. I’m really glad it was helpful, and I appreciate you dropping a line to let me know. My goal was to make the transition process easier for others than it was for me. SEE is a good solution. They all seem to have one quirk or another, but it really seemed capable when I tested it. I’m glad you found something that works for you.

      Take care,
      Brian

  19. Thanks for the great article! You helped seal the deal on MD for me. You mentioned in your post that, “Moneydance brought in my loan accounts as liabilities so I had to convert the open loans manually over to loan type accounts.” The same thing happened to me, but I can’t figure out how to convert the liabilities to loans. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Hi Christine,

      I’m glad the article was helpful and I appreciate you letting me know. I went through a lot of testing, trial, and error myself, so I wanted to help others avoid some of that. As far as converting liability accounts to loan accounts goes there’s actually a post on the Moneydance help site that details how to do this, probably more succinctly that I could put it. It’s also less work than I went through. Check out the support topic here: http://help.infinitekind.com/discussions/questions/1852-liability-to-loan

      Hope this help,
      Brian

      1. Thank you SO much, Brian! I am very excited about MD, and I really appreciate the help. Thank you for responding so quickly. I’ve embraced my inner nerd as well, and am happy to brag that I have digital financial data going back to 1992! 🙂

        1. That’s awesome! After using Quicken for so long I know it’s tough switching platforms. I’ve been using Moneydance going on two years now and I haven’t looked back. I wouldn’t mind seeing them “pretty it up” a little, but that’s a minor complaint. It’s financial software, so my primary requirements are that it be accurate and functional. Eye candy is secondary.

          Good luck with your switch and I hope you continue to enjoy using Moneydance.

          Take care,
          Brian

  20. Brian: I was curious if you had done the end of year archive thing in quicken each year, or if you just had all those years of data “straight up”. If you did the archive end of year thing, did you have to go back and “open” that data before your input to money dance?

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I never archived any data within Quicken; I left it all open and “as is”. I have a lot of reports that track history from the beginning of time, so I never trusted that option (right or wrong). As such I can’t say whether or not that data had to be “opened” before importing into Moneydance. You might try the Moneydance forum and see if someone else had done it, or post the question there. (http://help.infinitekind.com/discussions/switching-from-quicken).

      Good luck!
      Brian

      1. Brian,

        It is not 2014, and I am looking for a replacement for my MS Money (yeah, I know, but I’ve been on that under windows since late 90’s/early 2000’s); anyway, I was looking into Moneydance and stumbled upon your review (best I’ve read about it, btw).

        I also noticed that there is a 2014 edition now, and it’s still $49.99! I wanted to know if did you upgrade (think it’s free for 2012 users?), and if so: 1) Do you print checks? How is it on that? 2) Has it been “prettied up” like you were hoping? (seeing it in the screenshots, it looks OK – very Quicken-like I’m guessing?)

        I downloaded the 64-bit Windows and .deb packages, and will give it a whirl, but I thought your review here so thorough and updated, it might behoove you to update it for posterity (and those of us looking for cross-platform finance software).

        I also use an iPad (and my wife is an iPhone person), so the iOS app might be interesting “frosting on the cake” as it were.

        Thank you again for a great review!

        1. Hi Brian,

          I did upgrade to the 2014 edition last month. Visually there’s not much difference. Still looks “just okay”. That said, functionally it’s wonderful. It never crashes, it’s super-fast and responsive and it has no problem dealing with my fourteen years of financial data.

          One nice new feature is attachments. Yes, finally we can attach files to our transactions! I get PDF “paycheck stubs” now (no paper these days), so I download those and attach them to my paycheck entry in my Moneydance register. It’s a very nice feature.

          That said, it would be nice to attach a file to the account itself (i.e. a PDF bank statement). To get around that, I enter a transaction in said account for zero dollars dated with the same date as my statement. I then attach my monthly statement to that transaction. It’s a bit of a kludge, but it gets the job done.

          They’ve also added on-the-fly category creation, which is kinda nice. I think they added envelope budgeting too (but I don’t use the budgeting features much).

          Your biggest challenge will likely be importing and converting all your MS Money data over to Moneydance’s format. They have some built-in import tools for that though and they do have a support forum for questions. I came from Quicken, so I doubt I have any worthwhile advice to offer when it comes to MS Money.

          I don’t print any checks, but Moneydance does support that feature. And it’s been around for a while, so I would assume it works.

          An iPad/iPhone app also exists. It used to be a bit wonky when it updates were done through wi-fi, but I use Dropbox syncing now and it’s flawless. You should also be able to do that since Dropbox exists for Linux as well.

          Last I checked, Moneydance is still free on a 100 transaction trial basis.

          After using Moneydance for the past four years now, I still love it and still recommend it. And I’m glad the review was helpful! Nice to know people are getting some value out of it.

          Good luck with your transition, I hope Moneydance works out for you. Any other questions just send them my way and I’ll do my best to answer them.

          Brian

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