SEE Finance

SEE Finance

As I mentioned in my Moneydance review, this application was recommended via a reader comment.  I hadn’t heard about the application when I did my original review, but it was so good I decided I had to include here.  Ultimately I chose to stay with Moneydance, but SEE Finance was so good I gave it serious consideration.

SEE Finance is a relative newcomer to the Mac personal finance arena.  I didn’t spend significant time testing every nuance of the application, but during that testing I was able to determine that it met virtually all of my requirements.  SEE will handle any kind of account type I need, including investments.  It was fast; much, much faster than Moneywell, GNUCash, and iBank 3.  The only application that matched its speed was Moneydance.  It imported almost 11 years of financial data exported from a QIF file without choking.  The only accounts that had issues were some investment accounts where I’d transferred money.

SEE was very stable in my testing.  The application provides multiple overviews of your finances, with seven different types of standard reports.  These reports can be modified and saved.  Reporting is very capable, providing PDF output and some graphing.  SEE also provides budgeting capabilities, scheduled transactions and transaction filtering.  Downloading from certain financial institutions is supported.  Graphing is delivered in some areas, but I didn’t see a way to create custom graphs.  It also looks incredible, sporting a very attractive UI with none of the homely look that Java/Swing brings.

SEE is Mac-only, so if you’re looking for a cross-platform solution this will be a problem.  It doesn’t contain the concept of the homepage as Moneydance does either.  Personally I’m a pretty big fan of the Moneydance homepage; unlike the cluttered and overloaded homepage(s) Quicken provides, Moneydance’s homepage is a single page where I can include only what I need.  Moneydance places scheduled transactions in a list that I can include on my homepage.  I can also see them on a calendar, which is actually more useful than I had originally thought.  SEE Finance can also create recurring transactions but they’re presented in a list mode only.  Having these on a homepage is a personal preference, so I can’t really fault SEE Finance; they just have a different way of going about it.  Ultimately the functionality is still there.

Moneydance also includes some nice plugins (like Payoff!) that I didn’t see equivalents for in SEE Finance.  I’d imagine much of that could be found online so I doubt it’s a showstopper for most folks.  I also had a little trouble entering split transactions in SEE Finance.  It was a learning curve on my end, but I found Moneydance to be more intuitive in this area.  Not that data entry in Moneydance isn’t clunky at times, in this case Moneydance just seemed more intuitive.  One slightly annoying thing about data entry in SEE Finance is that auto complete doesn’t work with sub categories.  I have to choose them from a dropdown box with the mouse pointer every time.  My hope is that this will be resolved in future versions.

I found reporting to be a bit more customizable in Moneydance than in SEE.  Moneydance also provides customizable graphs in addition to customizable reports.  As far as I could tell SEE Fianance’s graphs are all canned and can’t be customized.  I have many, many customized reports and graphs in Moneydance, so this ended up being pretty important to me.  That said, SEE Finance is very capable of producing many useful reports, including most of the same reports I currently use in Moneydance.

The cross-platform nature of Moneydance has become more important to me now since that I have a Windows 7 netbook.  One license allows me to use it on the Mac, Windows, and Linux.  All versions use the exact same file (more than I can say for cross-platform versions of Quicken).  I can edit the file on Windows, then go home and work on the same file on my Mac (I use Dropbox to keep it in sync between computers – encrypting the file first, of course).

The version of SEE Finance I downloaded was a full version, hindered only by a nag screen on start up that goes away once you purchase the software.  This is a vary liberal evaluation policy that allowed ample time to use the software.  As of November 2010 the software was selling for $29.99; an incredibly good price for software with such an extensive feature set.  This software isn’t even to version 1.0 yet and it’s already much better than iBank 3 and Moneywell (in my experience, at least). [Update 7/12/2011: iBank 4 has significantly improved; I’d now consider it as good or better than SEE Finance]

At the time of this review SEE Finance was the closest runner to Moneydance in speed and feature set.  Although SEE Finance looks great and performs well, there are still several features that Moneydance brings to the table that I personally find very valuable.  I wasn’t compelled to switch from Moneydance, but if you’re a Mac user I’d recommend running both Moneydance and SEE Finance side by side for a while to see which one you like better.

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8 Replies to “SEE Finance”

  1. I just bought an iMac and was looking around for a finance application. I had tried Moneydance when Microsoft decided to quit supporting Money. I had used Quicken for many years before that as well. I ultimately went back to Quicken 2010 on Windows. I was completely unable to import any MS Money data into Moneydance or Quicken. BTW, I am a software developer, so I have some idea what I am doing. Apparently, Quicken does not employ any of these. Anyway, I have reported lots of errors to Intuit, none of which have ever been fixed. I just saw a mention of See Finance and was able to import all of my current data. I may even try importing the old stuff. Once I exported QIF files, it was painless. There are a few minor bugs in See Finance, but none result in wrong totals or nasty messages, as with Quicken and Moneydance. See Finance has some very good visualizations of your funds and investments. After years of maneuvering through Quicken minefields, it is hard to move to another product, but I am pleased that See Finance can add. Please encourage them. Cough up the $29.99.

  2. Hi Bill,

    I think Intuit does have programmers working for them…they’re just all working on the Windows version of Quicken. 🙂

    I’m glad to hear SEE Finance seems to be working for you. I found it to be a pretty good finance app, particularly since it’s not even at version 1.0 yet.

    The real problem here seems to the QIF format. There’s no standard, so Quicken changes it periodically. It differs between their software versions and platforms. Unfortunately Moneydance hosed up your data, but mine came across almost perfectly (QIF from Quicken 2009 for Windows). Using the same file, SEE messed up some of my investment accounts, but got the rest right. iBank messed up some other accounts, and GNUCash and Moneywell destroyed just about every account I had. Nobody seems to get this exactly right; I guess it’s harder than it looks.

    I’ve been using Moneydance for over a year and a half and the software is rock solid…once you get your data right. That seems to be the tricky part though. Critical, actually.

    I really did like SEE Finance. I often recommend it, along with Moneydance and iBank, for people to download and try out. They all have evaluation versions, so there’s no risk.

    Good luck with your conversion. I went through it a year and a half ago. It’s a pain, but now that I did it I haven’t looked back.

    Take care,

    1. I just bought SEE finance and have downloaded a month’s worth of transactions. Now I need to print some checks. I have checks, 3 to a sheet, which worked well on Quicken. I would also like to print the payee.s address on the check so I can mail it in a window envelope.
      Thanks, MaryEllen

  3. Hi Brain, I appreciate all of your reviews. We just switched to a Mac and have been running between the iMac and the old PC (and this craziness is only due to STILL looking for a decent personal financial software for the Mac). The one big question I have, and can’t seem to tell on websites, if any of these software options allow the ability to customize the categories. Do you happen to know? In Quicken we would create custom categories for such things as our vacation home, i.e. WV Home: Gas, WV Home: Insurance, etc.

    Thanks for any information you may know as this will probably be the deciding factor on if we go with iBank or SEE Finance.

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