Moneydance 2011

Back in February of 2010 I replaced Quicken for Windows with Moneydance on the Mac.  Since then I’ve written briefly about SEE Finance and more recently about iBank 4.

As a Moneydance user it seemed only fitting to also talk about the latest Moneydance release, Moneydance 2011.  As I write this, version 2011 is currently in release candidate state.  Since release candidates are feature-frozen I don’t feel I’m jumping the gun by writing now.  Moneydance 2011 has been officially released and can be downloaded from here.

I’m going to assume that readers are already familiar with Moneydance 2010.  If not, you might want read the original article I wrote, or visit the developer’s website.  Having said that, I thought I’d mention some of what I consider to be the more salient improvements Moneydance 2011 brings to the table.

First off, the general look and feel of the software is the same; the interface has undergone only cosmetic changes.  The application is still written in Java and is still available for all three major OS platforms.  Moneydance still isn’t the prettiest software, but its strengths have been and continue to be functional in nature.

Some interface annoyances have been fixed in this release.  The account/category dropdown list now sits above the transaction row rather than below.  This is great on the Mac because it no longer gets lost behind the dock.  This is a welcomed fix.  Also, on split transactions, splits now take up two lines instead of one, allowing easier selection of transaction tags.

Accounts now can be flagged as inactive, and will appear grayed out or missing in account listings.  With eleven years of history I have a lot of inactive accounts, so it’s nice to be able to get these out of the way while still retaining their transactional history.

Extension management is much easier now.  The interface has been significantly improved by providing a simple “Manage Extensions” menu choice, followed by a descriptive list of exensions used and available.  Installation and upgrading is as simple as a single click.  Extensions are a very, very powerful aspect of Moneydace, and it’s nice to see this area get a facelift.

Downloaded transaction matching has been updated for this release.  I manually enter almost all my transactions, so I don’t see this interface much anyway.  It’s worth noting, however, for those who do.

Reporting and graphing have seen additional functionality added.  The engine is still effectively the same (at least on the surface), but there are more options now.  Both the income and the expense reports can now show graphs as stacked or cumulative, in addition to the existing behavior.  The ability to choose was added directly in response to user feedback; try getting that kind of response from Intuit.

Stacked reports are nice because it effectively unrolls the pie chart above, showing total expenses as well as the distribution within the whole at whatever interval chosen.  I personally didn’t find a need for cumulative graphing; I love having the option to choose though.

The “Income and Expenses” report has been modified to include a bar chart to track the net difference between income and expenses.  It’s very useful to be able to visualize this amount within the same graph.  I also think it’s a very clever way to do it.

A new account transfer report is included now.  The search report has been renamed to “Transactions”.  A new asset allocation report has been added as well.  I really like this one.  Investment accounts now remember which tab was last opened rather than defaulting to the overview page.

On a personal note I think the option to create 3D pie charts should be restored.  I just think they look cool.  🙂  Transaction attachments didn’t make it in this release; guess we’ll have to wait a bit for that.

Moneydance 2011 isn’t significantly different than its predecessor, Moneydance 2010.  The fixes and improvements, however, make an already valuable and useful application that much more valuable and easier to use.  They also make it a no-brainer upgrade if you’re already running version 2010.

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22 Replies to “Moneydance 2011”

  1. Moneydance seems very good, but a/o the 2011 update, it looks that they still haven’t come up with a simple, non-kludgy way of creating budget items that can vary in amount from month to month.

    1. Budgeting is still a bit clumsy, but I’ve found that I can make it work. Historical trend analysis is more important to me than budgeting, and Moneydance offers up just about any which way I need to slice and dice my data. I’ve heard YNAB (You Need A Budget) is one of the best apps available for budgeting.

      Now if I could just get true year over year comparison reporting within Moneydance I’d be set…

  2. Brian, Take a look at Money 4 by Jumsoft. I would be interested to hear what you have to say about it relative to your experience with Moneydance. Excellent review btw – thanks.

    1. Phil,

      Glad the review was helpful. Actually I did try Money by Jumsoft a little less than a year ago. Although it looked great and imported all my data it crashed when I would try to open an account and view the register. I think I might just have too much data for the software to handle. I wish I had more to provide, but I just couldn’t get far enough with the software to even test the features.

      1. Thanks for the feedback. It looks like Money 4 has just released in the last couple of months, so not sure if that would be more stable…I’ll kick the tires on it for a while.

        1. I wasn’t aware a new version had been released; it very well could handle my data. I’ll have to make some time to check it out soon.

  3. Brian,

    Thanks very much for some great reviews. I’ve been operating Quicken (Australian version) under Parallels, but I’ve had enough. I need to move. Unfortunately, the Aussie version of Quicken has no ability to export QIF files, so I may have to start again. Do you know of a separate program to export data?

    I’ll take a closer look at Moneydance and iBank 4. Can you comment on their ability to work with Australian and London stocks and employee options; and multiple currencies?

    Cheers
    Peter

    1. Hi Peter,

      Actually I’m not aware of any other software that can be used to export QIF files. Moneydance has a text file importer (which I’ve never used), so maybe it’s possible to somehow get your data into a flat file that could be imported? Seems like a lot of work, but it’s a damn shame that you would have to throw away all your valuable history simply because Intuit held it hostage.

      Not sure how either software package works with Australian or London stocks. I do know that Moneydance handles multiple currencies, but I’ve never stored anything but US dollars in it. They both come with liberal trials periods, so you can always download them and give them a spin to see how well each one works for your personal scenarios.

      Hope that helps. Take care.

    2. I’ve also just made the appalling discovery that Reckon (Australian distributor of Quicken) have disabled the QIF export function!

      I have 6+ years of financial data that is now locked in a product that won’t do online updates anymore (Quicken Personal Plus 2007). I want to move to Moneydance, but thought there’d be no way to get my data out of this crippled Quicken piece of crap!

      Then I found this…
      http://help.infinitekind.com/kb/importing-from-quicken-or-ms-money/how-to-export-data-from-reckon-quicken-personal-plus-to-moneydance-2011

      I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m pinning all my hopes on it. I hope it works, as I’m not keen on manually entering 6 years worth of transaction 🙂

      The other option I was going to explore was to try and get a copy of Quicken Personal Plus from Intuit in the US and see if it will open the files from my Aussie Quicken and export to QIF from there…

      1. Hi Mat,

        I’ve got my fingers crossed; I hope you’re able to rescue your hijacked data and get it into Moneydance successfully (you and Peter both, actually). Once there I think you’ll really like it. Good luck!

        Brian

      2. Hi Brian – fantastic reviews on all your software experiences! Thank you very very much – you gave me the information and confidence to switch over from Quicken to Moneydance 2011! I haven’t been happier and even prefer Moneydance over Quicken any day! BTW – I tried SEEFinance too and looks pretty impressive with lots of potential.

        Hi Mat – I’m in Australia as well and have upgraded through the Quicken series. I can guarantee that Quicken 2011 will be my last upgrade. When I found out Reckon/Quicken had disabled the export feature that was the last straw.

        Although I found a way to successfully export my 10 years of data out of Australian Quicken into Moneydance without any conversion issues!

        Here is how I did it and haven’t looked back…

        First I opened my Australian Quicken Personal Plus 2011 and did a regular backup saving all the Quicken files including my database called MyFinance.QDF.

        I then downloaded a US copy of Quicken Home and Business 2010. I did not update, register or even go online. I used the “restore from backup” feature in the US Quicken selecting my Australian Quicken file MyFinance.QDF. It crashed three or four times loading my 10+ years of data. Perhaps a Quicken software update may have helped?? Each time I went in and repeated the steps until finally it opened the file.

        I think the US Quicken said my file is in Quicken 08 file format.

        I then exported as QIF included all my accounts and left the options default from memory.

        I then opened the file in Moneydance and it imported perfectly!

        Hope this works for you and anyone else out there who is completely fed up with Reckon or Quicken Australia and their disgraceful manoeuvre to disable any data export function. Shame Reckon shame.

        1. @paisley,

          I’m so glad to hear the information here was helpful. And congratulations on rescuing your data from Quicken/Reckon. Liberation is sweet.

          I’m also glad to hear Moneydance is working out for you. I’m incredibly satisfied with the software; I’m going on two years as a user with no end in sight.

          Thanks for posting your experiences and the detailed instructions on how you switched. Hopefully others will benefit from your insight.

          Take care,
          Brian

          1. Quicken has moved to stop this above mentioned process by stopping free limited trials. They now offer a 60 day unconditional money back guarantee. SURE! These guys are thieves with a product so average that they will cut your legs off before they let you go. If you business is that crap that you can’t let people choose, you deserve to go out of business.

          2. @Shane,

            Amen, brother. Rather than win on the merit of their product, they’d prefer to create traps in which to snare their users. It’s underhanded and does not inspire confidence in their product. I’ve been using Moneydance for nearly three years now and I haven’t looked back. Whether the choice is Moneydance, iBank, SEE Finance, Moneywell, GNUCash or whatever, we need to find an alternative to Quicken if we want to retain control of OUR data.

            Take care,
            Brian

  4. Brian, I have been a MS Money user for years and recently got a macbook air so I need to find another option. Have thought about continuing to use Money by installing and using Parallels but think I’ll go with new software, either Moneydance, iBank, or Moneywell. I really like the way MS Money lets you have sub-categories and choose a business for each transaction, but I haven’t been able to verify if these features are on the other programs. Can you tell me if they are and also recommend which program I may like best considering I’m a former MS Money user with a engineering background. I threw in the engineer comment because I use excel alot and have read some of the comments about Moneydance not being the prettiest software which I don’t think will bother me. I also have about 15 years of data.

    1. @JD,

      Moneydance allows sub-categories; I use this extensively.

      When you say choosing a business for a transaction, what exactly does that mean? You don’t mean payees, right? Or do you mean that you, yourself are running multiple businesses and each has their own expenses?

      Moneydance is sort of plain-looking, but functionally it’s rock-solid. It never crashes. I got over the aesthetics thing long ago. Reporting is very capable. You can also copy and paste report values into Excel, if that’s more your game.

      I have 13 years of history in Moneydance and it screams. I know of others who have more than 20 years of history. Moneydance doesn’t flinch with large datasets.

      I found that Moneywell choked with lots of history. Newer versions might be more capable though. iBank handles large datasets very well now, and it does support sub-categories. This is also true of SEE Finance, another good financial software package for the Mac.

      If in the end you decide to run Windows in a VM, you might want to consider Virtual Box instead. It’s free and works beautifully. I’ve been using it for a couple years now. It would save you the cost for Parallels, especially since you’re only running Windows for MS Money. Personally, though, I’d try to just replace MS Money. I’m glad I did that with Quicken for Windows.

      Let me know about the multiple businesses thing; depending on your answer I might have some ideas around that.

      Brian

      1. Thanks Brian, In MS Money besides being able to assign a category and sub-category, there was another field you could assign that they labeled as “business”. For example, I have a cattle business and so all income and expenses associated with that business I can put in the business name. When generating reports, I can do personal tax reports and separate Business tax reports. The business field can also be used for tracking separate income/expenses say for rental properties, or you can use it to track items for different family members. For example when my boys were in college, I could categorize their tuition under college expense, but I could also see sub-totals for each son. The “tag” feature with Moneydance may do able to do the same thing. Let me know if you have any thoughts. Thanks

        1. @JD,

          Tags were exactly what I was going to suggest. Another nice thing about tags is that you can assign multiple tags to the same transaction, if you so desire. I use tags to alternatively group expenses, usually around events I want to track (say a specific birthday party, or a specific person’s medical expenses).

          Hopefully that’ll work for you. Seems Moneydance will do everything else you need.

          Brian

          1. Great thanks Brian. I downloaded the free trial to test and notice a couple of things. In MS Money you could only have one sub-category, in MoneyDance it looks as though there can be sub-sub-categories and maybe even more sub levels. Probably wouldn’t need more than 2 anyway.
            One other thing I noticed was entering paystub information. MS Money would bring up a box with a tab for taxes, and tabs for both before and after deductions. This made it easy to split and enter your paycheck information. Didn’t see anything similar in MoneyDance.
            Thanks again for sharing your experience.
            JD

          2. You’re right; you can have multiple levels of subcategories. I think I’ve gone as far as four levels deep, but that’s more the exception than the rule.

            You can enter your paycheck into Moneydance, but there’s no wizard that will hold your hand through the process (although I think there should be). You basically have to enter the transaction manually. What you can do, though, is once you get your history imported, find your latest paycheck transaction, including all the splits, right-click it, then click “Memorize”. That will create a memorized transaction that’ll show up in your calendar. Memorized transactions show up on your MD homepage in a “Reminders” section. To pay it going forward, just click it and choose “accept”. You can also do that for any other recurring payments (or income).

            Brian

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