Personal Finance 

Quicken Premier 2010 Review

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Quicken 2010With the arrival of free online personal finance tools (like Mint, Quicken Online, Wesabe, and many others), you might think that a desktop application like Quicken would be a hard sell. As it turns out, a lot of people out there are like me – a little uncomfortable giving out so much personal finance information to an online tool. Having been the victim of mild identity theft once already, I’m a little wary about giving out my account information unless I can see a direct benefit.

However, with a desktop application, that risk is minimized since everything is stored locally. That’s why I thought I’d give Quicken another, closer, look. My wife and I do financial check-ins every month and I figured just using Quicken to pull the data I already pull manually would be of great benefit. Little did I know how powerful Quicken was after I set up all the account information.

Financial Situation Snapshot

I think the reason why Quicken is so popular and why people use it has to do with the wealth of reporting it’s able to produce without much effort. After I entered all of my investment account information, from my broker accounts to my IRAs and 401(k)s, I was immediately able to see my asset allocation. I didn’t have to try to piece it together by logging into four different accounts and making an Excel spreadsheet. I just opened up a report.

Incidentally, I’m 58.92% large cap stocks, 11.62% small cap stocks, 10.62% cash, 9.91% international stocks, 8.55% domestic bonds and 0.38% in “other asset class.” It would take me at least an hour to compile that information manually, yet it and other similar reports are available with a click of the mouse.

Why Pay For Personal Finance Software?

The big reason why a desktop application is still better, and can charge money, comes down to two reasons:

  1. Features: Quicken has about everything I need in a personal finance management package and makes the free online tools look thin in comparison. It does it without selling you on a new credit card or bank account at every turn (that’s the business model for those online tools, you get the features for free but they try to sell you on a better products), though they do have places where they will give you offers from their “partners.”
  2. Security: One of the biggest dangers of storing your financial data somewhere else is that your financial data is somewhere else. When you have it stored locally, you have greater control over it’s location and then you can at least blame yourself if you lose it. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal to the Facebook generation, where online privacy is irrelevant, it will be once one of the major tools gets compromised.

Monthly Checkins

My wife and I have a regularly scheduled monthly financial checkin where we have a quick chat about, you guessed it, the financial state of our household. While I had a copy of Quicken 2009, courtesy of Quicken’s PR, I didn’t use it much and this past weekend I wanted to change that.

For our monthly checkins, I log into each of our financial accounts and record the balance in a spreadsheet. I call it our Net Worth Tracker because it gives us an idea of where our money is, how we are doing against our goals, and puts our finances in context. We don’t budget in the strictest sense of the world, so these monthly net worth checkins are our form of budgeting.

Quicken helps take an hour-long process down to about five minutes once the account information was entered. It’s not 100% perfect though because not every bank or brokerage integrates seamlessly with Quicken. At the moment, Dollar Savings Direct, M&T Bank, and TradeKing do not allow Quicken to connect and download information. However, outside of those three accounts, the rest are updated automagically.

Wealth of Charts, Reports

As I mentioned earlier with the investment asset allocation, the reporting features of Quicken are where I really find tremendous value. Almost every single report I can think of is available, from the basic asset allocation pie chart (that you can click on and break each category down to the specific asset) to security allocation charts to portfolio performance of each account. That’s just in the Investing tab (there are several others).

For each account, depending on its type, you can have a variety of views of the data. For investment accounts, you can see the performance of the portfolio over the last year, compare it with major indices, as well as its current asset allocation and current holdings. Under asset allocation, you can even set a target allocation and it will tell you what you need to adjust to reach your target. The first day I spent an hour just looking all the reports and being surprised at how easy it was to read.

Why So Positive?

At this point you are probably wondering why I’m gushing so much about Quicken 2010. I think I’m this positive because this is the first time I’ve seen an application that integrated data across my investment accounts and put it all in one place, complete with fancy graphs. Quicken Online won’t do this. Mint, when I looked at it, didn’t do this (I heard they started adding it but I never used it). This is the first tool that did this for me and I am surprised it took me this long to find out about it.

At this stage in my personal finances, making sure my investments are in the right order is paramount. I have enough invested that mistakes hurt and I’m young enough that silly mistakes can have a huge impact when I retire in forty years.

I’m a little upset with myself that I didn’t start using it earlier!

I know there are a lot of Quicken enthusiasts out there, what other features are there that I should dig deeper into?

{ 22 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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22 Responses to “Quicken Premier 2010 Review”

  1. Daisy says:

    I’ve been using Quicken for years, and I upgraded to 2010 about a month ago. Probably my favorite new feature is the planning module. It’s a lot like envelope budgeting. You assign an amount to each category, and it uses line graphs to show how much you’ve spent and how much you have left to spend (and shows you if you’ve overspent) for the month. I’m still experimenting with it, but I’m hoping it will eliminate the need to use a separate, stand alone budgeting program.

    • MHilly says:

      Now, 8 months later, are you still using 2010 to replace your envelope-budgeting system? Or did you have to fall back to your standaloen budgeting program?

  2. lostAnnfound says:

    We have also used Quicken for years (about 10-12), but only for keeping track of savings & checking. We weren’t knowledgeable about PF & now that we are educating ourselves I am looking forward to exploring other aspects of Quicken. Currently we are using 2002 version, but I just got an email today (1 1/1 hours ago actually) to upgrade to 2010 with $20.00 off and free shipping. Also has 60 day 100% satisfaction guarantee.

  3. Daniel says:

    I am eager to see what direction Intuit will move with Quicken and I would like to see the standalone software and Mint work with each other seamlessly and improve both products as a whole.

  4. Dave says:

    I’ve also been using Quicken for years, and the feature I like most about it is that you set up all of your graphs (or many of them anyway) to load onto the front page. I like being able to get a quick glance at my monthly cash flow, net worth, investment performance and upcoming bills without having to click a single button other than to open the program. At work they call this sort of thing a dashboard – a quick glance my key financial data…

    Its also great that I can update every account I own automatically with another click of the mouse (except my Vanguard 529 plan)…

  5. fishboyridesagain says:

    I’m posting here to make sure that I get the rest of the comments on this feed. I’ve used Quicken before, but I’m wondering if I should purchase it again.

  6. NewPerspective says:

    I was an MS Money user for over a decade. With the discontinuation of Money this year, I made the swap to Quicken. The transition was NOT as seamless as I would have hoped, but I now have things “mostly” up and running. Overall, I’m very happy with Quicken. There were a few nice things in Money I haven’t been able to figure out how to do with Intuit’s software, but they’re minor. On the other hand, Quicken has far better tracking and categorization of entries than Money which helps out tremendously with planning and taxes. Overall, I agree with Jim… Quicken is a great product! Not perfect, but very close. 😉

    • Duke says:

      I can’t agree with your assessment of Quicken. Quicken 2010 is so clumsy and disconnected vs MS Money. I ran the MS Money product for over 10 years. Just as smooth as silk. Paying bills through Money, which quickly and easily connected to my bank’s online payment system, was a lark compared to the contant attempts by Quicken to push me into their PAID online bill payment service.

      If anything, I’d love for somebody to acquire the MS Money assets from Microsoft and bring it out agoin to compete with this mess

  7. Mohkev says:

    You mention monthly cash flow. Can this be extended out for several months for one or more accounts?

    I really like that tool in Money. If Quicken is still missing this feature, Money is working just fine for me.

  8. Izalot says:

    I like Quicken but I hate it’s nagware in upgrading it’s product and it’s cross promotion of other Intuit products. I paid for the product now leave me alone! Otherwise make it free and put all the advertisement you want. Has anyone used any freeware finance software? I’ve tried GnuCash but it doesn’t hold a candle to Quicken. Any other products out there?

  9. otipoby says:

    I am a longtime MS Money user and am still bummed about them leaving the markey. I think I had the first version as part of a special deal with Windows 95. I simply cannot live without the detailed tracking. I update all of my transactions twice a week. I have every credit card transaction since 95 in Money. I suppose I will move over to Quicken, and I will probably learn to like it as well. I just feel like I have lost a old friend with MS Money.

  10. Chris says:

    Sounds like exactly what I need.

  11. lagreat says:

    Lot of financial transactions cannot be downloaded including institutions like ING that services many 401(k) plans for corporates. options or stock awards from Schwab or Morgan Stanley not available either. I just started setting up and am not sure how many more are not included. Additionally, there is fee from Wachovia to download transactions – what gives?

    Where do we get support for this institutions or let intuit know to get them on their list?

  12. Gopher Baroque says:

    Just a comment for IzaLot and others curious about other choices. I like AceMoney’s clean interface (and lack of bonus advertising). It does account updating through manually loaded (QIF, OFX, OFC, QFX, XML) data files, rather than Quicken “OneStepUpdate”. I still use AceMoney to track state sales tax for the sake of Federal tax return because I like the interface, but feel compelled to upgrade from Q-2007 to Q-2010 (since Quicken is about to drop update support for 2007) just for the ease of data updates.

    • Jason says:

      I’ll google that. Is it easy to use. I’ve been depressed because there is no alternative to Quicken with MSMoney gone now. I don’t like being forced to buy upgrades or lose download capabilities from my bank. I put the 2010 on my notebook then went and downloaded it to my pc. Now anytime I try to download from my bank it crashes. I spent 2 hours the other day uninstalling, deleting folders, and following all kinds of instructions from the live chat dude, and they couldn’t fix it. I have to download to my notebook, then send it to my pc and open it. I can’t download. I think it’s a glitch with their attempt to stop multiple copies. Of course they wouldn’t admit that.

  13. Jason says:

    Yeah Yeah, I’ve been using quicken since 2003. Over the last 4 years they have forced me to buy their upgrades with shady marketing practices. Now they took out the running balance feature if you sort transactions in your register by the “CLR” column. Knowing what the clr balance of all my entries are is of utmost importance to. If this doesn’t match the online balance, I know I’m out of balance. Also, whatever is left below the clr balance is what is outstanding or will be posting soon. I can prevent any bounced checks, or the $10 fee it takes for my overdraft account to cover it.

  14. Edward says:

    Other people have been talking about “You Need A Budget” vs. “Quicken”. Any thoughts?

  15. amit says:

    i have been trying to contact quicken to resolve my issue for the last 4 months.
    when i speak to their chatting customer care, they tell me to speak to customer care on email. when i email them, the email team tells me to log a call for phone support. the phone support never calls you back.
    and they dont have an answer to any of your queries.
    if the pre sales service is so pathetic, what would be their post sales service.
    they keep giving dates and promised, but no resolution.

  16. Paul W says:

    Absolutely HATE all the nagging and other “features” Intuit keeps heaping onto what was once a nice and clean finance tracking application. It is really a shame that there is no competition left.
    On the Mac there is iBank which I would consider if it weren’t for the fact that it won’t even support a shared drive model for giving more than 1 computer access to the data. What moderately wired house hold doesn’t have at least 1 computer per person? To force all financial work to get done at only 1 machine is insane!

    Meanwhile Quicken’s UI sucks as much as ever (which you won’t notice if you’re a Windoze user because then you’re used to UIs that suck).

    Can’t wait for the day Microsoft drops support for Windows as well as MS Money…

  17. James4230 says:

    As a long-time MS Money user I find Q2010 clumsy to use. With MS M I did not need to use the mouse, I could download, tab through the transactions and dropdowns to clean up and categorize. In Q the mouse really slows me down. What about QuickBook?

  18. Brian says:

    M&T does support online banking through Quicken. I do so and have been doing so for ten years. In fact, ten years ago, M&T was the ONLY bank one could connect to via Quicken.

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