Personal Finance 

Better Budgeting Software: YNAB or Quicken?

I recently received an email from Reader Donald asking if I could do a direct comparison between You Need A Budget (YNAB) and Quicken. Having recently used both to write a YNAB review and a Quicken 2010 review, I was familiar with both and could easily share my thoughts.

To add a little color to the discussion, which I hope you’ll join in on, is that Donald does his taxes using TurboTax and the potentially seamless integration of Quicken and TurboTax “hobbles” him from buying YNAB. Also, he has yet to take advantage of the 7-day free trial of YNAB (no email or registration required for the trial, you can download the application here). Finally, he does all his banking with a regional credit union in California and being able to pull banking records is an important feature.

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 Personal Finance 

Quicken Premier 2010 Review

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.

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 Personal Finance 

Free Online Budgeting & Planning Software Tools

With the unceremonious shuttering of Microsoft Money a few months ago, a lot of former Microsoft Money customers are looking for alternatives. If you were using Microsoft Money Essentials, Plus Deluxe, Plus Premium, or Plus Home & Business, your software will still work but support will be gone.

Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives in the online budgeting tool chest. After a recent Personal Finance Hour show all about budgeting, I took a look at several software tools. This post will cover all of them briefly to help you decide which might be right for you (and they are not ranked in any predefined order).

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 Personal Finance 

Easy Budgeting for Non-Budgeters

Clever Way to BudgetBudgeting isn’t fun. Very few people look forward to tracking all of their purchases, cutting back when they’ve overspent, and adjusting their budget from month to month to meet changing conditions. However, it’s a necessary chore, like cleaning your house or apartment, that you should do because it’s good for your financial health. But so is exercising and according to the Department of Health & Human Services, we as a nation aren’t doing such a great job at that.

When I first started working, I was a very diligent budgeter. I recorded every single expense in a document called a Budget Bible, built from a template my friend Melinda sent me. I budgeted to the penny, the most labor intensive of the five budgeting systems I once wrote about. I kept it up for about six months but eventually I grew tired of it. It was important to budget to get a better handle on my finances, but once I had a handle the daily routine was unnecessary. I went from the most diligent of budgeters to a non-budgeter!

So how do I get back on the wagon? How does a personal finance blogger reform?

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 Personal Finance 

Intuit Quicken Premier 2009 & TurboTax Packs Giveaway

When Intuit offered up three copies each of Quicken Premier 2009 and TurboTax, I jumped at the chance to give away more free stuff to you all. We’re deep into tax season and with the economy where it is, I’m sure everyone is looking for a little edge. Intuit’s been very generous with Bargaineering readers, already I’ve given away two copies of Quicken Premier 2009, one to a forum participant and another to a commenter in the Your Take question on money management software.

The Quicken Premier 2009 and TurboTax Packs contain a CD containing Quicken Premier 2009 and a pre-paid access card to TurboTax Deluxe (both federal and state!) edition. Quicken Premier has a retail value of $80 and TurboTax Deluxe, federal and state, is worth at least $65 – so these packs are worth almost a hundred and fifty dollars!

So, how do you win? It’s easy.

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 Your Take 

Your Take: Do You Use Money Management Software?

Pen & Paper is Money Management Too!When I started working five years ago, I tracked my spending down to the penny. I wrote about my “Budget Bible” before when talking about financial leaks. I felt that tracking my spending down to the penny was a great way for me to identify the areas I was spending and gave me an opportunity to review those areas. I didn’t realize it but that Excel spreadsheet was my first foray into money management software!

Back in 2003, there weren’t many personal finance tools out there. The tools that did exist were young and untested. Nowadays, there are plenty of personal finance tools available to help you manage your money! You have the beautiful, feature-rich, venture-backed, you have the big branded cash flow focused Quicken Online, and you have the relative gray beard of the bunch, Yodlee, all at your disposal.

Of the three, I’ve played with and Quicken Online and use them sparingly. My question for you, on this fine Friday, is – Do you use money management software? Either online or offline? If so, which one? If not, why not?

As for this week’s bribe, I have a copy of Quicken Premier 2009 to give away to one lucky commenter. You don’t have to say you use Quicken or that you’ll try Quicken Online, you just need to leave a comment and share which software you use or if you don’t use any at all! Contest closes in one week, February 27th, and it’s void where prohibited. Good luck!

(Photo: paulworthington)

 Personal Finance 

Forums Giveaway: Win A Copy of Quicken Premier 2009

Quicken Premier 2009The Bargaineering Forums have been a hit so far, with over 60 members and numerous active discussions. Readers have been able to post their questions and get a myriad of opinions. I wanted to reiterate that we have a giveaway going on too. On February 13th, I will randomly select one forum participant with at least five forum posts to receive a CD containing a full service copy of Quicken Premier 2009 – an $80 value. If you want to give it as a Valentine’s gift, by all means, but I don’t recommend it! 🙂

And if there are any bloggers (or future bloggers) out there, we’ve also created a Blogging forum where you can post your questions, ideas, thoughts, whatever. If you have any blogging questions, it’s the place to post it because we have some of the top personal finance bloggers checking the forums every day!

If you have never used a Quicken Premier product, I have to warn you… it’s very powerful. It has a lot of tools and a lot of features that will be able to give you a very good idea of where you are in your finances, how you are performing against your goals, and everything you need to handle your money on a daily basis. That said, it can also be a little intimidating at first. The $80 price tag is well worth it, as anyone who has come to appreciate the power of Quicken can tell you, but it may be overkill if you have no idea where to start when it comes to managing your money. I don’t want to dissuade you from entering the giveaway or buying the product, far from it, but I want you to be prepared for it should you buy or win it.

If you are familiar with managing your money but only have a few things to track (some bank accounts, a few bills, a 401k), it might be a great tool for you because you can play with the tool a little bit each day. The nice thing about the tool, over the online version, is that all the data is stored locally and only used to interface with other financial institutions. If you’re not comfortable with saving your sensitive data online, despite it being encrypted and protected, this is definitely the best option for you.

If you’re just starting out, you might want to cut your teeth on Quicken Online. It’s absolutely free and is similar to other online money management applications except there’s a heavy emphasis on cash flow management. They are very much focused on helping you manage your cash flow, from your paychecks coming in to your regular bills going out, so that you don’t find yourself in a financially precarious position. I just saw a quick demo of the product from their PR team, as well as a first look at their new iPhone application, and I’ll be discussing that later in the week.

Good luck!


Quicken 2009: The Missing Manual by Bonnie Biafore

Quicken 2009: The Missing ManualQuicken 2009: The Missing Manual by Bonnie Biafore is part of the O’Reilly Missing Manual series and focuses on the popular personal finance application – Quicken 2009.

I’m not a Quicken junkie by any means but I have no idea how people were able to figure things out about Quicken before a book like this. Quicken has grown to be a very complicated and powerful personal finance tool if you know how to use it. Personal finance, in some respects, is complicated and so it’s understandable that a tool used to track your own finances would need to be equally complicated in order to be useful. What’s amazing about this missing manual is that it explains how to complete complex tasks with ease. It really lives up to its billing as a missing manual.

The book utilizes a lot of screenshots in its instructions (unfortunately, they are in black and white) on how to complete things so it’ll be difficult for me to pull out an examples to show you. I’m certain that if you were to visit your local bookstore, you’d probably find it there and can flip through it yourself.

As a testament to both Quicken and Bonnie, this book is remarkably specific in what it explains. Just looking at the Investment chapter, which is about 70 pages of the 550 pages, there are instructions on how to record stock splits, dividend reinvestments, mergers, acquisitions, stock options, etc. All those complicated situations that probably happen once or twice a year (perhaps not dividend reinvestments) that I would normally just figure out a hack for are explained very clearly in the book.

I think that if you want to get the most out of Quicken and don’t want to resort to little hacks, you’ll want to have this book by your side. I’m not a Quicken power user so I can’t really speak to the full utility of the book but I’ve always found O’Reilly books to be extremely valuable in almost any technical realm.

If you haven’t updated your copy of Quicken lately, don’t order it without checking out these Quicken 2009 coupons.

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