Last night I had a flat tire and drove my donut-riding self over to Costco where they were able to plug the leak. (I love buying tires at Costco, especially now that they opened a store right by my house!) While they were fixing the leak, I had 45 minutes to kill and wandered around the warehouse. I meandered over to the tax section and picked up a copy of Quicken 2007 Home & Business. I’ve been meaning to get some sort of tax software package (Nickel raves about it and his 2304982039 years of data) and wasn’t sure if I should go with Quicken 2008 or Quickbooks. I decided I would read reviews, install the Quickbooks Simple Start trial and then install Quicken 2007 to do a real comparison.
A lot of people have sworn by personal finance management software like Quicken but I had never tried it for myself. The main reason is because I didn’t want to spend money on software that would manage a process I already had a good handle on. Part of it was learning curve, part of it was me being cheap, but that all came to a head as I felt I needed some sort of accounting software for my side business.
Quickbooks is powerful. If you run a business with inventories, invoices, and the full “light” nine – Quickbooks blows Quicken away. Quickbooks has great reporting features and some niceties that Quicken simply wasn’t designed for. For example, with Quickbooks you itemize all of your invoices and then all of your collections separately. If you perform work, you send out an invoice. When you receive a check, you record the collection (and this was just with their simplest package, Quickbooks Simple Start!). There are also a lot of great features behind the scenes such as the ability to export accounting versions and have that data sync back up after your accountant has worked with the books. Ultimately, Quickbooks is for the serious business owner looking to have a little more control over their books. If you’re a serious serious business owner, you probably want to outsource your accounting (who knows, I’m not at that level in terms of accounting complexity so I’m not a good person to rely on for that recommendation).
Quicken is a personal finance management application first and accounting package second, even with the “Business” label. For my business, which has few invoices, no inventory, and a simple accounting structure, it’s perfect. For our personal finances, it’s great in that it has integration with nearly ever bank, company, or brokerage we work with (I have yet to find one it doesn’t integrate with) so I no longer need to log into my accounts via the web, Quicken does it for me, downloads the data, and integrates it with all the other data.
With a simple business structure and a need for personal finance management, I felt that Quicken was the right version for me. It cost a mere $70 at Costco, which will be tax deductible, it was a discount compared to Amazon or Intuit.
I just published a list of Quicken 2009 discount codes that can save you some cash if you’re looking to get the newest edition.
Why Not Online Versions?
I know the online versions are secure and I know sites like Mint.com are free, but I don’t like the idea of having my data stored elsewhere. (Mint doesn’t store anything, they leverage Yodlee, but the data is still floating around out there) Is this irrational? Perhaps, but I surrender little by leaving it locally on my hard drive.
I have yet to fully play with all the features Quicken provides but I hope to in the coming weeks (after the honeymoon). I know there are a lot of Quicken guru’s out there so please share any tips or hacks you may have (like this one by Nickel on how he manages his various CDs), thanks!