Finance Packages: Money Edges Out Quicken
Intuits Quicken and Microsoft Money have been fierce competitors for more than ten years. But rarelyif everhave we seen such disparity in the scope of their annual upgrades. Microsoft has made sweeping changes to Money, adding a new end-run around tedious account setup and a two-tiered approach to personal-finance management. Intuit has focused more on small but important changes throughout the program that help you track your money flow better and more easily.
The two stalwarts are generally more alike than different. Both help you document all of the minutiae that make up your household income and expenses. This data entry, with the aid of comprehensive downloads of transactions and balances from your financial institutions, gives valuable big-picture feedback on how youre doing now and where your finances are headed.
Specifically, using either Money or Quicken, you can record every transaction you make in a bank or investment account, or set up online connections to grab the data directly. Both programs will cut checks for bills or dispatch payments electronically. Online relationships with banks and brokerages help you keep close tabs on your balances and shift money easily. Categorizing transactions helps you track your cash flow and adhere to budgets.
Investment tracking in both programs is quite sophisticated, and provides better personalized tools than youd find on Web sites (though both companies integrate their online components well with their desktop counterparts, which lets you use current market data). You can track your portfolio and get customized feedback on it. Both programs provide tax-preparation and planning tools, along with in-depth, personalized planning and debt-reduction aids. And if youre diligent at your data entry, youll be rewarded with dozens of customizable reports that give you a comprehensive view of your financial picture.
This is usually a tight race, but this time around, Money is our Editors Choice. Its new depth options, better online connections, and closer attention to spending and categorization make an already capable, sophisticated, and highly usable finance program even better. That said, Quicken remains a worthy adversary, and users committed to that platform will be served perfectly well by upgrading rather than switching. But if youve been mulling a switch, or are new to personal-finance software, Money is currently king of the hill.