For my regular readers, you know I use Quicken as my Investment and Spending tracking software, and have been using it for over 10 years, so when I was offered a free copy of the software if I wrote a review for it, I felt that it was in no way a conflict of interest on my part, however, for clarity, I received this copy of the software for free, so I guess I was kind of paid for this review, in free software, but I am not receiving any other compensation for this review (call me a sell out, but I love free stuff, and view this as a sucker bet, since I used the tool already, but don’t tell them that!).
I use Quicken as a Ledger book for my family spending, and I use it to track my investments (although I really wish it was easier to integrate transactions between TD Waterhouse and Quicken (that is a TD issue, not a Quicken one)). I have Quicken records going back to about 1997, so as you can tell I am a pretty die hard user, so as you can also guess this is not going to be an overly critical review of the software, I think it’s great, but I may mention a few areas where I’d like the software make my life simpler.
I am also using Quicken Home and Business 2011, which is useful because I can use this for my wife and my home businesses as well (there is a Cash Manager version for those who don’t have as complex spending habits).
What is new in this version of Quicken:
- Cash Flow Graph:Shows how much money you’ll have after upcoming bills and income, useful if you can’t guess how your expenses are going to look like in the future.
- Bond Maturity & Investment Transactions Reports:Available in Home & Business only, but this is quite useful for me, as I have a fair amount of CSB’s to track.
- Improved Customizable Register:haven’t really used this too much yet, but will explore if this helps me understand my spending more.
- Other categorization enhancements as well.
How do I Use it?
As mentioned I use Quicken for day to day tracking of expenses, and it can create Reports on your spending (or fancy looking graphs too), which I find very useful when I try to figure out why I have not achieved my savings goals (yet again).
I also use the “Calendar” where I have set up when my regular bills are normally due, and they appear in my Register about a week before I must pay them, thus making it even harder to not pay my bills on time (I still do occasionally, but this is not the fault of the tool, but of the user).
I track my investments with Quicken, and it’s ability to download stock, mutual fund and the like prices in daily helps me track the value of my investments, which is very useful.
The best part is the ability to download transactions from my bank, and from most of my credit cards directly into the tool, and thus I can track expenditures with a “double check” capability. If I have entered the transaction, Quicken tries to match it to the input transaction from the bank transaction. If I have forgotten a transaction, Quicken will add the transaction to the Register (and my wife and I then argue about who’s fault it was that we didn’t track that purchase). Many times things like cheques are NOT cashed quickly, but with Quicken I can see if a cheque or transaction has gone through and thus have the actual balance of my bank account (not just the current balance which may have MANY outstanding transactions still to come through).
Overall Quicken 2011
I think this is an excellent tool, which I swear by for keeping track of my spending and making sure my bills are paid on time as well. I recommend this tool for anyone who feels that they need to get more organized in terms of their Personal Finances. This newer version of the tool adds some useful new tweeks, as well.