Quicken and Mint - The best of both worlds
April 22, 2010 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find financial management software that both (1) keeps data in sync when used on multiple devices and, (2) works offline.

For the past 4 years I've been tracking all my finances in Quicken 2006. Yes, you read that right - Quicken 2006, for 4 years. Yes, the fact that I haven't upgraded does indeed mean that I can't download bank data right now, and am doing all data input manually. Honestly that doesn't bother me that much. Sure, the program does crash every now and then, and the interface could be a little nicer, but overall it's met my needs nicely.

Recently though I've been interested in finding a slightly more powerful solution. Specifically, I'd like the ability to access my data offline from several locations and keep it in sync. I'm aware of Mint.com and some of the other online providers, but I'm not sure I want an online-only solution. It's rare, but at times I may be without a reliable internet connection for a while (for example: when overseas), and I'd still like to be able to keep track of my finances as I go. An ideal solution would be a web application with an Android client that functions even when my phone has no internet access, and pushed queued updates to a server when internet access was restored.

Basically, I need a financial management program with the following features:
  • The ability to enter all data manually, including "cash accounts" like the money in my wallet
  • The ability to easily synchronize data entered on separate devices (for example, my laptop and my desktop)
  • Full functionality even when an internet connection is unavailable (presumably using cached data in the case of a web app)
  • Tracking of all balances for all bank accounts/credit cards/loans/envelopes in my wallet/etc
  • The ability to enter scheduled transactions
  • Day-by-day balance forcasting (like Quicken's graph in their calendar view)
  • Reports and graphs
  • A "reconcile" feature to compare my own records against my bank statements
Quicken does all these things except the synchronization, which is something I really want. Mint.com does (I believe) all these things, except it doesn't work offline. I can't seem to find exactly what I need.

The following features are nice-to-have, but not absolutely essential:
  • An Android client. This would be sooo sweet, but along with the above I would hope it would work offline when necessary and sync with the cloud when it could.
  • The ability to download transactions from banks and check them against my manually-entered data
  • Investment tracking
  • Associating scanned receipts with a transaction
Does anyone know a software package or web solution that meets my needs? If not, can you suggest the closest thing you know of? I know Mint.com is working on an Android client. Does anyone know if it would function when offline? Does Mint's iPhone app do this?

Thanks everyone!
posted by Vorteks to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can export all of your data from mint.com to a csv, but I have been using it for the past couple of months, and the site SUCKS.

Yes, it does everything that it claims, but it is buggy, slow, css doesn't load, does load sometimes. It really feels like it should be put back into beta and not released for public consumption.
posted by TheBones at 7:54 AM on April 22, 2010


Are you on a mac? There's not much overlap of financial software between platforms (even Quicken is a completely different product on PC and Mac).
posted by schmod at 7:59 AM on April 22, 2010


The Mint iPhone app does work offline, though it doesn't allow you to update anything (eg, no update-and-sync-later.) Also, while Mint does allow cash transactions to be entered manually, it'll do all other transactions automatically, and I don't think it does an actual day-by-day budget forecast the way you're thinking. There's no reconcile feature since its data is all pulled directly from your banks. There is investment support, but I don't use it so I can't tell you how good it is.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:01 AM on April 22, 2010


@schmod - No Macs. Synchronization would be either PC-to-PC, PC-to-Website, PC-to-Android, Android-to-Website, or something like that. Actually PC/Android-to-Website would be ideal, I think.
posted by Vorteks at 8:04 AM on April 22, 2010


Little more info: What I am doing right now is actually manually copying Quicken's database files between 2 computers. This works, kinda. But it only works if I've only used Quicken on one of the two since the last copy. If I input one transaction in Quicken on my laptop, then one on my PC, there's no way to merge the two resulting databases together. One transaction or the other will be lost when I copy.
posted by Vorteks at 8:07 AM on April 22, 2010


Well, if you are going to only use Quicken offline on one computer at a time (i.e. you'll connect back to the internet before using a different computer) on one computer at a time, you can use something like Dropbox to keep your files in sync. I do it, and I've never had a problem that I can remember. Although, I used one computer 95% of the time.

Having the Mint (or Quicken) iPhone/Android app that would sync into the desktop app would be pretty sweet. I'd bet Intuit is working on something like that, but I haven't heard anything.
posted by sideshow at 8:48 AM on April 22, 2010


Doh, cut-n-paste error. You can ignore that last "on one computer at a time".
posted by sideshow at 8:49 AM on April 22, 2010


This is probably way more geeky than you are looking for. But it works perfectly for me. I use Ledger, which is designed predominately for Unix platforms. All the input comes from the command line and from plain text files, and the output is plain text too. It actually makes it really easy to get the information I'm looking for.

To keep it synched across multiple machines I use Git, a tool designed to keep track of changes in plain text files and keep them synchronized across different machines and users. It also lets me revert a change if I screw something up--sometimes happens when reconciling bank accounts.

To automate downloading of account data I download CSV files and use Awk to process them into the Ledger file format. Works way better than any Quicken or MS Money (RIP) solution I ever saw.

Ledger does investments.

This works better than any graphical solution I have ever seen for this problem, for any platform. It does most of the bulleted features you're looking for. Good luck finding that with a Quicken or Mint like program, I'm afraid. In particular, unless you are willing to resign yourself to "the cloud" you are going to have a very difficult time finding anything like Quicken that will also sync multiple machines.

Actually, if you want to use data from multiple places the easiest solution is going to be a low-tech one: a USB flash drive. You will have to install the software anywhere you want to use it, but without "the cloud" there's not going to be anything right now that gets around that problem.
posted by massysett at 11:50 AM on April 22, 2010


You want offline and sync. Like massyett, I'm going to suggest two tools. New versions of GNUcash supports an XML format that should easily syncable by the 2nd tool: unison. Both are multiplatform,

From your list, GNUcash has features I know and use monthly:
* The ability to enter all data manually, including "cash accounts" like the money in my wallet
* Full functionality even when an internet connection is unavailable (presumably using cached data in the case of a web app)
* Tracking of all balances for all bank accounts/credit cards/loans/envelopes in my wallet/etc
* The ability to enter scheduled transactions
* Reports and graphs
* A "reconcile" feature to compare my own records against my bank statements
* Investment tracking
* The ability to download transactions from banks and check them against my manually-entered data

From your list, unison solves:
* The ability to easily synchronize data entered on separate devices (for example, my laptop and my desktop)

Things I'm not sure about:
* Day-by-day balance forcasting (like Quicken's graph in their calendar view)
* Android apps. I have a Maemo device, so I don't even know where to start looking. If you find one let me know!
posted by pwnguin at 2:41 PM on April 22, 2010


@pwnguin - Gnucash seems pretty intriguing. It looks like it can even import my Quicken files. I'm going to try it first chance I get. Thanks!
posted by Vorteks at 9:08 PM on April 22, 2010


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