Personal financial software recommendations
September 17, 2009 7:35 AM   Subscribe

I use MS Money which is being discontinued by Microsoft. Can you recommend a replacement based on firsthand experience. The obvious is Intuit, but I'm finding mixed reviews on using it for personal finances. I basically want to track spending (downloading bank and credit card data), and to sort and analyze spending for income tax and budgeting purposes. I don't really care about managing a portfolio with real time data through internet connectivity, nor do I need to make financial investment decisions. Thanks!
posted by Judyst to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I would highly recommend Just this week it was announced that this service is being purchased by Intuit. Basically Mint was attracting so many new customers that Intuit and its Quicken online service could not keep up.

Mint can easily connect to all of your accounts, from savings, checkings, loans, credit cards, money market, 401k, etc. It all updates to give you forecasts, spending habits, and recommendations.

There are obviously some differences between Microsoft Money and this. Mint is an online only service, and thus comes with some inherent dangers. But if you look into how the service actually works, they do not store any personal information on you, and they do not give you the ability to transfer any money. So the dangers are quite small in my opinion.

Finally, the best part - is completely free! Updating to newer versions of Intuits desktop software or Microsoft Money every few years can get expensive. Mint does has some advertising built in, but I have actually found most of it to be useful and good advertising.
posted by dpollitt at 7:48 AM on September 17, 2009

When I switched from Windows to Ubuntu I needed to find an MS Money replacement, too.

I wound up choosing It does what you want it to do, although it's not quite as robust and flexible as MS Money is. Was.

Of course, is online, so one has to accept's claim that it's reasonable to trust them with your account login/password. And as of a couple of days ago, it's owned by Intuit. God only knows what heinousness Intuit will unleash upon's users.
posted by notyou at 7:49 AM on September 17, 2009

Here is a round up of 16 free alternatives (with informative comments) at Get Rich Slowly.
posted by jacalata at 7:55 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have read good things about, only I thought one of them was they only keep your data for 3months. Can that be true? Also, can you download data to an Excell spreadsheet?
posted by Judyst at 7:59 AM on September 17, 2009

Mint keeps all of your data, but (I believe) they only fetch it from your banks when you log in, so if you do not log in for 6 months, there will likely be a "gap" in your data, since many bank websites only keep 60 days of data accessible.

And yes, you can download to Excel.
posted by misterbrandt at 8:03 AM on September 17, 2009

I've been using Quicken for more than 10 years, an I do not recommend using any Intuit products. It won't be long before some idiot at Intuit decides to "monetize" Mint by charging ridiculous subscription prices for previously-free features, nagging you constantly to buy shit you don't want, and making it impossible for you to get all your data out, just as they have with all their other major products.
posted by grouse at 8:12 AM on September 17, 2009

Mint is awful. Pretty interface, but it is buggy as hell and it consistently fails to connect to a given random bank to update your transactions. I used it for over a year, and finally just couldn't put up with it anymore. Trust me, the headache is NOT worth the payoff.

I have tried pretty much every single personal finance product (both on and offline) over the last 3 years, and I just keep coming back to a juiced-up Excel spreadsheet. Beats the living hell out of everything else. The only downside is that you have to manually type in transactions, which is time consuming, especially if you have a lot of different credit cards and bank accounts. Still though, it is better than dealing with constant connection problems and other errors that are associated with Mint.

If you must use a service, I would recommend Wesabe -- like Mint, but they always seemed to be more reliable to me. They also have a bonus feature called "not being owned by Intuit".
posted by suburbanrobot at 8:28 AM on September 17, 2009

A correction: Mint does update your info every day or so. That's how they send out budgetary notices that you set. When you log-in, they also update right then.
posted by cmiller at 8:31 AM on September 17, 2009

I would have heartily recommended as well. I've been a happy user for over a year now - it's wonderful for understanding and tracking where your money is going.

That said, they were just purchased by Intuit. Many users of Intuit products, and many people in the know of Intuit's corporate structure are predicting the downfall of Mint once Intuit gets their hands on day to day operations. The fallout of course is yet to be determined, but you've been warned.
posted by whycurious at 9:35 AM on September 17, 2009

Check out the thread from a few days ago about the purchase of People recommended a few alternatives there, Wesabe and Yodlee Money Center seemed to be the most popular. I've used Mint for about a year and I'm happy with it, but everyone seems to think that being owned by Intuit is going to be nothing but bad news. I guess we'll see.
posted by Who_Am_I at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have been using gnucash for a couple of years and I'm pretty happy with it. I don't understand why you would want to entrust your financial data with some website, but that's just me.

Gnucash is free, mature, reasonably easy to use, does what it says on the tin, and has plenty of features. In fact, my only gripe with it is the dependence on gnome libraries that makes installing it on slackware a pain, but that doesn't apply to you at all, since you will be using the Windows binary.

I have one caveat though: it does have facilities for importing bank statements and the like, but I haven't used them: I input most of my transactions by hand as I make them.

I am mildly surprise the link by jacalata does not think gnucash is worthy of mentioning in a list of 16 programs. Maybe I'm missing something here?
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:51 AM on September 17, 2009

Given this conversation, it's funny that Intuit just sent me an e-mail called "Quicken News: to join the Intuit Family." This is another example of all the little ways Intuit shows their disregard for its customers:

"You are receiving this e-mail because you signed up for Quicken and we need to inform you of a critical matter. Please note that if you have chosen not to receive marketing messages from Intuit that choice applies only to promotional materials. You will continue to receive critical notifications that are legally required or could affect your service or software."

The message was, is in fact, not critical at all, and was purely marketing.
posted by grouse at 10:24 AM on September 17, 2009

I've been using AceMoney for years. It the features you want, a nice clean interface, and you can easily use only as much of it as you want. There's a free version to try before you buy (or use indefinitely).
posted by jdfan at 10:35 AM on September 17, 2009

I don't know that Gnucash can be described as "reasonably easy to use." Certainly not for users who don't come equipped with at least some familiarity with Double Entry book-keeping or a willingness to learn about it. The kicker for me was the reporting, which was less user-friendly than the offerings from Intuit and MS and required a fair bit of tinkering to produce the custom reports I generated in Money with just a few selections from pull-downs.

I really wanted to like Gnucash (local data, not an Intuit or an MS product), but it just wouldn't let me.
posted by notyou at 10:42 AM on September 17, 2009

Anyhow, it's obvious from the question and the responses that there's a need for a solid, non-abusive personal finance product. On the other hand, MS' exit from the space and Intuit's move online/purchase of suggests that despite the need, it's not a profitable category. I wonder what the story is.
posted by notyou at 10:48 AM on September 17, 2009

I use GNUcash, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone else. Not because double entry accounting is hard (it's easy), but because it doesn't do what individuals want. Your local bank likely supports Quicken data connections, and Quicken comes with connection information cooked in. Try mentioning GNUcash to your bank without being reported as a financial criminal: "I just need some important information to authenticate with your bank servers!". I've been meaning to reverse engineer the data from the Quicken free client to get my bank data.

But I think it's main problem is that it's designed for this mythological person with a 5/1 year ARM, itemizes their tax deductions, runs a small business and has tons of floating checks. I have a student loan and car loan; you can use the traditional "fixed" loan wizard to schedule the appropriate entries to record a transfer from checking to liability and expense accounts (this varies as principle gets paid down, so GNUcash needs to model the loan terms), but the druid is buggy and schedules these transactions incorrectly. Fortunately it's just record keeping and not actually sending bank orders.
posted by pwnguin at 12:39 PM on September 17, 2009

Anti-recommendation: I've found Mint to not be so great. It doesn't work well with USAA, in my experience, and it's annoying that I can't record a check before it's cashed.

I haven't found a replacement yet, other than just not doing anything at all.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:05 PM on September 17, 2009

GNUCash is the closest I've ever come to just dumping Excel altogether, but MAN does the reporting suck. Also, trying to get it to connect with your bank and download transactions is a hilariously awful endeavor that I'm not sure anyone in the history of the world has actually made work.

If one or the other of those features was any good, I would have switched. As it stands, just can't pull the trigger.
posted by suburbanrobot at 5:23 PM on September 17, 2009

Mint has worked well for me over the past year and a half or so, for virtually all of my accounts. Some banks periodically force you to change your password, and this breaks Mint's connection until you manually fix it, but otherwise it's worked very well. They are having growing pains, but I've seen problems get fixed in a reasonable time frame and new features added on a regular schedule.

I'm not thrilled about them being purchased by intuit. Time will tell.

If you like Mint's main features but don't want an intuit product, Yodlee Moneycenter uses the same core technology (in fact it's the same core technology that most of the banks use themselves), it's also free, and it's a little less pretty but it gets the job done.

I really wish Apple would make personal finance software. I bet you they'd do it right.
posted by Chris4d at 5:57 PM on September 17, 2009

For OS X - have a look at Jumsoft Money.
posted by bigmusic at 11:10 PM on September 17, 2009

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