Where to take 10 years of Quicken data?
September 6, 2013 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Quicken has always been overly complex for our needs. We have very basic financial management needs. First priority: import 10 years of spending history in Quicken and continue to categorize, track and report on all transactions from a half dozen accounts. Last priority: budgeting (so YNAB may not be for us?). Simple is better.

We use about 10% of Quicken's functionality. Add constant download issues, the fact that it has to live on one computer and that the household is now 99% Mac-based (I currently have to pull out the old Dell just for Quicken), and we want out of Quickenland. Craving something simple simple simple. We are two firmly middle-class folk with good credit, acceptable financial standing and a healthy fear of debt.

This question posted last fall was helpful, though the OP and we have different priorities. We are forewarned about Moneydance. YNAB seems great, simple and straightforward and we like that we can use it from multiple computers with the Dropbox syncing and all that. BUT, it's budget-based and without getting into the why, suffice it to say that is not important to us. We would not enter a budget. So can YNAB still serve us well? And if you use iBank, what are the pros and cons?

What we want:
1: To import our 10 years of Quicken accounts and spending history and continue to build on that. Obviously manually recategorizing 10 years of transactions is a nonstarter. But, if we can conduct a one-time mapping of our categories, that would be just fine.

2: The ability to download transactions from a half dozen financial institutions (that all offer this feature). We're fine with an hour or two a month of maintenance on this. Going to each web site to have a glance and download the file, and then a review of the imported transactions and (mostly) automatically assigned categories (correcting or adding new ones plus detailed memos where necessary) provides a healthy level of awareness.

3: After the above, we care mostly about reporting on our spending habits. The most common examples are average monthly grocery or auto expenses, annual reports for home improvement expenses, transaction searches (how much did we pay for that used car? the new roof? the special dog food?), special project or vacation costs (e.g. how much did we spend on that trip to Maui? what did our latest DIY project cost when it was finally done?). We'd also like to have a snapshot of our net worth.

4: The ability to view all of it from multiple computers. Cloud-based is okay, but we are I think understandably wary of that. We don't every want to lose our spending history. On that same note, we want something that isn't going away anytime soon.

Functions we can take or leave:
-Budgeting (we definitely don't want to be forced into a budgeting framework if we prefer not to keep or track one);
-Bill reminders (meh. We use auto bill pay through a banking site and those transactions would be downloaded and automatically allocated like all our regular transactions);
-Investment tracking (our mortgage account is something we'd track; whether dedicated mortgage tracking functions differently from a regularly set up account, I do not know);
-Business accounting (FWIW, at some point in the future we may wish to set up and track an S-corp or sole proprietorship, but we'd determine the best way to track it if and when that happens);
-Mobile apps (sure, if it meant I could spend some idle time downloading and categorizing transactions from my phone, I guess I might do that. Account balances or net worth at a glance might be useful on rare occasion. Neither is critical).

Aside from the abovementioned options, are there others? Any and all feedback welcome; I know we are not alone in this dilemma. Thanks!
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I used Quicken for several years, and now use YNAB. While budgeting is YNAB's reason for existing, the program doesn't stop working if you don't use the budget features. I don't think that's a reason not to use it.

YNAB imports well. It can import from CSV, so if you export your Quicken history to CSV and then rearrange it in Excel to fit what YNAB looks for, you should be able to bring it all in easily. That said, do you need to have all 10 years in your active file? Could you just bring in, say, 1 year, and leave the rest in a CSV for reference?

Reports work quite a bit differently in YNAB, though. There are several built-in reports that are available all the time (net worth, spending trends, etc.) but there's no way to design your own reports and save them. The search feature is easy to use and works nicely, so you can accomplish almost the same thing as Quicken's reports by creating an appropriately sophisticated search. You just can't save the search string for future use. (Well, you could save it in a text file...)

YNAB's uses your dropbox account for cloud storage. You can back it up on your own computer.

I don't mean to claim that YNAB is the perfect thing, but I like it. Download the free trial and play around with it.
posted by jon1270 at 6:35 PM on September 6, 2013

It doesn't address #4 but for the Mac issue is there a reason (beyond complexity and intuit's general suck) that you don't take the least disruptive path and go Quicken for Mac?

I'm a little rusty on this but the last time I tried to look outside the Intuit infrastructure I found that they'd really managed to sew up the download world with their proprietary stuff. Which meshes with the last time I tried to use a turbo tax competitor.
posted by phearlez at 6:35 PM on September 6, 2013

I use iBank, but for only 2 accounts. The things I like: it's extremely easy to transfer money from one account to another. The ledt-hand column of acounts is very Mac-like. Scheduling auto-drafts was also easy. It imported all my Quicken 2005 data, along with categories. Search field at the top right works just like the iTunes search field i.e. you don't have to run reports just to find all times you stopped at Shell for gas. the graphs are purty, and easy to generate.

Thing I was meh about - reconciling a statement at the end of the month (I do it manually) is very different from quicken, and took me six months to warm up to.

I haven't attempted to link it to a financial institution because I use a small credit union that doesn't offer that, so I can be of no help there. I store my iBank file in Dropbox and password-protect it, so I can get to it from any of my computers at any time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:02 PM on September 6, 2013

Mint.com; and ignore the old data. Its free; so give it a go in tandem.
posted by SirStan at 8:22 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

We use Mint for our personal finances and we really love it.
posted by padraigin at 9:06 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

We've been using Mint for a while, and I can't currently recommend it. Many users have experienced a recent cascade of issues that really borked our history and records, and there's no good way of knowing the extent of the problem and fixing the numbers by hand, since the changes go back years. I've been twiddling my thumbs for over 2 weeks, and it still hasn't been resolved. It is great for tracking, though. If you don't mind making regular backups (.csv files) and potentially fixing data loss by hand inside of Mint, it might be worth it to you to check out. Me, I'm on my way out to (probably) YNAB.
posted by moira at 11:39 PM on September 6, 2013

you can accomplish almost the same thing as Quicken's reports by creating an appropriately sophisticated search.

On further thought, I was wrong about this. The YNAB search feature really isn't sophisticated enough to produce such reports. In Quicken you could make up a report for, say, vacation expenses, that broke down how much you'd spent in a certain period, in multiple categories, and the report would show a transaction list broken down by category, with totals for each category. In YNAB, you'd have to search for one category at a time, or just look at all the transactions in a certain time period, sorted by category but without separate category totals. If you really needed to produce a Quicken-like report then you could export the transactions from the relevant time period to CSV and sort it all out in Excel, but there's no way to do it inside of YNAB.

Other than report generation, though, I think YNAB could be a good fit.
posted by jon1270 at 1:47 AM on September 7, 2013

I'm on a Mac. When I went looking for a Quicken replacement, I settled on See Finance. I think Quicken does charts better out of the box, and Quicken has live transfers -- meaning if I change the amount transferred in one account it changes it in the other account, which I miss in See. Other than that, See is a pretty strong contender for me. It can download as if it's Quicken, and it will import your Quicken file with no problem. It's free to try, just a few second wait on launch if it isn't registered.
posted by willnot at 6:07 AM on September 7, 2013

« Older iTunes 11.0.5, Windows 7, and uneditable...   |   Give me deep, random, funny, stupid, and personal... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.