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I use Microsoft Money 2003 to manage household finances. Yes, it's old, but it gets the job done. I didn't upgrade to later versions since there was no compelling reason to do so.

However, Microsoft announced earlier this summer that they will no longer sell or support the product. Microsoft had posted the following at www.microsoft.com/money:

Important notice: Microsoft Money Plus is no longer available for purchase. All purchased Money Plus products must be activated prior to Jan. 31, 2011.

With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed. After suspending annual updates of Money Plus in 2008, Microsoft ended sales of Money Plus on June 30, 2009.

We would like to thank the many dedicated users who have been enthusiastic supporters of Microsoft Money over the years, as well as our partner financial institutions who helped pioneer a digital vision of financial management.

While my Money 2003 is still working well -- even on Windows 7! -- there may come a time when it simply doesn't work any more (Windows 8? 9?) So, what are the other options available? I'd like to investigate and wean myself off MS Money, eventually.

I'm specifically interested in personal finance desktop software. That is, I'm loathe to trust my personal financial information to an online service. What has worked well for you?

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18 Answers 18

I've been budgeting with MS Money since 2004 and was pretty disappointed to hear it's being discontinued. Budgeting is actually a stress-relieving hobby for me, and I can be a bit of a control-freak when it comes to finances, so I decided to start early looking for a replacement rather than waiting until MS Money can no longer download transactions.

Here are the pros and cons of the ones I've tried (updated 10/2010):

You Need A Budget Pro (YNAB) - Based on the old envelopes system, YNAB has you allot money from each paycheck to a specific budget category (envelope). It encourages you to live on last money's income, and if you have trouble with overspending, that can be a great plan. Personally, I'm a big believer in the envelope concept, so that's the biggest pro I found. Also, it's a downloaded software, so once I've bought it (for about $50) it's mine, without forced upgrades as far as I've seen. The big con for me was that it does not automatically download transactions. I would have to sign on to each institution's website and manually download to the program. Also, coming from Money, I'm used to having features that YNAB doesn't offer, like the ability to store information about my accounts. Overall, it's forward-thinking and a good budgeting system, but will take some extra time to download transactions and isn't really a comprehensive management tool for all my financial needs. You can try it out with their free trial.

Mint - This is a free online program. The free part was a major pro. It also looks pretty, if that's important to you. Updating is automatic, once you've got it all set up, so that's a pro. Mint's budgeting tools are so-so. Basically, you choose a category and tell it your limit. It yells at you (by text or email) when you cross the line, but doesn't seem to offer any other incentive to stay on budget. When I first looked at Mint, it did not connect with my credit union, but it currently connects to all my banks and all but one of my student loan institutions. Another recent improvement is that Mint now allows you to manually add transactions, including pending checks and cash transactions. The cons for me are that it does not give me a good end-of-the-month report, doesn't allow me to enter details of my paychecks, and doesn't give me any cash-flow forecasting. Overall, Mint is a good casual, retrospective, free online tool, but doesn't allow for much planning ahead.

Mvelopes - Here's another online option, but this one is subscription-based. Again, we find the old envelopes system, which I think is smart, so that's a pro for me. It's online, so it downloads transactions automatically, but also allows you to manually add transactions, so another pro. The big con on this one is the cost. Depending on how you far ahead you choose to pay (quarterly, yearly or biannually), you're paying $7.60 to $12 per month. They do offer a free trial for 14 days (plus another 14 days offered when you try to cancel). Another con is that they don't provide meaningful reports. Overall, a good concept, but not worth the cost for me.

Quicken - I hadn't tried Quicken earlier because they don't offer a free trial, but after the last few fell short, I landed with Quicken 2009. Pro for Quicken, as an MS Money user is that it is remarkably similar in format and options. The registers and reports are nearly identical. One frustration I'd had with Money was that it was ridiculously slow at start-up, and after a year or so of entering data, Quicken is dragging. Con for Quicken, again as an MS Money user, is that it's budgeting is not as detailed as I would like. Also, it does not download transactions smoothly now that my banks all ask security questions as part of sign-in. I have to sign in to my bank's website and manually download. Quicken 2011 is out now, but I haven't tried it yet. Hopefully they've solved the problem of security questions. Quicken 2011 promises an improved cash-flow forecast, which sounds promising, and was a feature of MS Money that I have very much missed. Haven't decided yet if it's worth the $50 to upgrade to 2011.

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6  
Here's my quick review: Quicken is terrible. But the only thing worse than Quicken is... going without Quicken. :S –  fennec Jun 22 '10 at 18:34
    
Since Intuit bought Mint (which has gone well... so far), they have added a ton of banking institutions. My credit union was not on there when I first signed up a year or so ago, but now it is. Also, you can now manually add transactions. I've been using it for all of my accounts for the past 4 months and it has been great! –  mkchandler Aug 4 '10 at 20:09
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This answer should really be broken out into several answers. I want to +1 some parts and -1 others, so it's a net 0 from me. –  James Jones Aug 4 '10 at 20:14
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FYI: Quicken Online is being discontinued on August 31. –  Pete Aug 12 '10 at 21:37
    
@JCarterRN - so, which one did you wind up losing . . you don't actually mention that in your response ?? –  leora Apr 4 '11 at 0:56

I use GnuCash which I really like. However, I've never used any other personal finance software so I can't really compare. Before GnuCash, I used an Excel spreadsheet which works fine for very basic finances.

Pros

  • Free
  • It isn't a web app. I know I'm a little paranoid but I'm uncomfortable with giving even the established online programs this much financial information
  • Double-entry bookkeeping - this is a pro for me but I think it intimidates some people. Personally, I don't feel it's difficult to pick-up and it allows a much more detailed look at your finances.
  • Allows multiple sub-accounts. This lets me divide up our general checking account into many different sub-accounts. I this primarily as a budgeting tool.
  • Handles a nice variety of accounts so it's relatively easy to enter mutual fund info in addition to more cash-like accounts.
  • It allegedly will work with Windows & Macs but I've only run it in Linux.
  • It's suppose to support QIF and OFX imports but I've never tested this out.

Cons

  • It has a bit of a learning curve
  • The default reports are dreadful. They are very business oriented and I don't find them as useful for the type of household reports I want. However, if you have some programming knowledge, you can build custom reports
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Thanks for the detailed answer! +1. I will check out GnuCash. I like the idea that it is free and open source software - so I wouldn't be left hanging like I am with MS Money! Wow, just checked the site, and it's also totally cross platform. Excellent. –  Chris W. Rea Apr 16 '10 at 20:48
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See also my answer on another question about GnuCash. –  bstpierre Aug 5 '10 at 0:42
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GnuCash is great, as long as you understand double entry bookkeeping. If you've never heard of it, just remember that every transaction requires an offsetting transaction. For instance, purchasing food isn't just deducting money from your checking account... it's moving money from your checking account to your expense account (possibly to a groceries account). This can be hard to get used to, but it helps keep things straight. Oh, and it works great on Windows :) –  Benjamin Chambers Oct 15 '10 at 17:14
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One thing that really confused me about double entry bookkeeping was how everyone warned me that it was harder. I thought they meant you had to be careful about rememebering to enter things twice. No. It just means transactions have a source and destination account. When you get a paycheck, it moves from a Salary income account to a Checking asset. GNUcash handles creating the "other side" automatically, so it's pretty similar to other systems. Most transactions go through a checking or credit card account, and it all makes sense to me. Maybe I'm weird though. –  jldugger Jan 7 '11 at 2:25
    
I can confirm that it runs on Mac :) –  Lagerbaer Aug 12 '11 at 19:38

Well, you could replace it with.. itself!

Microsoft Money Plus Sunset versions

The Microsoft Money Plus Sunset versions are replacements for expired versions of Microsoft Money Essentials, Deluxe, Premium, and Home and Business. They allow existing customers to use MoneyPlus to continue accessing their data. Changes to the new versions include file conversions from older versions of Money, no required activation, no online services and no assisted support. Microsoft Money Plus Sunset is available now.

Download at:
http://www.microsoft.com/money/sunset.mspx

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I've been using this version without problems. The only missing feature is online updating of accounts, stock prices etc. Although unsupported, it seems unlikely to me that it will stop working on future versions of Windows. Look at all the really old software that still runs in the latest versions of Windows. –  user1175 Sep 30 '10 at 18:21
    
I don't think this can cope with files from the UK version of MS-Money –  Ian Oct 17 '12 at 17:01

How complicated is your budget? We have a fairly in depth excel spreadsheet that does the trick for us. Lots of formulas and whatnot for calculating income, outgo, expected and actual expenses, expenses budgeted over time (i.e. planned expenses that are semi-annual or annual) as well as the necessary emergency funds based on expenses.

Took me a few hours to initially create and many tweaks over months to get just right but it's reliable and we know we'll never lose support for it. I'd be willing to share it if desired, I'll just have to remove our personal finance figures from it first.

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I would definitely be interested –  chucklukowski Aug 5 '10 at 14:10
    
+1 We use Quickbooks for advanced stuff, but our monthly budget is a spreadsheet to. I would be interested in your calculations. My wife is an accountant so would be good to show her the power of excel and give me something as a programmer that I can understand! –  Wayne Aug 13 '10 at 6:37
    
I had posted this in another thread here a while back, since there appears to be new interest (albeit, I'm very late). spreadsheets.google.com/… –  Phillip Benages Apr 7 '11 at 3:21

Current Money users may want to take a look at this:

http://sites.google.com/site/pocketsense/home/msmoneyfixp1

Pretty easy (and secure) way to continue getting online data into Money.

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www.mint.com is a very good web site that can upload your financial data from your bank and analyze it for you. Security concerns seem to have been addressed reassuringly.

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MoneyDance Is the way to go. I've been using it for years and it works well. It keeps getting better, and best of all, it's completely cross platform! Mac, Windows and linux!

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I use http://moneydance.com/ it has Mac, Windows and Linux versions and works well for my needs.

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Wow, learn something every day. I had never even heard of this one. –  Chris W. Rea Apr 16 '10 at 23:00
    
BTW, congratulations on your Enthusiast badge :-) –  Chris W. Rea Apr 20 '10 at 15:33

Uh, Quicken is virtually identical to MS Money. If you liked money and don't want to change, use that.

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I used to use Quicken, but support for that has been suspended in the UK. I had started using Mvelopes, but support for that was suspended as well! What I use now is an IPhone app called IXpenseit to track my spending.

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I found a lot of useful responses at superuser.com to essentially the same question:

Now that MS Money is going away, what are the best competitive options?.

Click through for details.

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I use MoneyStrands.com to manage my spending. It's a lot like Mint, but provides support for more banks, and works with most Canadian financial institutions. I can't really compare them fairly though, since I didn't bother with Mint after learning that they don't care about Canadians. If your bank isn't supported by MoneyStrands, or you don't want to trust an online webiste with your account login, you can create accounts for manually uploaded files. It just means you have to log into your bank yourself, download the transactions as QFX, OFX, CSV or other supported formats, and then upload the files to the appropriate account in MoneyStrands.

I love the expense tracking and reporting that MoneyStrands offers, but like Mint, their budgeting feature is seriously lacking. Fortunately I don't need to budget month-to-month, I just use it to see how much I spend on various categories, to help create annual budgets and decide how much I can invest or use for a vacation.

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I have been using Acemony http://www.mechcad.net/products/acemoney/ for a couple of years now and extremely happy with it. Very simple and intuitive to use. The best part is - life-long free upgrades

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I hadn't heard of it until now. Thanks for adding it to the list! –  Chris W. Rea Jun 24 '10 at 14:56

I have used Quicken for over 10 years. It has always provided the information I needed and I have always received good support from Intuit.

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If you would like to use linux I suggest you to use KMyMoney http://kmymoney2.sourceforge.net/
It is based on gnucash but it is easier to use IMO

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hledger is a free software, cross-platform double-entry accounting tool I've been working on for a while. It has command-line and web-based interfaces to your local data, and some other interesting features. There's also ledger (http://wiki.github.com/jwiegley/ledger/) which is command-line only. These are.. different, but worth a look for some folks.

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Check the Financial section in this list of Open Source Software

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I suggest you to test AlauxSoft Accounts and Budget. This software is a money-like.

There is a freeware and a shareware (24 EUR).

You will find its at http://www.alauxsoft.com

Best regards, Michel ALAUX.

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protected by Chris W. Rea Mar 29 '13 at 22:01

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