Review: Moneydance 2008 (a Quicken alternative)

I’ve been doing some dancing lately. My dance repertoire is pretty limited. I’m not really into Salsa, Jive, or Tango. I have a hunch I’d be pretty good at the Foxtrot though. But despite my lack of formal dance training, I have been know to jump for joy when figuring out my financials. You might even call my little financial jig a money dance.

Over the last while I have been getting financially fancy footed using a software package called Moneydance. Moneydance, published by Reilly Technologies, is a personal finance management package for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. All three platforms will set you back a mere $39.99 USD, a demo version is available to get your feet wet.

Product: Moneydance 2008
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Pros: Multiple currency support, cross platform capability, customizable homepage, import banking data, synchronize investment data, no “retiring” of online transaction capability, no ads, extendable features.
Cons: Reporting and graphing features not robust. User interface feels unfinished. Only USA investment options.
Company: Reilly Technologies
Cost: $39.99 USD
OS Capability: Mac OS X, Windows, Linux.
Processors: Universal

Replacing Intuit Quicken:

I’ve been on the lookout to replace my version of Intuit Quicken 2005 since last month Intuit decided to retire online services for older versions of Quicken. This means I can no longer: pay bills online, download financial data from my bank, synchronize investment data (stocks, mutual funds), and interact with Quicken’s portfolio uploading tools. I can still run a budget though. So basically, despite paying full price for this software, I can no longer use the package effectively. This is akin to buying a toaster in 2005 and suddenly no longer allowed to plug it in. Indeed, I am not impressed.

Downloading Moneydance

It only takes a click to download Moneydance for your preferred platform (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux). I use a Mac and found it flawlessly simple to get my trial install. I didn’t have to enter any personal data or offer my first born for the privilege of trying before buying. I think more companies should stop insisting on email addresses and personal information as this hinders me from downloading the demo. I really only want to get personal with a software company if i choose to BUY the package.

Importing Quicken data into Moneydance:

Importing Quicken data into Moneydance is neither overly complicated nor simply seamless. You first need to create a .QIF file from Quicken, and then use Moneydance’s import function. My Quicken categories were automatically imported. I did get a few duplicate transactions from transfers between accounts, which was a little discouraging at first. Albeit, this is a one-time pain-point and I didn’t expect perfection given the years of data I have collected.

Highlights:

Moneydance performs many of the features offered in Quicken. The most important features to me are:

  • Download bank transactions from several institutions.
  • Update portfolio details for stock and mutual fund prices.
  • Run on Mac OS X or Linux (I don’t have a Windows machine).
  • Support multiple currencies (I am Canadian ehh!)
  • Be free from endless “upgrade ads” (I bought the program already).
  • Run beyond a “specified period of time” without disabling, retiring, or sunsetting widely needed features.

Moneydance 2008 performs all of these features well. Additional highlights include:
memorized transactions, split transactions, and categories (which Moneydance calls “accounts”. I really like the Moneydance homepage or dashboard view. I was nicely surprised to see a customizable view of all my financials in one easy-to-see place. I spent about 15 minutes fully optimizing my homepage to display my net worth (for what it’s worth), my loan balances, my credit card data, and my investments.

moneydance_dashboard_sized.png

Reilly Technologies offers their more technical users (programmers) the option to “extend” the application. By using the Moneydance Core API, software developers can download the kit, use the API libraries, and compile Moneydance extensions. Several of these extensions are available for download from within Moneydance. Kinda cool.

Lowlights:

Being completely blunt, the Moneydance user interface is pretty darn ugly. Financial software users are a fairly educated bunch, and can easily recognize how visually behind Moneydance is from their competitors, Microsoft Money and Intuit Quicken. Moneydance lacks the professional polish of these competitor products, and would be wise to hire some experts in this area.

Users moving from Quicken may be disappointed in the reporting capability in Moneydance. The graphs remind me of “stick figures” and lack the professionalism and polish I expect from financial software.

Another issue I have with Moneydance is with the product documentation. The trial version I downloaded doesn’t seem to have any. I see links to “Online Help”, but I get zero help files when attempting to launch the docs. I am hoping the “paid for” version comes with enough documentation to help me better use and configure the product.

A final quibble I have with Moneydance is the product slogan, “The Most Intuitive Personal Finance Application.” I disagree. I need product documentation to help me despite being a somewhat educated user. Also, all financial products I have encountered have a slight learning curve before feeling comfortable with the software. I find Moneydance no more “intuitive” than Quicken.

Should I Buy?

Overall I rate Moneydance four squawks out of five (). The application is not stunning to stare at, but does exactly as required. The price point is stellar when compared against the costs of Intuit Quicken or Microsoft Money. The financial software users best served by Moneydance are those who:

  • Must download bank transactions from several institutions.
  • Require synchronization for investment portfolios (stock and mutual fund prices).
  • Require non-Windows support (Mac OS X or Linux).
  • Require support for multiple currencies.
  • Not opposed to paying $40USD for a well-supported application.
  • Fed up with disabled or retired financial software packages.

Are you a Moneydance user? Do you use any other money management software?

Your two cents:

  1. nancy (aka money coach) May 27th, 2008

    wow squawkfox, I hadn’t heard about Quicken bailing. Quicken is what got me turned around many years ago, then I drifted away and have been using my own spreadsheets. However, I’ve been thinking about moving back to something more sophisticated.
    Do you get any referral perks if I mention you? I’m seriously considering it – do you know if I can download from credit union central of BC, by chance? (I bank at Citizens Bank and also Vancity).
    Also, how do you find it handles the investment portfolio elements? I did get frustrated with quicken on that one.
    Thanks for the info.

  2. Kerry May 27th, 2008

    @nancy Yeah, Quicken disables or “retires” synchronization features on older versions. I got retired last month. I seriously am annoyed.

    For referrals, Amazon offers Moneydance.

    I *think* Moneydance will support Citizens Bank and Vancity if these institutions support direct online banking protocols (formats include: .ofx, .qfx, .qif, and .ofc). You can always download a free trial and try it out. So far all my BC and Canadian banks are supported. (See: http://moneydance.com/userguide-contents/using%20moneydance%20with%20web-based%20online%20banking.html)

    With Investment portfolio elements my biggest complaint is the user interface. It’s just not attractive. But since I won’t get “retired” with Moneydance, at least I know I can always synchronize my data without getting cutoff (as with Quicken).

  3. Mrs Pillars May 31st, 2008

    I have been using MoneyDance for a few years since Intuit refused to give me a new key when I needed to install Quicken on a new PC. I was outraged when they told me I had to upgrade at full cost to get a new key. MoneyDance does what I need it to do and hasn’t balked at providing a new key when my PC died (funny how short a life they have…). The reporting isn’t as nice as Quicken had it, but it isn’t worth it to me to pay those extortionists.

  4. Stef June 1st, 2008

    I’m quite old school; I use Excel (and pay bills online via my credit union.)

    Thanks for the review!

  5. michelle June 10th, 2008

    Thank you for the review…I am a MAC Quicken 2005 user who was noticing a LOT of problems these last couple weeks….I use Quicken to balance my personal accounts. I downloaded the trial of Moneydance & am having trouble trying to print a report showing me the transactions in each category (together in one report). I use this a LOT & want to make sure Moneydance can do it before I purchase it….any advise??

  6. Dan Crawford June 10th, 2008

    I’ve used Moneydance for more than three months, and sad to say, I have not had the positive experiences reported in the review. The first frustration: I could not get Money dance to print checks on my COSTCO computer 3 checks per page stock. I described the problem on the Moneydance forum – no response. The learning curve for Moneydance is steep, especially if you have gotten used to Quicken. I still struggle with that. On the other hand, it works on my MAC but I keep my accounts also on a PC where I use Quciken – it provides a backup but it takes a lot of time. And the Quicken program prints the checks perfectly. I’m not a computer techie, but I do appreciate programs that do what they say they do. So far Moneydance has failed to convince me.

  7. Kerry June 10th, 2008

    @Mrs Pillars I’m on the same page as you. I’m tired of paying Inuit decent moolah. The reporting in Moneydance, well, sucks…to say the least. Maybe they will improve it. As to Intuit not giving you a new key…now that is really terrible customer service. Wow.

    @Stef I like old school. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest. I must admit…I love downloading my investment transactions and seeing how my portfolio is doing. :D

    @michelle I’m looking into your question…

    @Dan Crawford My review isn’t exactly glowing. I do cite the learning curve and many other quibbles with the package. I’ve never had to print checks so that is a use case I have never had to experience. The truth be told, if you’re a Mac user (power pc) then there are few “professional” options to choose from. Indeed, Moneydance is far from perfect.

  8. Hank September 8th, 2008

    I’ve been using Quicken for Mac a lot of years now. About two weeks ago the 2007 version started to crash every time I opened the portfolio. I went to tech support and talked to a guy in India, reloaded everthing (2 hrs) and didn’t get a chance to see if it would still crash becuase update securities wasn’t working properly as he said that the were upgrading at intuit.

    He wanted me to pay the 24.95 for the service because he said he thought it was now fixed. I said I needed assured that after I finally got to update security prices, my portfolio wouldn’t crash anymore. He said not to worry jaust call back if it crashed and they would either fix the problem or give me credit for the 24.95.

    Later that night i was able to update the security prices and as soon as I opened the portiflio it crahed again. i called, work with the new guy who read the trouble shooting that was done the night before. After about 2 more hours the problem was not fixed, and I demanded my a credit for the 24.95. He said no problem…, that was August 22, 08. I kept trying to get back to them via their web site that says they will call you back within 10 minutes…, They never did!!!!!!!!!! So I called Corporate HQ today and now I will get my refund.

    I’m going to purchase Moneydance as I really like your review and my Quicken still crashes when I open the portfolio.

    Hank Gavarkavich

  9. Dan October 8th, 2008

    We switched to a Mac a few months ago. We purchased Quicken for Mac and wish we hadn’t wasted our money. We are long-time, proficient Quicken users, but the Mac version is terrible. After spending hours the other day trying to get Quicken to print a simple budget report the way we wanted, and enduring several Quicken crashes,we gave up and downloaded the free trial of Moneydance. We imported the Quicken file, easily cleaned up a few duplicate transactions, recreated and printed the budget we had been trying to print in Quicken, and downloaded from a couple of our finanical institutions, all in an hour. We’ll be buying Moneydance. I really don’t care how my financial software looks, as long as it works.

  10. Maggie December 14th, 2008

    Moneydance is excellent and I’ve been very impressed. Any Quicken user will pick up how to use it straight away (I’m a Quicken refugee myself). OK, it could look prettier, but it’s reliable, does everything that I need it to, including handling investments, and there’s none of that sunset policy crap you get with Quicken. Can even be tweaked so that you can do proactive envelope-style budgetting with it, using subaccounts, although it has conventional style budget capability as well. Worth every penny of the price.

  11. JB February 5th, 2009

    I had been a Quicken user from way back in the MS DOS days and was fed up with their “new business model” of retiring your software every few years and extorting new fees to use their “upgraded” versions. I downloaded the trial version of Moneydance and tried it side by side with Quicken. After 2 weeks I decided to purchase Moneydance. I continued running both programs jointly trying to avoid any unpleasant surprises. After a few months, the choice was clear. Moneydance was superior to Quicken in what really counted to me:
    * stability
    * reliability
    * solid core functionality
    * customer service
    * peace of mind!

    The article by Fox is on point about both the pros and cons of using Moneydance. Don’t let the cons scare you. The pros are well worth the small price of the package and the company does make steady and useful improvements to the software. As a Windows XP user, it is difficult for me to remember ever using a software package that does not crash or affect your computers performance! Moneydance definitely falls in this very small category.

    I am very happy with my decision to switch to Moneydance and look forward to many years of rock steady performance from a simple and useful tool. I recommend Moneydance if reliable performance matters more than bells and whistles. Based on my experience with Mondaydance over the past 2 years, I’m confident this package will mature at a steady pace without compromising its foundation. Go Moneydance!

  12. DAN CRAWFORD February 5th, 2009

    I commented on Moneydance in June ’08 – since that time, I have found even more to be less enthusiastic about. Unlike Quicken, it will not print check transactions unless you manipulate your printer. The reports and graphs are so-so. I still get irritated when I print checks, though I have discovered on my own that I could actually change the fonts and the set-up of the checks. Not in the documentation. I’m still looking for an adequate money management program for MAC OSX. I may decide to set up an EXCEL check register on my NEOOffice.

  13. albertomichieli April 16th, 2009

    for Maggie

    I m trying the budget envelop

    But can t figure out how to setup the credit card

    Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks for help

  14. Herb May 22nd, 2009

    I have used Quicken and Quick Books versions for years. I have not found any programs in the price range that have all the features. From the previous comments, it appears that Moneydance is not there yet, so I’ll stay with ebaying the Quicken version needed to keep support at way below the latest version price. The last few years, most of the new “improvements” were not, and some actually added extra keysrokes to unwanted things. (Like adding Tags to the Check Register that blocked the view of the preceding transaction and added keystrokes).

    But, download problems for Quicken 2008 have been serious since around August 2008. The initial help thread got so long and unfixed that the tech lady simply closed it, thus no evidence of Programmer incompetence.

    Portfolio data downloads, at least from TdAmeritrade, have improved, but their Moneymarket (MMDA) price is still wrong each time and it other stock transactions have to be manually price-paid adjusted.

    Kerry, glad you competed in the Ironman and hope you enjoyed the trips. The Big Island has been my home since 1971.

    Aloha,

    Herb

  15. Kerry May 22nd, 2009

    @Herb I’ve tried Quicken a few times since going with Moneydance. I’m just frustrated with Quicken’s forced upgrades. I do miss Quicken’s graphing though. ;)

    Aloha! How I wish I were fast enough to qualify for Worlds at Kona. I’ve competed at Ironman Canada twice now and I’m just an average age grouper battling to finish. It’s been a secret dream of mine to race in Hawaii – maybe I need to train harder. ;) I’ve had MANY friends qualify though – and they all say that racing Ironman in Hawaii is amazing. :)

  16. Eric July 17th, 2009

    I do not like Intuit at all although I use TurboTax as that is the only option. I was going to go with Quicken for the same reason, but then endless numbers of people told me good reasons to avoid it. (I knew I did not want MS Money either). I ran across the Moneydance program on it’s website and I found that the support was just like Intuit = non-existant. I tried 3 times to post in the public forum and it got rejected every time. I’m looking for a phone number for them because no phone number of any type makes me suspect Rip-off!
    I’m looking for a program that will also do savings goals and planning, debt reduction (even though I have figured that out myself) and also want to have it calculate credit card debt where it can show what the exact total finance charge would be for each payment. (I wrote my own program in Excel which is alright, but it relies solely on the statements so that makes it kind of unreliable). I’m not into portfolios and investments and such or paying bills on-line. I prefer simple living in that area. (I lost all my “SAFE insured” investments including my IRA with the last crash. I will never invest in any market again)! I don’t even like my bank which is also the reason I am looking for a program that will straighten out the poorly written software my bank uses for it’s on-line statements.
    Is there any support for this program or is it a rip-off as I suspect.

  17. Kelly December 1st, 2009

    Buyer beware….I recently tried to skirt using Quicken and thought I’d give MoneyDance a try. While the program is not fancy, it seemed to have the basic tools I needed. BUT, here’s the catch…I cannot download directly from my bank (Amegy Bank of Texas) via OFX….I get nothing but communication errors. MoneyDance claims it’s the bank, and the bank claims it’s the Moneydance software (actually, the bank says “if it’s not Quicken, we can’t help you….sure hope you didn’t spend much on Moneydance”. Seems Quicken has exerted its influence over my bank….to the point that I’m considering closing all my accounts and moving my money to a bank that will support its customers.

  18. Nicole Duncan January 29th, 2010

    Thanks all for the comments. I have an unusual problem with Quicken that I have been looking for an alternative to get around. Intuit stopped all non-US bank support in 2005 and will not allow me to import information from our UK bank accounts in any form or fashion. I started using Money for the UK accounts and Quicken for the US accounts but it makes it hard to get an overall picture of finances, spending etc. The lovely graphs and reports were only giving me half a picture. Now Money is going away. I’ve tried iBank but it is simply awful. Solves the multiple country issue but interface is awful, reporting almost non-existent, and creates duplicates when down-loading. Based on comments above, I think I will try moneydance with limited expectations and see how it goes. Any other suggestions would be much appreciated. Otherwise I may be oining the crowd in going back to Excel.

  19. Adam Steinberg November 21st, 2010

    I’m in the trial mode of Moneydance and have immediately hit some problems, including a steep learning curve (coming off Quicken — it just doesn’t work the same way) and because it lacks some crucial features for me, such as the ability to move shares between accounts without doing a workaround involving effectively selling them in the first account and rebuying them in the new account. I have also not been able to figure out reconciliation, which in Quicken allowed a person like me, with limited command of financial intricacies, to simply fudge accounts where necessary (and where it did not affect any crucial calculations). The jury is still out on Moneydance.

  20. Gibb Cornwell January 14th, 2011

    I have been very frustrated with Moneydance (MD), version 2010, which I started using about 6 months ago after leaving Quicken over its sunset policy. I have 2 major criticisms:
    1. MD is unable to download bank transactions (checks and cash) from Fidelity, despite listing both Fidelity Investments and Fidelity Bank as participant in this program.
    2. MD has not made any significant effort to deal with this problem or to explain why it can’t do so, despite frequent complaints from customers. The customer service people seem to be interested, but, after 2 or 3 email exchanges with them, a supervisor stops further exchange without convincing reason. I have phoned both MD and Fidelity to no avail.
    I do not recommend this company.

  21. Jim Michael June 5th, 2012

    I realize this is a little bit late, but…
    I have been using Moneydance for almost two years now (switched from Quicken Essentials for Mac), and I wish I could switch back easily! Moneydance doesn’t do too bad on simple checking account tasks, but the reporting is absolutely horrible!
    I don’t even know how I managed to finally get a report to show me what I want, because I can’t repeat it. I’ve tried editing their canned reports, but when I select the same exact criteria that I was once able to construct, it tells me there is no data to display, yet when I use the one report I was able to get working, there’s plenty of data to see!
    Horrible Horrible software in my opinion. It looks like there is no way to get data out of Moneydance into any other program at all, so once you get your data in there, you can’t get it out. My advice is to save your money!
    If I could even get a text file of all my transactions, I’d switch to Excel or Numbers.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with a "*".

*

*

Technorati Profile