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?

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