Several years ago, I switched from Quicken to MS Money. I don’t remember why, exactly, but I think that it was a combination of the following factors: (1) Microsoft Money seemed to have more powerful budget tools. (2) I was irritated at Quicken for some (unremembered) reason – perhaps having to do with the vast quantity of marketing material which they send their customers (of course, that hasn’t stopped even though I switched to Money). (3) I have a buddy at Microsoft who gets me their software for cheap through the company store. (Thanks, Rob!)
My Money file has become corrupted in a very irritating way, though. None of the Money tools recognize or can repair the corruption, and the fix is a royal pain. Basically, I can no longer reconcile my accounts. If I try, I can check off deposits (or payments on credit card accounts), but not payments (or charges on credit card accounts). In addition, when I download transactions, Money claims that it has received them, but they never appear anywhere for me to verify. The only way to fix this problem seems to be to export the account to a QIF file and then import it into a new account. While this process itself is not too hard, it has several side effects on other accounts which are very irritating (including the introduction of duplicate transactions).
Furthermore, I’m still not really happy with the budget features. My notion of budgetting is much more dynamic than that which is allowed by Money (or Quicken). I view a budget as a tool, and I would like to be able to get a snapshot of where I stand at any point in time. I would like to be able to look at things from both a cash flow perspective and an “accrual” basis (for lack of a better term). In the cash flow world, I would recognize that I have a car insurance payment due in May; it will hit the checking account on a certain day, and there has to be money available to pay. In accrual world, I would see that my car insurance costs me, on average $X per month or per week. Also, I would like to be able to easily “zoom in” and “zoom out” to look at different periods of time. For instance, the amount of money that we spend on travel is rather erratic, and I would probably want to look at and budget for that on a longer time scale than, say, grocery expenses. I also want to be able to adjust things easily on the fly. Yes, it is okay to spend more on dining out this month because we are spending less on groceries. And, of course, I would want all of this to be integrated into my account tracking, so I don’t have to enter things multiple times. (I actually came up with a pretty decent budget system in Excel once, but I got so tired of having to copy things back and forth between Excel and money that I gave up.) Do I ask too much?
Anyway, this is mostly a gripe. I’ll probably get MS Money fixed and go along my way. Unless someone has a better idea…