AceMoney is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, and has a 30 day fully functional free trial. If you only need to manage one or two accounts, you can use AceMoney Lite, which is free.
Updated February 22, 2012
Setting Up AceMoney
Before you get started, AceMoney asks if you want to use the sample file that comes with the software. I recommend using it to experiment with the software to see how it works. You can also start with a new data file, but it may be easier to rename the sample file, add your own accounts, edit budget categories and make other adjustments while deleting the accounts that come with the sample file. After renaming the data file and saving it, you will need to restart AceMoney to use the new file.
Working with Account Registers
AceMoney supports scheduled transactions, which can be viewed in a list format or on a calendar. The bills calendar feature is a nice touch that's not available in all desktop personal finance software.
To enter a new financial transaction, click on the New Transaction button found on the left while using account registers. This brings up a window that allows you to enter the payee, the amount of the transaction, a check number and other details. I find it to be faster to be able to type transaction details directly into the register, as is the case with Quicken. However, Microsoft Money and many other personal finance software users will be right at home with AceMoney's method.
Issues with Categories
I discovered that income and expense categories can't be added on the fly. When I was entering a transaction and found that I needed to create a new expense category, I was forced to back out of the transaction and go into the categories tool to create it. I then went back to entering the transaction and tried to use the new category, only to find that I needed to restart AceMoney before the category would appear and be available for selection. This wastes some time, and I don't recall ever experiencing this behavior in other personal finance software.
Home Page, Budgets, Investments and Downloads
Budgets and Spending Categories
The budget tool is incorporated with the category list, which is a simple, sensible way of managing a budget plan. Adding a spending category is easy, but when creating subcategories, there is no drop down list to select the primary category from so if you need to create multiple subcategories, you'll need to retype the category name each time. If you have any typing errors when entering the primary category for subcategories, you can always edit them.
The investment support in AceMoney includes some basic graphs, list of investment transactions and list of portfolio holdings with the total value and overall loss or gain. There's enough there to keep an eye on your investments, so you'll have to use stock analysis software if you want more advanced portfolio support. Your brokerage likely provides more advanced analysis tools online as well.
Automatic Transaction Downloads
I used my Discover card account to test transaction downloads in AceMoney. Discover Card was listed as an online service provider, but not as a bank that could be selected from the financial institution list when I set up the account in the software. If a financial institution is not listed when you're trying to set up an account, you can always directly type the name in.
AceMoney will not automatically download transactions for all accounts when you open the software, a feature found in Quicken and once found in Microsoft Money when it was fully supported. Instead, you must go to each individual account and click on the Download transactions button.
Before downloading transactions, you can select predefined periods of time for the transactions you want to see in the register and it's great to have this option, which is particularly helpful if you only want the past six month's worth (for example) of transactions instead of two years worth. Not all personal finance software offers this option and you can easily end up downloading months of transactions that you don't want to track.
Downloading transactions worked very smoothly for the credit card account, but I also tried to download from my investment account with a popular online brokerage and those transactions would not download. Instead, AceMoney gave me an error message which asked me to 'click to see why' the transactions would not download, but there was nothing to click on! If your investments won't download, they can still be tracked by entering them individually since AceMoney updates the values of individual stocks without a hitch. I assume it does the same for mutual funds but did not test this.
Can AceMoney Really Replace Quicken or Microsoft Money?
I don't like that the software must be restarted before changes take place to the home page, newly-created spending categories and probably to other areas of the software that I did not try to customize. The reason for this is likely to refresh the database (all software of this type is built on one), which happens without shutting down in competing software. I'm surprised not to have seen complaints about this from AceMoney's strong base of users that say they love the software.
AceMoney has refined some of its features recently, and in my opinion, there's still some work to be done to fine tune how the software behaves. However, if you are looking for basic personal finance software, AceMoney is certainly one to consider. It is unlikely that you'll find investment support in other basic personal finance software.
You can find out it AceMoney is for you by downloading the 30 day free trial, which is something you won't get from Quicken and MS Money is now free.
- The regular price for AceMoney is $39.99, and you can learn more about this software at the MecCAD Software website.