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Quicken 2012 First Look Review

Find the Right Quicken Personal Finance Software Version

By

Quicken is the grand-daddy of personal finance software after having been around for decades, and is known for having extensive features for managing finances.

First Look
My first impressions are that Quicken has progressed well over the past few years, maintaining a myriad of money management tools (most require an Internet connection) while simplifying those tools and clearing up the user interface, making Quicken easier to use overall. If you're looking for fully-featured personal finance software for Windows desktop, Quicken is hard to beat. Quicken 2012 offers some solid feature enhancements, which are covered below along with what is included with each version.

Quicken does not offer a free trial, but has a 60-day money back guarantee. Prices for each version are noted below. If you buy a lower version and decide that you need more advanced features, just add features to save money over buying another version.

Full Review
After having used the software for several days, my comprehensive, full Quicken 2012 review is now available. But, keep reading to learn the differences between Quicken versions.

What's New in Quicken 2012

Quicken debt reduction planner shows you how paying extra reduces interest.
Quicken 2012 Debt Reduction Plan Set Up
Intuit
  • Behind the Scenes
    Two enhancements that aren't really new tools in Quicken 2012 are expanded customer support and faster transaction downloads and portfolio updates. Customer support is available via chat and email all day, every day and phone support is available during normal business hours. Quicken Live Community is also available with active Q&A between Quicken users.
  • Budgeting and Debt Management
    The most visible and obvious improvements in Quicken 2012 are the revamped budgeting tool and the debt reduction planning module. The budgeting tool adjusts spending targets with one click on an easy to read bar graph, and if you want to spend more time on detailed budgeting, you can do so with the advanced features. With the debt reduction tool, you can set up a plan in three steps and do graphical what if scenarios to see how different levels of spending and paying off debt affect interest and how soon you can become debt free. However, there have been many reports of problems with the new budget tool.
  • Large Font for High Res
    High resolution displays are gorgeous, but tend to make text too small in past Quicken versions. Quicken 2012 has an optional large font feature that increases the font size and graphics on high-res screens.
  • Easier Reminders and Equity Tracking
    Setting up income and bill reminders is easier. I tried it and the process was really fast, taking three mouse clicks to finish. The equity tracking tool uses bar graphs and numbers to show you how much equity you have in your home or other property.
  • Investments
    Quicken 2012 Premier, Home & Business and Rental Property does away with requiring you to accept individual investment account transactions. Having the ability to automatically accept transactions saves time, especially for active investors. Automated portfolio updates finish faster as well.

Quicken 2012 Starter Edition

Quicken 2012 Starter Edition personal finance software box.
Quicken 2012 Starter Edition
Image Courtesy of PriceGrabber.com
Quicken Starter Edition is just that: for someone who is completely new to Quicken and who only needs the bare bones basics in money management tools. Well, bare bones by Quicken's standards. If you're currently using a higher version, don't think about downgrading because this version does not import data from higher versions.

Here's what you get in Quicken Starter Edition:

  • The new budget tool with expense categories and budget goals.
  • Graphical cash flow reporting that shows how much money is left over after monthly income and expenses.
  • Accounts can be reconciled.
  • Download account transactions.
  • Upcoming bill alerts.
  • Income tax data imports into TurboTax (CD or download, not TurboTax Online).
  • The new debt reduction tools.
  • Cash flow and other reports.
What you don't get in Quicken Starter Edition:
  • Investment tracking.
  • Financial planners.
This version retails for around $30, but compare prices for Quicken Starter Edition before you buy.

Quicken 2012 Deluxe

Customize the Quicken Home Page to get the most important financial reports in one place.
Quicken 2012 Home Page
Intuit
Quicken Deluxe has all the features of the Starter Edition, but this version will import data from other versions of Quicken (previous years included).

Other features in Quicken 2012 Deluxe:

  • Simple investment account support with investment performance dashboard.
  • Planners for debt reduction, retirement and long term savings for college, a home or other large expenditure.
  • Quicken Attachments for documenting important transactions or adding information to account statements.
  • Export data from Microsoft Money 2007 and 2008 (Money Plus Sunset Deluxe unconfirmed).
Quicken 2012 Deluxe retails for $60, but better Quicken Deluxe bargains can be found.

Quicken 2012 Premier

Watch your investments closer in Quicken 2012 Premier.
Quicken 2012 Premier Investment Performance Reports
Intuit
Quicken Premier has all the features in the Deluxe version and adds more robust investment tracking.
  • Investment returns analysis compared to market averages.
  • Quotes continuously update.
  • Investment-related tax deduction report with Schedule D reporting.
  • Asset allocation reports.
Quicken 2012 Premier retails for $90, but you can find deals online.

Quicken Home & Business

Quicken Home & Business includes small business bookkeeping features with personal finance tools.
Quicken 2012 Home & Business
Intuit / Image Courtesy of PriceGrabber.com
The Home & Business version includes all the personal finance tools in Quicken Premier, along some business-specific features. While Quicken Home & Business doesn't replace small business accounting software, it's features are fine for a home based business, a very small sole proprietorship or to track hobby income. The small business features include:
  • Separate income and expense categories for personal and business expenses, but these categories are maintained in one place.
  • Expenses are automatically categorized as personal or business.
  • Simplified profit and loss reports.
  • Income tax support: flags tax deductible small business expenses and generates Schedule C reports.
  • Create estimates and invoices, and does simple accounts receivables and payables.
Quicken 2012 Home & Business costs around $100 at full price, but check around for lower pricing.

Quicken Rental Property Manager

Quicken Rental Property Manage
Quicken Rental Property Manager
Intuit
Quicken Rental Property Manager is designed for landlords who need to track up to 100 properties. This software is easy to use, and with all the features of Quicken Premier, it provides the right reports for analyzing and tracking rental income while tracking personal finances.

Rental property features include: Get an up-to-minute snapshot of expenses by property.

  • Track income and expenses by property and compare profit and loss across properties.
  • Tax reporting for personal income, investment income and rental property expenses for tax purposes. Tax reports are appropriate for providing to an accountant, or export data directly to TurboTax tax software. Includes Schedule E reporting.
  • The Rent Center stores tenant contact information such as lease terms, security deposits and overall payment history.
Quicken RPM retails for $150, which is a great price for software with such a variety of robust financial tools. But check for Quicken Rental Property Manager deals before you buy.

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