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Quicken vs Microsoft Money

Compare Windows Desktop Personal Finance Software

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Updated 12/03/2009

Microsoft Money Plus or Quicken: which has the features you need to manage your personal finances?

Money Plus (discontinued by Microsoft) and Quicken 2009 are compared below with a final rating of each. Some features are not be available in all versions, particularly Microsoft Money Essentials and Quicken Starter Edition.

Ease of Set Up: Quicken

Microsoft Money or Quicken, which has the features you need to manager your personal finances?
Individual box shots courtesy of Microsoft and Intuit.
Click on the Setup tab in Quicken 2009 and you will find everything needed to set up in one place.

Microsoft Money walks you through setting up an account, but does not have one place to go to set up all accounts and preferences.

Setting up Money is not difficult, but Quicken makes setting up all aspects of the software easier.

Easy Navigation: Quicken

Compare Microsoft Money vs Quicken Navigation
Click Image for Larger View - Screen Shot by Shelley Elmblad
The Microsoft Money Plus navigation bar provides quick access to account balances, financial reports and to personal finance tasks that are relevant to the section being worked in. For example, click on the Banking tab and the navigation bar shows tasks like Create an Account and options for sorting the list of accounts.

Quicken 2009 has navigation tabs for personal finance tasks, help for the features being used and access to online support. Information in the Tools tab changes relative to the area of the software being worked in. The Quicken Account Bar provides quick access to accounts, unless minimized to get more work space.

Getting around in Quicken is easier than navigating Money Plus.

Computer Desktop Gadgets: Money Plus

Compare Quicken Billminder Gadget and Microsoft Money Insights to see which you like better.
Click Image for Larger View - Screen Shot by Shelley Elmblad
Both Microsoft Money Plus and Quicken have features for monitoring accounts and getting alerts on your computer desktop.

Quicken Billminder Gadget is a single gadget that works with Windows Vista, so if you are running Windows XP or lower you will not be able to use Quicken Billminder.

Microsoft Money Plus Insights are three separate gadgets that run on Windows XP and on Vista: Cash Flow Insights, Spending Insights and Bills Insights.

The Money Plus gadgets provide more information than Quicken Billminder Gadget.

Online Banking : Quicken or Microsoft Money Plus

Both Money Plus and Quicken update download transactions over the Internet directly from most financial institutions. An open Internet connection and saving account log in information in either software is required.

Money Plus downloads transactions when the software starts and at intervals set by the user. The download that occurs when Money Plus starts slows the software down some.

Quicken automates data downloads at a set time each day or on some days, depending on user settings. Quicken 2009 must be closed to run scheduled updates and will not open during a download, a potential inconvenience.

Transaction downloads in both Microsoft Money Plus and Quicken work well, but may cost on software performance in the short term.

Account Registers: Quicken

See the difference between Quicken and Microsoft Money account registers.
Screen Shot by Shelley Elmblad
Open account registers in Quicken by clicking on the account listed on the Account Bar. Account registers resemble a checkbook register where transactions are added or edited.

Microsoft Money Plus has two register formats: Essential and Advanced. Adding a new transaction requires you to click on two options to get a data entry form to open. The Essential register in Money Plus does not provide enough information to be useful, but the Advanced register is more complete. Although you can switch between Essential and Advance registers, just using the Essential Register would be better.

Quicken's account registers are more straight-forward to use than Money registers.

Help Features: Quicken

There are more ways to find help in Quicken 2009 than in the Money Plus help feature, and Quicken provides comprehensive, searchable help topics that require no Internet connection. Money Plus only provides a very pared-down version of help without an Internet connection.

Using Money Plus Help with an Internet connection works well, but I have found sections where procedures were not updated from previous versions. This would especially confuse users.

Quicken's help documentation is more accurate and more convenient to use.

Attaching or Linking Files to Transactions: Quicken or Money Plus

Quicken and Microsoft Money Plus both associate digital copies of receipts, warranties or other information to transactions to document payments and income.

Quicken attachments are scanned images and images from Windows Clipboard can be attached to transactions and accounts without going outside of Quicken.

Microsoft Money file linking requires saving an image file before linking it to a transaction. This is time consuming, but, many more file types link to a transaction in Money Plus than in Quicken.

Quicken Attachments are easier to use, while more file types can be linked to Money transactions. Your preference determines which is better.

Investments: Quicken

See the difference between Microsoft Money and Quicken investment centers.
Click Image for Larger View - Screen Shot by Shelley Elmblad
Quicken Premier ($89.99 retail/Compare Prices) tracks investments and capital gains. The investing center opens directly to asset allocation graphs, mutual fund ratings and other investment account details, with no ads or news.

Both Microsoft Money Plus Deluxe ($49.99 retail/Compare Prices) and Premium track investments, but only Money Plus Premium ($79.99 retail/Compare Prices) support capital gains tracking. The investing center looks like an online magazine with ads and investment-related news. Click on selections under My Investing Tools to see portfolio details.

Quicken's investment center gives more information on your investments at a glance without the distraction of ads.

Advertisements: Quicken or Microsoft Money Plus

Ads are necessary in free software to generate revenue to keep it free. Neither Quicken 2009 nor Money Plus are free, yet both serve up ads in the software.

The ads in Quicken 2009 are small, but appear often. The Services tab and Quicken Picks both serve up ads and special offers, although you can turn off Quicken Picks if you want to.

Microsoft Money Plus partner ads are larger and are found throughout all features.

There is enough advertising in both Quicken 2009 and Money Plus to call the ad annoyance a draw.

Time Between Upgrades: Quicken

Both Quicken and Microsoft Money eventually require upgrading to continue using most features and to get tech support. When versions become obsolete, they both become useful for little more than keeping account registers and basic budgets.

The Microsoft Money Internet Services Policy states that Money is supported for two years, while Quicken's Sunset Policy supports the most recent version for three years.

This contrast evens out the price difference between Microsoft Money Plus and the more expensive Quicken. Divide the retail price of Quicken Premier by three years and it costs about $30 a year, while Money Plus Premium averages out to around $40 a year.

Free Trial Software: Microsoft Money Plus

Financial software developers or manufacturers who offer a free trial show confidence in the quality of the software and in how well it meets the financial needs of consumers. It is puzzling that Quicken does not offer a free trial, given that it has dominated desktop personal finance software for years.

Although Quicken offers a 60-day money back guarantee, a free trial would be preferable. And a free trial is available with Microsoft Money Plus.

Quicken and Microsoft Money Plus Final Scores

Quicken Features: 6
Money Plus Features: 2
Tie: 3

Quicken's features come out ahead of Microsoft Money Plus, making Quicken easier to use for most people. Money Plus is not difficult to learn or use, but Quicken has an edge over it for usability. If certain features are more important to you, be sure to give them more weight when deciding personal finance software to use.

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