"Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

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tlk59
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"Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:02 pm

When I first embarked on this, I wasn't aware that Google Sheets had the "query" function, which allows you to enter SQL style query commands. This makes it so much more awesome than I thought. If you have any background in SQL databases, this is for you.

I have investment accounts and spending accounts in two separate files. I'll deal with the investments later...more complex math. For the spending file, I have a separate sheet for each account register. Then I have an "All transactions" tab, which does a query on all the account register sheets, to pull in all transactions together (about 15,000 rows). This becomes my data source; it's sort of like a database view.

So for any analysis sheet I care to create, such as summary report on spending for specified time period, I can simply use that "All transactions" sheet's range as the source for queries, easy peasy. This is probably not the most efficient way to go, but so far I haven't found the performance to be bad at all.

-Tim

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by Kevin M » Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:57 pm

The FILTER function is pretty awesome too. I usually use FILTER, but sometimes use QUERY, especially when I need the results in a different order than in the source columns. However, you can also get results in a different order with FILTER by using sets.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by fortfun » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:26 pm

tlk59 wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:02 pm

So for any analysis sheet I care to create, such as summary report on spending for specified time period, I can simply use that "All transactions" sheet's range as the source for queries, easy peasy. This is probably not the most efficient way to go, but so far I haven't found the performance to be bad at all.

-Tim
How about using pivot tables for your summaries?

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:33 pm

fortfun wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:26 pm
How about using pivot tables for your summaries?
Sure, could do. But I'm using aggregation in the query (group by) to get that.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:36 pm

Kevin M wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:57 pm
The FILTER function is pretty awesome too. I usually use FILTER, but sometimes use QUERY, especially when I need the results in a different order than in the source columns. However, you can also get results in a different order with FILTER by using sets.

Kevin
Nice. Yeah if it's just where clause stuff that looks more straight forward. The query function sometimes requires wrestling with the heading parameter.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:40 pm

Finding one annoying thing with filter function. With query, you can just specify the column name, i.e. "D > 500" or "Col4 > 100", like in a regular SQL where clause. With filter, it seems you must specify a matching range, as in "D2:D3115 > 100". That's a problem since my data is constantly growing bigger. Unless there's some symbol for indicating the last row number.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by AlohaJoe » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:07 pm

tlk59 wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:40 pm
Finding one annoying thing with filter function. With query, you can just specify the column name, i.e. "D > 500" or "Col4 > 100", like in a regular SQL where clause. With filter, it seems you must specify a matching range, as in "D2:D3115 > 100". That's a problem since my data is constantly growing bigger. Unless there's some symbol for indicating the last row number.
Just use "D:D > 100" or "D12:D > 100"

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:27 pm

AlohaJoe wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:07 pm
Just use "D:D > 100" or "D12:D > 100"
Oh duh, that's right. Thanks!

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by Kevin M » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:09 pm

tlk59 wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:27 pm
AlohaJoe wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:07 pm
Just use "D:D > 100" or "D12:D > 100"
Oh duh, that's right. Thanks!
Right, and try to keep empty rows at the end of the sheet to a minimum, to not waste performance searching empty rows.

Kevin
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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:54 pm

Kevin M wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:09 pm
Right, and try to keep empty rows at the end of the sheet to a minimum, to not waste performance searching empty rows.

Kevin
Thanks, I'll keep in mind. I was starting to get pretty cocky about how performant things were, until I had it freezing up horribly on the iPhone app...and finally crashing. Just happened one time so far, but maybe the mobile client has less memory allocation to handle the heavy datasets.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by boater07 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:55 pm

tlk59 wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:27 pm
AlohaJoe wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:07 pm
Just use "D:D > 100" or "D12:D > 100"
Oh duh, that's right. Thanks!
I'm not a techie and would appreciate info on how to set up portfolio sheet. Assume the values could be updated as required

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:41 pm

boater07 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:55 pm
I'm not a techie and would appreciate info on how to set up portfolio sheet. Assume the values could be updated as required
I turn to videos more and more when I'm looking for tutorials. I found an interesting one where the author is basically showing how to create a Google Sheets version of the old defunct portfolio feature of Google Finance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZi5Oe7Vsfg

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:48 pm

What are you guys actually using Quicken for? Tracking investments or tracking checking/credit card accounts.

I use the auto-download features in Quicken to pull all the checking and credit card data from my financial institutions so Quicken is very automated for me. I haven't used Google sheets for this purpose but I assume you have to do all the data entry by hand for each checking and credit card entry. Is that correct? That would turn me off from tracking finances in Google Sheets.

My investments are not complicated enough to really get bent out of shape one way or another. Just a few index funds that can be tracked any number of ways. I don't really pay attention to them very much except to occasionally look at the total balance.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:19 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:48 pm
What are you guys actually using Quicken for? Tracking investments or tracking checking/credit card accounts.

I use the auto-download features in Quicken to pull all the checking and credit card data from my financial institutions so Quicken is very automated for me. I haven't used Google sheets for this purpose but I assume you have to do all the data entry by hand for each checking and credit card entry. Is that correct? That would turn me off from tracking finances in Google Sheets.

My investments are not complicated enough to really get bent out of shape one way or another. Just a few index funds that can be tracked any number of ways. I don't really pay attention to them very much except to occasionally look at the total balance.
I should clarify, for me this is a proof of concept. I'm still maintaining Quicken as my data of record. The point at which it's clear whether this will be a good enough replacement hasn't yet arrived. I am impressed so far at the things I can achieve with Sheets, but the one ongoing annoyance for me will be, as you say, the manual data input. But note that some Quicken users do prefer manual entry.

Mind you, for me this isn't just about avoiding purchase of the software. If it did everything I want, I'd be happy to continue. The ultimate goal is to try to bolt on features of my choosing, such as a YNAB/envelope style budget screen, or better investment performance reporting (I'm on Mac/2017). I suppose an easier alternative would be just to export Quicken data to a custom spreadsheet for the missing feature in question. I may explore that too.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by Kevin M » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:10 pm

Google Sheets has good import functionality. As long as your financial institution supports exporting to cvs or excel, you can easily import to sheets.

For portfolio management, I export holdings from each broker and import to a sheet for that broker. I use FILTER or QUERY (and/or VLOOKUP) to pull selected data from each brokerage sheet into the portfolio sheet. There are other support sheets, such as asset-class lookup, price lookup, etc.

For expense management, I enter my major expenses for the coming month manually, so I know how much money I'll need in the expense-payment checking account that month. There aren't too many--a few credit cards, a few bills that can't be paid by credit card, etc. A few times per month I reconcile my expense-tracking sheet with my checking account. I could export/import checking account transactions, but it's easy to do manually, so I don't bother.

I don't bother tracking daily expenses--no need to do that.

I haven't used Quicken in many, many years. I grew to really hate it, and am very glad not to be messing with it anymore. I like to have things work the way I want them to work, not the way some company has decided they should work (which often was not very well).

There are lots of cool things you can do with macros and other scripts, which I guess is similar to Excel, except I think Google Sheets has more powerful web import functionality. I do quite a bit of web scraping with sheets scripts, for example fund retrieving fund yields and prices. Google Sheets has a built-in price import function, GoogleFinance (it does much more than just prices), but mutual fund prices tend to lag more than they used to, so I've scripted alternatives that provide more current pricing.

It's really quite a powerful tool if you take advantage of all the capabilities.

Kevin
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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:17 pm

tlk59 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:19 pm
texasdiver wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:48 pm
What are you guys actually using Quicken for? Tracking investments or tracking checking/credit card accounts.

I use the auto-download features in Quicken to pull all the checking and credit card data from my financial institutions so Quicken is very automated for me. I haven't used Google sheets for this purpose but I assume you have to do all the data entry by hand for each checking and credit card entry. Is that correct? That would turn me off from tracking finances in Google Sheets.

My investments are not complicated enough to really get bent out of shape one way or another. Just a few index funds that can be tracked any number of ways. I don't really pay attention to them very much except to occasionally look at the total balance.
I should clarify, for me this is a proof of concept. I'm still maintaining Quicken as my data of record. The point at which it's clear whether this will be a good enough replacement hasn't yet arrived. I am impressed so far at the things I can achieve with Sheets, but the one ongoing annoyance for me will be, as you say, the manual data input. But note that some Quicken users do prefer manual entry.

Mind you, for me this isn't just about avoiding purchase of the software. If it did everything I want, I'd be happy to continue. The ultimate goal is to try to bolt on features of my choosing, such as a YNAB/envelope style budget screen, or better investment performance reporting (I'm on Mac/2017). I suppose an easier alternative would be just to export Quicken data to a custom spreadsheet for the missing feature in question. I may explore that too.

OK, that makes more sense. I used Excel a bunch in my previous career as a fisheries managment biologist and built a lot of really complicated data spreadsheets with millions of lines of data that I'd analyze in Excel using pivot tables and various other features. It would be big data exports from government Oracle databases not individually entered data.

More recently in teaching I've been using google sheets mainly as a science teaching tool, introducing spreadsheets to students on chromebooks. Mostly for collecting student lab data and then simple graphing. I haven't really pushed the limits of google sheets to figure out where it might fall short compared to a more sophisticated package like Excel. But I have found there are certain more sophisticated types of graphs available in Excel that you really can't duplicated in Sheets. Same thing with using Apple's Pages on iPads. The software works well but the feature set is minimal compared to Excel. But for business features like tracking rates of returns I expect that Sheets has all you need.

I just don't have the energy to manually enter transactions when they are so easily downloaded directly into Quicken. So I just don't bother.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:59 pm

I forgot to mention another aspect of this--whatever solution I end up with, it needs to be easily accessible via web and mobile. Being desktop only is no longer good enough. Quicken has been working on cloud sync for many years now. I still don't feel it's trustworthy.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by malbecman » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:52 pm

Anyone using Sheets concerned about privacy issues? Just someone who doesnt like the reach of FANG sometimes....

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:21 pm

malbecman wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:52 pm
Anyone using Sheets concerned about privacy issues? Just someone who doesnt like the reach of FANG sometimes....
It's just transaction data. Mint actually has my login credentials. I'd be more worried about that.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by AlohaJoe » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:40 pm

boater07 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:55 pm
tlk59 wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:27 pm
AlohaJoe wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:07 pm
Just use "D:D > 100" or "D12:D > 100"
Oh duh, that's right. Thanks!
I'm not a techie and would appreciate info on how to set up portfolio sheet. Assume the values could be updated as required
The easiest way might be to just give Tiller some money and have them do it for you: https://www.tillerhq.com/net-worth-tracker/

https://www.kitces.com/blog/tiller-mone ... -advisors/

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:43 pm

As far as avoiding the manual data entry, I'm very comfortable popping the bank's CSV download into a text editor and using regex find/replace to get it into my sheet's format. Or import into a separate sheet and manipulate the columns before copying. It ain't one touch automation, but should be good enough.

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by Kevin M » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:06 pm

tlk59 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:43 pm
As far as avoiding the manual data entry, I'm very comfortable popping the bank's CSV download into a text editor and using regex find/replace to get it into my sheet's format. Or import into a separate sheet and manipulate the columns before copying. It ain't one touch automation, but should be good enough.
I do something like the underlined in many spreadsheets--usually not for transactional data, but sometimes, and the techniques are similar regardless.

I don't know what you mean by "manipulate the columns" and "copying", but you probably can set everything up with sheet formulas so there is no manual work other than exporting the csv and importing it into the raw data sheet. I doubt you'll need to intermediate step of manipulating in a text file. Glad to kick ideas around with you if you provide specifics on the source data (export/import) and the desired end result.

Kevin
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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:03 pm

Kevin M wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:06 pm
tlk59 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:43 pm
As far as avoiding the manual data entry, I'm very comfortable popping the bank's CSV download into a text editor and using regex find/replace to get it into my sheet's format. Or import into a separate sheet and manipulate the columns before copying. It ain't one touch automation, but should be good enough.
I do something like the underlined in many spreadsheets--usually not for transactional data, but sometimes, and the techniques are similar regardless.

I don't know what you mean by "manipulate the columns" and "copying", but you probably can set everything up with sheet formulas so there is no manual work other than exporting the csv and importing it into the raw data sheet. I doubt you'll need to intermediate step of manipulating in a text file. Glad to kick ideas around with you if you provide specifics on the source data (export/import) and the desired end result.

Kevin
Yeah I'm sure it's just laziness on my part to explore how to automate it better. At the moment I'm dealing with the schema diff between the bank's CSV and my register manually. If you use formulas, wouldn't the imported data need to be sucked into a staging area of the sheet rather than actual rows of the register? I can see the strategy though, since you always know what format that particular bank will give you.

Certain things are just harder without a database's linked relations. Another example is payees and categories. I have a range/list for each, and transaction registers do data validation for those columns, so payee and category columns have dropdown lists with valid values. But I'm pondering how you would get the relationship between the two, i.e. if you put in a payee of "Costco", then category auto-fills with "Groceries". Or another thing that yes Quicken does, automatic payee renaming rules.

-Tim

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by Kevin M » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:32 pm

tlk59 wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:03 pm
Kevin M wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:06 pm
<snip> but you probably can set everything up with sheet formulas so there is no manual work other than exporting the csv and importing it into the raw data sheet.
<snip>If you use formulas, wouldn't the imported data need to be sucked into a staging area of the sheet rather than actual rows of the register?
What I called the raw data sheet is what you're calling the staging area.

I import into a sheet used only for the imported data. I usually select to import starting at selected cell, to retain sheet formatting, but you can also use replace existing sheet--at least to start.

You then use a formula in the "register" sheet that accesses the raw data in the import sheet, using the sheetName!A:B syntax.
Certain things are just harder without a database's linked relations. Another example is payees and categories. I have a range/list for each, and transaction registers do data validation for those columns, so payee and category columns have dropdown lists with valid values. But I'm pondering how you would get the relationship between the two, i.e. if you put in a payee of "Costco", then category auto-fills with "Groceries".
We can start with your one example. If you always have a one to one relationship for items in two columns, you can create a lookup table in a sheet dedicated to that. You can then use VLOOKUP to get the value for the second column based on the value in the first column.

Your lookup sheet, let's call it CategoryLookup, could have payee in column A and category in column B. Say your register sheet has payee in column B and category in column C. You would use this formula in cell C5 of the register sheet to get the category for the payee in cell B5:

VLOOKUP(B5, CategoryLookup!A:B, 2, FALSE)

The third parameter, 2, is the index into the lookup table range, and the FALSE parameter indicates that the table is not sorted, in which case you will get #N/A if no value is found. If you want something else besides #N/A, you can surround the VLOOKUP with IFERROR.

For more complex lookups, like when you want the return value based it on values in more than one column, FILTER with multiple conditions can work as long as a unique value is returned.

Kevin
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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:44 pm

Ah yes, very nice if, as you say, payee and category are one-to-one. In Quicken/Mac, the category dropdown will show "recently used" categories at the top for that payee, so for Costco it might be groceries, auto:gas and household featured at the top. Maybe not completely out of reach...it appears there are approaches to getting multiple return values with vlookup too. The tricky bit would be how to get those multiple values to show not in separate cells, but in the one data validation fed cell.

-Tim

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by abuss368 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:00 pm

We used Quicken for almost 10 years and stopped cold about a decade ago. We simply did not see any value and thought time could be used with more meaningful and enjoyable things. No regrets.
John C. Bogle: "You simply do not need to put your money into 8 different mutual funds!" | | Disclosure: Three Fund Portfolio + U.S. & International REITs

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by Kevin M » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:20 am

tlk59 wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:44 pm
Ah yes, very nice if, as you say, payee and category are one-to-one. In Quicken/Mac, the category dropdown will show "recently used" categories at the top for that payee, so for Costco it might be groceries, auto:gas and household featured at the top. Maybe not completely out of reach...it appears there are approaches to getting multiple return values with vlookup too. The tricky bit would be how to get those multiple values to show not in separate cells, but in the one data validation fed cell.

-Tim
First, I would use FILTER instead of VLOOKUP if you want multiple return values.

I don't use dropdown lists much, but I've done a little bit with them. So these are just some ideas that may or may not work.

The values displayed in a dropdown list can be in sheet cells. These cells could be populated by FILTER, perhaps encompassed by SORT based on most recently used values. There's probably a way to reference a different set of cells (different column) by keying off of the value in a cell in the row you're entering.

If formulas alone won't do the trick, some scripting might be the next thing to consider. If you have JavaScript skills, the scripting shouldn't be too hard. If you have basic programming or scripting skills other than JavaScript, learning JavaScript to do the scripting won't be too difficult.

Kevin
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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:49 am

Thanks Kevin, this is good stuff. Yes I am a web developer, and that was another appealing thing about Sheets for me, potentially using Javascript rather than VBA. Pretty amazing to be able to throw this stuff together without having to code up a database application.

-Tim

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Re: "Quitten" - Replacing Quicken with Google Sheets

Post by tlk59 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:05 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:00 pm
We used Quicken for almost 10 years and stopped cold about a decade ago. We simply did not see any value and thought time could be used with more meaningful and enjoyable things. No regrets.
I'm envious. I'd like to be able to just let go, not hang onto all this data. But as a former accountant, I have trouble with the idea that I don't keep my own set of records. Plus if I'm trying to look up something from the past, online banking usually only has the most recent 18 months available.

As a more hands off approach, I've thought about just keeping Mint going. It has my data going back to 2012, when I started using it, though I've not fussed with it much and just used it as an online quick view thing, since I had Quicken. The tagging and searching is decent, so recently I went in and did some bulk cleanup of things like mis-categorized transactions.

Of course Mint's investment account stuff is weak, but I suppose I could just make do with Fidelity's analysis tools. Also I would have the feeling Intuit could accidentally nuke my data at any moment, so I would probably want to export to CSV as backup every now and then.

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