I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

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AllMostThere
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I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by AllMostThere »

Okay, for some time I've read a multitude of posts where fellow BH's use and approve of Quicken. The day after Christmas, Amazon was having a sale where Quicken was Bundled with a copy of TurboTax. I thought this was a good opportunity to tryout the software that ultimately cost ~ $18.50 after discounts, Amazon promotions and some digital credits. :happy After half a day of inputting my data for all my financial accounts (investment, checking, savings, cc's, etc), I believe I am now setup. So far, I am a little underwhelmed and don't really see the benefit beyond a decent account aggregation. I'm not really sure what the hype is about as I feel my self-created detailed spreadsheet does a great job of totaling my investment accounts with desired asset allocations, etc.
Questions:
How are other BH's using Quicken and what am I missing?
Are there any special functions, charts or reports I should be using to help assess my financial planning/status?
Can this SW help me analyze my spending to understand my true annual spending?
Any decent suggestions for this Quicken Newbie would be appreciated?

Thanks.
chw
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by chw »

I had the same impression as you several years ago about Quicken.

I’ve been tracking and categorizing expenses for several years now in Excel. I simply download my expenses quarterly, and the categorize them to suit my needs. Takes a few hours each quarter, but much easier than the Quicken interface, with less hassle. Also no password security issues, as some folks seem to use interfaces with various trackers that require input of passwords for the financial firms one uses (which I don’t feel is safe).
bogglizer
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by bogglizer »

I've been using Gnucash for 18 years. It's free. Of course, so is LibreOffice Calc (Excel mimic). Other than keeping track of where all the money is, I can display a pie-chart to my wife showing where all the money is getting spent. Invaluable.
retire57
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by retire57 »

Besides automatic account updates, I find Quicken useful for creating reports. Play with that feature for a bit and see what you think.

FYI, we track: monthly spending (current and past), annual spending, income, savings, net worth, unexpected expenses, and tax & insurance payments. I also created a bar graph that simply tells us at a glance whether we are continuing to live below our means.

But then ... I never met a pie chart I didn't like.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Quicken is referenced in my “death letter.” It has a lot of information about our accounts, our passwords, dates when RSUs vest, etc.

I find daily downloads useful for finding bogus CC charges. It’s a lot easier to remember “oh yeah, I used an Uber yesterday” than looking at a monthly CC bill and wondering “did I use an Uber 3 weeks ago.” It’s only happened a few times over the years, but finding fraud early is easier than having more than a month of charges to reverse (although legally not required).

I have no formal emergency fund, and Quicken is a handy way to know when I should replenish funds in checking.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by RickBoglehead »

AllMostThere wrote: Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:45 pm Okay, for some time I've read a multitude of posts where fellow BH's use and approve of Quicken. The day after Christmas, Amazon was having a sale where Quicken was Bundled with a copy of TurboTax. I thought this was a good opportunity to tryout the software that ultimately cost ~ $18.50 after discounts, Amazon promotions and some digital credits. :happy After half a day of inputting my data for all my financial accounts (investment, checking, savings, cc's, etc), I believe I am now setup. So far, I am a little underwhelmed and don't really see the benefit beyond a decent account aggregation. I'm not really sure what the hype is about as I feel my self-created detailed spreadsheet does a great job of totaling my investment accounts with desired asset allocations, etc.
Questions:
How are other BH's using Quicken and what am I missing?
Are there any special functions, charts or reports I should be using to help assess my financial planning/status?
Can this SW help me analyze my spending to understand my true annual spending?
Any decent suggestions for this Quicken Newbie would be appreciated?

Thanks.
You fail to mention the following:

- Ability to import into TurboTax next year

- Analyze expenditures year over year, noting areas that increase, to see if the increase is controllable

- Tracking of all your spending, by category, with the ability to have as many categories and sub-categories as you wish. This is invaluable for retirement planning, it allows you to take your current spending, back out things that go away, and add in things that are going to be expenses in retirement, and thereby accurately forecast your retirement needs.

Example:

Groceries:
- Food
- Non-Food
- Beer/Wine

Utilities:
- Water
- Electric
- Gas

Taxes:
- Property
- State
- Federal

Travel:
- Ski trips
- Visiting relative trips
- Warm/tropical trips

- Insurance:
- Home
- Auto
- 2020 Fancy Expensive Sportscar
- 2008 Beater
- Liability

I can tell you that many people have no clue what they are spending.
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hornet96
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by hornet96 »

The reporting abilities of Quicken simply haven’t been matched by other services yet (I’ve tried them all). I have several customized reports in Quicken that analyze free cash flow across various time periods, showing our true savings rate and sources & uses of cash. The initial setup takes quite a bit of work and a decent understanding of accounting principles (like understanding that payments to credit cards are just transfers, not expenses), but it’s well worth the effort in grabbing control over your household finances.

One key feature that I’ve never seen replicated elsewhere is Quicken’s cash flow forecasting ability. I’m able to very accurately forecast our cash flow requirements for several month’s out, which allows us to maintain less cash in our checking account and reduce cash drag.

Additionally, in Quicken you can track your true cash flows inclusive of income taxes withheld from paychecks and such, which is incorporated into a decent tax planner that allows for better tax burden forecasting. I say it’s “decent” because it’s not without a few bugs, but I’ve yet to see something better (or even existent) from another provider.

Just my $0.02. Which will be easily reconciled with today’s daily download and reconciliation that takes about 5 minutes of my time. :D
stan1
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by stan1 »

Quicken is not a simple piece of software. You have to spend time with it to learn how to use it. It has a lot of flexibility with reporting and there are a lot of customizations throughout the software. Some people don't need this complexity and would be happy with Mint or Personal Cap. Some people don't want to put the time into learning the software. It is a 1990s database not Tableau and a data lake. You have to go into the project with the mindset that you are going to figure out how to use the tool rather than getting upset because someone else wrote the software.

Quicken really does not support Boglehead asset allocation style investing (such as rebalancing bands). I do that in a spreadsheet that requires duplicate data entry of balances.

The advantage for me over a spreadsheet is that we have about 30 different checking, savings, credit card, and investing accounts with various reasons and justifications. Even at Vanguard a joint taxable, 2x individual taxable, 2x inherited Traditional IRA, 2x personal Traditional IRA, and 2x Roth IRA turns into 9 accounts (and could be more with other inherited IRAs).
Jeep512
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by Jeep512 »

I used Quicken for many years in the 90s, but not in the last 20 years. I just use a spreadsheet now, and it works fine for my needs.

In my time with it, you generally have to spend a lot of time categorizing purchases, inputting data, etc, in order to get the most out of it. Quicken also forces you to update every year by expiring important features, and I just don't like being forced to do that. When I stopped using it, it felt like I was working for the software instead of the other way around.

YMMV - everyone has different needs
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hornet96
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by hornet96 »

stan1 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:36 am You have to spend time with it to learn how to use it ...... You have to go into the project with the mindset that you are going to figure out how to use the tool rather than getting upset because someone else wrote the software. (Edited by hornet96 for brevity)
100% true. To get the true benefits of using Quicken, you have to take the time to authentically understand the software, and learn the actual correct ways of recording transactions and setting up reports to see the right picture of your financial results. This will take a fair amount of up-front time in learning the software (and proper accounting methodologies if you want to view things in an accurate and meaningful way), but once you get things setup, the ongoing maintenance of your setup requires very minimal effort, and you will have a world of financial planning capabilities at your fingertips every day. Most of the people who complain about the "clunkiness" of Quicken are those who came over from MS Money, which allowed them to set things up very easily but was generally quite deficient from an accounting methodology point of view (I know this because I assisted a septuagenarian with this transition when Microsoft was discontinuing their support).
Jeep512 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:54 am I used Quicken for many years in the 90s, but not in the last 20 years......In my time with it, you generally have to spend a lot of time categorizing purchases, inputting data, etc, in order to get the most out of it. (Edited by hornet 96 for brevity)
If that's how it was in the 90's, it is hardly true any more. All of my accounts (like 30 or so) download transactions directly into Quicken, where most of them are similar to previous transactions that I've setup as memorized payees, making classification extremely easy and efficient. I update my file every business day, which usually takes no more than 5 minutes. Of course there are rare occasions when an account stops working for some reason and you have to "reset" the online connection, but even that usually only takes 5 minutes or less to correct (and only occurs maybe 1 or 2 times a year).

I agree YMMV with how one intends to actually use Quicken and track their finances. I am a financial professional, so I understand some of this probably comes easier for me than some. For most people, a plug-and-play tool like Mint or Personal Capital would probably suffice for most of their needs, and generally requires very little effort to get up and running properly. However, for various reasons given, those tools are not nearly as complete as is needed for a more holistic financial management system. Although Quicken isn't perfect, it comes the closest IMHO to filling that need given the currently available tools on the market.
michaeljc70
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by michaeljc70 »

Though Quicken has a lot of parts to it, to me the expense/income and investment tracking are the most valuable. The downloads from all my accounts merely requires me to verify the category (over time Quicken gets pretty good at guessing the category).

I have 20+ years of data in Quicken and I find it interesting to be able to compare my spending and net worth over time. I don't know that I would call it necessary or extremely valuable. If I do see a particular category of spending spike I do contemplate if that is okay or not (I took an extra vacation and it was worth it or I've been eating out a lot and should cut back).

I can generate reports telling me how my investments performed over any time period. How does someone that doesn't have software do that? Especially if you moved your accounts around different firms over the years.

I think if you don't take the time to properly categorize things it is garbage in garbage out. For example, if you have things like "Costco" or "Target" those could be one of 10 categories (in my setup) and it isn't useful data if you don't break it down to household, groceries, liquor, prescriptions, etc. I don't spend a lot of time doing that making it perfect (no calculator), but I do roughly guess/calculate it.
stan1
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by stan1 »

michaeljc70 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:52 am I think if you don't take the time to properly categorize things it is garbage in garbage out. For example, if you have things like "Costco" or "Target" those could be one of 10 categories (in my setup) and it isn't useful data if you don't break it down to household, groceries, liquor, prescriptions, etc. I don't spend a lot of time doing that making it perfect (no calculator), but I do roughly guess/calculate it.
Add Amazon to that list. It is analogous to tracking cash back in the day when at the end of the month I'd pull anther $100 out of the ATM and have to go back and figure out where it went.

I do try to keep track of whether an item coming in from Amazon is a book, household supply, home improvement, computer, clothing, or grocery. I'm very judicious about creating new categories. I do use sub-categories.

I used to keep track of dining out at home and separately while on vacation. I changed my mind on that and only do it once as dining out. What I do now is I use a tag to identify a specific trip so I can see how much across all categories a trip cost.

If its a $10 one time purchase I don't sweat the details. If you have a hobby maybe you want to track that. If you have pets maybe you want to track that. Quicken supports split transactions but I try not to do that feature very often as it adds time to data entry. One area I do a split transaction is because my utility bill has both electric and gas on the same bill and I like to be able to break those out by season and year.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by RickBoglehead »

Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
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hornet96
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by hornet96 »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
So are Visa, Mastercard, and Amex. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with a lot of people setting up Quicken for the first time.

However, for things like Costco or Target, I generally just categorize all of those charges as "household" since that is mostly what we buy there. If I know we buy something large and unusual from one of them, I'll use the split function to get things categorized appropriately (e.g. "Electronics" for a new TV, with the rest going to "Household"). Amazon is kind of a special animal since you can get anything from them, so in order to be accurate you'll probably need to use the split function quite often.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by RickBoglehead »

hornet96 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:22 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
So are Visa, Mastercard, and Amex. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with a lot of people setting up Quicken for the first time.

However, for things like Costco or Target, I generally just categorize all of those charges as "household" since that is mostly what we buy there. If I know we buy something large and unusual from one of them, I'll use the split function to get things categorized appropriately (e.g. "Electronics" for a new TV, with the rest going to "Household"). Amazon is kind of a special animal since you can get anything from them, so in order to be accurate you'll probably need to use the split function quite often.
The proper way to categorize, IMO, is to ignore WHERE something is purchased and categorize the purchase. The store is irrelevant, and is the payee, and can be acquired that way (i.e. show me all "Target").

Groceries can be bought at grocery stores, Target, Walmart, Amazon... I divide groceries into food and non-food, which is simple by totaling the non-food and the rest is food. I put bottle deposits separate because it's easy, and breakout beer/wine because it's so expensive.
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hornet96
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by hornet96 »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:32 pm
hornet96 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:22 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
So are Visa, Mastercard, and Amex. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with a lot of people setting up Quicken for the first time.

However, for things like Costco or Target, I generally just categorize all of those charges as "household" since that is mostly what we buy there. If I know we buy something large and unusual from one of them, I'll use the split function to get things categorized appropriately (e.g. "Electronics" for a new TV, with the rest going to "Household"). Amazon is kind of a special animal since you can get anything from them, so in order to be accurate you'll probably need to use the split function quite often.
The proper way to categorize, IMO, is to ignore WHERE something is purchased and categorize the purchase. The store is irrelevant, and is the payee, and can be acquired that way (i.e. show me all "Target").

Groceries can be bought at grocery stores, Target, Walmart, Amazon... I divide groceries into food and non-food, which is simple by totaling the non-food and the rest is food. I put bottle deposits separate because it's easy, and breakout beer/wine because it's so expensive.
Yep, I agree totally. However, for a couple of payees where substantially all of the purchases represent the same category for a particular household, it is rational to simply categorize them all as "household" or "groceries" or whatever. If one really cares about further bifurcating things like "Grocery" purchases further into sub-categories like "Beer"/"Dairy"/"Frozen Food"/"Produce"/"Canned Goods"/"Meat"/etc., then more power to them, but it requires a lot more effort than most are willing to keep up with, for probably little informational value in return. Just my $.02.
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by RickBoglehead »

hornet96 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:56 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:32 pm
hornet96 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:22 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
So are Visa, Mastercard, and Amex. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with a lot of people setting up Quicken for the first time.

However, for things like Costco or Target, I generally just categorize all of those charges as "household" since that is mostly what we buy there. If I know we buy something large and unusual from one of them, I'll use the split function to get things categorized appropriately (e.g. "Electronics" for a new TV, with the rest going to "Household"). Amazon is kind of a special animal since you can get anything from them, so in order to be accurate you'll probably need to use the split function quite often.
The proper way to categorize, IMO, is to ignore WHERE something is purchased and categorize the purchase. The store is irrelevant, and is the payee, and can be acquired that way (i.e. show me all "Target").

Groceries can be bought at grocery stores, Target, Walmart, Amazon... I divide groceries into food and non-food, which is simple by totaling the non-food and the rest is food. I put bottle deposits separate because it's easy, and breakout beer/wine because it's so expensive.
Yep, I agree totally. However, for a couple of payees where substantially all of the purchases represent the same category for a particular household, it is rational to simply categorize them all as "household" or "groceries" or whatever. If one really cares about further bifurcating things like "Grocery" purchases further into sub-categories like "Beer"/"Dairy"/"Frozen Food"/"Produce"/"Canned Goods"/"Meat"/etc., then more power to them, but it requires a lot more effort than most are willing to keep up with, for probably little informational value in return. Just my $.02.
That's why I go with Food, Non-Food, Bottle deposits, and Beer/Wine.

Non-Food is taxable in most states, and has an indicator to the right on the receipt. Or you can work backwards from the tax number.
Bottle deposits are itemized on a line.
Beer/wine is easy to find and usually big.
Everything else is food.

Used to breakout coupons, but when they went away don't bother.
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marcopolo
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by marcopolo »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:32 pm
hornet96 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:22 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
So are Visa, Mastercard, and Amex. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with a lot of people setting up Quicken for the first time.

However, for things like Costco or Target, I generally just categorize all of those charges as "household" since that is mostly what we buy there. If I know we buy something large and unusual from one of them, I'll use the split function to get things categorized appropriately (e.g. "Electronics" for a new TV, with the rest going to "Household"). Amazon is kind of a special animal since you can get anything from them, so in order to be accurate you'll probably need to use the split function quite often.
The proper way to categorize, IMO, is to ignore WHERE something is purchased and categorize the purchase. The store is irrelevant, and is the payee, and can be acquired that way (i.e. show me all "Target").

Groceries can be bought at grocery stores, Target, Walmart, Amazon... I divide groceries into food and non-food, which is simple by totaling the non-food and the rest is food. I put bottle deposits separate because it's easy, and breakout beer/wine because it's so expensive.
You scour each receipt for that level of detail?
That seems like a lot of work, what do you do with that information.

I keep pretty detailed records of spending, but just do it with the granularity of each purchase. So, if I by a bunch of stuff at Target, i just use the category that most of the things i bought would be in. So, i get the total dollars right, and the categories are reasonably close enough for any actionable tasks. Keeping more detailed break down might move a few hundred (or maybe even a thousand or so) dollars around between categories. I am not sure what I would do with that level of specificity. Do you find it useful?
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michaeljc70
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by michaeljc70 »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
Of course they're not categories. I don't see anyone saying they were. The point is they sell items in a variety of categories and I suspect some people don't bother to properly categorize purchases from those stores. As I said above, I ballpark it and don't waste more than a minute on it.
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by bovineplane »

Bought for the first time this year as part of the turbotax bundle. Spent a few hours inputting accounts. Discovered that Quicken does not seem to work with Thrift Savings Plan or USAA. Likely wont buy again as most of our retirement/banking is completed between these two entities.
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by RickBoglehead »

bovineplane wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:15 pm Bought for the first time this year as part of the turbotax bundle. Spent a few hours inputting accounts. Discovered that Quicken does not seem to work with Thrift Savings Plan or USAA. Likely wont buy again as most of our retirement/banking is completed between these two entities.
https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/eft_dir ... irect=true
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Kenkat
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by Kenkat »

hornet96 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:22 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
So are Visa, Mastercard, and Amex. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with a lot of people setting up Quicken for the first time.

However, for things like Costco or Target, I generally just categorize all of those charges as "household" since that is mostly what we buy there. If I know we buy something large and unusual from one of them, I'll use the split function to get things categorized appropriately (e.g. "Electronics" for a new TV, with the rest going to "Household"). Amazon is kind of a special animal since you can get anything from them, so in order to be accurate you'll probably need to use the split function quite often.
This is what I do also. Kroger goes to Food, Wal-Mart and Target go to Household. Amazon I look at the order and use a split if needed. It’s not worth it to me to save receipts, match them up to downloaded credit card transactions and itemize them by category. Do I occasionally buy food at Wal-Mart or Household items at Kroger? Yes but it’s close enough. However, it can work however you want based on how much time you want to spend on data entry.

I think Quicken is probably weakest for me at least in tracking investments beyond a transaction level. It will tell you current balances but for asset allocation and long-term retirement planning, it’s just input to spreadsheets or the Morningstar Portfolio Tracker for me.

I do find it highly valuable for replacing the paper checkbook register, tracking expenses, capturing taxable categories for use at tax time, downloads of investment transactions, credit card transactions, tracking of loans and overall net worth. It saves me digging through a bunch of paper files or online websites looking for data to answer specific questions that Quicken makes instantly available.
maineminder
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by maineminder »

marcopolo wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:05 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:32 pm
hornet96 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:22 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 pm Costco, Target, and Amazon are not categories, they are payees.
So are Visa, Mastercard, and Amex. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with a lot of people setting up Quicken for the first time.

However, for things like Costco or Target, I generally just categorize all of those charges as "household" since that is mostly what we buy there. If I know we buy something large and unusual from one of them, I'll use the split function to get things categorized appropriately (e.g. "Electronics" for a new TV, with the rest going to "Household"). Amazon is kind of a special animal since you can get anything from them, so in order to be accurate you'll probably need to use the split function quite often.
The proper way to categorize, IMO, is to ignore WHERE something is purchased and categorize the purchase. The store is irrelevant, and is the payee, and can be acquired that way (i.e. show me all "Target").

Groceries can be bought at grocery stores, Target, Walmart, Amazon... I divide groceries into food and non-food, which is simple by totaling the non-food and the rest is food. I put bottle deposits separate because it's easy, and breakout beer/wine because it's so expensive.
You scour each receipt for that level of detail?
That seems like a lot of work, what do you do with that information.

I keep pretty detailed records of spending, but just do it with the granularity of each purchase. So, if I by a bunch of stuff at Target, i just use the category that most of the things i bought would be in. So, i get the total dollars right, and the categories are reasonably close enough for any actionable tasks. Keeping more detailed break down might move a few hundred (or maybe even a thousand or so) dollars around between categories. I am not sure what I would do with that level of specificity. Do you find it useful?
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FI4LIFE
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by FI4LIFE »

It might be helpful if those of you who track expenses could show us how you do it. What are your exact categories. Also, can quicken "learn" what category a specific credit card purchase is and import it directly from the CC statement?
maineminder
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by maineminder »

I think Quicken is probably weakest for me at least in tracking investments beyond a transaction level. It will tell you current balances but for asset allocation and long-term retirement planning, it’s just input to spreadsheets or the Morningstar Portfolio Tracker for me.
Have you looked at the investing tab? There's a page that shows allocations if you download security details.

There is also a retirement planning tool.

These could be 'premier' features.
maineminder
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by maineminder »

FI4LIFE wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:10 pm It might be helpful if those of you who track expenses could show us how you do it. What are your exact categories. Also, can quicken "learn" what category a specific credit card purchase is and import it directly from the CC statement?
Yes, if you download transactions from your credit card company it will try to categorize it based on what you did before. It's pretty good at it, I rarely need to tweek it as I appear to be fairly predictable..

As far as categories, it's really up to you how much detail you want to track. You might start with items suggested earlier; Groceries, Gas, Insurance, dining out, property taxes, charities, hobbies, home maintenance, utilities, vacations, etc.... Yes, you can get carried away and it can become a burden.
michaeljc70
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by michaeljc70 »

FI4LIFE wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:10 pm It might be helpful if those of you who track expenses could show us how you do it. What are your exact categories. Also, can quicken "learn" what category a specific credit card purchase is and import it directly from the CC statement?
It really depends on your life and what you want to track. Homeowners would probably have different categories than renters and people with kids would probably have different categories than people without. I started with the default categories and then added to them or added sub-categories as needed. For reporting I use category groups (though it shows detail under each group). My category groups are: Income, Food & Entertainment, Health, Housing, Purchases and Transportation.
JBTX
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by JBTX »

I've used quicken for 20+ years. While it isn't the smoothest most sophisticated software in the world, it is the only thing that can do all the things it does, AFAICT.

Both me and DW have multiple retirement accounts, and a couple of taxable accounts. Then I have dozens of credit cards as I play the credit card bonus game, and a growing number of bank accounts for the same reason (although I've only been doing that for a couple of years). I set up all of those accounts for auto download. Without quicken I'd have to login to 40ish accounts and review or download transactions or look at statements. With quicken I download everything usually once a week, and in he process it allows me to review all payment and investment transactions. I rarely look at a statement. Quicken also downloads the account balance and share balances which helps to make sure you are reconciled.

Other ways I use it:

Reports:

- cash flow report by category. Helps me to see what we are spending and how much. But mainly how much we are saving. I don't spend a lot of time digging into expense categories.

- net worth report modified to show only cash accounts and credit cards. You can run it with months or weeks as columns. It shows me if we are building or depleting liquid reserves and since you have credit card activity in there it is accurate to within a couple of days.

- net worth reporting, current balances by account. All securities prices are updated when I download data.

- my portfolio is more complicated than it needs to be, but I can run a report by investment class and figure out what my asset allocation is. Quicken will download asset class and allocation data for most funds

- occasionally I may want to look up something. When was my daughters last oil change, for instance.

- I've used it to compile information for a couple of class action lawsuits.

- useful for tracking medical expenses in the instances where deductible.

- tracking business expenses when self employed.


Sure, most of that could be done with spreadsheets (except for auto download of 40 accounts). I like spreadsheets. I build them at work. I use them every day. But not everything that can be done by spreadsheet should be done by spreadsheet. I see that at work everyday. "Excel Hell" is a real thing.

I have to scratch my head when people choke on a $40 per year subscription (to track 6 and 7 figure portfolios) like a cat does a fur ball.

Even if I had one investment account with a target date fund, one credit card and one bank account I'd still use quicken.

Things I don't use it for:

- budgeting - I don't do much line item budgeting anyway, and I found the budgeting tool cumbersome. I would have had to reorganize my spending categories to use it more efficiently.

- bill pay - the very few bill pays I do use I use bank bill pay. Mostly auto pay.

- download to turbotax. There is so little info to download, I'm not sure what the point is. Basic entry into turbotax is not time-consuming. The time consuming aspect of tax is if I had deductible medical expenses or am self employed doing schedule C (which I would get from quicken)
You Know What I Mean
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by You Know What I Mean »

maineminder wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:14 pm
I think Quicken is probably weakest for me at least in tracking investments beyond a transaction level. It will tell you current balances but for asset allocation and long-term retirement planning, it’s just input to spreadsheets or the Morningstar Portfolio Tracker for me.
Have you looked at the investing tab? There's a page that shows allocations if you download security details.

There is also a retirement planning tool.

These could be 'premier' features.
Agree with the above.

And if you want to go beyond the broad Asset Classes that Quicken has, you can use the Type field for each security to identify more granular classes. For example, the ETF securities VXUS (Total International) and VWO (Emerging Markets) would both be in Quicken's "International Stocks" Asset Class. I've added Security Types "Stck-4N Lg" for VXUS and "Stck-4N EM" for VWO to refine the asset class.

Then under Reports, select Investing and then Portfolio Value. Once the Portfolio Value report is generated, select Subtotal by "Security Type" and you can see the report figures and the graph organized by the Security Types you defined.
gtd98765
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by gtd98765 »

bovineplane wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:15 pm Bought for the first time this year as part of the turbotax bundle. Spent a few hours inputting accounts. Discovered that Quicken does not seem to work with Thrift Savings Plan or USAA. Likely wont buy again as most of our retirement/banking is completed between these two entities.
I asked the TSP people about Quicken years ago. The response was that there were no plans to add Quicken downloading to TSP since it would cost money for software development (and maybe license fees to Quicken?); since only a minority of TSP owners used Quicken, they did not think it was fair to burden all TSP owners with these costs that only a minority of owners would use.
stan1
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by stan1 »

gtd98765 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:37 pm
bovineplane wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:15 pm Bought for the first time this year as part of the turbotax bundle. Spent a few hours inputting accounts. Discovered that Quicken does not seem to work with Thrift Savings Plan or USAA. Likely wont buy again as most of our retirement/banking is completed between these two entities.
I asked the TSP people about Quicken years ago. The response was that there were no plans to add Quicken downloading to TSP since it would cost money for software development (and maybe license fees to Quicken?); since only a minority of TSP owners used Quicken, they did not think it was fair to burden all TSP owners with these costs that only a minority of owners would use.
Agree TSP is a bit of a pain especially Roth with catchup contributions which gives you 3 buy transactions to manually enter each pay period.
exarkun
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by exarkun »

bovineplane wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:15 pm Bought for the first time this year as part of the turbotax bundle. Spent a few hours inputting accounts. Discovered that Quicken does not seem to work with Thrift Savings Plan or USAA. Likely wont buy again as most of our retirement/banking is completed between these two entities.
I've used quicken with USAA for years with no problem.
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MN-Investor
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by MN-Investor »

For me, I use Quicken to keep track of my checking accounts and credit card charges. That's it.

Once a year (maybe mid-year too, if I'm curious) I export the data to Excel and figure out what expenses for the year look like - summarizing insurance, taxes, etc. but having a large lump sum for other. That suits my purposes.

I've never downloaded data into it. Once a week or so I'll input my credit card charges and checks, but there aren't that many, so it's pretty simple. When my husband was alive, I might have a question about a charge of his, but that was exciting as it got.

I suppose I could do portfolio stuff with it, but I prefer to keep all that data in Excel. Just my way of doing things.
The key to success - Save early, save often, invest well.
michaeljc70
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by michaeljc70 »

A couple of the last posts presented an interesting perspective. You have Quicken saying they need to collect $$$ from subscribers to keep up the downloading (after all, that is what is shutoff if you don't renew) yet financial institutions have to pay to provide this data? As I understand it, there is an API (software standard format) that companies can choose to implement or not. Of course, it costs money to implement this. But as far as I know, they are not paying Quicken money directly for their accounts to be supported in the app. Please correct me if I got this wrong.
tlk59
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by tlk59 »

hornet96 wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:00 am One key feature that I’ve never seen replicated elsewhere is Quicken’s cash flow forecasting ability. I’m able to very accurately forecast our cash flow requirements for several month’s out, which allows us to maintain less cash in our checking account and reduce cash drag.
Yep, and it gives a lot of flexibility in which collection of accounts you want to project. Quicken is pretty weak at budgeting, but we really don't feel the need for a hardcore budgeting tool. The cash flow forecasting is the perfect option.

I used to use the Calendar view for this, but since I switched from Windows to Mac/2017, the math on the calendar is not correct. So I was forced to switch to the line graph on the Bills tab. I actually prefer that now.
Grasshopper
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by Grasshopper »

35 posts and no one has mentioned Lifetime Planner, I think this is under utilized but a great retirement planning tool. Retired almost 15 years now and I will go and change different assumptions to make sure I am on tract to bounce that last check.
GFD45
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by GFD45 »

Grasshopper wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:18 pm 35 posts and no one has mentioned Lifetime Planner, I think this is under utilized but a great retirement planning tool. Retired almost 15 years now and I will go and change different assumptions to make sure I am on tract to bounce that last check.
This!!!!! IMO. The Lifetime Planner and Tax Planner are the best benefits of new subscription version Quicken. If you really dig in and learn these tools, there is no need to hire any kind of financial planner/adviser. Including fee-only. It is not perfect, but many updates and fixes were made to these Quicken tool sets. I'm planning on early retirement in a few years and these help me immensely with all aspects. I use the tax planner to figure out my Roth Conversion amounts up to the end of the 12% tb. Also, as discussed greatly on this wonderful website, I will use the lifetime planner to help with maneuvering around the AHCA cliff during retirement. These are incredible tools!!!!
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OAG
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by OAG »

Used Quicken Deluxe for years but find that a Spreadsheet in LibreOffice (Free) and/or Microsoft Money Deluxe (Free) work well.
OAG=Old Army Guy. Retired CW4 USA (US Army) in 1979 21 years of service @ 38.
retire57
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by retire57 »

exarkun wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:01 pm
bovineplane wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:15 pm Bought for the first time this year as part of the turbotax bundle. Spent a few hours inputting accounts. Discovered that Quicken does not seem to work with Thrift Savings Plan or USAA. Likely wont buy again as most of our retirement/banking is completed between these two entities.
I've used quicken with USAA for years with no problem.
Same here.
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AllMostThere
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by AllMostThere »

GFD45 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:46 pm
Grasshopper wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:18 pm 35 posts and no one has mentioned Lifetime Planner, I think this is under utilized but a great retirement planning tool. Retired almost 15 years now and I will go and change different assumptions to make sure I am on tract to bounce that last check.
This!!!!! IMO. The Lifetime Planner and Tax Planner are the best benefits of new subscription version Quicken. If you really dig in and learn these tools, there is no need to hire any kind of financial planner/adviser. Including fee-only. It is not perfect, but many updates and fixes were made to these Quicken tool sets. I'm planning on early retirement in a few years and these help me immensely with all aspects. I use the tax planner to figure out my Roth Conversion amounts up to the end of the 12% tb. Also, as discussed greatly on this wonderful website, I will use the lifetime planner to help with maneuvering around the AHCA cliff during retirement. These are incredible tools!!!!
OP here. This is the type of feedback I was looking for. I just entered my data for Lifetime Planner and will be experimenting with this tool. I didn't know this even existed. Next up is the Tax Planner tool! Others, please keep the feedback coming on other useful tools and tips.
corpmd
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Re: I Bought Myself Quicken - Now What?

Post by corpmd »

Having first bought Quicken for DOS thirty years ago it seems fair to surmise that it has been of use to my wife and me.

We started with it when I was in medical training and had 5 minutes every three days to quickly update each other on our spends so we did not over draw accounts. At that time you had to hand enter, so it forced me to tell my wife what I had spent. At the time, we had to monitor what I even spent in cash for lunch. (I ate a lot of hot dogs in those days.) Years later, the automatic download from banks saves all hand entry and has been robust for more than 20 years. But the same process pertains. We ask each other what x expense was for, especially in credit cards. If neither of us has an answer, then the expense was either fraud or something we forgot. (It is well understood that her hobby spends lead to no further conversation in return for no discussion about my hobby spends.) :happy Like other posters, we have caught fraud this way several times.

In the medical world, Atul Gawande has taught the value of checklists to control medical safety. Consider Quicken an easy and valuable financial checklist for safety of your transactions.

With this many years of entry Quicken is oddly also a bit of a diary for us... For example: When did we go to Hawaii? How many days were we on the big Island? How much did we give the kids at Christmas last year? Are the dogs getting old and sick...

Further systematically:

I will walk from left to right across the toolbar and across the Quicken modules since the OP is asking where to orient to find useful things.

The banking and credit cards transactions system along the left side, coupled with electronic downloads offer a time efficient automated data entry process for our 5 accounts. Excel can certainly handle this but then you have to spend your time programming. (Time is also money.) Quicken pulls well from the mainstream accounts we use. Data entry time becomes zero with zero programming time. I suspect that the less mainstream your accounts are the less well the automated downloads will work.

With no intent to endorse anything, Bank of America, Chase, Barclay’s and American Express have all downloaded fine for many years. My local credit union - not so much. There have been many expressions of frustration over this in online blogs. The links have broken for all these accounts at one point or another so I mostly go directly to the account site and download from the site into Quicken rather than use the one step update system. The one site that has never lost any connectivity at all at any time for me is Fidelity. It seems that Fidelity and Quicken talk to each other!

So do set up all online downloads for all accounts. But expect that the electronic link will be broken at some point for many. When it is, don’t panic or get frustrated by trouble shooting. Just stop the automated download and go to the web site for the account. All of them have a way to directly download into Quicken using its proprietary file formats. (Or you can call the service centers for the account sites and quicken and listen to them blaming the other for several hours.)

Duh - backup every damn time you use it. And probably about every 15 minutes while using it. backups are under the file menu of course. Quicken has an unexpected automatic save with every hit of the entry button. That means that if you have made a mistake in entering data the easiest way to fix the mistake is actually to re-load the most recent backup. So for me using Quicken: “Save” means “backup.” This is a quirk compared to almost all other software.

I have a bias that Russian hackers are more likely to spend time trying to break security at online aggregator sites rather than going after my hard drive as a single user. You will find tons of debate on that point. I would suggest that this is a simple “to each his/her own” choice. This is true for me throughout reflections on Quicken versus other “free” online resources. So in practice it means I don’t use any of Quicken’s online tools like mobile and web. The iPhone app has not been worth any time spent by me. And my accounts are “powered off” on my own hard drive most of the time.

The “HOME” screen is generated with no work. The “calendar” on the HOME screen is a quick checklist of expected events on its own and is worth an Atul Gawande checklist look periodically. Likewise the spending screen. All easy checklists that require no work other than the automated download. For example, did the Chase credit card payment go through?

The combination of the “PLANNING” and “BILLS AND INCOME” modules are a great tool to manage cash flow from bank accounts into investment/retirement accounts for me. The “budgets” module is quirky but good enough to generally assess how much extra income might be available to move into investment/retirement accounts per month/year/pay period. What was unexpected for me was the “projected balances” in the “BILLS and INCOME.” The time spent to use “manage manual bills and income” was well worth it. As your history builds in Quicken and you refine the bills and payments it tracks, the “projected balance” screen becomes quite good for deciding when to transfer money out of checking into investments and retirements. The budget guides how much might be available. The projected balance projects how much is available when. This is also again a good Atul Gawande financial checklist. It forces me to check if my wife or I have set up the credit card transfer this month. I would guess we have prevented unnecessary penalty or interest payments at least 2-3 times a year. (Yes we pay all accounts in full Immediately and never carry a balance.) And again is also a great communication tool in our marriage.

I will reiterate that the budget tool is quirky. Give it time. It will grow on you. It is probably worth letting Quicken assign its category to anything it automates rather than trying to impose your choices on it. For 2/3 of our spends, the Quicken categorization is good enough.

Other things in the “PLANNING” module: We don’t need “debt reduction.” The lifetime planner is very crude, but helped me build my own model in Excel by setting out a general program. I agree with other posters that it is worth a look. I find the “Tax Center” very useful. I use my own Excel spreadsheet tax projection model, the IRS online tax projection site and Quicken to project yearly taxes. I update all three estimates quarterly to plan estimated tax payments. Quicken tends to teach me what new tax law updates need to be entered into my Excel model. The IRS site back checks the other two. This has been very valuable to plan estimated taxes. On how Quicken pays for itself .... this helps prevent payment of a tax penalty and interest if you get your estimated taxes wrong.

If you read enough blogs you are likely to find that most flaming of Quicken around the investment module. I suspect experience varies depending on the affinity of your investment account sites for Quicken. Quicken plays very well with Fidelity. Since most of my wife’s and my accounts are at Fidelity this is a great module. Based on three historic jobs I have accounts spread across company pension funds, TIAA-CREF, various IRAs, my wife’s accounts and mine. We have 14 accounts to integrate. Could this be done by downloading into an Excel spreadsheet - sure. At the cost of time programming it yourself of course.

Again going left to right for screens within the “INVESTMENT” module: The “portfolio” screen gives me an instant table of all 14 accounts using views by account, by asset class, by security class, or by individual security. In one click you can sort by market value or average return. I never found changing among all those views doable in Personal Capital or in any spreadsheet I wrote. And again automated data uploads make data entry trivial. The “Portfolio analysis” screen uses Morningstar to assess sector allocation. If you are Bogleheads index investing this is not particularly needed unless you want some kind of sector tilt like REITs. Then it integrates across accounts nicely. (Actually, the Fidelity Full Portfolio view with its sector analysis seems better for this task.) The “performance” screen is nice but not critical. It does what you would expect with no work. It’s nice when the lines are going up... I try not to look when they are going down. (= buy and hold) The key feature for me is the “allocations” screen. Since the fixed asset:securities rationale for each of the 14 accounts we have differs (tax deferred versus investment accounts) the instant calculation of the broad categories immediately drives the choice of where the next purchase should go after transfer of cash. With every two week paychecks on Friday, an immediate transfer of cash to Fidelity that arrives Monday, the choice of what to purchase (bonds or stocks, small or large, foreign or domestic, or REIT) is instantly informed by Monday afternoon. If asset allocation is the main controller of your financial destiny (as I read here) Quicken helps me control it.

I have not found much to use in the “property and debt” module. One house and two cars are pretty simple. The net worth hopefully just gives you pleasure if it is going up. I would think most advisors would tell you to assess your net worth at infrequent intervals. So the immediate and instant update is mostly for amusement. If you are a bogleheader I would think the debt module has only limited utility. It’s ok but unnecessary for tacking our mortgage.

I hope this is a direct and systematic answer to the question about what to explore in Quicken as a new user. Using it to communicate in our marriage has been worth gold over a long (and financially happy) timespan together. Using it as a checklist for financial events has definitely repaid its cost for us. Using it as a planner for cash flow from spending accounts into investment and retirement accounts has to have shortened the time from receipt in paycheck to actual investment. I am surprised by how few “flame” posts have occurred in this blog chain. (Which also led me to risk posting.) There are lots of folks who seem to live to flame Quicken because it charges for use. My life experience is that you often get about what you pay for things... I don’t want even one investment firm to shill for its services (Personal Capital). I am very good at Excel after a life in science, and love its puzzles and control. But time is valuable so Excel versus Quicken is more of an “entertainment and control” choice versus a “just get it done” one.

The Quicken download into Excel has always been easier for me than manually updating into Excel as the primary data entry system.

I echo that the reports are generally helpful. The most useful one to me is the “maturity dates for bonds and cds.” It pulls them together nicely in a manner that helps plan and maintain CD and bond ladders.

I rarely print out the budget. The on-screen budget views are pretty good on their own. If I want to impose my will on the Quicken budget module, it is trivial to export to Excel and re-categorize to your heart’s content.

One interesting phenomenon I note is that Quicken handles CUSIPS pretty well for CDs and bonds. it downloads the CUSIP well for me (again from Fidelity). It updates the daily value very well. The ability to manually override corporate, government etc details in the information has been really valuable compared to other choices.
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