Another year, and another update of Quicken from Intuit. I bought and installed Quicken Premier 2013 from Amazon.
I’ve been a faithful user of their product since 1992 – over 20 years. We track 54 accounts within Quicken – to say I’m a power user of their product would be an understatement. We track every bank account, credit card, asset, retirement, investment, and liability.
Intuit never does radical changes with their updates. They incrementally add features to Quicken, and the enhancements tend to be evolutionally. Since Microsoft Money has been discontinued, there aren’t many other competitors in the personal finance desktop software category.
Sure there are other applications that we’ve reviewed: YNAB (You Need A Budget) or Moneydance. But neither comes close in marketshare usage, or the comprehensive personal finance features that are available in Quicken. Online, the only service that comes close is Personal Capital.
Quicken 2013 vs. Quicken 2012
Quite a few items were improved in the Quicken 2013 edition. Overall I’m happy they’ve progressed forward with the latest version and not kept their focus on solely on just Mint.com.
As I mentioned previously, the trend is to merge of what’s stored locally on your desktop to what’s available in the cloud. After two years ago stating they needed to go in this direction, Quicken 2013 finally merges Intuit’s desktop software with online availability.
Though this feature is really from the 2012 edition, the first thing I noticed right out of the box is improved connectivity problem resolution. The crutch to either Quicken or Mint is how well the application can sync data from financial institutions. It looks like Intuit is making this process much more seamless. This is a much needed improvement.
In brief, here’s what’s new and improved in Quicken 2013.
Free Quicken Mobile App
In keeping with their free personal finance service Mint.com, they now offer a similar service for Quicken users. There is an app for iPhone, iPad, and Android users. All apps are free to use and no additional cost. Hopefully this feature won’t disappear like their previous online service. Once they bought Mint.com they quickly disabled the Quicken Online service that allowed for syncing to their web site. To enable this feature you must signup and create a Quicken Cloud ID. From the mobile app you can:
- Get your accounts balances from anywhere
- Monitor your budget
- Enter transactions as they happen
Email and Text Alerts
Keep informed about any changes to your finances. Again just like Mint, you can get alerts via E-mail or via SMS text. For important issues such as:
- Credit Available – If credit available drops below a specific amount
- Bank Fees – If bank charges are over a specific amount
- Unusual Spending – If spending in any category is above average
- Large Deposits – When a deposit is over a specific amount
- Large Purchases – When you spend more than an amount
- Low Balance – When accounts go below a dollar amount
- Overbudget – If you go over your allocated budget
- Interest Rate – If the interest rate changes
- Total Credit Available – If credit usage could cause a change in your credit score
Oddly enough, they have only weekly and monthly notifications. I personally would like to get alerts on a daily basis. Just like with the mobile apps, you must also create a quicken Cloud ID to enable this feature.
Improved Loan Tracking
This was a much needed improvement over older versions. Quicken can automatically download your loan information.
This now includes loan balances and transactions, including your principal and interest. The new loan dashboard allows you to monitor your pay-off date, pay-off progress, and interest paid against your loan.
Quicken allows you to perform “What If..” scenarios to see what’s the best way to pay-off your debts. One option is to change the order of debts paid.
Lastly, but certainly not least for many users of Quicken, is their budgeting section has been dramatically improved. You can get a birdseye view of your budget by the annual view. The one neat feature added is the ability to rollover underages to the next month.
Quicken’s requirements have always been the middle to low lend-end of new computers sold. The specs listed below shouldn’t be an issue if your hardware is less than 5 years old. These are the same specs needed to run Quicken 2011. I suspect you’ll need a slightly more powerful machine than listed.
- Processor: 1 GHz
- Operating System: Windows XP SP2+, Vista, Windows 7 (32- and 64-bit)
- Memory: 1 GB
- Hard Disk Space: Up to 450 MB free space; up to 1 GB if .NET not installed
- Display: 1024×768 or higher resolution
- CD-ROM Drive: Required
- Internet: 56 Kbps (broadband recommended for online services)
- Printer: Any printer compatible with Windows XP SP2 or later
- Additional Software (included in Quicken installer): Microsoft .NET 2.0 or later; Windows Installer 3.1; Internet Explorer 6.0 or later
Using Quicken for Windows on a Macintosh
Like I stated, I’ve been using Quicken since my first MS-DOS computer. Now that I am Macintosh user, I could have used the bastardized version Quicken Essentials for Mac, but I still prefer Quicken for Windows. The Windows version is much more robust and doesn’t appear to be an afterthought in Intuit’s product line.
I run Quicken 2013 Premier by running it in a VMWare Fusion instance. The added benefit of virtualizing Windows is added security, since no other software is installed on that instance. You don’t have to worry about any rogue viruses or software compromising your finances. This technique is also possible on a Windows based machine.
The mobile option is a nice new feature to Quicken. I’m on the go a lot and like the ability to see this information in near realtime, like Mint.com. Although it doesn’t have any investing details, it would be nice if it had this option like Personal Capital’s app does. Worst case I continue to use both while mobile. I suspect future versions will even more blur the distinction from desktop to cloud-based application.
The alerts are also a welcomed addition, though I wish they offered a daily alert option. Since installing Quicken I’ve already seen four updates. While it’s great that Intuit is actively updating the product from customer feedback, it’s concerning that they have encountered so many bugs in the latest release. Most of the bugs have been related to the mobile options.
For my family we don’t actively use the budgeting feature. I do think the updates are a welcome addition for budget fanatics. The loan improvements I do use, and it is great they updated a section that hasn’t been updated in approximately ten years.
One little minor feature not mentioned in any of the advertising material is the ability to reclassify any manual account. We have a few accounts that I track within Quicken (i.e. Betterment), that previously would only be listed under the assets section. Since Betterment is an investment I would rather it be listed under the investing section. Quicken 2013 now allows you do this.
Overall this version, like previous, is an incremental upgrade, and doesn’t have any drastic improvements. If you are an existing user of Quicken and your version is a few years old, I suggest upgrading. I’m sure for many, the mobile app option is a welcomed additional feature.
If you are a new user and have a mid-level to advanced finances, I would without question recommend purchasing it. I much prefer Quicken over Mint, because it can handle a much more complex financial scenarios. Quicken can definitely grow with you when your finances become more complex.
Personal Capital is another possible option if you are looking for a purely cloud-based solution, and you have more complex investing options than Mint.com. For now though, Quicken still remains the champ of personal finance applications – locally installed or in the cloud.
Buy Quicken Online
There are many versions of Quicken to choose from. You can order and download immediately from Amazon’s web site. Save up to 40% off the list price.
Update: Per some of the negative reviews on this page, and seen on other sites we have decreased the rating from five stars, to four. Though the author of the review has not seen any of the bugs mentioned online. The overall viewpoint of the product remains the same – it is a decent update and worthy to purchase.