For years, I used Quicken. It worked well on the Macintosh and had a ledger-looking interface that I loved. When I bought a computer in 2008, it came, pre-installed, with Quicken 2005 for the Mac. Awesome.
However, when I bought another computer in 2012, I discovered that Quicken 2005 was no longer being supported. I was discouraged with the Quicken Essentials for Mac. Even the new Quicken for Mac, which was just released, doesn’t do the trick for me.
After poking around a couple years ago, I found Moneydance. I am fairly satisfied with Moneydance, and while it isn’t as awesome as Quicken 2005, it is the closest thing I’ve found to it, and I still like it better than the new Quicken for Mac 2015. It’s not worth making the switch for me.
What is Moneydance?
Moneydance looks like a ledger, and that’s one of my favorite things about it. I enter my transactions manually, but it’s also possible to update with transactions from your bank, but you have to download them and import them to Moneydance using OFX, QIF, or QFX files).
You can also arrange to have your transactions automatically updated from your financial institutions, by linking accounts. I’ve never been a fan of that, since I prefer to manually enter my information.
But if you like the automatic update, and you are interested in mobile access from anywhere, Moneydance can be a great option for keeping track of your finances — including investments.
Create a Budget: You can create a budget with the help of Moneydance. When you approach the limit in your categories, they show up orange to warn you that you are close. Another great feature of Moneydance is that you have a great home screen that helps you keep track of where you stand. You can quickly see what you’ve spent so far in the month. It’s color-coded, so that you can see which categories you are spending the most on. It’s a quick and easy way to see where you stand in the month, and it’s right there when you first open the software.
Bill Reminders: Schedule reminders to pay your bills. I also use the feature that allows you to automatically enter transactions. That way, my automatic debit transactions are accounted for without a lot of thought from me. Moneydance also offers free billpay. This is one way that you can stay on top of what you owe — and when you owe it. Your upcoming bills are also represented on the home page when you open the software. There is also a handy list of bills that you owe off to the right, so that you can quickly click and see what you normally pay. Unfortunately, what’s listed is all bills past and present, so some of them might be items that you no longer pay, or that have changed.
Extensions: Interestingly, Moneydance has a public API. You can use various extensions to further customize your experience.
Investment Support: You can also track your investment portfolio with Moneydance. Customize your options, and take advantage of the possibility of specific ID of shares so you can track tax lots. Moneydance can also be set to automatically download current prices. The software also helps you perform cost basis computations and stock splits computations. It’s a quick and easy way to stay up to date on what is happening with your investments.
Graphs and Reports: Generate a number of reports that can help you keep track of your spending in certain categories. You can also generate graphs and charts that let you see your entire financial picture. While Moneydance doesn’t have tax integration, it’s still possible to sort things by category. This is what I did in Quicken anyway, breaking out business expenses and other deduction categories.
You can also get a solid idea of cash flow. I like to use the graphs that let me quickly see where my income is coming from, as well as where my expenses are going. You can get a detailed cash flow report, as well as see graphical representations. It’s a good way to keep on top of exactly what your financial picture looks like. You can look at year-to-date, all of last year, or adjust to a variety of different time periods to see where you stand.
Mobile: An iPhone app that syncs up with your desktop (via Dropbox) and allows you to enter transactions while on the go! This is pretty handy, since it means that your mobile and desktop are in sync almost immediately, so you don’t have to worry about changing it yourself later.
Moneydance works in multiple currencies and has international support. It also offers the option to password protect your information. You can try Moneydance free for the first 100 transactions, and after that you need to pay $49.99 if you want to keep using Moneydance.
What Would Make Moneydance Better?
One of the biggest complaints about Moneydance is that the transfer from Quicken isn’t all that smooth. I converted my Quicken data to a QIF, and then followed the prompts to “Import File,” and selected “From Another Program.” Most of my data transferred, along with most of my categories.
I did have some duplicate transactions to fiddle with, and for a couple months I had to make adjustments as I reconciled my account statements, but things seem to be running smoothly now.
In fact, now that I’m used to using Moneydance, I don’t want to go back. I tried the new Quicken for Mac, and it just didn’t hold up, so I decided not to switch. I’m pretty happy with the situation as it is now.
Overall, I really like Moneydance. It’s a great alternative for Quicken lovers, especially those who are disappointed with Quicken for Mac.