To put it simply, Quicken stinks!
I’ve been a longtime user of the accounting program, as I’ve mentioned in my Quicken reviews over the years. In fact, I’ve been using Quicken since it was a Microsoft MS-DOS product (over 25 years ago).
But due to the lack of new features, functionality, the software’s quirkiness, constant upgrades, bugs and somewhat uncertain future — it’s unfortunately time for me to say good-bye to Quicken.
Here’s what I’m using instead.
In my testing, I’ve always enjoyed using Personal Capital, as it allows me to see my entire financial picture and investment portfolio at a glance.
So much so that we even recommend it as one of the best investment apps available today.
Previously, I held on to using Quicken because I have a long history with the product and I liked the idea of keeping my financial data locally on my desktop computer. The mobile access within Quicken is a neat feature but never worked exactly to my liking, so I primarily used the desktop version.
However, in the past few years my needs have changed, and I now want the ability to access my personal finances on the go. That’s made Personal Capital all the more appealing.
Quicken Usage Is Declining
Investor Junkie’s visitor traffic is a good indicator of the personal finance app space. I study the trends, read user comments and see which apps are gaining in popularity and which are losing market share. Year over year, I’ve noticed much less visitor traffic going to our Quicken reviews and an increase of visitors to our review of Personal Capital.
I’m sure that in some small part this is related to some of the negative issues expressed about the product. More importantly, I believe that user demographics and what people now expect when managing their personal finances are changing.
Like it or not, individuals and investors alike (especially Millennials) want convenience with up-to-the-minute access to their finances. We want to be able to access our finances anywhere, anyplace and at any time. Quicken is a legacy application that has added some mobile functionality, but in reality it is still primarily a desktop application.
Unless Quicken is completely rewritten, it will never be like its sister service, Mint.com. Now that we know that Quicken has been sold, perhaps the new owner will improve it.
Quicken Might Switch to an Annual Subscription
Quicken recently released their Quicken Canada version. That version has been pared down to just two editions of the software: Quicken Cash Manager and Quicken Home & Business. More importantly, Quicken Canada is now an annual subscription. With the older versions, you had a three-year sunset before you were forced to upgrade. Now you must pay an annual fee or Quicken is no longer usable.
Also gone is buying through retail outlets. The software is now available only directly from Quicken. So discounts from third-party retailers like Amazon will disappear, which we show can typically be up to 55% off the retail price. To get an idea of the price increase, Quicken Cash Manager is $39.99 per year, and Quicken Home & Business is $89.99 per year.
For individuals like me who want the investment features, you must use Quicken Home & Business. Quicken Cash Manager is primarily for budgeting and bill paying only. The $89.99 annual fee is a steep price increase from the approximately $65 I would pay every three years.
While it’s not a proven fact yet that the U.S. version of Quicken will change to an annual subscription model, I’m sure they are testing it out with Canadian customers first before making the change to their larger and more profitable audience. If this is the case, Quicken will no longer be the bargain it once was. Existing Quicken users will have to pay an “annual toll” to keep using the product; otherwise, your data is read-only.
Why Not Use Mint Instead?
You may be questioning my decision to use Personal Capital instead of Intuit’s Mint service. Both are free services. As I mention in my review of Mint.com and comparison of the two products, it is great for budgeting but lacks the feature I deem most important: investment monitoring. I don’t need the ability to budget and in fact don’t adhere to the traditional idea of budgeting. I need a program that caters to my need for an overarching financial picture and long-term investment plan.
Mint also uses the same synchronization service that Quicken uses, so logically I would expect similar problems when syncing up to the same financial intuitions. Based upon those two issues alone, the only obvious choice was Personal Capital.
Even as a free service, Personal Capital just seems to get it right when it comes to online reporting and using Yodlee as their back-end synchronization.
To steal a quote from Steve Jobs, Personal Capital “just works.”
Even though I’m a “techie” at heart, I despise dealing with technology problems. For me, a technology solution decreases in its usefulness if the negatives outweigh the benefits. Lately, Quicken has become quite a nuisance.
One of the negatives with many of the online personal finance apps are the transactions, unfortunately, are read-only. For example, I cannot upload my historical financial data, which also means I can’t reconcile my bank statements, nor can I use a Bill Pay feature through their service. However, these negatives are less of an issue today, since many of the big banks now have online bill pay.
In addition, most banks, brokerages, loans, utilities and credit cards allow you to pay directly by entering your bank account information. So Quicken’s Bill Pay feature isn’t as necessary as it was in the past. For these reasons, and for my needs, Quicken no longer fits the bill, and I’ve switched to using Personal Capital.
I believe desktop personal finance apps have long ago seen their peak and will continue to decline in usage. The writing is on the wall. Longstanding personal finance applications like Quicken will have to adapt or die. Otherwise, they will become more and more of a niche application.