Not long ago I ranted about online banking and eventually found a solution that didn’t involve swearing at financial institutions. At least until I tried to download my transaction history and import it into Quicken.
OK, so I tend to put this standard practice off. I should probably do it once a month, I do it more like once every four months. Yes, I procrastinate. Look at my lawn, realize it’s true and get over it.
So the other day I went to update my transactions and Quicken started giving me incoherent errors. Stuff about not having my financial institution’s information correct, not being able to connect with Quicken.com and other errors that made no sense. I checked everything, I made sure the info I was downloading from my bank was good, I even waited a few days in case Quicken was having a temporary glitch.
Then I found this:
As of April 30, 2007, in accordance with the Quicken discontinuation policy, online services and live technical support will no longer be available for Quicken 2004 users.
Apparently Quicken 2004 is too old and so not only do they no longer support it, but I can no longer use it with any online services–i.e., downloading financial information from my bank and importing it to Quicken. I’m not sure what Quicken has to do with supporting that since I don’t interface with Quicken.com at all–I get info straight from my bank and the rest of the process can happen offline (as far as I know).
But no matter, they’ve neutered my software. And the only way I found out was three frustrating days of trying and waiting and then finally scouring their web site for info. The neutered software itself didn’t even bother to happily inform me that I need an upgrade.
Oh, and the upgrade? $70. So I need to spend $70 to continue managing my personal finances. Have I mentioned how much Quicken sucks?
With burning hatred for Quicken, I wanted to do anything but hand them $70 to de-neuter my software. I need to track my spending so I can do budgeting (not that we’re slaves to a budget or even very good at following one, but it helps me answer basic questions like, “Can we afford daycare?” and “Can we afford a second car?” More importantly, I need to track spending for tax purposes–everything from business income and expenses to all the tax stuff like home improvement and home office expenses. At the end of the year (OK, more like February or March when I meet with my tax guy) I need to be able to put together a report showing my spending and income in all those categories. Quicken handled all of this nicely, especially once I figured out how to download and import my bank info (never again will I enter every receipt by hand). It was never fun or easy (which is why I always put it off), but it did the job (until now).
I checked out web 2.0 options and came across Wesabe, which is sort of a social spending tracker kind of thing. I could care less about the social aspect, but the tracking was pretty handy and it could import my bank info. It’s free and has the advantage of being online so I could do my banking anywhere with an Internet connection (like while watching TV, as opposed to being chained to my desktop like I am with Quicken). Unfortunately, their budgeting features are lame and their tracking tools just aren’t as functional as Quicken (yet). I could make it work, but it’d involve setting up a whole new system and I’d still have to use my old version of Quicken to handle budgeting and just do a manual check to see if we’re within budget. Meh.
I considered a few other solutions, from other web 2.0 sites (few seemed to have all the features of Wesabe) to switching banks for better online services, but nobody seems to have the whole package.
But for all the activity, I don’t think anyone has figured out how to make personal finance management simple and easy. If banks were smart they’d figure out how to integrate it into their online banking services. Why download my info when I could track it all with my bank? Just give me the ability to categorize and tag transactions, let me do customized reporting and let me do budgeting. I think that’s where banks are moving (Wells Fargo is getting pretty close on the categorization, though it seems they pick the categories for you–how dumb is that?), but nobody is quite there yet.
So unless anyone has better ideas, I might be gritting my teeth and handing Quicken $70. I’d rather pay that much or more in bank fees or a subscription site that let me do everything I want, but I just haven’t found it yet.
Sigh. Why do I have to be so forward thinking?