Is Quicken worth the Investment?
Should you pay for software like Quicken?
The holiday season is upon us and for many people that means accumulating large amounts of new credit card debt, or a lot of spending in general, as we prepare to shower our loved-ones with gifts. After the holidays comes the new year, when most of us will make resolutions to finally lose weight or get our finances in order or some other similar goal. Unfortunately, the reality is that few of us ever actually succeed in following through with those New Years resolutions. Which is why it may not be wise to actually pay for a personal finance software package unless you are confident that you are going to use it consistently.
Quicken can range in price from $29.99 to $104.99 (prices as of the time of this writing), which can be a substantial investment for something you wind-up not using. Quicken, and similar software packages are very useful, and they can offer you a great deal of useful functionality, especially when it comes to visualizing your finances. But much like a stationary bike that is now used as a coat rack, the software offers little value if it goes unused.
Before opting to purchase a home finance software package like Quicken, you should first be certain that you have the time and energy to learn the program, as well as the discipline to stick with it. You may also want to check to see if your bank supports the use of Quicken. One of the best features of Quicken is that it can automatically connect to your accounts at most major banks & credit unions and automatically import all of your transaction data. This is a huge time saver and makes it much easier to stick with the regular use of the software.
If your bank does not support some form of automatic transaction download by Quicken, this means you would have to manually enter all of your transactions by hand, which is time consuming and monotonous. Even the most dedicated person is not likely to want to spend 2 or more hours per week manually updating their Quicken file. An easy way to think about it is like this, if you don't currently spend some time each week balancing your checkbook, you aren't likely to want to do it on your computer either. Sadly, many Americans don't even know how to balance their checkbooks, let alone actually do it.
Still Thinking About It?
So, you may still be thinking about taking the plunge and giving it a try. My purpose here is not to completely dissuade you from purchasing Quicken or any other software package. My purpose is simply to make sure that you understand that using the software does require some work and effort on your part, and the software will by no means put your finances on auto-pilot or solve all your financial woes.
If you are considering investing in Quicken or a similar software package, you may first want to try some of the free alternatives that are available online. If you find them useful, and you actually stick with using them for 90 days, then perhaps an investment in more comprehensive software is worth it. Or perhaps you will find that the free solutions provide you with all the benefits and features you are actually looking for, for the low price of FREE!
No one of these alternatives performs exactly like Quicken, but they do serve to help you get organized, help you set a budget, and help you visualize your financial life. All of which are common reasons people actually seek out personal finance software.
Mint.com allows its users to get a clear view of their total financial lives. From the big picture to the details that make the difference, Mint will connect to all of your accounts and let you review your transactions & balances all in one place. Mint also features a very nice interface, which is a plus.
Personal Capital offers most of the same features as Mint.com, plus options to help you plan your retirement and make wise investment decisions. You can also pay for professional service / advice for a reasonable fee.
Ace Money Lite offers many of the same features and capabilities as Quicken, but is available for free for personal use. It gets good reviews from a number of PC magazines as well as from Consumer Reports.
Regardless of why you are considering purchasing personal financial software, before you run out and spend your hard-earned cash, try one or more of the free alternatives to see how well the software will work for you and to gauge how likely you are to stick with it.
Do you plan on trying a personal finance program?
© 2014 Anthony