Monday, January 12, 2009

iBudget?

Any real alternative to Quicken has to support individual budgets for individual months. For example, my power bill ebbs and flows with the season. Likewise the water bill - no need to water during winter in the Pacific Northwest. Property taxes are due once a year - sure, I save up all year long, but I only pay it out in November. In the words of Dave Ramsey, we're not working with "the perfect budget from heaven," but rather where is this month's money really going?

So far, the programs that I've looked at both start with 'i' - iBank (downloaded) and iCash (just looked at manual). And, both of them assume monthly budget amounts - i.e., the same for all months of the year. That makes them both non-starters. Boo!

And I found a blog post that says the iBank has very limited online data downloading. Again, boo.

2 comments:

bnaylor said...

Hi. Love your reality blog (Quicken for Mac DOES suck!).

I’ve used Quicken since the late 80s or early 90s, and I worked for Intuit supporting TurboTax and Quicken in the mid-90s … and am abandoning Quicken and all Intuit products as fast as I can. Over two years ago, I switched to a Mac and, like others, was very disappointed to find that Apple has a glaring hole in their software portfolio -- personal finance management.

I won't trouble you with all of the issues that I've had with Quicken on the Mac -- they were many, and the last few were show-stoppers. Bottom line -- Quicken is dreadful on the Mac platform. And, just when I thought that no company could do a worse job of support and service, to my amazement Intuit botched the Quicken Financial Life for Mac roll-out (multiple delays, no communications, failed to meet expectations that they themselves established, on and on). And, with a barely beta edition available (or it had been), it's clear that the new software is woefully inadequate.

It took me too long to realize that Intuit flat-out doesn't care about Apple users. Look at their portfolio - they are a Windows shop, period. I can accept that; but, it's insulting to have Intuit founder Steve Cooke continue to serve on the Apple board of directors (he is also on Google's board).

So, I finally decided that I will never give Intuit any more of my business. But, pickin's are slim for personal financial software on the Mac. I bought iBank with great expectations, only to be greatly disappointed. Their online downloads do not work and they lack the clout of Intuit (Quicken) and Microsoft (Money) to engage the banks to work out the problems. iBank told me it was a bank problem, and the banks told me it was an iBank problem. How frustrating. MoneyDance is apparently down to a one-man operation … not a good situation for the long term. My Money has a great user interface but is an immature product - basic reporting functionality is absent (i.e. not even possible to run a “category” report to track spending / budgets). And, it bombed just as bad as iBank. Honestly, given all the great features of Mac computing, this is a really terrible situation. Apple needs to internally develop a solution as part of the iWork package … much like they did with Numbers and Keynote, and like Microsoft did with their Money product — internalize it to control quality. I suspect that, with Cooke on the board, there may be problems in doing so. So what to do?

I recently tried Mvelopes and like it: it's an online subscription service (I rationalized my bias against online storage of my financial data and am now of the mindset that my data is safer there than on my laptop), free 30-day trial, REAL click-to-chat SUPPORT (support is quite poor with Quicken and all of the other Mac money applications that I tried. Mvelopes support was instant, and the techs were knowledgeable, friendly and helpful) . Mvelopes has online bill pay, so I am discontinuing Quicken Bill Pay after 10-years. Mvelopes downloads all of my accounts - flawlessly, no glitches, and THEY resolve issues with the banks, not me. And, rather than having to pay $3 per month per institution for OFX downloads, Mvelopes grabs and processes QIF files, which don't cost anything.

My years of faithfully entering data, categorizing it, and reconciling all of my accounts hasn't made me any better off financially. Mvelopes is not an "accounts" based solution like Quicken (I never really wanted to be an accountant!); but, instead, it provides a tool to manage spending. It works great for me trying to manage spending between my wife and I using multiple credit cards and bank accounts. For someone with a complicated investment portfolio, Mvelopes probably isn't a good tool for you (keep lookin'!).

So, my suggestion is to take stock and do a quick reality check -- there has been NOTHING in the last 18-months or more to demonstrate any interest in serving Apple users on the part of Intuit. None, nothing, nada. Don't waste any more time waiting and waiting and waiting for Intuit to deliver a product that is likely to be sub-standard anyway. Move on and find an alternative that works for you. If you use Windows on your Apple, get Quicken for Windows or MS Money. If you do not run Windows on your Apple, please take a hard look at Mvelopes. I'm using it and sticking with it. Good luck.

- Bob

Mel said...

Bob: Seems that your last solution -- keeping the Quicken on a Windows VM on MacIntel -- is problematic as well. Worked for a while, but now crashes each time I try to view one particular account. Thought the fact that it was on Windows XP in Parallels made no difference, but after hours with Quicken support (they actually did try) and no resolution they finally asked about what kind of computer the Windows was running on -- and once I told them they said they do not offer support since there are issues such as the one i was having -- and they dropped me faster than you can imagine.

At first I thought they were just disowning a problem they could not solve, but a search of messages on different boards indicate that QW running on Windows VM eventually causes problems like mine.

So bottomline: the fall back position doesn't work unless you keep your old Windows system operating....