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Two Quicken Alternatives for Mac Users

June 11, 2008

[JUNE 9, 2009 – QUICKEN POSTED THIS BLOG ENTRY REGARDING QUICKEN FOR MAC 2010]

[CLICK HERE TO SEE MY UPDATED POST ABOUT QUICKEN FINANCIAL LIFE FOR MAC]

I’ve been a Quicken user since, well, almost as long as I’ve been a computer user.  Quicken always works well and is an awesome way to track your finances.

I became an avid Macintosh user about 3 years ago, and of course, brought over Quicken to the Mac.  I was used to programs being different between Windows and Mac.  But the Mac version of Quicken sure left a lot to be desired.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t use more than 10% of what Quicken can do.  I balance and reconcile my checking and savings account, occasionally graph what I’m spending, and that’s about it.  I belong to a local Credit Union, so I can’t download transactions or any other cool stuff like that.

The interface is definitely very “un-Maclike”.  You windoze users have no idea what I mean by that statement, but fellow Apple enthusiasts know exactly what I refer to to.  It is just plain ugly to look out.

After scanning the reviews on Amazon, I can say I’m not the only one with a low opinion of Quicken for Mac.  75 one star reviews versus 12 five star ratings.  That is a pretty big discrepancy.

I don’t know why it took me so long to start looking for alternatives.  A quick Google search and a few clicks later, I found iBank.

The moment you open up iBank, you are greeted with a beautiful Mac-like interface.   To the left are your accounts, to the right, your register.  The lower left corner contains a pie graph that represents your overall spending categories.

iBank has many features that are on par with Quicken.  From IGG’s website:

Accounts

Account types:Checking, Savings, Cash, Credit Card, Loan, Asset, Liability, and Investment accounts can all be managed in iBank.Transactions

Debt/loan management:Keep tabs on your loans with iBank’s comprehensive set of debt management tools. Track interest vs. capital, variable interest rates, and payment schedules.

Hide/show accounts:Keep your finances clutter-free by hiding unused accounts. Your historical records stay just a few clicks away, but out of sight, out of mind!

Smart accounts:Like iTunes for your money – dynamically view transactions according to account, payee, memo, amount, and/or category information.

Account groups:Organize your accounts into folders to reduce clutter and total up your balances quickly.

Account details:Set a minimum balance and be alerted when your account drops below that amount, link to your bank’s webpage, store your account number for reference, and much more.

Streamlined input:Either use the familiar check-style interface of the Transaction Editor to enter new items, or type them directly into your account register. Now featuring improved keyboard entry for mouse-free record-keeping!Categories

iSight integration:Snap a photo with your camera (or take any image or PDF file) and attach it to a transaction for a visual record of your purchase.

An ounce of prevention:Editing existing transactions requires confirmation, so that you don’t accidentally change your records when you thought you were adding new ones.

Searching and filtering:Choose from several filtering options to show only the transactions you want to see, or use the search box to locate a particular transaction.

Split transactions:When’s the last time you just bought groceries at the grocery store? Divide any transaction into several parts and categorize each one separately for more accurate record-keeping.

Memorized transactions:Tired of typing in the same deposit over and over again? Let iBank do some of the work for you – it will automatically remember each transaction you enter, and make suggestions as you type.

Scheduled transactions:Easily turn any transaction into a repeating event (like those darn utility bills!). iBank can alert you when the transaction is due to be posted to your account.

iCal integration:Post scheduled transactions to iCal for an easy reminder of upcoming expenses.

Statements:Reconcile tranactions with your bank records using a familiar statement-like interface. All unreconciled transactions now accessible to each statement.

Check printing:Fully configurable templates allow you to print your iBank transactions to any check stock, or print the whole check yourself! Now featuring a more intuitive template editor.

Fully customizable:Assign categories to your transactions to be able to track them in charts, reports, budgets, and forecasts. Use our built-in category sets for home or business, or create your own! Now sporting snazzy images for the Cover Flow view.Importing

Multiple hierarchy:Organize your categories in groups for more effective record-keeping. When creating a chart, choose to include individual sub-categories or just the main category for overall totals.

Tax support:Categories can now be assigned tax codes for easy reference – iBank can even look up the codes for you! When tax time arrives, export data on your tax categories to TXF format for use with TurboTax and other tax software.

Direct download:Connect directly to your financial institution online to download transaction updates automatically and securely.Multiple currencies

Built-in web browser:No online support for your bank? Browse to your financial institution’s website and download transactions to import, all without ever leaving iBank.

Import from Quicken:Easily import your accounts from Quicken, MS Money, and just about any other financial management program out there. Supported file formats include QIF, OFX, QFX, and CSV.

Smart import rules:Tired of the junk your bank puts into the transactions you download? Create simple rules to clean up and categorize your transactions automatically.

Work in any currency:By default, iBank uses your native currency as indicated in Mac OS X System Preferences. Add other currencies to iBank and assign them to your accounts as needed.Investments

Download exchange rates:Retrieve up-to-date exchange rates over the Internet at the click of a button.

Automatic conversion:Transfer money between accounts that use two different currencies, and iBank automatically applies the conversion for you based on current rates. Manually apply or adjust the exchange rate on any individual transaction.

Investment types:Track stocks, bonds, mutual funds, managed funds, watchlist items, and indices with ease.Analysis tools

Quote downloading:Automatically retrieve up-to-date quotes over the Internet at the click of a button. International exchanges are supported.

Portfolio view:Check the cost basis, gain/loss, current market value, and other information regarding your securities at a glance. iBank now tracks historical data and graphs your security performance over time.

Capital gains:Easily generate reports detailing profit and loss on your investments.

Smart portfolios:Dynamically group securities based on their account, payee, amount, and more. Maintain multiple portfolios for different needs.

Online portfolios:Leaving your Mac behind? Post your investment portfolios to your .Mac account and check their performance from any web browser. (.Mac account required)

Expert trading:iBank now supports short and long puts and calls, stock option trading, and more.

Beautiful charts:Get the information you need at your fingertips using dynamic charts that update automatically as you make changes to your data. View a breakdown of your income or expenses by category, see your spending habits over time, generate tables of your activity, or view a list of transactions from a specified date range. Simple and flexible.File management

Standard reports:For those times when the accountant requires you to submit your data in a standardized format, iBank includes Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, Capital Gains, and ROI (Return on Investments) reports. Print or save them to your Desktop with the click of a button.

Budgets:Set goals for your income and expenses over a specified time period, then check your progress as you go along. Easily compare past and current budget performance. Multiple budgets let you track different sets of categories for different goals.

Forecasts:Use balance trends and scheduled transactions to predict your future account balances at any date in the future. Tweak various calculation settings to get the most accurate forecast possible.

Mini-graph:See an up-to-date overview of your spending in the bottom-right corner of the main window. Double-click any slice of the pie graph to “dig deeper” and break it down into sub-categories or individual transactions.

Portability:Store all of your account data in a single data file for easy backup or transfer. Easily create multiple data files for different users.Other features

.Mac backup:Backup your iBank data to your .Mac account automatically every time you startup. (.Mac account required)

Password protection:Prevent unauthorized access to your data by requiring a password at startup.

Gorgeous interface:Track your finances in style! New Cover Flow and Thumbnail views let you browse transactions by their associated images, and redesigned charts will knock your socks off.

Notes everywhere:Add comments to just about anything! Accounts, groups, portfolios, categories, charts, budgets, forecasts, and statements can all be assigned notes to hold that extra info you just can’t afford to forget.

iPhone support:Enter transactions on the go with our iPhone companion application, available as a free download.

Dashboard widgets: iBank widgets allow you to enter transactions, check account balances, and monitor your budgets from the comfort of your Desktop. Available as a free download.

When I tried to import my existing Quicken information, I immediately ran into errors.  I visited iBank’s community forum and learned that many users have experienced the same problem.  There is a bug in the software that needs to be fixed.  Automatic strike one!

Setting up accounts was quick and easy.  iBank was easy to use.  I just had to enter all my information manually.

After using iBank for a couple of days, I’m still not sure this is a Quicken-killer.  The interface is nice to look at, but the user has to mouse his/her way around way too much to make any transactions.  The concept is great, but the execution can be better.

I found the second alternative to Quicken in a program dubbed Cha-Ching, produced by Midnight Apps. To sum up Cha-Ching in one word, it would have to be “cute”.  This is definitely a light weight challenger to the Quicken crown, but it might be exactly what I want.

There are no graphs or reports or stock market anythings.  Cha-ching is a beautiful way to keep track of your check book or savings account.  From the website: 

Accounts

a place for everything

Manage all of your checking, savings and credit card accounts in one, comfortable spot. Use the online tab to review your transactions side by side with your online banking account from within Cha-Ching. Or simply import your QIF files directly into Cha-Ching.

Budgets

all you can spend

The completely redesigned Budgets in Cha-Ching is the perfect tool to keep track of everything you are spending and earning. Simply set a couple of tag-based rules to keep track of all of your incomes and expenses and Cha-Ching sits ready at your fingertips to compile all that data into a clear and concise overview. Plan your budgets and let Cha-Ching make sure you keep to them.

Scheduler

manages your upcoming transactions

Never miss a bill again. While Cha-Ching can’t make them magically vanish, the new Scheduler keeps track of all of your upcoming transactions. Create a bill with a title, due date and repeat setting, set your tags and Cha-Ching takes care of the rest.

Smart Folders

and regular ones

Organize your money any way you want! Just like iTunes, Cha-Ching lets you create smart folders to group your data any way you want.

Interface

simply stunning

Cha-Ching has been redesigned from the ground up to offer you a simple, fun and sexy way to manage your money. Try the demo and see for yourself.

As with iBank, I had errors right away when I imported my Quicken data.  I had to enter all my scheduled transactions by hand!  Crud!  I wish Cha-Ching had iCal integration, as I need constant reminders of when bills are due.
The only absolute deal-breaker with Cha-Ching is the lack of a reconciliation tool.  You can mark transactions reconciled, but can’t actually reconcile your Cha-Ching account with your bank account.  I do this on an almost daily basis, so Cha-Ching might not work so well with me.
I plan on using all three programs for a while.  Hopefully iBank will fix some bugs, because it could be a really awesome program!


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4 Comments
  1. February 11, 2009 1:10 pm

    I recommend Money Manager Ex from codelathe. http://www.codelathe.com. It is simple and intuitive to use. They have an experimental build for Mac.

  2. Stu Thompson permalink
    February 13, 2009 6:43 am

    Thanks a zillion for your detailed post. I almost bought Quicken 2007 for Mac based solely on previous positive experience with Quick on Windows a few years back, but was cautious because of the huge discrepancies between Mac and Windows version names. (Google is my friend.) I am convinced that I would have been down right livid if I had payed for it.

    Off to play with iBank now!

    Stu

    • February 13, 2009 6:49 am

      iBank is pretty, but the functionality is a little lacking. Maybe I’m just too used to Quicken, but iBank is still takes too much mousing and too many key strokes to do basic tasks. I’m just hoping that Quicken Financial Life for Mac is good!

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