A survival guide for investors who use Microsoft Money

•MoneyDance. Of all the Money and Quicken alternatives, this one looks the most promising. The software tracks not only your spending and savings, but your portfolio. It's based on the Java operating environment, so it runs on a Mac as well as a Windows PC. The software also allows "extensions," which allow different developers to bolt on new capabilities.

But there are downsides. Importing Microsoft Money data is complicated and requires lots of scrubbing to fix errors during the transfer. Java is kind of a dated platform. The software is somewhat complicated and the features limited.

•AceMoney. Microsoft Money users will feel somewhat at home with AceMoney. The software uses the same "browser-like" navigation Money users got used to. It's pretty stripped down, but handles the basics.

But the downsides are killers. For instance, the reports are basic and inadequate. In fact, the software lacks any useful report for investors. There is no report that breaks down your portfolio's asset allocation or capital gains.

One reason Microsoft is abandoning Money is the trend that pushes users to track their personal finances online at sites like USATODAY.com, or your bank or brokerage. That might be a decent option for you if you:

• Tend to keep just a few accounts and stick with the same banks or brokerages for a long time. With online systems, you may lose your historical financial data if you switch to another bank or brokerage firm.

• Are not concerned about online security. Some online services require you to enter user names and passwords for your various accounts if you want to import data. As the multiple breaches against credit card companies have shown, security should be a concern. You want to be sure you trust the company you're handing your information to.

If you want to try online personal finance tracking, a good place to start is with your bank. You are probably paying your bills online there already. And if you're not you should be.

Many banks are beefing up their online personal finance capabilities. Many offer the tracking capabilities provided by Yodlee.com. If you're not willing to change banks or want to see how the system works, you can give the Yodlee system a test here.

There are also independent third parties. Mint.com is gaining lots of attention and it does have a slick interface. But, currently, the system isn't geared for investors and doesn't allow you to track multiple lots of stock. That's a deal killer. In addition, Mint doesn't let you manually enter transactions, nor can you import historical transactions from Microsoft Money or Quicken.

If you're thinking about switching from Money to Quicken, come back to Ask Matt later. I plan to write a more in-depth column on how Money users can make the transition to Quicken.

Matt Krantz is a financial markets reporter at USA TODAY and author of Investing Online for Dummies. He answers a different reader question every weekday in his Ask Matt column at money.usatoday.com. To submit a question, e-mail Matt at mkrantz@usatoday.com. Click here to see previous Ask Matt columns. Follow Matt on Twitter at: twitter.com/mattkrantz

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