Personal Finance Software?

I realize this is very off topic, but you all are pretty resourceful and know good software!

I had been using Quicken 2007 (bleah!) and had tried moving over to Mint. For various reasons, I am unsatisfied.

I pretty much just need the following:

  1. The ability to output tax-related transactions when that time of the year comes.
  2. To be able to track my research-related expenses (but my research money is not large enough to be separate from my personal funds. I.e., I am not incorporated or anything)
  3. To download stuff from my financial institutions.

Thanks in advance for your help!

look at moneywell.

I have been using it for about 3 years now. Adopting its philosophy (I am not a good budgeter) has help turn my spending habits into savings habits. The iPhone app is giving me fits, but I use the mac based prog without it most of the time.

napaxton, I too am searching for a new financial app. I’ve been using Quicken for years, but I agree with you, it’s awful. I’m particularly interested in your views on Mint. I’ve been looking at it for a while now, but have yet to take the leap. Why weren’t you satisfied with it?


It may be too wonkish and pricey for your needs, but I’ve used Cognito’s Cashbook for years as a freelancer and found it solid and flexible. One of my most trusted piece of software.

I also use Moneywell successfully and would recommend you look at it. It’s does things slightly differently from Quicken et al, which takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve grasped the idea, it’s really easy to use.

It can track tax (although I don’t), it certainly does categories and it interfaces with a wide range of banks (but of course, not the one I use).

The program is based on the old idea of having named paper envelopes into which you stuff your pay at the beginning of the month. Effectively, you set a budget (‘spending plan’) identifying how much you will have each month against each ‘bucket’ (expense category - which can be flagged as taxable). At the beginning of the pay period you fill the buckets, then categorise each item of expenditure as it comes in. You could therefore easily assign a bucket for ‘research’.

This is all tracked graphically in real time, so you are constantly aware of what you have left to spend (rather than having to rely on running specific reports as most other programs do). Much of the process can be done automatically and after the initial setup the process runs smoothly.

Like Jaysen, I have found this tool to be really useful in adding some control to the process of shortening the number of days left at the end of my pay packet…


I’ll go a step further then just “extending pay”. As of this week we have reduced our overall debt overhead by about $50K (US). We did not change our “budget” but we changed how we viewed our cash flow via the graphical use of buckets (virtual envelopes). Having the big red “you overspent on eating out” right in front of us as we actually entered the data really puts you in a proactive role instead of reactive (when you run the report). This was the #1 reason I switched.

And my accountant wasn’t thrilled but she can work with our reports just fine.

Anyway, while the developer isn’t Keith, he is very responsive and attentive to user needs. Take a look at the forums and feel free to ask questions. I don’t “hang out there” unless I have a problem so if you want to ask specific questions just post here.

MoneyWell is available for another day in this bundle:

For the price of MW, you also get a bunch of other software. Having a copy of TechTool in an emergency DVD might be a good thing. And Marine Acquarium is gorgeous.

Anyway, the best way to manage your account is to win at the lottery, and have enough money not to bother or your spending.



One reason I’m not happy about Mint is that it doesn’t seem to actually allow me to run a report that I can use when doing my taxes. I’m an academic, so my income is a weird combination of salary (when employed), independent contracts, and grants (which for odd reasons get counted as income, blah, blah, blah).

I’ve not been able to figure out how to get Mint to run reports in the way Quicken 07 did. Q07 was adequate, but it runs under Rosetta, I think, and it’s clunky and slightly buggy. Otherwise, I do like Mint, but one of the things I want most is a report generator that I can use as I do my taxes. And I have tended to use the “other” online tax prep program (that’s not Intuit’s). I don’t have the disdain for Intuit that many people do, but they just aren’t really meeting my needs.

I’ll take a look at Moneywell.

I also found recs for iBank, iFinance, and iCompta. I’ll probably take a look at all/most of them, and I’ll post any huge yeas or nays that I have.

After Quicken annoyed me one too many times, I switched to Moneydance and have been running it for about seven years pretty much without issue from it or requiring much thought from me.

It’s multi-platform Java, I believe, so it’s Mac-i-ness is suspect, but it works the way you’d expect a finance program to work, and does what’s required of it, running the household finances and business finances of a writing/editing guy with 1099s instead of W2s, and the usual pathetic portfolio of mismatched mutual funds to track.

Pretty painless, as finance apps go. And the support, when needed, is both prompt and supportive.

I trred YNAB, that looks like the one with the best presentation and most useful information to me. But it refused to import my bank CSV account, suggesting me to reformat it. I’m sure my bank will change their format, if I ask them. Yuk!

MoneyWell imported the same file very - er - well. It misses diagrams showing the detail of expenses* (very useful to immdiately understand where you must start saving), and I found a series of annoying bugs. But I’m confident it is easier to ask the developer to fix them, rather than trying to convince a bank.

  • Announced for a forthcoming version.


I use Checkbook Pro from Splasm Software … it allows multiple accounts in multiple currencies, but for the moment, while I’m here, it calculates my total worth on all the accounts in RMB, even though most of it is in the UK, with the appropriate accounts in GBP — the amounts are converted using current exchange rate in producing the total. It includes the possibility of marking a transaction as tax-deductible, though whether it would meet all the needs of calculating your tax returns in full, I don’t know … I don’t earn enough to pay tax on here!

But I’ve found it very Mac-like, easy to use, and easy to customise to my needs … but then my needs are not very demanding. I have two bank accounts here, only one of which is very active, the other being a way of keeping money out of expenditure’s way; two accounts in the UK; and a “Cash account” where I keep track of my weekly cash expenditures. That’s all.

It has four panes: an entry pane; a reconciliation pane; a scheduling pane; and a summary reports pane. I don’t know of any way for it to read your bank statements directly … you have to do the checking manually from a printed or downloaded copy — perhaps it’s biggest drawback.

I’ve found that the developers have always responded within a day or so to any email I’ve sent them. There have been periodic updates, but not too frequently; on the other hand I’ve found it to be totally stable.

I’m not connected in any way, financially or otherwise, with Splasm Software.