Considered one of the most powerful personal finance software programs available for your desktop, users have long relied on Quicken as their primary source of financial management. Though Quicken has a storied history (the first version was released in 1983) some consumers have expressed frustration with Quicken’s lack of desire to innovate, clunky synchronization tools and limited mobile compatibility.
Whether you were previously a Quicken junkie and ready to test the waters or you’re looking at options for your first financial planning software program, consider these five alternatives to Quicken before you commit.
Quick Look: Alternatives to Quicken
- Personal Capital – Open a Free Account
- YNAB (You Need a Budget) – Learn more
- Banktivity 7
What is Quicken?
Originally produced by Intuit, Quicken is a one-stop-shop for personal financial management. Quicken allows you to link your credit cards, bank statements, investment accounts, savings accounts, assets and liability accounts in one, simple place.
Quicken offers a robust range of financial and investment management tools, from bank-supported bill pay, bill tracking to debt-reduction tools. Quicken does it all and has even increased the power of its mobile app, which allows you to set up budgeting alerts and reminders that go where you do.
New features for the latest edition of Quicken include the option to enroll in a Quicken membership program (in lieu of paying an annual fee), a partnership with Cloud storage site DropBox (offering users an extra 5 GB of storage to backup data), improved analysis tools, options to directly export data to Excel spreadsheets and integration with additional billing companies.
Why Quicken Might Not Be Right for You
You Value Mobile Compatibility
Though Quicken has upped its mobile game in 2019 with improved alerts, the platform is still heavily dependent on the desktop platform. If you want to use Quicken on your phone, you’ll need to purchase and set up the desktop version before syncing it with your mobile phone or tablet. If you only use a tablet or smartphone to handle your personal financial management, there is currently no way for you to use Quicken.
You Need Intuitive Software and Interfacing
For business owners who track multiple expenses to spreadsheet nerds that drool at the thought of well-organized data, Quicken’s extensive range of tools and features are a dream. However, if you’re looking for your first budgeting and management tool, Quicken’s never-ending list of functions can be overwhelming.
If you need a simple layout and a program to handle the encoding for you, Quicken might not be your best option.
You Need a Budget-Friendly Option
If budgeting and saving is your main priority, a program with an annual subscription fee of $105.99 might not be the best choice. It’s hard to justify with plenty of low-cost and free options that handle budgeting just as well as Quicken.
You Want Responsive Customer Service
Though customer service may seem minor in the grand scheme of financial planning, a friendly voice to guide you through installation can be a great anxiety-buster for tech newbies. Reviews of Quicken’s customer service system are overwhelmingly negative; ratings and reviews from Consumer Affairs give the software a single star for responsiveness and attention to its clients.
The most common complaints focus on the company’s lack of desire to innovate, add new features to yearly releases, persistent error codes, poor synchronization with bank accounts and rude and incompetent customer service associates. If you predict that you’ll require a large amount of help running Quicken, choose a more intuitive platform.
Our Top Picks
1. Personal Capital
Unlike Quicken, investing is easy and automated through Personal Capital; when you sign up for an account, you’ll answer questions about your age, income, and financial status and the software will choose a mix of assets that fit your unique risk tolerance level.
You can link your bank, brokerage and credit card accounts with Personal Capital with a simple synchronization option. Use tools like the investment checkup, spending tracker and 401(k) analyzer to make sure that you’re on track towards retirement and other financial goals.
All tools offered by Personal Capital are totally free to use after you’ve opened an account and expense ratios are up-front and direct. Unfortunately, the financial barrier to begin with Personal Capital is steep; you’ll need an initial deposit of at least $100,000 to get started. However, for high net-worth investors who value fee-free accounts and hands-off investing, Personal Capital is a viable option with an impressive suite of tools.
An extremely well-known budgeting app, Mint is a powerful tool for both the mobile and desktop user. Unlike Quicken, Mint puts more emphasis on its mobile app, which makes it a popular choice with younger investors.
Mint offers users an all-in-one suite to manage investments, bills and even track your net worth. Mint also allows you to set up alerts via email or SMS for unusual spending, pending bills and offers suggestions on how and where you can save. Mint’s investment options are limited, but for investors with a focus on long-term appreciation,
Mint is likely to satisfy your needs. Mint also offers Apple watch compatibility, which can be useful if you manage your money on the go. With a comprehensive focus on simplicity and an outstanding mobile offering, Mint is a great choice if you appreciate Quicken’s suite of tools but who also needs something easier to use. Best of all, it’s free to download and track your spending.
3. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
A popular Mint alternative, You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a simplified management software application that focuses on two main aspects of finance: building a realistic budget and helping you stick to it. YNAB knows that spending habits change over time and emergencies can pop up at a moment’s notice, so the app makes it easy to create a fluid budget and move money in between categories with no fees or excessive lag.
New versions of YNAB offer improved synchronization with bank accounts, smoothing out issues that many users had with earlier versions that took too much time to import or were miscategorized. The web-based application also offers a unique tool called “The Inspector,” which allows you to view a quick spending summary and get tips on where you can afford to cut back. YNAB’s platform is not static; developers constantly add new features and improve upon old versions of the software and YNAB’s customer service team seems to take complaints and issues seriously.
However, YNAB hyper-focuses on budgets — you cannot invest or take practical steps towards planning for retirement through YNAB. However, if you’re looking for an intuitive way to master your budgeting, YNAB is a comprehensive and dynamic option for every type of user.
4. Banktivity 7
For a long time, most in-depth financial management software prioritized the Windows user, leaving Mac lovers left with the scraps. Banktivity 7 is a software program native to the MAC operating system, meaning that if you’re an Apple user, you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues.
The software even offers compatibility across a range of Apple products including iPad and Apple Watch, which can be a huge help for on-the-go Apple addicts who want to access financial data across multiple devices. Banktivity 7 delivers where Quicken often falls short, with comprehensive, smooth synchronization and an easy-to-operate app.
Banktivity allows users to sync data with a range of unique sources, including banks, credit card accounts and even with Zillow for real estate portfolio tracking. Banktivity’s investment tracking options are a bit less comprehensive than those offered by Quicken, but Banktivity 7’s strong Mac support and visual budgeting options make it a viable choice if you’re fed up with forcing Windows-native software to fit the specs of your Apple devices.
If you’re a fan of financial guru Dave Ramsey, you’re probably familiar with one of his favorite catchphrases: “You need to give every dollar in your budget a job to do.” EveryDollar is a website and iOS app that makes this process easier.
Like You Need a Budget, EveryDollar focuses entirely on helping you create a viable budget; it does not offer investing or bill pay options native to the application. However, EveryDollar does make following Ramsey’s trademark “baby steps” to financial security extremely easy, though its free version does require you to import your data and categorizing expenses manually. EveryDollar Plus is EveryDollar’s paid version and offers improved capabilities.
The Plus version allows you to follow the Total Money Makeover baby steps by importing your financial data, which analyzes where you are in the process and suggests opportunities to save. While EveryDollar might not be a very impressive offering for those who do not follow Dave Ramsey’s method, EveryDollar does not bombard you with ads to cover its costs of operation and it can also connect you with financial experts in your area if you want more personal money management assistance.
Creating and maintaining a household budget can help you more effectively reach your long-term goals, improve your credit score and escape the cycle of never-ending compounding interest. Even if you aren’t struggling financially, budgeting can help ease your mind because you’ll know you’re on track to a successful retirement.
If you’re interested in learning more about creating a budget and sticking with it, check out our article on how to create a budget.