Quicken was my first introduction to personal finance as an adult. With the magic of a computer and budgeting software, balancing my checkbook took seconds. It was easy to see where we were spending money. And the reporting tools made it easy to assess where we stood financially. So I jumped at the chance last week to review with folks at Intuit the new Quicken 2012.
The question with a new version of Quicken is always, what’s new. In the case of Quicken 2012, the new features are quite nice, but not revolutionary. The two key new features are improvements to the budgeting tool and a cool debt elimination widget.
Quicken 2012 Budget Tool
If you’ve used Quicken in the past, you’re familiar with its spreadsheet-like budgeting tool. With the 2012 version, Intuit has borrowed from Mint.com (which Intuit purchased a few years ago), to introduce an automatic budgeting tool. Quicken will look at how you’ve spent money in the past, and create a budget based on your spending history. Using a bar graph, you can easily see how much you’ve spent in each category throughout the month.
Quicken has also made it very easy to edit each category. With a few clicks of the mouse you can increase or decrease your budgeted amount for each category. Check out the video below for a look at this new budget tool:
Debt Elimination Tool
One of the absolute best moves you can make is to get rid of credit card debt. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. With Quicken 2012, Intuit has introduced a very useful debt elimination tool.
The tool looks at all of your credit card and other debt, and maps out how long it will take you to get out of debt making the minimum payments. It also tracks how much in interest you’ll pay.
You can then run through what-if scenarios to see how paying extra each month will get you out of debt faster and for less money. You can change the order in which you’ll pay down the debt (highest interest rate first, smallest balance first, or a customized approach). The tool also let’s you make a lump sum payment on your debt, and shows you the impact this will have on your debt repayment plan.
As much as I like this new tool, by itself it doesn’t justify the upgrade. There are plenty of similar tools (like this one from CNN) that do the same thing. Still, it’s a nice addition to an already solid personal finance program.
This video shows the debt elimination tool in action:
Intuit has also added around the clock chat support. You can chat online with an Intuit representative to answer any questions you may have about its products.
Quicken 2012 Lineup
As with past versions, the Quicken 2012 product line includes the following programs:
- Quicken Starter Edition ($29.99): For consumers who want a simple way to organize their finances and stay on top of bills
- Quicken Deluxe ($59.99): For those who want to save more; helps create custom budget, savings and debt reduction plans.
- Quicken Premier ($89.99): For those who manage investments and want to plan ahead for tax time.
- Quicken Home & Business ($99.99): For people who want to manage their business and personal finances in the same place
- Quicken Rental Property Manager ($149.99): For rental property owners looking to manage their personal, business and rental property finances in one place.
You can check out each of these Quicken 2012 versions at Amazon.
Should you upgrade?
If you don’t have Quicken, the decision comes down to whether you want to pay for the desktop program or use Mint.com for free. I use Mint.com, in part because I run Macs (Quicken 2012 is for PCs only). I’ve been very happy with Mint, although Quicken 2012 no doubt offers more features. And some folks don’t like having their financial data accessible to Mint.
As for those looking to upgrade, it really comes down to the budgeting tool. If you use Quicken for your monthly budget, the upgrade is worth the cost in my opinion. If you don’t use Quicken to budget, then you may want to pass on the upgrade.
I’ll leave you with an overview video of the new product: