Quicken is one of the best known financial management systems available. It’s also one of the most widely used, and commonly reviewed by financial websites. It’s a particularly strong budgeting software, with plenty of features and benefits to make your financial life easier.
But Quicken is hardly alone in the budgeting software space.
One other lesser-known competitor is Moneydance, a budgeting software that’s actually been around for more than 20 years. Moneydance provides many of the functions of Quicken, but also as a few of their own. It can be particularly attractive if you either engage in foreign currency transactions on a regular basis, or if you have one or more foreign-based financial institutions that you work with.
Next, we’ll take a high altitude look at both budgeting software programs, and the specific features and benefits each offers.
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Moneydance is a personal finance and budgeting software tool that allows you to organize and track all your personal financial information. It can accommodate checking, savings, investments and retirement accounts, as well as credit cards and other loan accounts on the same platform.
The software is offered by an Edinburg, Scotland based company, The Infinite Kind, and was first launched in 1997.
The software enables you to automatically download your financial transactions for multiple accounts. Then it sorts your transactions by income or expense category. The software uses charts and graphs, giving you a visual picture of what your financial situation looks like. This can be especially beneficial for those who are visual learners.
Moneydance provides Online Banking. It enables you to access each bank account you have from the same platform. You can also make payments directly from Moneydance.
Other Moneydance Features
The Moneydance Summary – This feature provides you with a summary of everything going on in all of your financial accounts. It will provide you with account balances, payment reminders, and even overdue transactions. From a single page, you can click on an account and go directly to it. That will give you an opportunity to either enter transactions or to reconcile your account.
Payment Reminders – With this feature you can schedule payments and recurring transactions. You’ll be reminded when they come due, so you’ll never miss a payment.
Account Registers – These enable you to either add or delete transactions, or make other edits. It’s setup much like a regular checkbook, but it includes an auto-complete feature to handle recurring transactions.
Graphing Tool – Moneydance makes strong use of visuals. With this tool, you can generate reports to track your income and expenses, and even customize them for your personal preferences. For example, you can set up graphs with any date range or other preferences you have.
Investment Tracking – Moneydance enables you to track stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETF’s, certificates of deposit, and just about any other type of investment. You can regularly update the value of your portfolio, and even check the performance of individual investments.
The software can be customized to automatically download the daily prices of the investments you’re holding. It can also maintain cost basis computations and even account for stock splits. All of this will be critically important when filing your income tax return.
Foreign Currency Transactions – This capability sets Moneydance apart from other budgeting software systems. It can be a real benefit if you have a foreign-based financial account, or you engage in foreign currency transactions. The software can even handle multiple currencies, and make automatic conversions.
Quicken is one of the primary budgeting software systems available. It provides everything you need for basic budgeting, but it also gives you the ability to create plans to either reduce debt, or increase your savings and investments. Once you sync your financial accounts into the software, you can then import your transactions from each account. Quicken will then categorize them into designated expense accounts.
Quicken comes in four different versions, Starter, Deluxe, Premier and Home & Business. All four offer the following features and benefits (except Quicken Bill Pay):
Budgeting – Quicken enables you to set up realistic household budgets that are based on your spending history. You can create customized goals, as well as plans and reminders for paying current bills. Quicken even forecasts future balances. All information is provided on the platform in real time.
Quicken Bill Pay – Quicken enables you to pay your bills directly from your checking accounts, eliminating the need to do it from individual accounts. This feature is available only on the Premier and Home & Business plans.
Free Credit Score – Quicken provides your VantageScore from Equifax. This is an educational score, and not your actual FICO score, but it will enable you to track the relative level of your credit score. But Quicken only makes this score available on a quarterly basis, not monthly, so don’t give up your free credit score provider just yet.
TurboTax link – Quicken data can be directly exported into TurboTax at the touch of a button. This will simplify your tax preparation substantially, and by itself justify the cost of any plan version you choose. But it will be particularly beneficial to you if you have substantial investments, run a business, or own investment real estate.
Quicken Premium Versions
Quicken offers two premium plans that include all the above features, but are specifically designed for investors and the self-employed. These are the Premier and Home & Business plans.
Both plans offer the following features for investors:
- Track loans, investments and retirement accounts
- Evaluate your investments with Morningstar’s Portfolio X-ray tool
- Compare buy-and-hold options with improved portfolio analysis
- See how your returns compare to market averages
- Track investment cost basis and create Schedule D tax reports
- Make better buy/sell decisions with market comparisons
The Home & Business version offers the above investment features, but adds even more capabilities for small business owners and people who invest in rental real estate. Those capabilities include:
- Categorize and separate personal and business expenses
- Track your business profit & loss and tax deductions
- Run Schedules C and E reports to simplify tax preparation
- Create and email custom invoices and estimates to customers and clients
- Manage lease terms, rental rates and security deposits
- Track outstanding and paid rents
- Add payment links directly to invoices
- Save rental documents directly to the app
The Home & Business plan is perfect for someone who is looking to better manage a small business or investment real estate, in addition to a basic budgeting and financial management software package.
Moneydance charges a one-time flat fee of $49.99. Not only does this avoid a monthly service charge, but you can virtually use the software for life. You can pay for the service using MasterCard, American Express, Discover or PayPal. You can even pay with Amazon gift cards.
Once you sign up for the service, they offer a 90-day money back guarantee. If you’re not happy with the software for any reason, you can return it for a full refund.
While Moneydance has a single program with a one-time fee that gives you access to the program for life, Quicken offers four different plan levels, each with an annual fee. Pricing for each of the four plans is as follows:
Quicken provides a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the product you purchase for any reason. But within that time frame, you can also switch from one plan to another that you feel will work better for your needs.
Unfortunately, Moneydance doesn’t offer phone support or live chat. However, they do offer email communication from within the website. Your communication will actually be with the parent company, Infinite Kind, and can be either public or private. (The company is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, so there may be a bit of a delay in communication due to different time zones.)
Like Moneydance, Quicken doesn’t offer phone support. But they do offer live chat, which may be almost as good. For more routine questions, they also offer a FAQ page, Common Help Topics and the Quicken Community, where you can probably get most of your questions answered, often from other users.
Moneydance enables you to put your entire financial life on a single platform. Once you link your accounts, Moneydance allows you to automatically download financial transactions from the different institutions. It then organizes the transactions, automatically sorting them into their respective categories.
Given how widely Quicken is used, it’s no surprise that it has the capability to be synchronized with more than 14,500 financial institutions. Chances are, any financial institution you’re currently doing business with will already be compatible with the platform.
All you need to do is provide your username and password for each financial institution you want to link. Quicken will securely download and organize the financial information from each account, and will also automatically sort expenses. You have the option to have the information either downloaded automatically, or you can enter it manually.
Moneydance is available for Windows (both 32-bit and 64-bit), Mac and Linux systems. It’s also available for both iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, as well as Android mobile devices. The mobile app can be downloaded free on Google Play.
Quicken is available for your desktop computer, but it also works just as well through its mobile app. It’s available for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones, and can be downloaded at either the App Store or Google Play.
Moneydance is currently offering a free trial, but it’s determined by the number of transactions, and not by the number of days. You’ll have access to the full app, where you can enter up to 100 transactions. Payment is not due until you reach the one-hundredth transaction. This gives you an opportunity to “test drive” the service before paying.
Quicken is not currently offering any general promotions.
Summary – Moneydance vs. Quicken
Which budgeting software should you choose, Moneydance or Quicken? Both programs provide basic budgeting and financial management capabilities. Each offers an impressive selection of features and benefits for investment purposes. Either can work well for the person who is primarily interested in budgeting and financial management, but wants to use the same software to track their investments.
Which software stands out above the other really depends on the specifics of your financial situation.
Moneydance shines in the area of international transactions. It’s clearly the better plan if you engage in a significant number of foreign financial transactions, or if you maintain one or more foreign financial institutions. Moneydance not only incorporates those accounts into the platform, but it can also do currency conversions quickly and easily. This may be Moneydance’s primary niche in the budgeting and financial management software space.
Quicken offers one of the most well-regarded budgeting capabilities on the market. They also give you the advantage of being able to choose the plan version that works best for you. It seems to have a slight advantage over Moneydance when it comes to investments. But where it really stands above Moneydance is with the premium Home & Business version. It’s well-suited not only to investors, but also to those who are self-employed.
For example, the ability of the plan to separate personal and business expenses, track income and expenses, run business reports, manage invoices, and in particular, to assist you in the management of investment real estate, is a unique feature of Quicken.
If you’re looking for budgeting software, and you engage in frequent foreign transactions, Moneydance will be the better choice of the two. But if you have a business or you own investment real estate, you’ll definitely want to go with Quicken.