Why I’ve Abandoned Quicken, But Not Intuit

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make sure I’m not spending too much in categories like travel, restaurants, or groceries. Both Quicken and Mint have great tools for doing these things, for people who like them; I just don’t use them myself.

Which is why, at a certain point, Quicken just wasn’t worth the pain. The problem with the software—and I’m referring now to the 2007 version, so things may have improved since then—was that it still smelled so strongly of 1993 or so, when the Web barely existed and going online meant opening a dial-up connection to a service like AOL. That’s exactly what getting the latest account balances from my various financial institutions felt like. All that was missing was the scratchy modem static. Even after Intuit added a “one step update” feature to Quicken, getting updates was a glacially slow process that seemed to fail about a third of the time, for no obvious reason.

This wasn’t entirely Intuit’s fault. Quicken had to be able to connect to many different data sources, and in the days before the ascendancy of Web-based standards like HTTP and SOAP and REST and SSL, it was much harder for everyone to stay on the same page. That said, however, Intuit and its partners in the financial world also had a nasty habit of changing things just enough from year to year that you if you didn’t keep buying new versions of Quicken, you’d eventually be unable to accomplish much. I guess that’s what happened to me.

Once I explored Mint and realized how easy it was to set up an account there and connect it to my bank and my other financial institutions, switching was a no-brainer. (I also tried Quicken Online and Geezeo, an online personal management system offered by a Tolland, CT, startup that we’ve covered here at Xconomy. But in November 2009, Intuit wisely announced that it planned to dump Quicken Online and shift all of its users over to Mint. And I felt that Geezeo’s emphasis on twenty-something users with little or no experience managing their own money wasn’t quite right for me.)

What makes personal finance feel so natural on Mint is that the Web is all about connections. When you log in, even before you tell Mint to do anything, it communicates with your bank and your investment firms behind the scenes and gets your latest balances. There’s also a slick iPhone application that brings you the same account updates and—if you’re into budget tracking—lets you edit the details of each bank or credit-card transaction.

There are a few important things Mint doesn’t do, and that longtime Quicken users might miss. The biggest one is probably bill paying. For a fee of $9.95 per month, the PC version of Quicken lets users pay all their bills electronically, which is obviously a huge … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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