Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All Good Things

Back in 2008 I had written about the trouble with Microsoft Money's uncertain future. At the time I decided to go with the ostrich technique and ignore the fact that 2008 was effectively the end of the line for the product and hope that in two years the troubles with personal finance software had been resolved. Well last week we started getting a pop-up in Money saying that the two year grace period for online services was finally coming to an end next month.

That leaves us in more-or-less the same place as 2008, trying to decide what to do when the software expires. I've used Microsoft Money since about 1994 and my current database file goes back to 1996. It's also what we use for online bill pay and generally after 16 years of use the whole process of doing the finances with Microsoft Money is pretty streamlined. Not perfect, certainly, but plenty close enough for what little I need it to do.

I looked at taking the cowards way out and getting Quicken but integrated bill pay costs a ridiculous $10 a month, and the software is $90 all of which seems outrageous.

Mint.com seems better, it finally tracks investments which is a major improvement over 2008, I'm still not a huge fan of their limited selection of graphs or the fact that I apparently have to login somewhat regularly in order to have it able to download all the transactions. Why can't it just check that stuff out in the background and have it ready for when I log in? Also the single minded focus on read-only means no hope of integrated ability to pay bills or transfer money which is too bad. That is more then just the inconvenience of having to use two separate programs, as you can't get a projected future view of balances against bills that need to be paid, so there is a bigger chance of me messing something up and/or having to keep more of a buffer in accounts that earn no interest.

On the bill pay front, TCF now offers online bill pay for free, which seems to fill that gap. Our credit card does as well though that is through a very cumbersome system that requires you to also register online with the merchant. Still either seems likely to work.

So even though I would be glad to pay an exorbitant rate just to extend the use of my copy of Microsoft Money, it appears Microsoft doesn't want our money and we'll have to move on. At this point I'm inclined to use mint.com for viewing balances, the credit card bill pay for the bills and TCF's bill pay to pay the credit card. That seems overly complicated compared with the one program we have now, but we'll see. Maybe I should just go back to a manual check register method.

If anyone has suggestions I'd be happy to hear them.

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