Learning to live with Quicken

As someone with whom I once worked was fond of saying, "Once you've used it a while, you get used to it." I still think from a UI perspective that Money is the better program, but I am starting to appreciate Quicken a bit more.

For one thing, I went through my bills lists and changed the types for transfers from "Transfer" back to "Payment". Fundamentally, there doesn't seem to be any difference, since the thing that really defines it as a transfer is the fact that the Category is the other account (surrounded in brackets to help distinguish it as an account). The difference, though, is that you get the "Payee" textbox back. I went through and put the account name in the payee field, so now on my bill list, I see the accounts under the "Payee" heading. A part of me is not completely satisfied with this, as it means I have to be descriptive enough in my payee field to identify the transaction in a list, or that in some cases the payee may not match the account and only be confusing (way back when I had a Circuit City card, which I got for the finance deal for one purchase and never used again, the account was "Circuit City Card" but the bills were paid to whatever the holding bank was). But since most of my bills are paid online these days, I don't know that it's that big a deal anymore.

I mentioned before how Quicken's calculator needed to be brought up manually with a click, whereas Money's would pop up automatically on the first press of a math symbol. I'm not sure why this wasn't working for me before, but when I was entering splits paying bills tonight, it worked just fine when I hit the "+" key. Perhaps last time, it was in one of those fields that doesn't automatically insert decimal points either despite having that option turned on.

I also complained about the lack of shortcuts in the date field in Quicken. Well, it would seem that I didn't even try them. "t" does in fact enter today's date, "y" and "r" go to the start and end of the year, and "m" and "h" the start and end of the month. I also noticed that repeated presses of "y" or "m" go back a year/month, and repeatedly pressing "r" and "h" go forward a year/month. I don't recall Money doing that, but I never tried it there; now I'm tempted to fire up Money and see. Oh yes, and "-" and "=" go back and forward one day, too. I really have no excuse for missing that; I'm usually very much a "try it and see what happens" kind of guy. All I can figure was that I was in a complaining mood and started assuming the worst. Bad Yakko.

I had to balance my business checkbook tonight, and that was confusing. I had forgotten to mark my previous transactions as "Reconciled", so when I entered my statement amounts, I couldn't get the balances to match up. That, again, is somewhere Money excels and Quicken fumbles. If everything isn't exactly right before you start something, you're screwed. Money, see, would take the starting and ending values from your statement, decide the transactions on that statement need to describe just the difference, and then when you're done, alert you to the discrepancy between the bank's balance and your register's reconciled balance. Quicken is very confusing in this respect, because no matter how you mark things, nothing will match up. Or maybe that's something else I have to get "used to" -- but hopefully, I won't have to get used to that anyway once I get the first set of statements balanced.

Downloading transactions, however... Let's see. Quicken:

  1. click the button
  2. enter your "password vault" password (still wish I didn't have to do this)
  3. wait for a pause before the dialog box pops up with all my accounts and passwords (hidden -- see, I'd prefer only needing the vault password if I was changing those, instead of having to type it in so Quicken could retrieve the passwords from the vault itself)
  4. click OK and let it fly

I didn't time it, but I don't think it could've taken more than a couple minutes to be ready for me to start entering transactions and such.


  1. click the button
  2. more or less instantly, see the dialog box with all accounts and passwords (hidden -- note, no master password required)
  3. click OK and let it fly

Again, Money wins out on the UI. I've also ranted and raved about Money entering transactions in the register and Quicken using a separate (and small, un-resizable) list. However, the time required is where Quicken wins, and wins big. Money would spend the next half hour to an hour "updating transactions", and as I mentioned before, often sit there not "updating transactions" until I start to enter a transaction myself, at which time it starts "updating transactions" and refuses to let me save any changes until it finishes, five, ten, fifteen minutes later. For that, I'll enter a stinkin' master password in Quicken.

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