Intuit Selling Quicken… Personal Capital to the Rescue?

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Back in November, I heard the news that Intuit plans to sell Quicken. I would have written about it earlier, but I think it deserves more attention than getting lost in the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday shopping hysteria. The go-to personal finance software for 30 years has earned that and much more.

There's probably a lot more we don't know than what we do know about the potential sale. I haven't seen any news on a potential buyer yet. I'm fairly sure someone isn't going to pay a lot of money just to watch it die. I'm not sure if the software engineers come with the sale for a time to get everyone up to speed with the software. Everything is a big question mark.

Personally, I could never get into Quicken. It wasn't for lack of trying either. If I recall correctly, around 2000, you'd have to pay a fee to get automatic syncing with some banks and brokerages. Typically, I could download the last 30 days an import it for free, but if I didn't update it, I had a huge mess one my hands. I finally gave it up and went to tracking my net worth with a spreadsheet. I learned to budget by asking the question, "Do I really need to buy that?" and answering myself, "No." It was just easier.

Over the past few months, I've been using Personal Capital and I'm really impressed with it. It is a online personal finance manager similar to Mint that has been around for years. It's a very good complement to my spreadsheet. While I've gotten good at updating my spreadsheet in about an hour, Personal Capital does most of it instantly.

I have to qualify that because it doesn't do the mortgage from a small local bank (but surprisingly it does do the savings and checking from them.) It's not perfect, but it's a lot closer than Quicken ever was for me. (That said, it is extremely unfair of me to compare Quicken 2000 to Personal Capital 2015).

I'm not alone in recommending it as I see almost all personal finance bloggers doing the same. It seems to be particular popular for the early retirement blogs that I've really started digging of late such as Root of Good and Retire by 40.

I noticed that Personal Capital seems to be taking advantage of the Quicken uncertainty. Here's a comparison they created. These comparisons always show the strengths of the product by the company who creating the product, but it is worth noticing that Personal Capital does most of the major things that you'd want. I have found anything that it's lacking (other than the aforementioned small bank).

There's something to be said stability and Personal Capital might be worth exploring.

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Last updated on January 14, 2016.

Five Top Online Accounting Software of 2013

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[Editor's note: The following is a guest post by Anthony Alexander. He is a freelance writer, journalist, author, and an organizer of words and thoughts (aren't we all?). He is a diverse writer who is passionate about technology, finances, and life. In these rough economic times Anthony enjoys sharing his experiences about finances and technology in order to help others (man after my own heart).]

So, you’ve decided to start a new business? These days that can be an extremely high-risk endeavor, but you’ve jumped in feet first. You’ve developed your product, invested in an inventory, rented a space, and hired a staff. Now what? Managing what comes next with a budding business can be pretty overwhelming to any business owner, whether a seasoned veteran or a first-timer.

Thankfully there is a huge range of top quality online accounting software out there people like you. They’ve thought of everything from free software options for basic needs, to powerful accountancy solutions like Workday's payroll solution for more complex loads.

Online accountancy software is ideal for small businesses because it offers a low-cost option that can be much easier to understand and maintain than large software packages. The information is also stored on safe external servers, which is an additional bonus, adding an extra layer of security to your system. Here are a few of the best online accounting software options of 2013:

Less Accounting

Less Accounting claims to be able to reduce your need for accountancy work down to just one day per month, and whilst this may not be entirely true, the package does have some great features to make life a whole lot easier. It allows for information integration with various other programs to save you time inputting customer information and account details, and it is integrated with your bank which also saves time and energy.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks is one of the most widely used accounting programs used in the United States today. All QuickBooks packages include unlimited invoicing options, online and mobile access, unlimited phone support, and automatic data backup. Its most popular plan allows you to manage and pay bills, run advanced reports, and access for multiple users. You can also choose to enroll in added features like payroll and bookkeeping services. Once you’re up and running, you’ll probably want to utilize its point of sale (POS) option to make accepting credit card payments easy.

Free Agent

Free Agent is an award winning suite which offers a very comprehensive package at an extremely competitive price. The layout and usability have received a lot of praise from users, and it also has the capability to conduct some very specific reports once you learn how to use it. It’s not necessary to have an online accounting degree to operate this software. However, anyone with an online accounting degree from an accredited college with have all the knowledge required to easily and successfully operate this program as well as the other programs mentioned.

Wave Accounting

While many packages offer a free trial, Wave Accounting offers a completely free package to users, and it’s perfectly adequate for independent traders and small businesses that work with a limited number of clients. With the free package you are able to conduct a range of double entry accounting operations such as balance sheets, journal entries, income statements, and a general ledger. One downside of the program is that it does not include an audit trail, which means you might have to do some extra work if you are expecting an audit.

Kashoo

Kashoo is one of the most popular online accountancy programs, and is currently used in over 56 countries. It has a wide range of functionality and is especially useful for those dealing in multiple currencies as it can deal with more than 100 different currencies. The package also allows bank reconciliations and a check printing option.

For many small businesses, online accounting is the perfect solution, offering ease of use, regular software upgrades, online tech support, and added server security. The most difficult part of the process is deciding which package to opt for. Once you’ve managed to make sense of all the financial ins and outs of your new business, you can enjoy the freedom that comes with being your own boss.

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Last updated on July 25, 2016.

Financial Football Teaches Students about Personal Finance

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When New England Patriot wide receiver Wes Welker isn't busy training and setting records, he's out there making the world a better place. I've written in the past how he's motivated me. When he's not doing New Kids on the Block songs and dances for charity (see the previous link), he's teaching children in Hawaii the value of personal finance.

Welker passes along the kind of advice that we've been preaching for some time in these parts - things like "save 10 percent of their income and 'make sure to put away substantial amounts for rainy days ahead.'" as well as "As far as shopping... I just to pass that on to them... you can't spend more than you have coming in." What's his encore, bring about world peace?

I'm giving Welker all the credit here simply because I'm an extremely biased Patriots' fan. The larger truth is that San Francisco 49er Patrick Willis is spreading the word with him. However to be completely fair, the credit should go to Visa for sponsoring the event and coming up with a way to make personal finance fun. They created a personal finance quiz game. It's loosely based on football where you move the ball down the field with each correct answer. The kids in this video seem to love it.

I played a round of the online game and didn't share their enthusiasm. It seems to be a two player game. While it was fairly easy for me to score with the Patriots (except for the silly question of how much does 500 one-dollar bills weigh), I found myself intentionally choosing the wrong answers when the Colts had the ball. I would have liked to played some defense instead, but that's just me. And while I found the questions on the easy side, for the age group (and someone not a personal finance nut) it may be appropriate and something that I'd introduce my children to (if I had kids). It would be interesting to see if they could beat dad on the gridiron.

I've said it in the past make personal finance a fun game and you'll see change.

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Posted on February 5, 2009.

Credit Karma’s Credit Simulator (and Other Credit Tools)

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Last April, I went to Finovate Startup in San Francisco. I was introduced to around 40 companies at the time, and I met a number of their founders personally. One of them was Credit Karma. You may remember that in the past, I told you how you can get, free credit scores from them. It's important to realize that a credit score is different from a credit report (which are typically free, one per year, from AnnualCreditReport.com.

I got a little off-track with the credit score explanation.  I meant to report that Credit Karma won Best in Show at Finovate this year. What did they do to earn those honors? I'll let you know, but first I wanted to mention a couple of other things that I noticed they were up to:

  • Recommended Credit Cards - They have a section of credit cards that is different than your usual credit card page. These credit cards seem personalized. Since they know my credit is excellent, they show me the cards in the excellent rating. They even have ratings based on what other Credit Karma vote, the approval rate of applications, and what Credit Karma users are actually signing up for.
  • Improved Credit Karma Blog - As a blogger, I tend to notice blogs - even corporate ones. This one has a lot of information about improving your credit as well as some timely credit news. My favorite is what is a good credit score. That's exactly what you'd expect from a credit-focused company trying to transition from start-up to market leader.
  • Credit Simulator - This is the tool that carried Credit Karma to Finovate's Best in Show award. Let's pretend you signed up for Credit Karma when I reviewed them last time. Credit Karma gave you a score of 680. It's not great, but you know you could do better. If you only knew what you could do to help it out. Enter the Credit Simulator. This tool allows you to see how your credit would change in a number of scenarios. Some of them include, adding a new loan, adding a credit inquiry, closing your oldest credit card, allow a monthly account become 30 days overdue, etc. This tool finally gives you some insight to how your credit score is affected. Granted, it's not a FICO score, it's a reason estimation.

Here's one feature to look for in the future. My Credit Karma score dropped, and I didn't know why. I figured that since Credit Karma is constructing my score from my report, they could tell me what I did to deserve the drop. Unfortunately, they couldn't tell me what had changed in my account. After talking with the CEO, I have confidence this may be something you'd see in the future from Credit Karma.

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Last updated on January 13, 2011.

 
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