Every private individual in the US has to file his or her own tax returns. As a result, most affluent Americans have accountants, even if they don’t own their own business and especially if they do. Money, Microsoft’s finance organiser, is a glorified interactive account sheet combined with a task scheduler and has garnered enormous popularity in the US of A among people who are forced to do their own number-crunching. Rivalled mainly by Intuit’s popular Quicken software, it’s also become a long standing friend to European bean counters, and this year’s edition looks set to win yet more fiscal friends. There are actually three different versions of the program – a Deluxe version for businesses, a Standard version for the home, and this Personal and Business version (which combines the two, and adds customer trackers and VAT data). A charming front end helps you to set up all your daily incomings and outgoings, and then reminds you when bills need to be paid in pop-up desktop windows. It contains top tips for saving, and does all the usual book-balancing of previous editions, albeit with a far more Web-conscious interface. There are invoicing tools, home inventories, will templates, budget trackers and new integrated Internet banking – a range of high street banks, including Barclays and The Woolwich, offer on-line support for users of this edition. The downside is that it’s rather lightweight when it comes to tax – Money 2000 doesn’t actually fill in tax returns for you. It does make gathering the necessary information slightly simpler, and it offers up some on-line advice about getting to grips with self-assessment, but you still need Microsoft’s separate TaxSaver software unless you have your own (or happen to be) an accountant. Ho hum. Which means that this new version of Money is professional, accessible, yet sadly somewhat flawed. If you do your own accounts at home, th
e race between Money and Quicken is still undecided, but at least Microsoft has had the sense to make this Net-friendly.
I am currently using Quicken Deluxe 1998. I started out with a free magazine mount giveaway Quicken 5 and registered it and the nice people at Intuit software sent me a free upgrade (Quicken Deluxe 98)to take care of potential Y2k problems. So it`s not cost me a penny, and I use it on a daily basis to keep track of all my accounts. This is a very user friendly product and it makes keeping track of your finances a cinch. all direct debits are automatically entered for you and a reminder window pops up when a bill is due. You can also produce graphs of income/expenditure do financial forecasts, calculate interest and lots more. This is one of the most useful pieces of software I have.
A friend gave me a full version of Money 1998 so I gave it a trial and like it. So I went out and bought Money 2000. It is simple to use and fast, because it remembers a lot of the detail of the kinds of things that you do so that filling in transaction is quick (e.g. it remembers that credit card charges at "Sainsburys" are usually for "Food"-"Groceries", though you can easily override this when you bought somethng else). It picks up my latest bank statement straight from my online bank and enters everything directly into Money (and with reasonable accuracy matches transactions with those I've already entered manually). It gets the latest quotes on my shares, PLUS, it also gets the daily price on UK UNIT TRUSTS (that feature stopped working for a couple of weeks because moneyextra changed, however, thanks to a fix from Microsoft which adjusted my registery entries, it is now working again). I would recommend it to anyone UNLESS your bank has chosen to be compatible with QUICKEN instead of MONEY, then I would use QUICKEN or change banks. But that is a big question -- which software does your bank support. This is what I have found out so far: Nationwide - Money NatWest - Quicken Egg - neither First-e - neither (The fact that they don't support Money doesn't mean that you can't use Money, just that you don't have the convenience of Money automatically your statement details online)