In many couples there is one person who is more in charge of the money – well in our house it’s me. I confess to being the sad sort of person who loves to plan ahead with bills and savings (unfortunately there are always more of the former than the latter). For a long time I’ve kept records of the household finances on nifty spreadsheets of my own devising, but I’d heard how easy it was to keep track of everything with Microsoft Money, and so last year I asked for a copy of the software for my birthday (I said I was sad!). The release I got was Microsoft Money 2000 – the software is updated every year. My version requires Windows 95, 98 or NT operating system and a PC with a minimum of a Pentium 90 processor – but check these are up to date if you want to buy. There are several versions of Money 2000 – Standard, Financial Suite, and Personal & Business. I chose the middle version, the Financial Suite, because it had extra features that I thought would be useful such as planning for long term events and “Creating a complete integrated financial plan”. The last one includes the facility to track VAT, create invoices etc. and is intended for small businesses. Getting started I couldn’t wait to get the box open and start playing with my shiny new software! The first thing I found, though, was that you have to spend ages setting up all your accounts to begin with and entering opening balances. If you only have, say, a couple of bank accounts and a building society account, this would be fine, but then you probably wouldn’t need the software. Our situation is a bit more complicated, and I found it quite a slog to set everything up in the right categories. But you must be sure to start everything from the right point because otherwise it’s hard to get your accounts to reconcile later! Managing your current account When your current accou
nt is set up on MM, you need to spend a few minutes, say, once a week entering all your transactions. Then, when your statement comes, Money will help you reconcile to your own records. I must say, this facility works very well and is much quicker and simpler than doing the sums manually. You tick off each item on Money from the statement, enter things like interest or charges which aren’t in your cheque book, and Money will tell you whether there is any difference and prompt you to find it. Special features Money has the feature that you can set up regular payments and deposits to each of your account, either monthly, weekly, four weekly or whatever. These will then automatically appear in your records each time. The software will use this information to give you a forecast of how the balance will move on the account over one to twelve months, either as a list or as a graph. This is not too useful for your current account because it only knows about your salary going in and any regular payments going out, but not day to day spends on bills or curries, so you look as if you’re going to get incredibly rich! However, it is good for savings accounts or things like our joint account where I can estimate all the payments out of the account over the next twelve months. The only complaint I have against this feature is that it doesn’t have the option to show a running balance like a bank statement, so it isn’t clear that a certain bill will take me overdrawn. In this respect I prefer my humble spreadsheet where I can more easily see the effect of each transaction. Another feature that I really liked at first is the way you can link together your different accounts. So, for instance, if you transfer some money every month from your current account to your savings, Money will automatically show both sides of the transaction. However, this is hard to get to work properly. If you forget to set up any of these accounts a
t the beginning, it’s really hard to get everything to work together later! For instance, I pay money into an investment trust. I wanted to show this payment as a transfer rather than paying a bill, but when I tried to put the existing balance on the system Money thought it also had to show the money coming out of my current account and I suddenly went horribly overdrawn! Microsoft always tends to be too clever for its own good! No doubt a more skilled user could overcome this, but I’m afraid I failed and I didn’t find the rather vague instruction manual much use. The last point I would make is that I’ve recently moved our joint account to smile and also set up a linked savings account and ISA. Of course everything is run on-line and I can check my statement at any time. This means that I don’t need to use Money to balance my cheque book. More on the joys of banking with smile another time! In summary, then, I’ve found Money kind of fun to play with, good for balancing my accounts, but the advanced features I thought would make it easy for me to see the “big picture” have honestly proven too much hassle to set up. I’m afraid I’ve gone back to good old Microsoft Excel!
I run a small webdesign business and have to emply an accountant. To try and reduce my accountant costs i decided to invest in a piece of software to do my books on which i could then print out every month and hand to my accountant. Saving him about 3 hours. I thought that Money 2000 would be good seeing as Microsoft have a god reputation and i really do trust them as a software company. But i would b wrong. This software is an absolute waste of time! So much infact that i went back to the shop and exchanged it for Quick Books Pro! Which is much better and more functional!
Now where can i start? Ok ok i will start on a few good points! The program is great to use and is packed full of features and i am extremley pleased that i am able to download information from my on-line banking into the software! (saves my ickle fingers). It also looks so much better than the older versions and wow wasn't i shocked to see how much money i had been spending!. Anyway there are also some bad points. The fact that it is a Microsoft product leads me to beleive there will be a few problems the main annoyance being that to install it i was forced to re-install ie5 which did NOT please me in the slightest!
This offering from Microsoft is yet another winner, given the ease of use which i found.There are the normal registration processes to go through, but once done, it is ABC after that, download statememnts direct into the programme and it will automatically update everything for you into the appropriate section.there are links to numerous sites stocks,shares,microsoft etc........ The essence of this type of programme is to make sure you enter the details correctly in the first place,thereafter it is a boon to use, and get an overall picture of your finances in 1 screen....and print if necessary!!!...get it
And money will help you keep it track it and, as it's not free, spend it! The online features are a nice enhancement but in all honesty, if you've got Money 99 then don't waste the cash on the upgrade. Any earlier than 99 version and by all means get this baby. What I like about money apart from it's easy interface is that it's obviously designed for the home user. You're not stuck with, as you were so often in the past, a cust-down version of a business tool. This is a fully fledge tool for your average home user. Run through the wizards and in half an hour you'll be familier enough with the system to start using it very well indeed. I often find though that with Money there's more and more features around the corner you never knew were there. So it always seems to stay one step ahead of what you need from it. Nice one!
The 90's are here and it's the decade of the financial aware. Never before have we become more interested in our financial futures than ever before. The PC has always prmised to work out our finances for us. Money 2000 comes in a few different flavours depending on whether your a business or the home user. Being an avid fan of the 99 version I trialed this one and was very surprised at the lack of improvements in nearly every area. I still feel that it is aimed at the US citizen (what isn't these days), so a little mor effort could have been applied to it's development to aide the european user. In short it's not that different from the previous version if you are looking to upgrade then don't bother. But as a first time user then perhaps it's worth a go.