Tuesday Jul 29, 2014

Quicken Home and Business 2012 Review

27 February 2012

It is tax season already! Time has gone by so quickly. Last year in 2011, I wasn’t exactly efficient with my taxes and my accountant hated me for it. Because of my lack of adequate tax software in 2011, I decided that 2012 was going to be different. 2012 was going to be the year that I was going to make my accountant happy. Mainly, I want to get out of his office quicker (he charges a lot per hour) during tax ‘day’ and focus more on our company (and my personal) accounting. I began the search for the Best Tax Software for Canadians. The sad part is, there aren’t many reviews that have screenshots of the product. Made me think they just reviewed it for the sack of it without actually getting the physical software.

That is when Intuit came calling us and asked us to test their software. Put it through our rigorous and detailed analyze for review. They made it clear that they wanted an unbiased and real review. We promised that we would highlight flaws just as much as we would highlight great features. That is when the fine folks at Quicken sent us the Quicken Home and Business 2012.

We promised [Intuit] that we would highlight flaws just as much as we would highlight great features

Installing Quicken Home & Business 2012 on my computer was extremely easy. Took about 6 minutes to install the whole package. Some of the system requirements are below:

Processor 1 GHz
Operating System Windows XP SP2+, Vista, Windows 7 (32- and 64-bit)
Memory 1 GB
Hard Disk Space Up to 450 MB free space; up to 1 GB if .NET not installed
Display 1024x768 or higher resolution

Main Features

  • Expenses automatically categorized as business or personal (you can also manually insert data)
  • Locate Tax-deductible business expenses
  • Plenty of Reports
  • Bill reminder alerts

 

What Makes 2012 Different then 2011?

Home and Business 2012 focuses heavily on design.

  • They redesigned the debt-cutting tools
  • Gave users more setting options (increased font size)
  • Better coding which increases the software’s load time
  • Budgeting is enhanced by increase user engagement.
  • Multi-currency support

 

Support

Much like last year, Quicken hasn’t shrunk there support or increased it. You can contact them by email and that service is for free. Chat Help is Free. If you need help by the phone it is a pretty hefty price, costing you $24.95 per call, ouch!

Most users should be able to get answers to their questions from email or online chat. I did find the system pretty easy and user friendly to navigate. They make most of the features are self-explanatory and they take you through steps (setup guide).

Getting started

I found loading Quicken Home and Business 2012 for the first time took a bit longer than expected. Though, this could be due to the fact that I had many programs running in the background. I restarted my computer and loaded Quicken, I still found it a bit slower (with no programs in the background).

First Screen you see is below (Figure 1) the Home screen in the beginning is essentially a quiz (with really nice graphics)

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Figure 1

 See Where Your Money Goes

I used the ‘Manual’ version where you access your online bank information and download the ‘Quicken’ file format to populate all your transactions. At Bank of Montreal they had Quicken, Simply Accounting and Spreadsheet as a few other options. Quicken stated it would take about 10 minutes, I had this done within about 6 minutes, even with the little hiccup of locating where to download all my transactions. It populates it in chart format like below (Figure 2)

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Figure 2

The chart format is just like any online banking system you have seen before (you really can’t show individual transactions any other way).

Budgeting Your Expenses

Time to get into the Nitty Gritty Budgeting tool! Quicken calls this there planning tool and they do a pretty amazing job at highlight in bar graph format your months transactions. I used a month I knew I would be over on for sure (November, I do most Christmas shopping than).

For the sake of this review, I removed all other categories in the budget (I had operational expenses, employee expenses… and a few other unrelated categories) and focused on the main ones: Fast Food, Restaurant’s and Shopping.

As you can tell I didn’t really eat out much for November but I do some shopping. One thing I don’t like about this area is that Quicken doesn’t have the ‘$’ signs in the columns at all. Under budget it’s just a number and same with the remaining amount per category.

Still the design is very user friendly, it’s exciting/hip (yes Financial tools can be hip also), and it provides a great resource for Canadians.

 

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Figure 3

Spend That Money

Once you get a bit more advance you can see all of your expenses in a nice pie chart (image from Quicken).

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Figure 4

Overall

I liked the software a lot. I found the software to be really easy to use, great design and I was able to pull most of my transactions quickly. If I spent another 20 minutes I could have easily organized my transactions by categories, making the system a lot more useful. I find it very similar to Mint.ca (Intuit bought Mint) which in my opinion is a good thing. For many of our Mac users you will not be able to use Quicken Home and Business 2012, you will need to use Quicken Essentials for Mac (though it doesn’t seem to be getting great reviews)

On a side note it looks like Quicken is targeting the women demographic and this video shows that plus provides an overview of the product.

About the Author

Bank Guru

My real name is Banking “Guru” Smith, yes my parents were bankers and believed that I one day would become a famous banker just like them. I enjoy a double-double coffee, super long lines at the grocery store and annoying CSR’s (Customer Service Representatives or more commonly known as ‘Tellers’). You will usually find me working behind the scenes, I let Sensei generate all the attention. I also forgot to mention that I invested in Madoff, think I will ever get my money back?
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Comments (4 )



SPBrunner Wrote:

I switched last year from Quicken Deluxe 2001 to Quicken Home and Business 2011. I must admit I liked the older program better. I switched because I was concerned that my data would get too old to be transferrable to a new program.

The Quicken program is not bad, it does supply me with a lot of information. However, I would wish for more options. (Personally I do not like it that I cannot have it ignore my cash account. I assume money in my cash account is spend the moment I put it there.)

Also, I still have to do a lot of tracking of my stocks via spreadsheets.

[Reply]

CJOttawa Wrote:

I bought and returned Quicken 2012, having been using Microsoft Money and thinking it was time to upgrade.

Perhaps you could comment on what I believe is the biggest failing of Quicken: the cash flow projections of Quicken do not take into account budget items, only scheduled bills.

Compared to Microsoft Money (which is now available as a free download), this resulted in Quicken projecting my cash position 50% higher than it actually would be.

[Reply]

Bank Guru Reply:

a 50% higher projection! That sounds off…

I liked the basic functionality of Quicken. For me personally and I believe a majority of Canadians don’t need advance finance software. I just needed to show my accountant my records and let him do my taxes. That being said, I’ve heard Microsoft Money within the last year and a bit has dramatically improved. I’ll need to take a look.

[Reply]

CJOttawa Reply:

It certainly is off but predictably so.

In Microsoft Money, cash flow is based on scheduled bills/deposits + budget category amounts.

In Quicken, (the 2012 version I tried, at least), scheduled bills are factored into cash flow but budgeted amounts are ignored in the cash flow.

You can test this in Quicken:
1) Add $1000 per month in “misc” to your “bills”. Project the cash flow. Write down the number on an arbitrary date a few months in the future.
2) Delete the scheduled $1000 “misc” bill and add a “$1000 misc” line item to your budget. Project the cash flow and write down the new figure on the same date as above.

The latter Quicken cash flow will differ by $1000 per month, the amount moved from a scheduled bill to a budget category.

That seems like a fatal flaw to me.

The only work around is to remove all “budget” items and enter them as scheduled bills. Basically, this makes the Quicken 2012 budget tool completely and utterly useless for forward planning.

Not trying to come off as harsh; I simply want people to avoid paying $100 for a piece of software that’s missing a very useful function that could be had in free software.

[Reply]

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