I have used Quicken to keep track of my finances for a very long time. A few years ago, my 2004 version of Quicken stopped working – sort of. It would not download information from my on-line accounts such as Discover. That was my first experience with Intuit’s new flawed business model of forcing the user to upgrade. I quickly tried a number of Quicken alternatives, but none of them either imported my Quicken data or supported all of my on-line accounts. Rather than buy the latest version, then 2008, I shopped around and found a vendor dumping his old stock of Quicken 2007 for $10. I vowed at that time never to be forced into an upgrade again.

Termination of services notice from Quicken

Termination of services notice from Quicken

Fast forward to early 2010. Quicken notifies me that my current version, 2007, will no longer work after late April. Again, they have decided that they need more money and have arbitrarily decided to stop routing my requests for transactions and account info to the on-line institutions I do business with. It is not like the program is broken. Intuit is simply deciding to extort money from me. However, this time it wont work. Anticipating this, I started looking for options back in December and found a couple of worthy candidates. I want to move all of this off of my lone remaining windows machine and onto my Mac, so I searched for Quicken replacements that worked on OS X. I found iBank and MoneyDance. At that time, the general consensus was that iBank had some support issues and that MoneyDance worked very well. Apparently the folks who created MoneyDance got sick of Quicken’s tactics as well and prominently state that they will never force you to upgrade. They have reasonable cost and licensing terms. What has changed in the last several years is the fact that most on-line institutions now support an open protocol to request and exchange financial data, OFX. All of the work that Quicken did years ago has now been opened up to anyone who wants to write this type of software.

So, I installed MoneyDance and gave it a try. The trial version is fully functional, but is limited to 1000 new transactions. I was able to import all of my Quicken data files and only one type of transaction posed any problem. It created a few duplicate transactions for a specific and rarely used type of transaction in my brokerage accounts and were easy to find and correct – simply delete one of the duplicates. So now that I’m being extorted again, I will be buying MoneyDance and leaving Quicken forever.

It is not like they were not warned either. Last fall I received a survey from Quicken. It was one designed to gauge my willingness to purchase different versions of Quicken (Basic, Deluxe, …) at different price points, with different features, or in combination with other Intuit software as a package deal. Near the very end, I was able to provide them with verbal feedback and basically told them that I did not expect my current version to be disabled by Intuit and coerced into upgrading. I told them that if that happened again, that I would switch to another product. After the survey was completed they did give me a $5 credit with Amazon.com which I could use any way I chose to – so the cost of my $10 Quicken 2007 was now down to $5.

So, I’m keeping my word and Intuit is losing another Quicken customer.  Not that it hurts them since they were not going to be getting anymore money out of me anyway. MoneyDance runs on many operating systems, not just OS X since it is a Java app. Now if we can only do the same thing to the computer operating systems and hardware manufacturers who periodically force us into a similar upgrade cycle.  The world really cannot afford to be so wasteful by effectively throwing away perfectly functional SW/HW simply because some company needs to boost their sales.