In the last two weeks we looked at the two heavy hitters of the personal finance software world, Microsoft Money and Quicken. This week we look at a lesser known but equally attractive option, Moneydance.
If you followed our last two articles you will have seen that while Microsoft Money and Quicken are powerful applications, the UK versions of both haven’t been updated in a few years.
So we decided to dig a little deeper to see if we could come up with an alternative.
We found Personal Accountz, now called Home Accountz – a powerful piece of money management software.
Our search also uncovered a very useful piece of software called MoneyDance, which we’ll now review.
This was open source and free a few years back, but you now have to pay $49.99 (about £31) to download it, which isn’t bad at all. You can download a limited free trial to see if you like it.
Perhaps the biggest issue with MoneyDance, and most other money management software, is that it is geared towards the United States market. This can make things tricky when it comes to online banking and online bill payment as it does not connect directly to UK banks. You can, however, download your statements in .QIF format from your bank and use this to update your MoneyDance account. This isn’t ideal but is not really that difficult once you get the hang of it.
If you get this set up, then you can begin to get the most out of MoneyDance. It is worth a mention at this point that MoneyDance is available for all platforms – Windows, Mac and Linux. Also, if you currently run Quicken or Microsoft Money, you can easily import all your details and accounts to MoneyDance.
The software uses the double-entry bookkeeping system at its core, but at a user level it is much simpler than that. You just enter figures and transactions and MoneyDance takes care of the rest for you and will keep your various accounts balanced.
As with a lot of accounting software, MoneyDance will take a bit of getting used to if you haven’t used software like this before. That said, it comes with clear instructions that will get you up and running fairly quickly. Also, the more you put into MoneyDance the more you will get out. To really get the most from it you should input all your transactions, no matter how small, as it will give you an amazingly accurate view of your finances.
So, what kind of features does MoneyDance offer? Well, the landing page of the application is fairly simple, containing a calendar, your account balances, reminders and exchange rates. You can, of course, customize this page to your liking. If you are used to Quicken or Microsoft Money you will think MoneyDance looks basic and primitive. While it is no beauty on the outside, there is a lot going on under the bonnet and it should have all the features to keep your household or small business finances in order.
The calendar is useful for setting reminders for paying bills and other transactions. Other handy features include graphing, cheque printing, VAT tracking, budget management and investment portfolio management.
While Microsoft Money and Quicken have fallen by the wayside, MoneyDance has stepped up to the mark and comes highly recommended. You can download this from the Moneydance website.