After evaluating the alternatives, I discovered a way to automatically download the transactions and price quotes and feed them to Money after Microsoft pulls the plug. See follow-up posts:
- Replacing Microsoft Money, Part 5: OFX Scripts
- Download Price Quotes to Microsoft Money After Microsoft Pulls the Plug.
Moneydance is a Java application that runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows. Unlike GnuCash, MoneyDance is not free. It’s made by a small company called The Infinite Kind. As far as I can tell, the application is primarily developed by one developer Sean Reilly. A Moneydance license costs $40. There is a trial version that limits to 100 transactions. I tested Moneydance 2008r4 on Windows.
Moneydance starts up quickly. The home page looks nice and clean. The default setup gives you a checking account, a savings account, and a number of income and expense categories. You can edit these income and expense categories however you want.
Moneydance is more intuitive than GnuCash. The terminologies are familiar. There are Accounts, Categories, and Securities. You can still nest accounts within another account. For example, you can create a sub-account in Savings for the next car and create another sub-account in Savings for the next vacation.
Figure 1: Moneydance home page
Entering transactions is somewhat non-intuitive. New transactions are entered at the bottom of the register, as opposed in the register itself. There is not a concept for a payee. The “Description” field is used for payees. Each entry in the bank account register uses two lines by default. There is no way to view only one line. You can choose to see only one line (see comment from Joe).
Figure 2: Bank account register
I was quite confused when I was trying to enter a stock purchase. The price per share is entered below the number of shares. I expected them to be on the same line. Every entry in the investment account register uses two lines. There is no way to view only one line.
Figure 3: Investment account register
Figure 4: Lot matching when selling a stock
Once I get over the register entries though, Moneydance works just fine. Loan payments can be automatically calculated to split between principal and interest. They can post automatically to the register monthly.
There are some reports in Moneydance but the reports are not very customizable. You can select one account or all accounts, but not some-but-not-all accounts. There is a report for capital gains and losses but I didn’t see anything related to investment return percentages.
You can see more screenshots on Moneydance’s web site.
Here’s a summary of what Moneydance can do against my requirements:
|Reconcile account balances||x|
|Track against budget||x|
|Allocate loan payments automatically||x|
|Download investment price quotes||x|
|Report Investment portfolio returns|
|Report net worth over time||x|
Like GnuCash, Moneydance also imports QIF files. Moneydance provides step-by-step instructions for importing from Microsoft Money. When I posted a question about the instructions on their support forum, I got an answer in 15 minutes. That’s very impressive.
Unfortunately the answers from the Moneydance support staff were not what I was hoping for, although it’s not necessarily Moneydance’s fault. Importing QIF files still requires exporting from Money one account at a time. The transfer transactions in Money will likely create duplicates. They said it’s impossible for them to develop an importing tool that works on the entire Money file.
Overall Moneydance is a good application. I’m not used to its user interface in some areas, but I’m sure I can get over them. The prospect of taking off the straitjacket for downloading transactions and quotes is really enticing.
If I end up using Moneydance, I will just start fresh and not bother with importing.