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September 2006


If you have been considering upgrading to Intuit’s Quicken 2007, don’t. More than a month ago, I upgraded from Quicken Home & Business 2006 to Quicken Home & Business 2007, and many things have not gone smoothly since the transition. Many of the new features that the company claims to have been added to the software do not work properly.

Quicken 2007 Home and BusinessThe interface looks nicer, and some of the default repors are designed better, but the software performs as if it has not been fully tested. Here are a few things I’ve discovered that don’t work properly.

Downloading transactions through Direct Connect for my 401(k) no longer works. After completing a Direct Connect session in which Quicken identifies that 401(k) transactions have been downloaded, every second Saturday, switching to view the 401(k) account creates two problems. First, the downloaded transactions are not there, although the software says they had been downloaded (by displaying a flag icon next to the account’s title in the sidebar). Second, the transaction screen continually refreshes, making it almost impossible to do anything else, such as add an entry manually or even switch to view a different account.

The 401(k) account does not offer downloads from the website, only Direct Connect. Therefore, I can no longer automatically update this account, and I’ll have to enter all 401(k) transactions manually. This is the only account I normally do not enter transactions manually.

For other banks that only offer Web Connect (customers visit the bank’s website to download a file contraining transaction details to will be imported), Quicken 2007 introduced a new feature called “Express Web Connect.” Theoretically, Quicken will visit the website for you and download the transactions. For the Quicken user, this should be very handy. In effect, it makes banks that only offer Web Connect function like those that offer Direct Connect.

Forget it, it only works for me about half of the time. It’s not due to the bank’s website being unavailable, as I can easily log on myself to download the file. This is what I will normally do, bypassing the Express Web Connect feature.

Supposedly, transaction downloads (Direct Connect and Web Express Connect) now take place in the “background,” which means you should be able to continue using the program while Quicken retrieves updates from the banks. In older version of the software, a status window stays open during the updates blocking access to the program.

In 2007, during “background” updates, dialog boxes continue to pop up and disappear during the connection, stealing the focus, and making it impossible to work in the program at the same time.

Strangely, every so often, Quicken creates a new empty “Checking” account, on its own, without any input from me.

Hopefully Intuit will have bug fixes available sometime soon. Until then, working with Quicken 2007 will be a pain. Don’t upgrade until you hear that the software has improved. Unfortunately, it’s too late for me to go back to Quicken 2006.

Here are some discussions about Quicken 2007:

* FatWallet: Quicken 2007… To buy or not to buy?
* FatWallet: Things That Make Quicken 2007 Go Boom
* Quicken Support Forums: Stick With 2006, 2007 is a Mess

Update: Intuit has updated Quicken 2007 to fix some of these errors.
Additional update: After living with Quicken 2007 R2 for a while, I’ve reviewed the improvements.

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I just found this in my inbox (for an email address that wouldn’t be used for anything official):

Subject: IRS Notification – Please Read This .
From: Internal Revenue Service

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $63.80. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it.

A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To access the form for your tax refund, please click here

Regards,
Internal Revenue Service

Needless to say, I didn’t click there. If I had, I would have been taken to a website on a server named arcdoors.com. The whole thing sounds pretty phishy too me.

You would be surprised, intelligent people fall for these things all the time. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link they sent. As you can see if you click on the thumbnail below, the site looks legitimate. Don’t fall for this scam.

By the way, you know this can’t be legitimate because the scam email promises to process the request in 6-9 days. The real IRS is not nearly as efficient as the scammers and wouldn’t be able to make any such guarantee.

irs-screenshot.png

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I have some prizes to give away to faithful readers during the month of October. The first is a simple contest.

I’ve said many times that I’ve gained so much by the insightful comments left by readers. Whenever I receive comments and feedback, I earn more knowledge. I may not always agree with everyone, but I like that people can visit this blog randomly and have a say as much as readers who stop by every day.

I have a prize set aside for the participant who writes the most comments during October. I’ll try to do my job by writing articles and blog entries worthy of your adding your voices.

There will be more contests being announced as well, so visit frequently!

Update: Apparently Financial Freedumb is running the same contest in October (kind of strange how that happened, but it’s not right…), so I’m changing things up a bit. Stay tuned for more information.

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Here’s what I’ve been reading within the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond this week.

* Free Money Finance admits there are good reasons to use credit cards.
* MightyBargainHunter just received his 2005 tax refund.
* Blueprint for Financial Prosperity warns student loans should be used for school only.
* FiveCentNickel is beginning a series on saving money on medical care.
* AllFinancialMatters shares his opinion on why it’s tough getting “Generation Y” to save for retirement.
* Raising4Boys might buy his kids a Nintendo Wii.
* Get Rich Slowly praises the debt snowball and shares some old songs about money.
* Pfblogs.org will be raising membership prices only for new Friends on November 1 (and for “commercial” members on October 1).

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News Flash: Emigrant Direct Lowers Interest Rate From 5.15% to 5.05% APY

by Luke Landes

I just got work that Emigrant Direct has lowered the interest rate offered on the bank’s savings account from an APY of 5.15 percent to 5.05 percent. This trend might continue, so those who want to lock in high rates may want to start transferring any cash they won’t need for some time into CDs or other ... Continue reading this article…

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Screech’s Agent Pleased With Sex Video

by Luke Landes

Remember when Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved by the Bell) was having problems making payments on his house? He went on Howard Stern’s radio show to try to sell t-shirts to fundraise for his cause. He failed miserably with that attempt, and many say it was a scam, but it looks like he’s turning things ... Continue reading this article…

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GoDaddy Coupon Codes for Domain Registration

by Luke Landes

It was time for me to renew one of my domain names, and I found these coupon codes for GoDaddy. Feel free to use them and share. Coupon code: CHRIS1 for 10 percent off any order (added 9/29/2006) Coupon code: CHRIS2 for $5 off any order $30 or more (added 9/29/2006) Coupon code: CHRIS3 for $6.95 ... Continue reading this article…

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What Should I Do With My Side Business Income?

by Luke Landes

I do a little random work on the side in order to bring in a few extra dollars in addition to my day job. Luckily, most of this “extra” income is over and above my expenses for the month. I generally use the income to pay for business-related expenses, but even afterwards I have some ... Continue reading this article…

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Dow Surpasses All-Time High

by Luke Landes

Everyone is aflutter with the news that the Dow Jones industrial average traded above its record high close this morning. I’m not sure these benchmarks really matter. It may have a small psychological effect, with selling off in the short term, but I’m not too concerned.

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Financial Health Day on Gather

by Luke Landes

Tomorrow, September 28, 2006, is Financial Health Day on Gather. Gather is a social networking and community website that is based around informative articles written by the community members on an incredibly wide variety of topics. Here are some sample personal finance-related articles that will be featured tomorrow: * Pay the Real Estate Property Tax ... Continue reading this article…

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Kiplinger’s 50 Best Values in Public Colleges

by Luke Landes

While we’re on the topic of education, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has conducted a survey to determine this year’s best values in public colleges for undergraduates. In order to rank the schools, Kiplinger’s used SAT/ACT scores, admission rates, freshmen retention rates, student-faculty ratios, graduation rates, tuition costs and other fees, financial aid, and accumulated student debt, ... Continue reading this article…

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My MBA at the University of Phoenix Online, Part 3: Course Logistics

by Luke Landes

If you’ve been following Consumerism Commentary, you may know that I recently completed my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at the University of Phoenix Online. I’ve been writing a series, which is basically a review of the University of Phoenix. The choice to take this nontraditional route was not a difficult decision for me ... Continue reading this article…

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Gas Price Update

by Luke Landes

Last night, I was able to fill my tank in a central New Jersey Valero station for $2.239 per gallon. To fill up my tank, it was just over $20. It felt good at first, but a few short years ago I had been paying half that amount. Many of the gas stations in my ... Continue reading this article…

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IKEA Rolling Out More Than Meatballs

by Luke Landes

A few months ago, I was helping A. shop for furniture for her new apartment, and part of that shopping was done in the rat maze of IKEA. Of course, I shared the experience and had some thoughts about the company’s furniture. Readers responded with their experiences as well. The latest news from Sweden is ... Continue reading this article…

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Review: The Money Coach’s Guide to Your First Million by Lynnette Khalfani

by Luke Landes

Last month, I received The Money Coach’s Guide to Your First Million by Lynnette Khalfani in the mail from the publisher. Here’s a look at the book from my point of view. First of all, Khalfani (who calls herself the “Money Coach”) has devised an acrostic to outline the path to your first million dollars. ... Continue reading this article…

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September Retrospective

by Luke Landes

Look deeper into Flexo’s history. In September 2004, I wrote about where I had been for the prior few months and returned to regular updates at Consumerism Commentary. I also complained about a new, stealth annual fee being charged by my broker at the time. Last year around this time, I wrote what turned about ... Continue reading this article…

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My Ex Paid For a Semester in College By Doing This…

by Luke Landes

I read on AllFinancialMatters that at least one individual is planning to buy as many of the new Elmo toys as possible and sell them for a mark-up on eBay. While I agree that parents should be able to raise their children so that they’re not having hissy fits and demanding the latest fad toy, ... Continue reading this article…

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My MBA at the University of Phoenix Online, Part 2: Admissions

by Luke Landes

Normally, when you want to be accepted into a university to study towards completion of a Master’s degree, schools require potential students to take the GMAT, a standardized test. The University of Phoenix does not have this requirement. The school has a different philosophy for accepting students.

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The Carnival is Up!

by Luke Landes

The latest Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Canadian Capitalist. There were 53 accepted entries this week. I enjoyed Couples & Money, Ex-Car Salesman Tells All, and Spending Money: Needs vs. Wants.

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Kiplinger’s Article: Must-Read Bloggers

by Luke Landes

Earlier this month, I welcomed readers of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, as Consumerism Commentary was included in an article entitled “Must-Read Bloggers,” amongst a number of several very worthy blogs. I’ve scanned in the pages and included them at the bottom of this post. For some reason, Kiplinger’s editors in their infinite wisdom decided not ... Continue reading this article…

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