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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.


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

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.



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 left over. The money sits in an ING Direct account, which is less of a hassle to deal with than other, higher-interest savings accounts.

So what should I do with the money?

  • Pay off my student loans faster. This is the most likely candidate. Some of these funds are being paid back at very low rates of interest, but not all of it.
  • Pay off my car loan faster. I am paying 2% APR on my loan, so this is not the best choice. However, the money was borrowed from a family member (who insisted I borrow). He also insists there’s no need to pay back any faster than our agreement stipulates.
  • Save up for a down payment on a house. I don’t know where I want to live yet, or many of the other details that should be necessary to know before making this commitment. I do know that I’ll need money–much more money than I have. I already have a savings account earmarked for “Relocation,” to which I add $55 from every paycheck.

No matter what I do, a good portion of the side business income should be saved for taxes, just in case I find myself with a large bill in April. I should also set aside a portion to invest in my SEP IRA.


University of Phoenix LogoIf 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 due to my previous experiences with online education, but many people I’ve talked to have considered it without making a decision due to lack of information.

The question asked of me most often is simply, “How does it work?” Here’s how. Read the full article →


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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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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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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My MBA at the University of Phoenix Online, Part 1: The Decision

by Luke Landes

In August, I completed my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with the University of Phoenix Online. I’m putting together a series about the entire experience. When I started working for my current employer in 2002, I decided to take advantage of the practically free education they were offering, 90 percent reimbursement for any work-related classes ... Continue reading this article…

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DreamHost Back in the Game, Here’s $20 For You

by Luke Landes

I’ve been hosting my websites through DreamHost since December 1999. The last several months have been very rocky as the “little hosting company” with its humble beginnings as the New Dream Network has expanded exponentially. They’ve just performed a major upgrade on their infrastructure, and now all my websites seem to be running well. For ... Continue reading this article…

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Estimated 2007 Tax Brackets

by Luke Landes

Kiplinger has the estimated tax savings you’re likely to see for the 2007 tax year (when you file in April 2008). Here are the estimated tax brackets, take a look to see where you fall:

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FranklinCovey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Luke Landes

A visitor came to my organization yesterday to present a day-long seminar to about fifteen people based on the book by Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’m not a big fan of group-think pop-philosophy self-help seminars, but there were a few things I could take away from the session. Aside from ... Continue reading this article…

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College Savings Plans Still Tax-Free, For Now

by Luke Landes

When I signed up for Upromise a few years ago, my intent was to start savings the rebates in a fund for higher education expenses for a hypothetical child I might have some time in the future. At the time, 529 accounts were new. They provide investments with tax-free earnings if the money if eventually ... Continue reading this article…

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Find a Financial Advisor Online

by Luke Landes

Some readers of financial blogs keep coming back for the free “advice.” There are some better ways to get in touch with financial advisement online, and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has a few suggestions for finding a real advisor through the internet. * The Alliance of Cambridge Advisors is a network of 75 advisors in 25 ... Continue reading this article…

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Carnival of Investing #40

by Luke Landes

Welcome to the 40th Carnival of Investing, hosted by Consumerism Commentary. If this is your first visit here, feel free to take some time to learn about me and this website. Thanks to Jonathan from MyMoneyBlog for the opportunity to host this traveling event. Now, on with the show, starting with my favorites, “Editor’s Choice.” ... Continue reading this article…

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Today is National Get Out of Debt Day

by Luke Landes

Did you know that today, Tuesday, September 12, 2006 is “National Get Out of Debt Day?” Neither did I. Today, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling is taking questions online and over the phone… and answering those questions, free of charge. So, who are these people answering questions, and will they be trying to sell ... Continue reading this article…

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Did You Notice Today’s Date?

by Luke Landes

The blogosphere seems to be saturated with stories retelling what people were doing when they first heard (or felt) the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center five years ago, on September 11, 2001. Here’s my contribution to the meme.

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The Story of the $300 Deposit, or: Looking for Apartments, Update 6

by Luke Landes

As you may know, I’ve resigned my current lease and I’m no longer looking for a new apartment. Back in early June, I described the best and most affordable apartment I found. I also described how they advertised the unit as being available July 1. After showing us the apartment, they mentioned it wouldn’t be ... Continue reading this article…

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Sometimes, You Spend Some Money

by Luke Landes

My weekend, spent in New York with my girlfriend, was a little expensive. No, we didn’t crash in a Manhattan hotel, nor did we see a Broadway show. All of our time was spent in Queens. On Satuday morning, without any plans for the weekend yet, we decided to be spontaneous. Here’s what we decided ... Continue reading this article…

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Drowning in Debt? 6 Tips for College Students and Recent Grads

by Luke Landes

One of the books I’m working on is The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, by Anna Ivey. I write a bit about decisions regarding graduate education, thanks to decisions I make in my own life, so I agreed to mention the book on Consumerism Commentary. One of the many things I learned while pursuing ... Continue reading this article…

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