The new Quicken 2013 adds an extensive mobile experience to the software. This is a must-have upgrade for long-time Quicken users.
Starting today, the new version of Quicken is available for purchase. While Mint.com and other online services are now very popular for tracking personal finances, I’ve stuck with Quicken for many years. This desktop software from Intuit has many advanced features — and basic features dealing with investments — that will never be built into Mint.com. For people serious about tracking personal finances, Quicken is the only software to use.
Although Quicken isn’t the only desktop software for tracking personal finances still being developed, Quicken’s biggest competitor, Moneydance, is much less sophisticated. Quicken’s former toughest competitor, Microsoft Money, has been defunct for several years. The lack of real competition and Intuit’s plan to focus more on Mint.com have both contributed to Quicken’s slow progress over recent years.
With Quicken 2013, the story is different. There are incremental changes to some features with a number of slight improvements — and these are improvements that the community has been requesting for several years — the biggest change is the addition of a mobile experience.
Improvements to budgeting functionality
Intuit pays attention. The new budget planner was introduces last year and offered a much improved experience for planning full-year budgets and visualizing actual spending and income against the plan. In last year’s review, I wrote the following:
One drawback to Quicken’s budgeting tool is that it does not include a rollover feature. For example, if you budget for an expense of $200 in groceries each month, but you only spent $150, the extra $50 is lost. In real life, and in other budgeting software, that $50 would be available to add to the following month’s spending on groceries, but Quicken does not automatically handle surpluses.
This problem has been solved in Quicken 2013. Budget surpluses can be assigned to different spending categories within the same month or rolled over to the next. There is less of a focus on strict monthly numbers than a broader view of the concept of budgeting.
Although the full-year budget screen appears to be somewhat complicated, it’s very easy to create, edit, and review progress against the budget. The full-year view adds more flexibility in adapting the budget to fit your circumstances.
This solves the problem of a budget in Quicken being too rigid to fit real-life situations, where budgets need to be flexible in order to be useful.
Related to budgets, Quicken has an improved area for savers who wish to define and contribute to specific goals. This is a move away from the mechanical transaction-recording premise of Quicken towards the more personal end of personal finance.
Through Quicken 2013′s updated savings goals feature, you can put money aside, virtually, for any future expense you or your household desires. Some expenses, like a down payment on a house, a vacation, or a child’s education, often require a gradual or slow increase in savings over time. Quicken creates a savings plan to help you stay on track.
Quicken 2013 offers an improved process for setting up new loan and mortgage accounts. Just like setting up new checking or savings accounts, you can download your basic loan information, including interest rates and other pertinent information, directly into the software.
To the right is an example loan overview screen in Quicken 2013. This screen offers a new visualization of what it will take to pay off the loan or mortgage according to its terms. This visualization allows users to easily understand the cost of debt, and it can help to encourage those in debt to do what it can to eliminate it quicker.
People spend more time on mobile devices than they do on desktop or laptop computers, and if any software plans to stay relevant in the future, there must be a mobile component. The latest developments in the software show that Intuit has learned the importance of mobility from its acquisition of Mint.com.
Pictured above is the Quicken 2013 screen that allows you to enable mobile access to your Quicken information, accessible in the software by clicking the Mobile & Alerts tab in the upper right-hand corner of the interface.
To activate mobile access to your Quicken data, Intuit requires you to create a new set of log-in information. In some places this is called a Mobile ID, and in others it is a Cloud ID. Creating this account will sync the spending information in your Quicken data file with your mobile devices, and AndroidOS and iOS are both supported. Tablet apps, both AndroidOS and iOS, are enhanced for those display types, taking advantage of more screen space.
The purchase of the Quicken software includes access to the mobile apps. They are free for users of Quicken.
The mobile applications support only your spending accounts. You can’t access your investing or foreign currency accounts with the mobile apps. This allows you to handle most of Quicken’s features while on the go, including recording transactions, reconciling data against the information downloaded from your banks, and check your budget on the go to help you make spending decisions while you’re away from your computer. If you’ve enabled online access to your spending accounts through Quicken, your bank transaction data will be downloaded in the background so you can use your mobile device for reconciliation.
Rather than collecting a pile of receipts over the course of the month, the mobile applications will allow you to enter spending information as you spend, increasing the chances of accurate tracking. The applications allow you to split transactions into several categories just like the desktop software, and this could theoretically save you from facing the daunting tasks of trying to remember details at a later date.
These are the highlights of the new mobile apps for Quicken 2013:
- View a chart-based visualization of your spending.
- Review a snapshot of your budget, and edit your budget if necessary.
- View your top spending categories for the month.
- Record and edit your transactions while away from your computer.
- Access new mobile alerts.
To the right is the transaction detail view for AndroidOS tablets. All information on this screen is editable.
Part of the new mobile experience includes alerts, as mentioned above. Thanks to the cloud, your data is constantly being crunched.
You no longer need the desktop software to be open and running. With the mobile features enabled, you can create email or text alerts to notify you of changing conditions affecting your budget, like low balances or an approach towards a spending limit.
The mobile applications should be available from their respective stores today, but as of publishing this review, they are not yet available. You can, however, set up your Mobile ID or Cloud ID and begin the process of enabling mobile access. Update: The mobile apps are now available as free downloads from Google Play and the iTunes Store.
These new mobile features are very different than other mobile applications for managing your money, like Mint.com. This is a robust experience designed for users who appreciate the level of tracking and analysis possible with the desktop version of Quicken, impossible with other mobile applications. I would prefer to be able to at least view investment activity in the Quicken mobile experience, but spending and saving certainly deserve extra attention from developers.
Quicken 2013 download and giveaway
For users who have been waiting for a reason to upgrade from a prior version of Quicken, and perhaps dissatisfied with the incremental changes from one year to the next, the Quicken 2013 update including mobile may be a compelling reason to install the new update of the software. That statement applies to users of Windows only. Intuit has yet to finalize an update for Mac users, who must run Quicken in a Windows virtualization if these new features are important. Intuit is eager to support these new updates to the software natively for Mac users, and the company is “evaluating Mac opportunities in the coming year.”
The new version of Quicken comes in all the varieties of the past: Starter Edition, Deluxe, Premier, Home & Business, and Rental Property Manager. The prices have increased over last year’s release. All versions are available for download from Amazon.com or from Intuit directly. You can also buy the box and have the software delivered on a CD-ROM.
October 10: Intuit has already released an updated to Quicken 2013. If installing the software for the first time, if you are connected to the internet, you will be required to download the update when launching the software. If you have already installed Quicken 2013, you will be prompted to install the update the next time you open the application.
November: Although my experiences using Quicken 2013 have been trouble-free, other users are having a very different experience. Intuit’s user support forums and Amazon reviews are full of complaints from users of the new software. Visitors to Consumerism Commentary have also been reporting bugs and problems. Please read the comments on this article before making your purchasing decision.
If you have a problem to report and have notified Intuit or otherwise checked for a resolution, please describe your problem here as well by leaving a comment. This will help other users resolve their issues, or it will warn potential customers about other problems with Quicken.
Note: While some of the screenshots above say Quicken 2012, they are in fact from the newest version, Quicken 2013.
Quicken 2013 giveaway
This giveaway is now concluded.
For a limited time, Intuit and Consumerism Commentary are giving away one copy of Quicken Home & Business 2013. Here’s how to participate in the Quicken 2013 giveaway.
Buy Quicken 2013 today