As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!


With W-2s and other tax forms now appearing in our mailboxes (or inboxes) daily, chances are that taxes are on your mind. If you believe you’ll owe money to the government, it makes sense to put off filing as long as possible, up to this year’s filing deadline. If you expect to receive a refund, however, file your taxes early to receive your money faster.


Previously, H&R Block offered a product that allowed customers to get their refund even faster than the few weeks the IRS takes to process. However, they no longer offer these (though, you can sign up here to be first in line when they begin offering the Emerald advance lines of credit again). While you can find anticipation loans through third-party companies, these are typically accompanied by high fees. So, as of now, the least expensive and quickest way to receive a refund is to allow the IRS to deposit your refund directly into your bank account.

Regardless of how you receive your refund, you can file online using H&R Block’s system if you’d prefer to not visit a local office in person (buying a software package is one more option you have, too!). Here is what you need to know about filing online.

Different editions available

H&R Block offers three tiers of their online filing system in 2017 (for filing your 2016 taxes).

[click to continue…]


I have one free download code for Quicken 2015 for Mac to give away to a lucky reader. Instructions are at the bottom of this article.

It’s been nine years since Intuit released a version of Quicken that was both fully-featured and designed to run on Apple’s hardware and operating systems. The Quicken Essentials for Mac bridged a technology gap between Quicken Mac 2007 and the Windows versions of the software, but many important pieces were missing.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.20% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.

Intuit has no announced their plans to release Quicken 2015 for Mac, and the software is available for pre-order beginning today. I had a chance to take a look at Quicken 2015 for Mac earlier this week. I am not a Mac user; I’ve been using Quicken Deluxe or Quicken Home & Business on Windows for years, and I’ve upgraded every year except this past year. But every time I’ve written a review of the latest Quicken product for Windows, I’ve heard from many readers who have been dreaming of a Quicken Mac version that contains all the features of the Windows version that can be run natively in OS X.

And that’s what Intuit is presenting today. It’s a complete re-write of the Quicken codebase (as it would need to be because of the requirements of OS X). And sometimes, from an application development perspective, when you’ve been modifying the same code for two decades, it’s good to start from the beginning with a fresh codebase.

Mac users will like the improvements. The interface borrows from what has worked well in Quicken’s mobile versions, and in fact, Intuit is also releasing an update mobile application for Quicken (the 2014/2015 mobile app).

The Quicken 2014/2015 mobile app.

Intuit promises the new mobile app will provide faster syncing between your desktop financial information and your mobile. A new feature allows you to easily take a snapshot of your receipts and enter the information for easier entry as a transaction, either on the spot or later. There are many mobile applications that allow you to organize your receipts, but if you’re a Quicken user, this built-in feature is essential.

Quicken 2015 for Mac desktop.

The sleek new interface is a welcome change. This overview screen shows how Quicken has improved its budget tracking features over the years, and most newer Quicken users are interested in tracking a budget. Quicken has really focused on household spending, and this has been seen more in the recent versions of the Quicken mobile app, and the same approach is now being featured in the desktop version of Quicken 2015 for Mac.

But the new version also finally gives Mac users powerful tools for tracking investments. It’s been almost ten years since a version of Quicken for Mac was able to do anything more than track investment balances. Like Windows users, Mac users can now track not only the balances in investment accounts, but the transactions as well. The investment features of the latest software are finally on par not just with the Windows version, but with users’ expectations for fully-featured personal financial management software.

Mac users can now track gains and losses, investment performance over time, and other important facets of all types of investment accounts, from stock trading portfolios to 401(k) retirement accounts.

Automatic upgrades for one year.

Intuit is trying something new with Quicken 2015 for Mac. When you buy the software, you will receive free, automatic software upgrades for one year. This is somewhat similar to how the Windows version works. Every time you open the Quicken software, the software checks to see if any new updates are available. There’s an important difference, however. The Windows updates are only bug fixes. And as most Quicken for Windows users know, there are undoubtedly bugs that need to be fixed with every new version.

However, with Quicken 2015 for Mac, the updates throughout the year will also include new features. According to Intuit, they are closely listening to their community of Mac users to determine what features to include. Any new features for one year will be automatically rolled out to all Mac users.

What’s missing from Quicken 2015 for Mac.

Intuit prioritized the features to include in the software based on feedback from Mac users. But as this is a new piece of software, built from the ground-up, and because Intuit is keeping to a release schedule, there are many interesting features available in the Windows version of Quicken that have not yet found their way into this new release for Mac users.

For instance, there is no calendar view of upcoming bills. The Mac version doesn’t include a debt reduction planner, something that many Windows users have found useful or at least interesting. Quicken for Mac doesn’t support some types of investment transactions, particularly those dealing with employee stock purchasing plans (ESPP). That would have been a deal-breaker for me. The retirement planner and goals planner are among some of the Windows features that are still missing from the Mac.

You can, however, vote on the features you’d like to see added to Quicken for Mac 2015 throughout the year. Intuit plans to listen to its community of users as much as possible, and implement the features that are most desired.

Final words.

For a Mac user that is serious about his or her finances, Quicken 2015 for Mac is a must buy. There’s always the alternative of running Quicken for Windows on a Mac through emulation, but the new interface makes the native version more appealing, but only if you don’t need the features that are currently missing from the Mac version.

The new software is an amazing improvement over what has previously been available for Apple’s operating systems, and the integration with mobile is a advantage worth the upgrade for users still hanging onto Quicken Mac 2007. Furthermore, any version of Quicken is much more feature-rich than any other financial management software available.

Intuit’s own (through acquisition) Mint has captured the interest of a new generation of financially-minded individuals and households, but Quicken holds so much more power, and as someone moved beyond basic budgeting and spending tracking to grown-up financial needs like investing for retirement or being the head of a household, Quicken is an essential upgrade over Mint.

Not surprisingly, having the Intuit team take me through a demo of the software earlier this week has piqued my interest for the latest Windows upgrade. I skipped Quicken 2014 for Windows, and I’ve been reading that users are still having problems with this version. I’d like to see some of the interface improvements and underlying technology fixed with the next version for Windows. It would be great to see a ground-up rewrite of the code, just like the Mac version, but with a tight yearly upgrade cycle, I doubt that will be the case any time soon for Windows users.

How to buy Quicken 2015 for Mac.

Quicken 2015 for Mac is available today for immediate download from Intuit, the Mac App store, or If you prefer receiving software in a box in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM format (does anyone?), the software will be available in October in retail locations.

The price today is $74.99.

I have one free download code for Quicken 2015 for Mac to give away to a lucky reader. Instructions are at the bottom of this article.

Quicken 2015 for Mac FAQs.

Here are some of the questions I’ve received so far.

Can you edit investment transactions?

Yes. Unlike Quicken Essential for Mac, the investment features are implemented the same way as all other accounts, so you can add, edit, and delete transactions. The software does more than just track your investment balances.

Can you import old data?

Yes. You can import data from any previous version of Quicken for Mac or Windows into Quicken 2015 for Mac.

Give us your feedback.

Once you’ve downloaded the software and have had a chance to import your data (or begin from scratch), let other potential users know about your experiences. I’ve had a chance to look at the software from afar, and I like what I see, but I don’t have a Mac to run the software for myself. Do you like the new features, and do they work as expected? Are you missing the few aspects of the program that are available on the Windows version but not yet on Mac?

Free download giveaway.

Update: The giveaway has ended, and the winner is @beskie.

Want to download Quicken 2015 for Mac for free? I have one download code to give away to a Consumerism Commentary reader. In order to qualify, follow these instructions:

  • For one point, post the following to Twitter: Read the @Quicken 2015 for Mac review by @luke_landes and win a copy! #giveaway.
  • Get an extra point if you have over 1,000 followers, another extra point if you have over 5,000, another extra point if you have over 10,000, another extra point if you have over 50,000, etc.
  • Leave a comment below with your Twitter ID and write briefly about your experience with Quicken. If you leave a comment and don’t post to Twitter, you’ll still get one point.

Every point you receive gives you one entry in the giveaway. I’ll choose the winner randomly on September 1.

The images in this post were provided by Intuit.


The giveaway has ended. Thank you for participating! I’ve contacted the winner by email. We may launch another giveaway in the coming months, so follow me on Twitter and follow Consumerism Commentary on Facebook to be the first to know when there is another opportunity to win a free copy of Quicken 2013.

Intuit is offering Consumerism Commentary readers the chance to win a copy of Quicken Home and Business 2013. This is the same software I have been using for many years to track my personal finances as well as my business finances. Read my review of Quicken 2013 here, published yesterday.

Compared with the Starter Edition, Deluxe, and Premier flavors of Quicken, the Home and Business edition of the software is most suitable for people who, like me, have or have had investments and side income to track accurately. Even when my business accounting became more important and I attempted to switch to QuickBooks for tracking my business’s financials, I continued using Quicken to maintain a complete picture of my life from the financial perspective.

Through Quicken, I was able to generate personal finance reports to publish on Consumerism Commentary on a monthly basis.

The Home and Business edition is best suited for anyone from bloggers earning a small bit of income from their websites to small business owners. Over the past several years as the owner of a blog-based business, I’ve used Quicken extensively for organizing more than just my personal finances.

  • I’ve made a heavy use of Quicken’s invoicing and payment tracking tools.
  • Quicken has helped me to chase down clients or advertisers who were late on their payments.
  • The software gave me an idea of my accounts receivable at any moment so I could make good decisions about potential business expenses.
  • The business expense tracking allowed me to easily prepare for increasingly difficult income tax returns for the business.
  • As a professional writer and business owner with income from various sources, Quicken helped me decide how to spend my time for the best increase of revenue.

Quicken 2013 giveaway

Thanks to Intuit, I have one copy of Quicken Home and Business 2013 to give away to a Consumerism Commentary reader. The winner will be chosen randomly from visitors who comment on this article. The comment should be substantive and answer these questions:

What is your motivation for improving your financial life? What are your life goals for which a strong financial situation is necessary?

At the same time, if you link to the Quicken 2013 review or this Quicken 2013 giveaway in any form of social media, be it Twitter or your own blog, for example, let me know in your comment below as well. Each social media share (and there are other options beyond Twitter and your own blog) listed in your comment and confirmed will earn an extra chance to win. Don’t forget your comment needs to include an answer to the question or questions above.

For example, if you answer the questions with substantive thoughts and point out that you’ve shared the review on your own site and on Google Plus, you have three total chances to win.

Scroll down or click here to leave your comment in answer to the above questions. The winner will be selected randomly. All comments must be received by Sunday night, October 7, 2012, at 11:59 pm Pacific Time in order to be considered valid for the giveaway.


Quicken 2013 Review

This article was written by in Software. 109 comments.

The new Quicken 2013 adds an extensive mobile experience to the software. This is a must-have upgrade for long-time Quicken users. For the latest version, see this Quicken 2015 for Mac review.

Starting today, the new version of Quicken is available for purchase. While 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 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 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 savings 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.

Quicken mobile

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

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 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 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.


TurboTax 2017: Is it the Best Option for You?

by Luke Landes

TurboTax is one of the most well-known online tax filing softwares, and with good reason. It’s a full-featured option that takes you through your taxes step by step. Though it’s more expensive than other options on the market, it can be a good investment for those who have never DIY filed before, or those with […]

67 comments Read the full article →

Quicken 2012 Review With Video

by Luke Landes
Quicken 2012 Budget Planner

Quicken 2013 is now available. Read a full review of the latest version of the software be clicking here. What follows is a review of Quicken 2012, now outdated. For the last few days, I’ve been testing the new version of Quicken Home and Business. While most people who track their finances have moved to […]

34 comments Read the full article →

Quicken 2011 Review and Giveaway

by Luke Landes

Are you looking for the latest version of Quicken? Here is my review of the newest version, Quicken 2013. Downloads of Quicken 2013 are available today. I’ve been using Quicken for six years, and I have eight years’ worth of financial data in my files. I had the opportunity to take the beta version of […]

215 comments Read the full article →

Quicken Online Users Must Convert to

by Luke Landes

After a three years of operation and the acquisition of a competing product, Quicken Online will be completely replaced by on August 29, 2010. Both Quicken Online and have served the same purpose. These website applications help people save more money by tracking their financial accounts and offering suggestions for improvements. At the […]

4 comments Read the full article →

More Professional Collateral for Free

by Smithee

Many of us who want to earn more money have side jobs, or a flourishing freelance business or two. We want our customers and clients to take us seriously, but first impressions are often ruined by amateur—or even bad—graphic design. Unless you hire a designer, you’ll never get the constructive criticism you need in order […]

1 comment Read the full article →

TurboTax Online Review, New Features

by Luke Landes

Last year was the first year I abandoned my own tax return preparation, deferring to a professional to do the dirty work. I’m glad I did; he suggested I restructure my business retroactively, resulting in a savings of about $15,000. I still haven’t seen most of this; the IRS is still processing my amended 2008 […]

1 comment Read the full article →
Page 1 of 41234