For 15 years, Microsoft has been tirelessly publishing Microsoft Money as an annual ritual during summer time. Is one and half decade too long for perfecting the way of individual bookkeeping? For two years in a row, I can hardly feel any major improvements from the annual upgrade.
Let me take point by point from the What's New section and explain why the new features are barely relevant to me:
IMPROVED! Spending Tracker. The improvement is you can track all spending categories instead of barely three in the 2005 version. Still, I don't have much variable-cost spending categories. For me, I only need to track clothing and dining out and no more. After all, how many variable-cost spending categories do you have?
IMPROVED! Transaction and account matching. The function is already good enough for me in the 2005 version.
NEW! Exchange-Traded Funds (ETF) center. You can get it free from MSN Money ETF Center.
NEW! Automatic investment ticker. Yes, it is nice to see a customized ticker flying in your Money interface, but how long are you going to stare at your Money program every day? (The free QuoteTracker is a better program if you are a sophisticated DIY investor.)
IMPROVED! Portfolio stock pricing. "Automated price quotes keep your portfolio calculations up to date and help generate accurate return on investment (ROI) information." This is to admit Money 2005 has an unfixed bug in portfolio return calculation. (Last year it happened to me that a two-stock portfolio had a total return of $500, which two individual stock logged return of $300 each.)
NEW! Pay more than one bill at a time. This is good, but again it is not a big time saver: you will still need to pay several batches of bills every month based on the timing of the due dates.
NEW! Back up to CD. Big deal. I don't think one needs to back up to CD more than twice a year ... our hard drive is reliable enough these days. And when I do back up, I usually encrypt the file from my harddrive using special software first, before burn it to a CD.
I'm not complaining. After all, I receive free upgrade from my employer every year, and I'm using Microsoft Money extensively for bookkeeping and performance reporting. I consider a program like this is essential to DIY personal finance management; I just expect more innovations.
So the final recommendation:
- If you haven't used a personal accounting software, or still in versions earlier than 2004, consider to buy one. Microsoft Money 2006 Deluxe sells at $59.95 MSRP (or cheaper based on channels and includes bundling of a credit report and one-year credit monitoring service from Experian as a plus.
- If you are already in Money 2004 and Money 2006, you can safely skip this upgrade.