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First Impression of Microsoft Money 2005

Contributed by mm | September 20, 2004 8:14 AM PST

As you might discover from my previous posts, I am using Microsoft Money extensively to track my personal finance status. I didn't upgrade to MS Money 2004 last year, because the upgrade reported that my Money 2003 file was corrupted. During the weekend, I took a try to upgrade to the fresh-out-of-oven Microsoft Money 2005, and guess what? I was painlessly upgraded to 2005 in five minutes.

I tested the multiple function of MS Money 2005 in the last two days and here is my first impression:

On the brighter side, Microsoft added a lot of "essential" functions, allowing infrequent Money users to better leverage the software. Also, this version is much tightly integrated with the rich content at MSN Money (the online personal finance site), thus adding more value to the user experience. I also like the enhanced look and feel of the interface.

On the other hand, as an experienced user (I have been with Microsoft Money for more than six years by now), I do find some glitches in the upgrade, and some changes unwelcomed.

Where Things Are Broken

- My customized category list in the 2003 version was not preserved correctly.

- "Account List" is facelifted; however, account names and balances sit in the opposite side of the screen, causing a tremendous eye strain.

- Home page has much less customization options -- I still love the crammed but useful "at-a-glance" home page from 2003.

- Connecting your existing accounts to online services is troublesome: unlike in 2003, in which you will be prompted to match an online account with an existing account in your Money file first, it seems that Money 2005 simply creates a new account every time you connect to a new online source, causing a number of duplication to me. To be fair, Money 2005 does provide a "merge" feature, but this same feature requires to delete all my historic transactions not duplicated in the other account.

- Portfolio customized views in 2003 was not carried over after the upgrade.

All in all, I see offseting benefits and shortcomings from the Money 2005 upgrade as an experienced user, but I can clearly see it is very user friendly for entry-level users. If you want to make more sense of your personal finance, and have not started tracking it yet, you should start using some personal finance software -- think about getting a piece of Microsoft Money 2005 as the best holiday gift for yourself.

(One more reason for choosing Money: it includes a free one-year credit monitoring service from Experian, a retail value of $119!)

This Post Has Received 26 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.

Star Commented on September 20, 2004

Thanks for posting the review. What would you say are some of your favorite features of Money/the ones you most frequently use? I've had MS Money 2002 on my computer, which frankly I have used only sporadically. Recently, I tried Quicken 2005, but found in it some of the same things that have irritated me about Money - I guess these personal finance programs really aren't perfect, so I'll have to learn to live with their shortcomings! Having spent a few hours playing around with Quicken, and then reading a number of on-line reviews, I made the decision to go back to Money, since the 2005 version seems to be somewhat superior to Intuit's software. So now I'm giving it another try... I ordered a copy from Amazon (a great price, btw, after the rebate), so I look forward to giving it a try.

mm Commented on September 21, 2004

Here are some of my favorite features:

- Online Transaction Download: This definitely saves time in bookkeeping (not all banks offer online download though)

- Lifetime Planner: an easy-to-use tool to see how your financial decisions year-over-year can drive net worth growth

- Customized Reports: I can export reports to Excel for further tabulation and analysis.

Hope this helps.

Adam Aspeed Commented on September 25, 2004

I checked out Money 2005, and Quicken 2005 and didn't find a lot of reasons to upgrade. There is a little more support for online banking, but not enough to justify the cost of the upgrade. I read the reviews on Yahoo Finance and they all thought the same thing. I think they need to come up with a solution that is 100% online. It would be nice to access all your data from anywhere, not just where you have the software installed.

KK Commented on July 13, 2005

I have been using MS Money 2003 for about 2 years now with no problem. The reason I did not upgrade to 2005 is because they had a clause that online transaction download will be disallowed after 2 years. Thus you will be forced to upgrade every 2 years.

Jamie Commented on August 8, 2005

I just got Quicken 2006 and have been fiddling with it for the last few days. I think it's actually the better product now, so I hope folks will consider it. I actually had the 2004 version but refused to upgrade last year. I just didn't think it was worth it. But I love some of the improvements they implemented this year.

For example:
- you can automatically have credit card transactions that are downloaded in to your report renamed as you wish
- you can get one click views of recent transactions in the same category or to the same vendor
- you can attach copies of your receipts (scanned) to the Quicken transaction to ensure that you don't lose it in case you need to reference it again
- electronic bank receipts and bills can be saved as well

Net: If you don't have a personal finance software program, consider Quicken. If you have 2004 Quicken or earlier, upgrade.

Jamie Commented on August 8, 2005

PS I should state that I would probably not advise switching from Money just yet. I did so years ago and it was a hassle. I guess it's just not in Intuit or Microsoft's interest to allow easy switching between personal financial software.

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