I’ve reviewed a lot of personal finance software here on the blog and figured it was about time to provide a Quicken Deluxe review given Quicken is probably the most well-known personal finance software product available. Quicken, by Intuit, has been around for as long as I can remember. The first product I used was Microsoft Money. I remember Quicken and Money being the two top products that competed with one another as desktop personal finance software for years. Today, there are many flavors of financial software, which include solutions that just focus on budgeting and more robust solutions, such as Quicken, that integrate all of your financial accounts in one place.
Budgeting with Quicken Deluxe
If you know me, then you know my primary criteria for evaluating and considering personal finance software is the budgeting and spending capabilities. So these were the initial features I explored when I opened up the software for the first time. As with Mint, Intuit’s web-based software, Quicken pulls in your transactions from credit cards, checking accounts and more. You can choose to download your transactions, or enter them manually. If you choose the auto-sync, Quicken will categorize the transactions for you based on their out of the box budget categories.
Quicken comes with a list of common budget categories and budget groups. You can edit these based on your preference and select the ones you want to use to track for your budget. I was pleased to see rollover options in Quicken which I understand was added back to the product this year. This feature was missing from Microsoft Money many years ago and was really what made it a bad budgeting product for me. The roll over feature let’s you choose between rolling over positive balances or the overall balance to the next month (even if negative). This is important to me, especially, when tracking my spending money. I might be in the hole next month if I spend ahead, or positive if I didn’t spend all of my money. I think it’s important to reflect this in the next month’s budget.
The auto categorizing with out of the box categories is completely a personal preference for folks, but it’s just not something that works for me. I guess I’m a bit old fashioned because it doesn’t really bother me to enter my transactions manually and categorize them and choose my own budget categories. Still, if you want to save time and you like Quicken’s auto categorization to their out of the box budget categories, you’ll find this feature helpful. Either way, Quicken nicely remembers category selections each time you enter a transaction, so it saves you a lot of time.
Quicken Deluxe Features
There are many features of the Quicken Deluxe software that I think makes it the most robust personal finance software available. I’ve provided highlights of each of the features that stood out to me.
Debt Reduction – Quicken Deluxe provides the capability to link debt accounts such as credit cards, car payments, etc. and set up a customized debt plan. You can edit the plan using”what if” scenarios to see if you can pay off your debt sooner with a single payment, increase the monthly payment or reorder payment on your debts. Overall, I found this a great feature of the product that is user friendly and provides nice graphics.
Lifetime Planner – Admittedly, I haven’t spent a lot with the lifetime planner yet. This feature helps you establish a financial plan based on certain life events. In my mind this is a key differentiator with the Quicken Deluxe product from other personal finance software or budgeting programs. In most cases, you need to see a financial adviser to create a lifetime plan.
Tax Center – Tax functionality provides the ability to track taxable income and tax related expenses by assigning the appropriate tax categories to transactions. You can also use the tax planner feature to estimate your tax situation for the year so you can make changes more timely.
Savings Goals – Savings goal is another tool you can set up that helps you track your savings towards specific goals such as your emergency savings, new car and more. It will track how much you’ve contributed towards your total goal when you enter contributions in your register.
Bills – Bill reminders can be set up for all of your bills to make sure you don’t miss any payments. Bill pay is an additional feature for $9.95 per month.
Net Worth Tracking – The net worth is a good planning feature that provides a snap shot of assets and liabilities in graphical format based on the information you’ve provided Quicken. You can review net worth across different time periods and by specific accounts.
Alerts – Alerts help you monitor different factors related to your finances. They can be set up across accounts, taxes or general areas and are quite robust. For example, you can set alerts on certain monthly expenses in your budget category which I think could be helpful in staying within your budget limits. Alerts don’t email but you can see them in an alerts list or set them to pop up in the software.
Reports – The reports are extremely robust. I couldn’t imagine someone not finding a report they need within Quicken Deluxe. Quicken provides reports to manage your cash flow, see historical spending, taxes and more. From a budget and planning standpoint, they provide the critical reports I need to see how I’ve spent money for different categories and tags.
Of course, the features I mentioned just highlight the core functionality. Each of these features offer more functionality within by providing different options, views, filters, etc. There are many fields for tracking information, such as bill payee websites, that aren’t even required, but helpful to using the software and capturing financial information.
The following are the primary advantages I see in using Quicken Deluxe.
Rich personal finance functionality - I’ve already mentioned that I think Quicken is the most robust personal finance software I’ve seen. I’ve been using budgeting software to manage our spending and haven’t used personal finance software, such as Quicken for a long time. The savings goals and debt tools alone are great tools and reasons people should consider Quicken. The budgeting features appear to meet my requirements with the roll over capabilities and ability to move money around from one category to another during any given month.
Mobile integration – Having mobile integration is a requirement these days. It just makes it easier to stay on top of your finances and communicate with your spouse, if married, about money. Quicken provides these products for free with the purchase of the software.
Account integration – Along with the robustness advantage, you can integrate all of your accounts in this software. This is great for seeing everything in one place. The sync feature also pulls in your transactions if you don’t want to manually enter them or upload them.
Graphics and user interface - Overall, the software has a user friendly graphical interface. Their are charts throughout that help in reading your data. For the most part, I think the navigation is intuitive as well.
Complexity and learning curve – While Quicken is robust, there is a learning curve. This is not software you’re going to set up in 5 – 10 minutes, if you want to take advantage of all the features. I found myself visiting the help center quite a bit to look for answers to my questions. That being said, the help center provided the answers I needed as it’s robust too. If you’re interested in using Quicken deluxe for cash flow management and budgeting, the set up is fairly quick and easy (assuming you know your budget). It will take more time if you need to customize your budget or set it up for the first time. Although, Quicken will help you establish an out – of – the – box budget too. But overall, there are just too many features to make this a quick set up. You’re more likely to be up and running after devoting a few days. In the end I believe it’s worth it.
Quicken isn’t free. If you’re looking for a free option you can use Intuit’s Mint product. I state this because Quicken is premium software. You simply can’t find robust features such as these in free products. The company has put years of experience and work into this product so that’s why they have different versions based on user needs. Quicken Deluxe covers most of your basic personal finance situations. Quicken Premier is the next level which includes investments and you can get other versions for small business and real estate management. There is also a basic version if you’re only interested in budgeting and spending features. This version relates most closely to budgeting software. Finally, there are some add – on premium services such as bill pay and a rewards Visa card. I don’t see myself paying the $9.95 per month for bill pay since I can do this free through my bank. At the time of this post, Quicken Deluxe is being offered for $69.99 which isn’t bad considering the price on some of the subscription based software on the market. You would easily exceed this cost in a year.
This Quicken Deluxe 2013 review was the first time I’ve given Quicken a serious look and as you can tell, I’m pleased with what I’ve found. If you follow the blog, you know I’m a big advocate of budgeting software like Mvelopes and YNAB. Budgeting and spending management are the most important things to me when it comes to personal finance. I’ve automated these areas quite well, but Quicken has broadened my perspective in that I can integrate more of my finances into one tool on my computer and also have the ability to use the mobile capabilities. Overall, I don’t think you can go wrong with Quicken Deluxe. You can pick and choose the features or product that works best for your situation. Just know that it’s feature rich software which will require some time to get everything up and running. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re serious about your personal finances.
Have you used Quicken Deluxe? If so, what do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of the product?