Quicken vs. MS Money? It doesn’t matter!

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My friend Ian sent me this email a while back about which program was better, Quicken or MS Money.

From: Ian Ybarra
Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Subject: Question – Personal Finance Software

What personal finance software do you recommend?
Is Quicken preferable to MS Money for reasons other than that MS Money is made by Microsoft?

From: Ramit Sethi [mailto:ramit@stanford.edu]
Sent: Thursday, November 11


I have no strong preference either way. In my experience, they’re both pretty capable. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

MS Money has an easier set up, which is actually pretty important (since the bulk of the hard work is done in coordinating your accounts, choosing categories, etc).

Quicken has a SLIGHTLY better interface overall, but you can customize either one to be roughly equivalent.

Frankly, I’d go with whichever one you can find for free faster.


When it comes to managing your money, the truth is that the tools don’t matter as much as just doing it. This is true of a lot of things:

“If you want to lose weight, stop worrying about which diet is most effective and simply pick whatever programme you find easiest to follow. That’s the advice from nutrition experts in the United States, who have found that dieting success seems to depend on how closely people stick to a diet, rather than which one they choose.” [link]

I was talking to Darrel Rhea last week and he told me a great story. When he was in Hawaii, he was a big fan of racquetball and was lucky enough to be there when one of the world’s greatest racquetball players came to play. The crowd was full of enthusiasts who peppered him with questions about the new racquet that was supposed to be lighter and more versatile than any other product.

This annoyed the champion, who told Darrel to get him a Clorox bottle. The champ took it, smashed it with his foot until it was flat, and challenged anyone to play him. “I’ll beat you with this Clorox bottle,” he said. And he did it, beating the best racquetball player Hawaii had to offer.

In the end, the details don’t matter as much as starting today and being consistent in managing your money.

Update: I wrote more about this topic in A big fear I have of this site (6/17/05)

Now what?

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  1. Ramit-Is there a website where you can download any of these free?

  2. Instead of MS Money or Quicken – check out OnCenter.Yodlee.com. It’s a financial aggregator – you can enter all your accounts there, and it will link to and update them easily, giving you a wholistic view of all your finances, including some reporting.

    I’ve just started using it, and love it.

  3. Also try http://www.wesabe.com once you get it started it learns and it is actually easier and more practical than Quicken or Money imho. Plus, it’s also free!

  4. I think Ramit has mentioned Mint.com on here before. I think it’s great as it aggregates all of your accounts for free.