Quicken Personal Plus 2006

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Quicken Personal Plus 2006
  • Quicken Personal Plus 2006
  • Quicken Personal Plus 2006
  • Quicken Personal Plus 2006

Pros

  • Comprehensive management of personal finances and investments.

Cons

  • Fiddly install for upgrading users.

Bottom Line

If you need better control over complex personal finances, this is more than up to the task.

Would you buy this?

Basic personal finances can easily be managed on the back of an envelope or in a spreadsheet, but once you start juggling salaries, credit cards, mortgages, investment properties and share portfolios, a more structured solution is needed.

Quicken's Personal Plus package is aimed at individuals and families who want to better track and manage their financial situation, but don't need the complexity of a full-blown business finance package. Entering all your personal financial data is inevitably going to be a time-consuming task, but the well thought-out Getting Started model makes the process as painless as it's ever likely to be. This is done by breaking each section into categories and including useful localised lists of major financial institutions and shares to reduce the chances of data entry errors. Transactions from online bank accounts can be imported provided your institution supports QIF exports, which can further minimise the amount of typing required. Passwords can also be set to keep your information private.

Even if your finances require little more than salary tracking and working out how to reduce a mountainous mortgage and credit card debt, Personal Plus can assist with its Debt Reduction Planner, which demonstrates the impact of differing payment schemes. Users with a wider spread of investments can track superannuation and shares, with live updates on share prices for the latter. Assets can be tracked in multiple currencies if required. Reminders can be set for regular bills, and alerts set up to ensure debt doesn't grow to unmanageable levels. A wide (indeed, almost overwhelming) range of reports is available.

Separate modules allow you keep track of emergency contact information and to create an inventory of your possessions for insurance purposes (which can also be imported into your overall assets register). New additions to the 2006 release include integration with E*TRADE for active share traders, and the ability to export reports in PDF format

There are no obvious major flaws with this package, though installation is a tad fiddly for users of earlier versions (a good backup of existing data is essential as well). Both packaging and documentation seem a tad over-keen to sell Quicken's other services (such as online trading and customised stationery), and there are a few odd choices of terminology, such as 'semi-monthly' for 'fortnightly'. However, these are only minor quibbles. If you're willing to invest energy in setting up the system, Personal Plus will make it easy to track your progress towards key financial goals. (You can download a free trial version from Quicken's Web site, though this is time-limited to 30 days use.)

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