QuickBooks and Quicken users: advice, please

I’ve been using Quicken 98 and QuickBooks Version 6 for my personal and small business accounting, respectively, since 1998. I’ve never upgraded because a) both do all I need them to do pretty well, b) I haven’t signed up for online banking, and c) I didn’t feel like paying for constant mandatory upgrades that gave me little in the way of added value.

My questions are:

  1. Do these programs still require annual updates, in the sense that some critical feature (i.e. downloading data from your bank) will stop working if you fail to upgrade in time? Do you consider it worthwhile?

  2. If I jump to the latest version of either program, will it be able to import all my data from my current really old versions?

  3. Is online banking all that great? I’ve been reconciling statements manually since I opened my first checking account about a hundred years ago. I’m used to it and I don’t find it all that burdensome. I’m sure doing it electronically will save me some time, but so what?

  4. Is online bill paying all that great? Is it easily available for free, or am I likely to have to pay for it?


I use Quicken 2006 Basic for my personal stuff (since 2006) and Quickbooks 2005 Professional for my small business since 2002 (thus, I have upgraded Quickbooks).

  1. I use some manner of the Quickbooks Payroll services, which costs $299/year I think. I know I waited till the last minute to switch to 2005 when 2002 was no longer supported…but it’s worth it. I could not do payroll without it. I’d have no idea how much tax to withhold or how much liability to pay each month. I think with our $299/year we just get tax table updates but it’s worth the price for me. I’m sure that’s less than I’d have to pay an accountant.

But, you do not have to upgrade to the newest version every year. Just when they tell you your version is never ever going to work for what you want.

Secretly, I am envious of Intuit for having corporate America by the balls like this. Brilliant business plan!

  1. No idea. You might want to check out the Intuit forums for this one, or ask someone at Intuit.

  2. I like online banking. We chose our bank based on how it would work with Quickbooks. The only thing that sucks is that I have not figured out how to do “splits” properly - so if I get paid by 4 checks for 4 invoices I have to make 4 separate deposits into the ATM so they can each be their own “Receive Payments” entry. I do my ATM banking in the middle of the night, though, so as not to piss off people waiting behind me.

I didn’t have online banking set up for our credit cards for a long time. We have 3 different CC accounts, and I would get lazy and not enter stuff for months. Now, I just click click click - reconciled!

My personal checking account is through a credit union and doesn’t have Quicken downloads. It’s a pain in the butt to manually enter stuff, and sometimes I get it wrong. I couldn’t imagine having to do it manually for ALL of my accounts. Icky.

  1. I’ve never used online bill pay through Quicken/Quickbooks. I do not think it’s free. I think there’s 3 kinds of online bill pay:
  1. Through your bank, which may or may not charge. They just send your payment request to a clearinghouse which writes and mails a check drawn on your account. Hella slow, but saves on stamps.
  2. Payment through checking or credit card via the pay-ee’s Web site. This is the shit, and I use it all the time for all of my bills - from the company payroll tax to all our credit cards to my electric bill. It’s usually free and often can be scheduled.
  3. Payments through services like Quicken or Quickbooks - which I assume are like #1 but not through your bank.

Online bill pay, not related to Quickbooks or Quicken, is f’n awesome. It might be awesome through Quicken/Quickbooks too if it’s reasonably priced and helps you get stuff paid on time. And saves you stamps!

I refuse to let Quickbooks or Quicken rec my books on their own. The way I see it, when I do it by hand, I manually check each entry, no chance for something eroneous to get through. If you let QB do the bank rec on it’s own and there are incorrect charges on your account, you’ll never know it.

Oh, and by the way, Quickbooks 2007 is a piece of shit. It’s slow and buggy and stupid. Hopefully, 2008 will be better, but we usually only upgrade every 3 years or so.

Thanks, ZipperJJ and JoeyP.

IIRC, a few years ago there was a stink when they changed the file format for the data exchange between the program and the bank, and you had to upgrade to continue with online banking. I got the impression then that they were implementing, or at least considering, similar measures that required upgrading on an annual basis.

But if what you’re both saying is right, either I’m wrong about that, or they changed their plans because of the uproar.

And how often has that been for you since you started using the program?

JoeyP: What are the bugs and problems that cause you to call it a POS? And are you saying that you don’t even use the automatic reconciliation, or that you just check it by hand afterward?

I won’t let any program do the rec on it’s own, QB or quicken. But that’s just me. My problems with QB2007 don’t have anything to do with the auto rec, since I’ve never used it. QB2007 is VERY VERY slow for starters. You can’t turn off the Audit Trail (part of the reason why it’s slow), so you have to remember that anything you do get’s recorded for someone else to look at later should they feel the need to. I have alot of problems with it not allowing me to use it with more then one user, but that may or may not be an issue with my network). It’s really really slow, and it’s just not as good as QB2004. It seems to be kind of bloated. For example, in 2004, if you wanted to see your vendor list, you clicked vendors and the list of vendors popped up along with their balances. In 2007 that happens but theirs also another window in the box that shows all the open invoices (or all transactions) for the vendor that’s highlighted. While that can be nice, it means that if you need a phone number of a vendor, first you click vendors, then you wait while it loads all the transactions for the vendor that’s highlighted when you open the window. Then you click on the vendor you want and wait while it loads those transactions, THEN you can get your phone number. Yeah, you can turn all that off, but I went and got used to it before I realized it could be turned off.

Another thing, I think is just stupid. I keep both my vendors and customers sorted by amount due (to them, or to me). So when I look at my vendors, it loads them in order of amount due from highest to lowest, then under that is the rest of them in alphabetical order. Okay, so far so good. What I don’t understand is that when I open the vendor list (or cust list) instead of opening up with the fist vendor highlighted, it puts the first vendor with a zero balance at the top of the screen. Then I have to scroll UP to see all the vendors with balances. That seems stupid to me, as the one’s with balances are most likely the ones I want to see. Oh and when I mentioned before about it loading all the transactions for the vendor that’s highlighted when I open the vendor list. It takes, on average, between 3 and 10 seconds to load by first alphabetical vendor which not only has no open invoices, but no transactions at all listed. But I still have to sit their and wait while it figures it out.

And it seems to drag along no matter what I’m doing. I spend alot of time on the phone with both vendors and customers just waitng for QB to do it’s thing so I can get after the info I need. I’ve gotten in the habit of pulling info before I even call them, or if someone else answers the phone, I ask them to find out who it is, so I can pull up the account while they’re on hold.

Yeah, if could be our computers to a certain extent, but I think it’s just really bloated. Trying to be impressive (look here’s a quickreport on the customer you just clicked, I know you just wanted their phone number but if you can wait 12 seconds for that I’ll show you the one transaction you made with them 11 months ago).
Wanna make me happy, how about this as an option, if I ask for a quickreport within the first week of the month, add in last months data as well. Oooooo, even better, a quickreport is setup to run a report for the current month. Let me set the parameters of what a quickreport should be. I’d like to see it be Last month to current date. That would be great. Especially since a quickreport near the beginning of the month is useless.
I could go on, but if you have any specific questions about 2007 let me know.

We got Quickbooks 2002 in 2002, and upgraded to 2005 in 2005 because we had to (as told by Intuit). So, in 6 years I’ve had to upgrade once. I have not run in to a banking download Quickbooks format that 2005 can’t get.

2005 does not seem bloaty at all but I take Joey P’s word on it when he says 2007 is bloated.

You could buy 2005 on eBay if you wanted to try it out. Just make sure it’s new/never been registered. I have a feeling 2005 will be supported for a while.

In regards to reconciling…I did not know Quickbooks had any sort of “auto” reconciling feature. FWIW here is my process…

  1. Download transactions from my bank.
  2. Use the “match” feature in Quickbooks to match transactions to existing transactions (ones I entered on my own) and add/match new transactions I did not yet enter (such as auto-transactions from my merchant account).
  3. When the paper statement comes from the bank, click “Reconcile” for that account. Type in the statement end date and statement end balance.
  4. This brings up a screen that has all of your un-reconciled transactions, and the amount difference between your “ending balance” and existing balance. You then check off all of the transactions that are found on your paper statement (I check them one by one). If you’ve done it right, the amount difference is 0 and everything is reconciled.

Like I said, I didn’t know there was an auto-reconcile feature - but perhaps that is because I prefer doing it “by hand” as well.

Thanks for those details, Joey P. It may not be worth it for me to upgrade, but I’ll look into the free trial possibilities and think it over.

ZipperJJ, I would have assumed that if you’re doing online banking that you wouldn’t get a paper statement anymore. Isn’t it completely redundant to the online reconciliation?

Also, I’m not sure what version you have right now, but be careful if it’s old. We had a HUGE problem with 2004. I did payroll one day and noticed that my paycheck seemed higher then normal (I’m on salary). Then when I went to pay the payroll taxes, they seemed VERY low. Like normally it’s about 1000 dollars and that day it was like nothing. So before I printed any checks I looked around at the other paychecks. QB didn’t take federal taxes out of any of the checks like it’s supposed to. As it turns out, to get people to upgrade that stop deducting federal payroll taxes out of checks on 2004, with NO warning. Honestly, I almost didn’t even notice it. It would have been a friggen trainwreck if I had printed all the checks and handed them out to everyone without noticing that. So it was payday when I was doing this I had to run out and spend a ton of money on 2007, and get it installed and setup so I could pay my employees. If you go onto the intuit forums and go back to 1/1/06 (I think that’s when it happened) you’ll see ALOT of people complaining about that incident.

Thanks, but not an issue for me: no employees! Just me.