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A review of Quicken Home and Business 2012 by someone who hasn't ever used Quicken before. Youngandthrifty lists the PROS and CONS she finds with Quicken 2012

One of the benefits of being a personal finance blogger is having the ability to “test drive” things to write reviews about them.  I was given a copy of Quicken Home and Business to try out and review.

I was very very excited to try Quicken because I have heard so many great things about it and it almost seems that any Personal Finance Blogger isn’t really a personal finance blogger if they don’t use some sort of snazzy personal finance software like Quicken to track their spending, their budgets, and their investments all in one place.

Now, I think my review might be skewed because I have never tried Quicken before, I have used Mint.com before Quicken, and I am an extremely low-tech person (which is absolutely shocking to hear from someone who identifies themselves as Generation Y, I know).

I gave it an honest effort, I spent about 4 hours trying to figure out it, clicking on tabs, clicking on graphs, and trying to input data.  Then I became extremely frustrated because I wasn’t doing it correctly and was worried that I would have to be manually inputting data on a regular basis (like correcting my mortgage remaining amount, updating my bank accounts).  I manually inputted all my investments because they do not have Questrade in their database (just like Mint.com).

That would just drive me up the wall.


I tried to set up accounts but then was asked to download some sort of spreadsheet from my bank’s website (which I couldn’t find) so that Quicken could update my Quicken account.  I then resorted to manually inputting my information.  I gave up after four hours and left it again for a week.  With fresh eyes, I tried it again and no luck, really.

Here are some of the PROS and CONS of Quicken that I have gathered in my short time trying it out:

In This Article:


  • Really really detail oriented- if you want detail, Quicken is your software!
  • I really really liked the “reminders” page where they reminded you that you have X number of days left to donate to a charitable organization to receive a tax receipt, or that you have X number of days to sell your shares you want to share for the 2011 tax year.
  • I liked the business section- you can even create invoices.  It is very detailed and “professional”
  • I liked that there were multiple sections, like budgeting, housing and debt, investments, spending, taxes, and business (and more…).  It really felt very much like an “all in one” personal finance software.


  • I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found it very difficult to use.  I wish there was some sort of instruction manual for it (though I must admit I doubt I would have the patience to read through an instruction manual- I barely had patience to read through the “getting started” instructions on the Quicken website)
  • Connecting the information in Quicken to your banking accounts isn’t as easy as Mint.com- It seemed to ask for your last statement date (I am honestly too lazy to scrounge around for my recent banking statements) and asked for you to upload a spreadsheet from your banking website to Quicken.  I was unable to find the said spreadsheet or download link on many of my banking webpages.
  • It also slowed down my laptop (not sure if this is because I had to download a program that would allow Windows to run on my Macbook Pro)
  • It only works on Windows 7 or Windows XP (so no to Macs!)

Final Verdict:

Because it doens’t run on Apple computers (and doesn’t have that seamless intuitive Apple interface that I’m accustomed to), I found Quicken very non-user friendly.  If it was easier to upload account information (like it is on Mint.com) I’m sure my impression of Quicken Home and Business 2012 would be different.  I do not think I’ll be using it for ALL of my personal finance information and needs (I still really like Mint.com because its quick, easy, and there’s an “app for that”).

I do think I will try and include my investments in Quicken and my business information in Quicken because what I am currently using is basically archaic (notebook and pen, anyone?).  I will need to delve more deeply as to how to use Quicken for these.

Readers, are you big Quicken fans?  Have you tried the Home and Business 2012?  If so, what do you think of it?  Any tips for me as to how I can navigate it better?  Do they have “Quicken for Dummies”? 😉

Article comments

Elizabeth says:

I know I’m late to the party but what is the final word on “what to use for day to day tracking” in your opinion?
And a side question: for those using Excel, where did they get their spreadsheets? I’m an Excel beginner so I can’t make a spreadsheet myself…
Any help would be greatly appreciated 🙂

I hate excel, but I tried to use Quicken and set up the software for my parents. It took us 3 hours and 3 people (and a lot of reading), but I think we finally figured it out.
I like mint and wave. Those are a lot simple to manage.

young says:

@Marissa- You found instructions? I tried googling instructions for Quicken but came up short lol.

Chris says:

I just ran across your site via Dividend Ninja. Interesting review… I just thought I’d share a few tips/comments regarding Quicken that might clear up a bit of confusion or be useful:

i) In most cases, you can’t expect to auto download and import investment transactions, even if your broker is supported. For example, TD Waterhouse is “supported”, but transaction import doesn’t really do anything useful. This isn’t really Quicken’s fault… all the brokers use completely different rules that would be hard for Quicken to understand. For most people, even for relatively frequent traders, this isn’t really a problem… it’s not that hard to input stock buys and sells after you do them, then input your dividends once a month.

ii) A lot of commenters mentioned difficulties with reporting in accounts holding US and Canadian listed stocks. I think this is because they’re setting things up wrong. The natural thing in Quicken is to create one account for each of your investment accounts, but Quicken isn’t really set up to work this way. You should create one sub account for your US holdings and one for your Canadian holdings, even if you broker uses the single account concept (like TD Waterhouse RRSPs). Otherwise, yes, everything’s a pain. Of course, this is a bit awkward and not ideal, but it’s par for the course for most personal finance software. GNUCash has the same problem, though it is a bit better because it can have a hierarchy of accounts.

iii) Creating a USD RRSP subaccount as I suggested in (ii) is hard to do! Quicken actually won’t let you do it if you choose the RRSP sub account first. You have to create a normal investment account in USD, enter properties, check off the tax sheltered checkbox, then a “Convert to RRSP” button appears. Many people will probably never discover this.

iv) There is a perennial bug that’s still not fixed in Quicken 2012 where for certain reports, currency transfers from a RRSP sub account denominated in USD to one denominated in CAD get counted as new RRSP contributions, rather than transfers from one RRSP to another. This doesn’t affect the integrity of your underlying data, but it means you may have to run a custom report/search to find out how much you’ve contributed to an RRSP in a given year.

v) Despite all the hassles, Quicken is still worth it for tracking investments. There just isn’t a lot of good software out there that will actually compute true time-weighted IRR including dividends. Doing this in a transaction-based spreadsheet is such a hassle that you only end up doing it once a year, if that, and many people never do it at all. But you just can’t properly benchmark/assess your returns if you don’t.

vi) Related to the last point, I’ve tried virtually all the software that’s out there, Mac, Windows, and Linux, and there really isn’t anything as good for Canadians for tracking investments. Moneydance is weak. GNUCash is just terrible. Ledger-cli is good for hardcore techies and unusable for everyone else and you have to export to something else to do performance reporting. iBank isn’t bad but I worry about being able to get my data out.

vii) I think it’s legitimate to wonder about whether Quicken will survive into the future. It’s the only real competitor in its own market right now, but clearly Intuit wants to try to eventually move consumers to Mint and business users to Quickbooks. There’s also the problem that it’s only available on Windows, and Windows users as a group are a lot less willing to spend money on software, so I’m not sure how profitable it is any more. They’ve already cancelled the UK version of Quicken. This is a real concern because something like Quicken becomes more valuable the more you use it, and you want it to be around. Hopefully it can stick around.

viii) Quicken is a lot more useful as your life becomes more complicated, particularly if you have a home based business.

Anyway, those are my thoughts… just thought I’d share.

Greg says:


Excellent comments! I am pleased someone else seems to have dived in to Quicken as deep as I have.

I just converted from the 2011 version to the 2012 version and see very little different — other than the stuff I’ll never use (debt reduction, budgetting, etc). BUT — my QDF file went from 95+ meg to over 160 meg, which troubles me greatly. I doubt they are storing more detail and fear it is just bloat.


young says:

@Chris- Thanks so much Chris. Those are excellent thoughts and thank you for sharing your experiences. I definitely agree that Quicken is very useful, especially if you can master using it and if you have a home based business. I honestly think it’s great, it’s just that I found it not to be user friendly. If I were able to use it with no problems, I would be so happy. I’m happy at the current moment with just some basic budgeting software so probably something a little easier to use than Quicken would be in the cards for me. Sad to hear that Quicken UK has been cancelled though!

GGovic says:

@Chris – thanks so much for the useful information. I ended up here because I can’t find Canadian based personal finance software that does what I need and want. I noticed TD Waterhouse/TD Canada trust had download to several software programs including Quicken 2011. I was almost convinced that Quicken would do the job, but after reading this blog and others, I hesitate to try it, but after reading your reply, it seems there is not much else out there…which is kinda of mindboggling.

I’ve checked out all the other ones like mint.com but won’t use any third party software either. Can anyone verify if TD works with the Quicken 2012 version, on their site they say they support Quicken 2011?

Were you able to get your Paypal transactions imported? It made a mess of mine …
I haven’t even tried to look @ Questrade but if it won’t import that data I think i’ll need another solution.

I just can’t bring myself to use mint.com due to security concerns I have about storing all my financial data – and account #s / passwords – on a server of a company. One place, one stop for a hacker to ruin my life.

young says:

@SPF- Hmm I wasn’t able to get anything imported. I’m too excel illiterate to do anything. you’re scaring me now. I’m sort of tempted to just shut mint.com down but then it’s just so convenient for me… 🙁

I am an IT guy (though not so technical anymore). Security breaches scare me silly. When I hear of a CC company getting hacked this makes me think that other financial institutions could too! And by storing all of my account #s and passwords in one place is frightening to me. In one fell swoop a hacker could totally cut me off from our money.

Anyhow – still curious – do you know ANY software that will handle both Questrade and Paypal? I am so sick of manually updating everything …

Also – I found that Quicken can’t handle my HELOC accounts properly (or the way I want them handled). They consider them assets when in reality it is my LOC for my Smith Manouevre and technically, my mortgage! I don’t have anywhere automate the fact I OWE this money and it is not a + to my networth! Please advise!

I don’t think you’ll find a re-advancable line of credit support in any software … They don’t even calculate the interest on a LOC with Quicken for me unless I set it up as a loan. I think you are stuck in doing this one manually but the thing is that it’s just about the limit on it so why don’t you just fake it and make it as big as your mortgage then you don’t have to worry about adjusting it. You can then set regular withdrawal for your interest and investments.

I would setup a regular mortgage as a mortgage and setup the LOC as a LOC (it won’t be an asset) and then keep the mortgage tied to the house because that’s really what it is. The LOC is then just an investment loan in Quicken and will always be a negative because of that. The interest will be downloaded automatically (if you sync) and then you just have to schedule your investment out of it depending on how you do it.

Mint never did enough for me to consider it and then all banks appears to void their bank card safety if you do that. The more digital we go, the bigger the play ground for hackers. It’s present and it’s not going away. Do what you can to expose your accounts to the minimum and pick really strong passwords.

young says:

@PIE- That’s my concern about Mint as well.. that the banks will void the safety/ fraud protection with the 3rd party involvement like Mint.

Chris says:

@PF: It’s unlikely that anything can handle Questrade, because Questrade doesn’t support downloading transactions in OFX/QIF format, even manually.

Questrade does support manual downloading in its own wonky version of CSV, and if you have a strong technical background, you might consider using ledger-cli, which has a variety of tools for processing CSV files of various flavours. It is more powerful than Quicken in several ways, but realistically it’s not usable by someone non-technical. The current version (3.0) is also next to impossible to get running on Windows, but runs fine on Macs and Linux.

young says:

@SPF- As a complete IT idiot, I couldn’t help you there, sorry! I just use my classic pen and paper to track my paypal and questrade stuff. #oldschool

Bruce says:

Tried Quicken several times blaming myself for not being able to master it. Very hard to move around in very hard to fix mistakes.
Finally gave up and went back to excell.
Would be nice though to have a program with the templates rather than having to do on my own.

I’ve used Quicken for decades. It has it’s pros and cons but overall it’s quite useful when you have a lot accounts to track. The reports are very useful, especially net worth and transactions reports; quite customizable.

young says:

@Barb- Hopefully I can give it another try sometime… there needs to be some sort of “Quicken for Dummies” book. Or is there one already?

Taming Our Finances says:

It’s hard for me appreciate programs that don’t run natively on a Mac these days. Sad, but apple computers and software run much smother than any windows computer I’ve ever used. Quicken has always intrigued me so thanks for the review.

young says:

@TOF- You’re welcome 🙂 Yeah, once you go Mac you don’t go back.

Greg says:

I have 22 years of Quicken data in one file and love it. I track everything I do financially and probably over think lots of it. I use it every week and answer some sort of question. Recent questions include, “when did we buy X” and “what hotel did we stay in during our vist to your sister in 2003” and “how much did we pay for this mattress when we moved 5 years ago”. Quicken answered those questions with ease..

I would suspect it takes 6 – 12 months to REALLY get it up and running totally. I advise friends who ask to start small and add bits and pieces at a time. Taking four hours to trial Quicken just won’t do it. Your financial life is more complicated than that.

Ask yourself — how many credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts and items of property do you have. Each can (and should) be tracked. BUT, if you just wanted to track one bank account — that can be done as well.

It takes dedication. It is work. But it is worth the effort, IMHO.

And, people are right — US$ reporting sucks a little and could be a lot better.

Questions? Feel free to ask!!


young says:

@Greg- Wow, that is really really detailed. Thanks for your feedback- your comment definitely inspired me to try and take the plunge again and attack it. It would make financial life easier (for reporting and taxes and whatnot).

12mile says:

I have used Quicken for probably 10 years. I mainly use it for investments, budgeting and expense tracking. I think it is great and 2012 is even better. However, the package itself IS very detailed and a couple of hours reviewing it does not do it justice. The fact that you can automatically download your bank accounts and credit cards is a great time-saver.

Gets my vote.

young says:

@12mile- THanks for your feedback 🙂 There are some die hard Quicken fans out there, which is great to hear. I’m sure if I had a windows based computer I would probably have a different opinion.

Beautiful site design. That took me by surprise!!!

I have never used Quicken either. I did use the “Money” software, and I could write a review similar to this one about it. All and all, I think I am going to continue to be lowtech on this one. Thanks for pointing out the Pros and Con though. That’s helpful!

young says:

@Roshawn- Yes, it’s quite different isn’t it (and yet sorta the same too). I’m lowtech too. Right now I have a mini calender I’m writing my purchases in.

Bunyard says:

Thanks for sharing the new look is really impressive and attractive

young says:

@Bunyard- Thanks for visiting!

i love mint and Wave Accounting (a CDN company). I pretty much despise excel so I run away from anything that has excel in it.

young says:

I have heard of Wave accounting – I’ll look into it. I love Mint too. I despise excel too! I should probably take some sort of excel class before I curse it lol.

I’ve never tried Quicken before. I hear about how some people swear by it, other just swear about it. I don’t actually use any fancy software or online budgeting stuff. Sorry Quicken is out to get you. 🙁

young says:

I guess there are I heart Quicken and I hate Quicken camps!

Cyn says:

I have used Quicken in the past and found it very useful to set up a budget, set up a plan for debt repayment, as well as a general ledger and bank reconciliation. The reason why I don’t use it now is because I had it set up to automatically download transactions from my online banking account. Once the bank made a change to the configuration, the entire thing locked up on me and would not let me stop to download. It was rendered useless unless I upgraded. I had to junk it and start all over with the million spreadsheets I use (very cumbersome). Now, I am considering going back to Quicken…as long as it will allow me to download transactions I have downloaded into XL from my online bank. Truthfully, that is the way to go, because you beef up the security when you have the controls. As an avid QuickBooks user, I find it user friendly. I use to be a QuickBooks Pro-Advisor, so I know and understand the mechanics of the software.

Potato says:

To mutilate an old quote: Quicken is the worst way to track your investments, except for all the others.

It gets really picky about USD vs CAD securities being mixed in one account, which really annoys me. Sometimes I find its auto-fill feature helpful, but it’s mostly annoying, especially since I haven’t found a way to turn it off for certain transaction types (or to only turn it on for certain ones). We’ve run into some serious bugs recently with it that lead to reverting to 2008 (and my dad has been saying for years that they peaked sometime around the 2005-2008 version, with each subsequent version being worse than the last).

But having a touch of the old paranoia, I really like either manually entering my transactions or downloading a QIF/CSV from my financial institution and importing it. Allowing direct access a la Mint is a complete non-starter for me.

And nothing else I’ve tried is as powerful for tracking a portfolio and providing decent reporting tools.

young says:

@Potato- Thanks for visiting, potato- I always appreciate your opinion! I heard that too in some reviews online that people are saying it is becoming worse than the previous edition.

Liquid says:

Nice review. I’ve never tried Quicken before, but always wanted to know more about it. Digging the new design btw. I’m in the middle of a blog makeover myself, and switching hosts.

young says:

@Liquid- looking forward to seeing your new look too!

Kevin says:

I’ve not used quicken, but I did use GnuCash (http://www.gnucash.org/) for about two years. I always figured it was about the same as quicken, but free. I loved it! Although I’m also a very type-A person who tends to track everything; and gnucash allowed me to do that. I’d suggest giving it a go if you’re thinking about quicken.
Also I never used it to sync with my bank accounts (weirds me out, same reason I’ve yet to sign up for mint.com), and I never used it to track stocks (this was before I started seriously investing. I’ve also not used it in the past year or so, as when I got married, I knew we needed a much simpler system as my wife is not nearly as type-A as I am. I’ve got my spreadsheet method which has been working marginally well, although I still entertain notions of going back to GnuCash or taking the plunge with Mint.com.

young says:

@Kevin- I understand why using a website that syncs your bank account is creepy- I read somewhere that your bank voids your fraud protection etc. if they find a 3rd party app being used for your banking. I think GnuCash is again, only on the PC am I correct? I remember looking into it and then feeling dejected that it was only for the PC.

First off, I love the new look. I think it looks awesome.

In regards to Quicken, my hubby was an avid user before I married him and he got me into it. Trust me it is really handy once you get used to it. We track everything in there and I find the reporting easy to use – it gives a great picture of where you are. Weird it doesn’t work on Macs. I was going to say that if you wanted help getting used to it we could help you but if it can’t run on your PC, that that is moot.

young says:

@Miss T- Awe thanks for the offer! I might take you up on it if this YNAB thing doesn’t work out.

I enjoyed this article! When I was trying out Quicken for the first time, I thought about writing a review post too – just because I was so surprised I wasn’t “jiving” with it! haha

young says:

@Jacob- Glad I’m not the only one! I don’t feel as idiotic now.

I did the same and spent about 4 hours trying to figure it out, but found it too difficult to use.

1) I had to manually input most all of my investments since many of my account houses weren’t pre-programmed in their system.
2) I was looking forward to using the business part of the software. However, I didn’t like how you have to pay extra to back up your transactions online.

At the end of the day, I think that manually generating invoices and using a Google Doc spreadsheet in the cloud to back up transaction data is better suited for me. However, Quicken might be more appropriate if you are a store or hotel which has many clients – I could see it making it easier to organize client data if you had a ton!

young says:

@Jacob- Yeah, I was getting increasingly frustrated and irritated and a)blamed it on the lack of instructions online b) blamed it on my excel inexperience 🙂 I’m glad I’m not the only one who had trouble with it (and I know you’re really tech savvy, so I feel much better about my inability to use Quicken!)

BeachBoy says:

I have used Quicken every day since Jan 2007.
It still doesn’t do everything, but does more than all the others out there, and I’m at one point where Mint does not enough, but Quicken does not everything. I have canadian and US account, and reporting is awful when you buy in cad and usd…
The reporting and budgeting are very good and allows to track an incredible amount of information.
I still can’t use the investment section properly, I manually update my investments once every 6 months just to better track net worth. For loans it’s perfect, it creates the payments and splits interest vs principal so I always know the principal left.
The business section is nice but I don’t use it much, I use it to track GST and HST mostly so I can do my tax filing easily.

Their customer service / online help is very bad, it’s quite hard to find what you’re looking for and they don’t seem to care about customer requests…

But still, for expense tracking and reporting, it’s very, very good.

young says:

@BeachBoy-Thanks for sharing your input. I don’t like the idea of having to manually update the investments but I can see why it would be important, esp. if keeping track of DRIPs and whatnot. I couldn’t find any customer service for Quicken, they don’t even have a forum.

Expense tracking and reporting- I assume that’s for the business aspect of it.

I have used Quicken for 14 years. It does what I need but since doing more investment, it doesn’t report the way I like. Over the past few years, I have been using a Mac and the lack of Mac version means I don’t use it as often as I used to. I have usually bought it every other year as I did not find any benefit in updating every year. Since I have a Mac, I have to switch to Windows (Native version installed with BootCamp) and it’s a pain because I have to spend 30 minutes updating Windows every time 🙁

My switch to a Mac may mean that I stop using it but I want to give it one last try and update my accounts. The account update is pretty straight forward since you download it from your banks. I have to say that my accounts have been setup for a while but I agree that it’s not straightforward and not a good user interface for it either.

You can track everything with it. The details mean you can easily create reports and see trends. I often looked at how we spent eating out or how much I paid for gas. Loans are very easy to setup as well and it helps you see your amortization as well. I have never used any of the budgets built in. My monthly finance is too sporadic and it was bothering me more than anything.

As you say though, it’s an accounting software, not a budget tracker like mint.com is. I find mint.com to simply be the minimal set you need whereas Quicken really has all the details but it has quirks around the stocks and investments.

It really depends on the information you need to track and want to track. I like numbers 🙂

young says:

@The Passive Income Earner- At first I was so excited about trying out Quicken, but when I realized they only had it for PC, I was pretty crushed. I also got a “bootcamp” type program and it’s really annoying to have to switch to windows (and have all the annoying ads for antivirus software crop up). I tried to set up my accounts with the banks but I couldn’t find where I could link them. Their instructions weren’t very clear. Thanks for sharing your review, PIE! I find mint.com minimal too!

A reader on twitter suggested trying YNAB (you need a budget) and I’m going to give it a try. She said it works for Mac. The interface looks pretty good so far and it can update your accounts too online.

Ron says:

I tend to shy away from quicken as well. Perhaps it is a little different here in America but I know that it seems to be slow and clunky for me.

young says:

@Ron- No, it was pretty slow and clunky for me too. What do you use then, Ron?

Ron says:

I believe last year I used some form of H&R’s software, but to be honest with you I can’t remember 100% 😛

young says:

@Ron- What do you use for day to day budget and expense tracking? 🙂

Y&T I’m not going to worry about being biased, becuase my expereince with Quicken was dismal. Quicken software is absolutely awful. As you know I’m a pretty detailed and techy guy, and Quicken drove me up the wall as well!

I wanted to use Quicken for my portfolio tracking, but found after a few days it kept giving incorrect amounts, and it wouldn’t let me combine U.S. Stocks and Canadian Stocks in my RRSP account. Dumb! I also found much of the interface difficult, and not user friendly.

The it didn’t reconcile all my accounts properly, and there didn’t seem anyway to fix it. So I figured OK lets’s try the Quicken Books for my business, well after trying to figure that out for 2 hours, I also gave up.

I also found Quicken’s TurboTax to be garbage as well. Quicken had better get with the program, becuase I’m sure their refund rate is pretty high.

The Ninja says don’t waste your time and money on Quicken products 😉


young says:

@The Dividend Ninja- Thanks for sharing your experience, Ninja! I thought I was the only one who found it difficult to use, and I must admit, I was feeling pretty inferior because it seems like very PF blogger has Quicken in their back pocket (or perhaps they were talking about it on their blogs because they sponsor giveaways?) I’m not sure.

So what do you use then TDN? I’m curious!

Hey Y&T,

I have excel spreadsheets for my investments and business. Its really simple and easy to use 🙂 And my accountant says that’s all I need.