Quicken may be the most popular finance manager on the Mac, but because it has many features that a lot of us never use, it can be overkill. Fortunately, there are several options that are simpler to use, less expensive, and/or more focused than Quicken. If you don’t want everything Quicken offers, one of these eight Quicken alternatives could be all you need.
Buddi is a stripped-down financial manager that gets back to basics. Set up your accounts, and then use a simple form to enter and categorize transactions. The transaction category list also acts as your budget—for example, you enter your anticipated income in the Salary category under the My Budget tab. Buddi does not support multiple budgets or online banking; however, an available plug-in imports CSV data files, a format most banks offer for transaction downloads (payment requested;
Wyatt Olson ).
If sticking to a budget is your first priority, Snowmint’s Budget is for you. Budget’s interface nicely illustrates the old-fashioned envelope system of budgeting: each of your assets and expenses is represented by an envelope with an amount written on it. When you get paid, Budget automatically distributes your money into each envelope. And after you’ve paid all your budgeted expenses, Budget shows how much cash you’ve got left, in a special envelope labeled Available ($30;
Snowmint Creative Solutions ).
The first step to getting your spending under control is to track where every penny goes. That’s the sole purpose of Burn. You’re not going to find online banking or extensive reporting in Burn—you simply enter the item you spent cash on, the date, and the amount, and assign a category; Burn can then print out an attractive report that totals your expenditures (free;
Blackhole Media ).
Web-based Buxfer lets you tag transactions with keywords and generate reports. But Buxfer’s killer feature is the ability to track who paid for what part of a shared dinner check, grocery bill, or gift—it’s great for roommates, groups of friends, teammates, or coworkers. Full text-messaging support makes tracking transactions on-the-go easy. For instance, when you’re buying movie tickets for yourself and your pals at a theater, text Buxfer the amount, the category, and your friends’ names; the expense goes into your Buxfer account on the spot (free;
You’ve got debt spread across three credit cards, a mortgage, a student loan, and a car loan—all at different interest rates and fees. How much should each monthly payment be? Debtinator helps you answer that question. Enter your current assets, income, and expenses into Debtinator, as well as each of your loan and credit card balances, interest rates, and fees. Debtinator calculates how long it will take to pay down the debt if you follow different payment strategies—such as the lowest-interest-payment plan, the minimum-payment plan, and the minimum-fee-only plan—and then it recommends your “best bet” strategy based on your income, expenses, and interest rates ($15;
Basset Software ).
FinanceToGo ( ) is based on the principle of double-entry accounting, so it feels better suited to business than to personal use. Double-entry accounting dictates that money move from one account to another in every transaction—so FinanceToGo treats every payee as an account, even your grocery store and your landlord. The three main reports that FinanceToGo offers also seem geared toward business: a balance sheet, a profit-and-loss statement, and an expense overview ($45;
Fastforward Software ).
7. iBank 2
iBank ( ) is a solid alternative to Quicken, with a few unique extras. It lets you track your accounts, create multiple budgets, customize its category list, and manage scheduled and recurring transac-tions. You can also download stock prices directly into the program. If you can’t stand your bank’s cryptic one-line transaction descriptions, you’ll love the Smart Import Rules feature, which applies changes to transactions that meet specified criteria. You can also assign an image to a transaction—in case you need a photographic reminder of why those new sneakers were worth the $120 you spent on them ($50;
IGG Software ).
The Web-based Wesabe combines money management with social networking. Once you become a Wesabe member, you upload your bank-account transactions either manually or automatically. You can then tag these transactions with keywords, and Wesabe will associate any future transactions involving the same payee with those keywords. Additionally, the Wesabe community will offer you tips about your spending habits. For example, next to the entry for a purchase at Trader Joe’s, a fellow Wesabe member might suggest a way to save $5 on groceries. You can also create goals in Wesabe (“buy a MacBook,” say, or “pay off credit cards”), and then browse through the goals other members have set; if you find someone with similar aims, you can compare notes and swap advice. Wesabe keeps your personal banking information private but does aggregate and dis-play community data—such as how much Wesabe members spend on average at the Apple Store (free;
[ Gina Trapani is the founding editor of the
Lifehacker blog and the author of Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day (Wiley Publishing, 2007). ]
Buxfer: Upload your transactions, then use Buxfer’s social networking tools for tips and discussion.
FinanceToGo: If you’re accustomed to the double-entry accounting many businesses use, FinanceToGo’s interface will seem familiar.
When Quicken isn’t enough
Quicken can’t do a couple of things that you’ll need if you’re self-employed or you run a side business: it can’t create invoices or track your receivables. You could try QuickBooks, but that’s sometimes overkill for a small operation. Here are four alternatives.
There are several good programs that can handle invoicing and billing. Marketcircle’s
Billings ( ; $59), for example, sports a clean, intuitive interface, is easy to customize, and has a great invoice editor.
Pretty Good Software’s
iRatchet ($45), another general-purpose invoicing and billing system, costs a bit less than Billings; integrates with Address Book, iCal, and Mail; supports multiple tax rates, multiple timers, and multiple client projects; and tracks mileage and payments.
If you want to both keep track of the services you perform and create invoices, without a lot of other bells and whistles, Clickable Bliss’s
Billable ($25) is a good, inexpensive choice. It lets you set different hourly rates for a client; you can also create and customize invoice templates in HTML, and then print them as PDFs.
And for collaborating with many people on a file-based project and billing everyone’s time, check out IGG Software’s
iBiz ( ; $50; two-client server version, $90). It lets you associate specific files with a project and then tracks the total time spent working on those files.— Tom Negrino
Billings: Marketcircle’s invoicing program comes with a good selection of easily customizable templates.