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Moving from MS Money to Moneywell

by Philip Sellers

I think that I have settled on Moneywell as my software of choice for Mac money management.  I really like how this software is setup for an envelope system style of managing your money.  I also like that it imported my QIF exports, although there is no way for it to preserve transfer transactions between accounts.

I initially had problems and had dimissed Moneywell because I could not connect to my primary bank.  After perusing the Quicken Financial Life forums (I was a beta tester), I found the issue – I was not using the correct username and password.  To work with my bank, I needed to provide my member number and PIN to authenticate – not my website username and password.  Worked that out, and now automatic updates are all set.

After that hurdle was cleared, I found out that already had too many transactions for the trial version.  So, rather than importing and trying anything else, I decided to see how some of the features work.

First, I looked at the categorizations.  These were preserved from Microsoft Money perfectly.  I used the “Loose QIF” export which preserved long category names and transaction titles and Moneywell imported all this information correctly.  I was also able to see graphs by category and subcategory.  One thing different from Microsoft Money is that each subcategory is really a category of its own.  So, as cleanup, I will most likely be combining categories and renaming some.

The category list is excellent when you’re searching for a particular transaction.  If you knew it was from my remodel project, hit my Household:Remodel category and you’d be looking at just those transactions in the account selected.  That’s got a leg up on Microsoft Money already.

The other thing Moneywell includes throughout is search.  And how handy is that for quickly locating a transaction at Lowes or Wal-Mart.  The one gotcha I found was in my method of import.  If I left Moneywell setup the account from my bank online, it would create a Starting Balance transaction.  Once I imported my QIF export from Money, the Starting Balance would throw the totals off – but a quick search, delete and we were back to balanced.

I’m a big fan of the envelope system (Dave Ramsey advocates this system) and Moneywell is based around that system of budgeting.  I really like the way that budgets “Spending Plans” are setup.  That’s a nice, logical system compared to the cumbersome budgets in Microsoft Money – especially the last 3 revisions.  And I know is it essentially the same thing, but a spending plan just sounds better than a budget.   I haven’t completed my budget, but I’ll post about that experience once I tackle that.

In Money, I could never get my budgets to line up and match the reports after I created them.  I also had this problem with extra income showing up in my budgets that wasn’t there.  The extra income was from a previous job, yet Microsoft Money kept bringing it over year after year.

Transfer transactions were an expected problem.  But Moneywell performs better in some respects.  The virtue of the categories, there is a Transfer category preserved from the Money exports.  That makes it easy to identify and remedy the transfer transactions.  The process is two step, however.  You have to identify the transfer transaction, click on each transaction and assign the transfer account – and then you have to go to that account and merge the duplicates.  That merge process is a little tedious, but there is merge functionality in the program – I just need to find out how to initiate a merge.  I have seen it when importing QIF files.

So after my testing, I went ahead and purchased Moneywell – and so far, it feels like Money well spent.  I still have a number of bank accounts to add and lots of cleanup to do.  I also haven’t added my mortgages or investment accounts – so no way of knowing how it will do tracking those – something Money did pretty well.

Any of these companies who could write a Money to {insert product} conversion program could have a really great opportunity to pickup new customers, in my opinion.  But with a small market share, I’m not sure it will happen.

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