So here's a question that individuals and small businesses have to ask themselves every year: Do I need to upgrade the Microsoft Money software again?
Should you upgrade Microsoft Money every year?
This is a good question. Every fall, the corporations that make and sell personal finance and small business software--Microsoft and Intuit--release a new version of their software programs
Money and Quicken. This makes some sense because tax rules change every year and over the past few years online banking opportunities have increased, and those changes have warranted new software features.
However, I think it isn't necessary to upgrade your software each year. Sure, you can upgrade without trouble or headache. Other than the expense of upgrading, there is no reason not to do so. And, in truth, each year's software product is slightly better than the previous year's product.
In general, however, the new features added from one year to the next are not so useful that it means that you should automatically, unthinkingly, upgrade. A better approach for most people is to upgrade every other year or every third year. Another good approach is to upgrade only when you see that the new version of the software includes features that are of particular value to your financial management.
What about switching from Money to Quicken or vice versa?
Switching from one personal finance manager--like Money--to another personal finance manager--such as Quicken--isn't difficult. The information that a program like Money or Quicken collects is stored in easy-to-interpret data files.
As a result, Money easily retrieves data stored in a Quicken data file, and Quicken easily retrieves data stored in a Money file.
However, while it is simple to move data from one program to another, there's little reason to do so. Despite the advertising claims of the companies making the software--Microsoft and Intuit--there is not much difference between the programs. Certainly, there are nuances and subtleties that differentiate the two tools. But in terms of core features and true usefulness, I don't think there are good reasons to switch from one to the other. Both programs are very good and extremely useful. Once you make the decision to begin using one of these tools and have begun to reap its benefits, there is little to be gained by moving to the other product.
By far, the most important "upgrade" or "switch" that you can make is to simply stop using the paper-and-pencil method for tracking your financial affairs and instead step up to using a product like Money. Or Intuit's Quicken.
Some Closing Caveats
However, do let me make one final comment. While Microsoft Money is a very popular product for small businesses, if you incorporate your business or run your business as a limited liability company that's treated for accounting purposes as either a partnership or a corporation, you may want to consider (at some point in the future) an upgrade to a true small business accounting program like Microsoft's Small Business Accounting or Intuit's QuickBooks.
A corporation, a limited liability company treated as a corporation, and partnerships all have more complicated accounting requirements because they have multiple owners. This complexity can easily overwhelms the functionality of Microsoft Money (and Quicken, too).
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