Monday, August 06, 2007
Lately I've been questioning the value of Quicken, since the integration with financial institutions is finicky and getting everything updated appropriately takes a really long time. Typically, I use Quicken for 3 purposes:
- See our net worth
- See how we spend our money
- Seed tax software with donations and such
In order to accomplish these goals, usually once or twice a year I spend 2-3 days getting everything entered into Quicken and reconciled. I don't really think we're that complex, but with 2 Roth IRAs, 1 regular IRA, and investment account, 2 individual bank accounts, 1 joint bank account, 2 401(k) accounts plus 2 profit sharing accounts, 2 stock option accounts, 1 529, 2 credit cards, 1 investment account for Kathryn and a bank account for Kathryn, we have over 18 accounts (there are a few others...I thought one time I counted 23, but since then there's been some consolidation), Introduce dependencies between accounts (e.g. you should reconcile credit cards before the bank statements), and things get really messy.
All this leads to today, where I thought there must be a way to accomplish my goals faster...I'm a data packrat and it rubs me the wrong way to abandon the long history of data I have in Quicken, but I really don't use all that stuff. I did some Google searching and ran across this marketplace interview that describes a website called Yodlee MoneyCentral.
This site is way, way cool. I set up most of my accounts in about an hour, mostly because I already have my account login information stored and synced up in KeePass Password Safe. It keeps track of all my financials (mortgage, house pricing manual or through Zillow, credit cards, bank accounts, investments) as well as rewards accounts (airlines and such), and provides automatic transaction download and categorization.
Other than entering in usernames/passwords (yes, this can be a leap of faith), the site does the rest, and seconds after setting up the accounts you can see how your spending is categorized, your total net worth, portfolio positions, etc. Now that (almost) everything is setup, I'm interested to see the charting available for history...it lets you see how your investments, transactions, and net worth change over time, but it can't get a large amount of historical data on initial setup (I suspect this is due to the limitations of the financial institutions more than Yodlee). It also provides email alerts for bills, balances (high or low), large transactions, securities expiration, airline mile postings/expirations, etc.
So, the information for this month is available now, after a one-time cost of about an hour. Had I tried to see total net worth in Quicken today, I couldn't, because it would take me about 16 man-hours to bring it up to date. There is still an account or two that it was having problems with (I think this is due to recent web site changes at TD Ameritrade), but already I know my net worth +/- 10 percent (which would be reduced to 0 if I wanted to login to TD Ameritrade and add the summary amount to the total on Yodlee).
Even better, the figure it reported was more than I thought. ;-)