As is probably the case with a few million Quicken for Mac users, I’ve been left at the alter enough times to be more careful with my financial dating process. Not only is Intuit guilty of ignoring Mac users for years, their attempts to woo us back into the fold flopped thanks to an anemic product offering which was vastly surpassed by the Windows version.
Well guess what? Quicken is back. Nah. Just kidding. Intuit was so enamored with their Quicken business they decided to sell it for a quick profit. I guess they just couldn’t find enough rats to run the ship. Over the course of recent years I’ve come to grips with Intuit’s Quicken infidelity and looked elsewhere for financial comfort. Here it is.
iBank Meet Activity
After a year or so of trying out lesser Mac money management apps for less money, I decided to go upscale and get something better than Quicken for less money. Wait. What? Less money? Quicken retails for $74 and change. Banktivity retails for 20-percent less but offers more features. How is that even possible? Is it even legal?
Banktivity once was iBank but iDevices are no longer en vogue so a change was inevitable. This is a good one, and descriptive, as in banking activity (I made that up, but lets go with it). Basically, Banktivity is what you wanted Quicken to be years after it was resurrected for Mac users. A complete money management system that is very much iDevice aware, thanks to iPad and iPhone options.
The idea behind any full featured money management system is to track where the money comes from and where it goes and do so with more details than a digital checkbook because just knowing how much month is left over at the end of your money is not enough.
Banktivity features multiple account types from checking and savings to cash, credit cards, assets, loans, as well as investments. Unused accounts can be hidden and grouped. Transactions use the standard check register editor, all keyboard driven for efficiency.
You’ll find multiple security levels designed not just to protect your data from outsiders but to protect data from your own mistakes. Transactions can be split, and Banktivity automatically generates a template for similar deposits and transactions so you don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. Scheduled transactions? Got ’em. Statement reconciliation? Got ’em. Checks? Got ’em.
Banktivity imports most everything from Quicken so getting started with what you already have is rather straightforward? Still haven’t paid your taxes? There’s always next year but it’ll be easier with tax codes built-in to Banktivity that can be used with TurboTax.
Yes, everything is protected by a password, and multiple users with their own financial information is supported; multiple logins, multiple passwords.
Did I mention online bill pay? That’s what I missed most about Quicken and Banktivity has it in spades but make sure you have a bank that handles the direct downloads in OFX (most that do, do). Payments can be setup and forgotten, but you can track payments and cancel from within Banktivity.
The faster the middle class disappears the faster my assets and investment dwindle but at least I can watch they while they disappear, but I’m sure the upcoming presidential election will fix all that.
Regardless, investments can be tracked and the includes basics like stocks and bonds but more esoteric instruments like CDs, funds, precious metals, ETFs and even stock options. I love the watchlist function.
There’s built-in eye candy, too.
Banktivity features a range of reports beyond the basic Dashboard of key financials, including network balances, bills, and spending categories. Even the investment reports get details like ROI, gains and losses, and category spending. Nothing that manages money is complete without budgeting and Banktivity can be simple or complex. Envelop budget? Got it. Event based? Got it. It’s as if the CPA you couldn’t afford decided to build a Mac app that would put Quicken out of business.
What sold me wasn’t the long list of features that make Quicken seem so 1999. There’s an iPad and iPhone version and data syncs between devices using iCloud. The former lets you sit and relax and check on your money, while the latter lets you carry the details with you so you can keep mobile transactions more accurate than memory.
There’s much going on here so don’t think of it as what you once knew Quicken to be. Quicken for Mac was never this complete or this useful. And you can try-before-you-buy. Caveats? Older versions I tried were a bit buggy and slow; the latest is not. As is the case with any financial app, everyone has different needs and different layers of both experience and expectations and that makes the trial a plus because there’s lots going on, and beyond envelope budgeting plenty to be learned.