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Quicken 2008 review: Quicken 2008

Quicken 2008

Jeff Bertolucci

See full bio
4 min read

Quicken 2008 is a small upgrade of Intuit's popular personal finance program. This well-built money manager is easy enough for novices yet powerful enough for veteran number crunchers, although it feels like a warmed-over version of last year's model with a few helpful enhancements. That said, the 2008 version is a bit better at managing savings and investments, categorizing expenses, and tracking 529 college savings contributions.

7.3

Quicken 2008

The Good

Quicken 2008 works with more than 5,300 online financial institutions, offers some helpful feature and interface improvements, adds new Bill Minder Gadget for Windows Vista users, TurboTax integration, free chat, and e-mail help.

The Bad

Quicken 2008 is a minor upgrade with few new features; installation dumps icons on your Windows desktop.

The Bottom Line

Quicken 2008 is a solid finance package and a great choice for novices, but there isn't a compelling reason to upgrade from the 2007 version.

Quicken comes in multiple editions, which have been retooled from previous years. The $30 Quicken Starter Edition, previously named Quicken Basic, provides a surprisingly robust set of tools. You can pay bills online, download bank transactions, and track tax deductions. For $60, Quicken Deluxe targets young families trying to save money for a house, college fund, or other big-ticket item. The $90 Quicken Premier--which we tested--is for older families with various investments, including stocks and property, and maybe a kid or two in college. For $100, Quicken Premier Home & Business aims to serve entrepreneurs who want to manage their personal and business finances with one program. Intuit is also working to build an online version of Quicken.

Setup and interface
Setup for Quicken 2008 is mostly unchanged from last year, and the process is largely automated and fast. Luckily, Intuit doesn't demand that you have a brand-new computer, as the application can run on Windows 2000 or more recent, and a recommended 256MB of RAM. Software installation took only 5 minutes in our tests on both Windows XP and Vista machines, and we successfully downloaded transactions from a major bank and a brokerage firm in about 10 minutes. Since Quicken's account registers automatically categorize your transactions, setup doesn't require a lot of manual labor. And tweaking is easy; to rename a transaction, for instance, select it and click the Edit button. Unfortunately, during installation Quicken rudely dumped four icons on our Windows XP desktop, including junk-mail pitches for credit report, credit card, and bill-pay services.


Quicken 2008's new navigation bar makes it easier to jump between the program's main modules.

Features
Of course, Quicken 2007 did these things, too. So what's new in 2008? The biggest upgrade is My Savings Plan, a helpful feature for those of us who have trouble socking away money each month. Using My Savings Plan, you enter monthly spending budgets and savings goals--say, $200 per month for next summer's vacation. Quicken then charts your actual versus allocated spending. It also adopts the "rollover" concept popularized by cell phone plans by adding extra savings to next month's target.

Windows Vista users will like the nifty Quicken Bill Minder Gadget, a Desktop window that reminds you of upcoming and overdue bills, as well as other transactions. In addition, Quicken now connects to more than 5,300 financial institutions, including PayPal. That's 1,000 more than what Quicken 2007 supported--so the odds are good that your bank is covered.

Early users of Quicken 2007 complained of frequent crashes, although Intuit later released patches to address those problems. Thus far Quicken 2008 appears reasonably stable. We did, however, experience one particularly ugly crash that required us to reboot Windows Vista.


Windows Vista users might like the Bill Minder Gadget, which alerts you to upcoming bills and other transactions.

Other useful changes include the new navigation bar, which makes it easier to jump between Quicken's main sections, such as Cash Flow and Investing. The register now has better categorization and tagging features, which may prove helpful come tax time. You can select a transaction and either choose from a drop-down list of user-created tags, or enter a new tag. You also can view of list of expenses for a particular project, such as a kitchen remodel. In addition, tax-related transactions are now marked with a TurboTax checkmark icon in the register.

The new Quicken Bill Minder Gadget, which works only with Windows Vista, is an info box that appears in the Windows Sidebar along the right edge of the desktop. The widget pulls in critical information from the program, such as the number of overdue bills and upcoming transactions, and displays it where you can't miss it. There are two views to choose from: List or the tiny and therefore less-helpful Calendar.

Quicken 2008 can track a college savings account, known as a 529 plan. However, if you download your 529 plan information from a brokerage site, you'll most likely have to manually mark the account as tax-deferred, which is a minor annoyance.

Service and support
Quicken support is unchanged from last year. E-mail support is free, and Intuit promises to respond within a day. Chat help is also free and is available 24-7. Phone assistance is $24.95 per call. However, some support calls are free, such as if you're having problems installing the program or converting data from earlier Quicken versions.

We found Quicken support to be fast, polite, but not always accurate. Our simple e-mail query that inquired whether we could upgrade from Quicken 2007 Deluxe to Quicken 2008 Starter Edition (you can't), was answered accurately within an hour. During our chat session, however, the Intuit tech representative insisted that we needed to reinstall Quicken 2008 in a new folder to view the Bill Minder Gadget, which wouldn't appear when Vista launched. To fix the problem, however, we simply had to change a setting in Windows Sidebar.


The new My Savings Plan feature helps with long- and short-term savings goals.

Conclusion
Quicken 2008 is a fine choice if you're dissatisfied with the wimpy money-management tools found at most bank Web sites. Indeed, Quicken Premier offers far more features than most of us will ever use. However, if you're already using Quicken 2007, there's not enough new stuff here to warrant an upgrade. And if you're currently using Microsoft Money, another great personal finance application, there's no compelling reason to switch to Quicken 2008.

7.3

Quicken 2008

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 8Support 7
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