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Review of:
Quicken Home and Business 99
 
by Larry Grosskopf

Quicken Home and Business 99 is the second attempt by Intuit to attract individuals who wants to keep track of their personal financial situation along with their small business finances. This program is designed for small home businesses with less than four employees. Intuit also suggests that the Home and Business 99 program is for the user who has the inclination to keep track of business and personal financial affairs all in one place. 

 Additional strengths of this program over Quicken 99 are the options available that allow the user to make and track invoices, keep accounts payable or receivable and enter and track customer payments. Several business reports are available in this program that will help the user monitor the progress of his or her home business. 

Minimum requirements suggested by Intuit are as follows: 486/66mhz CPU (Pentium recommended), Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 98 as the Operating system, 12 MB RAM (with 16 MB recommended), 256 Color VGA (SVGA recommended), (sound card and speakers recommended), 2X CD-ROM or faster, Internet access and modem required to access online features at least 14,400 baud speed, and any Windows supported printer. Hard disk storage required is about 52 MB for this program. 

My previous experience has been in the use of Quicken Deluxe for Windows 95. The current program seems to include all the features of Quicken Basic 99 along with additional features that focus on needs of the home or small business. This is a new venture for me but is being undertaken to continue to track our personal finances along with a small in-home business. We've decided that this way allows us to be less fragmented and lets us maintain a better overall picture of our situation. Installation was basically as simple as clicking the mouse a few times after inserting the CD into the CD-ROM drive. 

 So far, with my experience with the program, it is relatively easy to use even with the additional complications of adding a home business. The basics are not much different from the previous Quicken version we've used. In my book, Quicken has always been a user-friendly program and this one is even more so than previous versions with some of the newer features. 

My favorite one is QuickEntry, the installation of the program places an icon on your desktop that provides you with the means to enter data quickly and easily. This feature is very useful for those of us who still enter checks, receipts and other transactions into the Quicken register manually. QuickEntry loads in about half the time as Quicken but the register looks exactly the same and transfers the data smoothly to the chosen Quicken account. 

Another great-sounding feature, which I have not used yet, is the WebEntry. If you don't have access to your computer at home, you can still enter data into your personalized Quicken page on the Quicken website by using this tool and the Internet. Once you get home, simply download the information from the Quicken website into your Quicken 99 account. This ability to enter transactions remotely is reportedly only available with Quicken. 

There are other additions that excited me. The most obvious is the new Quicken 99 Home Page and the Financial Activity Centers. There are components that can be added to or removed from the Home Page, determined by your preferences. Some of the choices for Financial Activity Centers include Banking, Planning, Investments, Taxes, Home and Car and Small Business. In each of these Activity Centers, there are more specifics and details provided to enhance your financial decision-making and planning for the use of your money. In these centers, summary information and details are provided on the left-hand side of the page with related things to do and Internet links provided on the right-hand side of the page. 

Alerts have been expanded and are customizable reminders that track your financial dealings and monitor the events occurring in the greater financial marketplace. They are often used to help the individual keep from missing opportunities to make money or improve their current financial situation. They also can be used in the program to give reminders of due dates or other important dates and program upgrades. Although I have not tried these out yet, I do plan to utilize their benefits in the future. 

What-if Scenarios are a way to evaluate potential problems that might crop up if you choose a particular course of financial action. Used properly, they can help you calculate risks and benefits of certain actions or events, resulting in potentially more sound choices and increased financial security. 

Another new feature, well worth mentioning, is the One Step Update, whereby your financial data from online financial institutions, stock quotes, news stories, can be downloaded from the Internet into Quicken with a single, password-protected click. Part of the process is the PIN Vault, which allows this to be a "one-step" process by storing passwords and PIN numbers to all of your online institutions in a high-level encrypted file format. All you need to do is enter the accounts and then set your "master" password. For folks like me, this is great, since I'm always forgetting my PIN numbers and/or passwords. The PIN Vault doesn't forget them. Of course, with all of the advantages and features found here, a very basic but extremely important one is BACKUP, which would save your data if your system or hard drive crashed. I highly recommend this since my hard drive died 3 months ago! 

The suggested retail price is $89.95, with a $20.00 rebate available for previous Quicken users. It is in some of the local retail stores (shop around for best price) or may be purchased directly from Intuit by calling their toll-free number 1-800-4INTUIT (1-800-446-8848). Their URL on the Internet is http://www.quicken.com and the street address is: Intuit Headquarters, P.O. Box 7850, MS-2535, Mountain View, CA 94039-7850. 

 Larry Grosskopf is a Clinical Psychologist at the San Antonio State Hospital. He and his wife, Marta, are raising three children, ages 17, 5 and 3. Contact him via e-mail at lgg622@flash.net.