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Software Review of:
Quicken 2001
Home & Business

 

Jacquelyn Sykes says that this program has just added two more major projects to her To-do List - complete a Home Inventory and the Emergency Records Organizer. 

From the March, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Intuit’s Quicken 2001 Home & Business allows you to manage both your home and business finances. I’ve used Quicken version 6.0 since December 1996. I’ve also used Simply Money and briefly tested MS Money 97.

When I checked Intuit’s Web site on October 25, 2001 I found that Quicken 2002 Home & Business is already available. Therefore, the Systems Requirements and Vital Statistics sections of this review cover the 2002 version, not the 2001 version.

Installation
Normally I don’t discuss the installation process this early in a review. This time, however, it’s directly connected to my experiences with running the program. I installed Quicken 2001 Home & Business to both our Windows 95 computer and our Windows 98 computer. Why? Because I wanted to make sure it had my favorite Quicken version 6.0 feature before installing it on the Windows 95 computer. From past presentations at our general meetings, I’ve learned that ‘Savings Goals’ isn’t in all versions of Quicken. I was happy to find that Quicken 2001 Home & Business does have “Savings Goals” as well as several other useful tools.

Installation is slightly different if you have another version of Quicken on your computer. The install program recognizes this and won’t allow you to install the new version in the same folder.

The install process ran smoothly on both computers. You do get to choose where the program will be installed. You also get to choose between an Express and a Custom install. A custom install allows you to add Internet Explorer 5 (128-bit SSL) to your system. You can also deselect the following components: Quicken Home Inventory, Debt Reduction Planner, Emergency Records Organizer, and Deduction Finder. Since these all sound very useful, I don’t see any reason not to install them. You get the chance to check all the settings before the installation actually begins. (I will uninstall the program from our Windows 98 computer once I’ve completed my review.)

Running the Program
After restarting the computer, four new icons appeared on the Desktop: “Get Internet Postage!”, “Quicken Online Backup”, “Quicken 2001 Home & Business”, and “Quick Entry 2001".

On our Windows 98 computer, I clicked on the “Quicken 2001 Home & Business” icon; the program came up with a New User Setup wizard. After I completed it, I was left looking at the checking account register and the Quick Tabs bar for navigation. The Tool Bar had a few icons. Since I’m an experienced user I started poking around and, with the help of the Help File, I was able to figure out what to do and where to go.

Unless I state otherwise, the rest of my comments apply to our Windows 95 computer.

When I opened Quicken 2001 Home & Business for the first time it told me it had to convert the data files to the new format. It also told me it would place a copy of the original files in folder Qw6files, which it did. It took a few minutes for the conversion to take place and then the program opened. What a difference! This time it opened in the “My Finances” window, which showed me a list of activities; lists of accounts, alerts, and bills; and the Quick Tabs bar. The Tool Bar had so many icons I couldn’t see them all at the same time. It added 10 more icons than the clean install. Later, I customized the Tool Bar and eliminated several icons so now I can see them all simultaneously.

Program Help
I found the differences in the new version rather overwhelming at first. Imagining myself a new user, I tried to find out how to use the program. I clicked on the “How do I” arrow which had a listing for “Get more Help” which led to a listing of help resources. Here are the most important of them in the order I think a new user will find most helpful.

  1. If the program comes with a printed user's guide, the Quicken Setup Guide, read it first.
  2. If there’s no printed manual then read the User’s Guide in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) that’s installed in the same directory as Quicken.
  3. “To view video clips on specific Quicken topics choose Help menu > Show Me videos.” –only one video is installed on the hard drive; there are none on the CD-ROM. You must go on-line to the Web site to view videos. While you can do this straight from the program, you must set up an on-line connection within Quicken first. (I had no problems doing this.) The Online Quicken 2001 Show Me Videos, covering advanced topics, appear like fancy slide show presentations. They provide overviews, tips, and a few specific steps. They’re not tutorials. However, I checked out Online Quicken 2000 Show Me Videos and Interactive Online Quicken 2000 Videos. They deal with basic tasks that don’t seem to have changed in 2001. I recommend brand new users view these videos first.
  4. Choose Help menu > Index > Contents tab > Getting Started. – The information is there. However the windows open in different places and it’s difficult to find step-by-step instructions instead of a general discussion. If you’ve used previous versions of Quicken though, you should be able to manage. Now that I’ve told you where to find help, I’ll become an experienced user again and tell you about some other aspects of the program.


Activity Centers
There are several centers available to organize accounts and information and to help you accomplish various tasks. Each one has a list of associated accounts or categories as appropriate which makes it very easy to reach them. The lists are vertical instead of horizontal so you can see more of them at once. The centers are My Finances, Banking, Investing, Household, Tax, Planning, Small Business, and Reports & Graphs. You can use Quick Tabs to navigate to each one or you can use the menu bar. If you customize the Tool Bar, you can even have a button for each one. Personally, I would rather have buttons for some of the other tools, such as the Address Book, on it. There are over a hundred buttons to choose from.

I particularly like the Reports and Graphs Center. It has a much cleaner and clearer list than Quicken version 6.0 does. It’s much easier to customize a report. In fact, you can make many selections before you open a report. Saving a customized report is much easier and you don’t have to assign your own icons.

The Household Center gives you access to your asset and liability accounts, loans, and auto expenses. It also gives you access to some great tools. First, the Emergency Records Organizer can help to gather all your important information in one place. Just reviewing its data entry sheets will remind you of things you’ve forgotten to keep track of. Besides the medical information and contact numbers most of us know we need to assemble it has places to record education, military service, marriages, wills, storage lockers, personal and student loans, passport information, funeral arrangements, your child’s daily school schedule and more. And you can print it all out in various reports. There are five reports to choose from. I haven’t entered any additional information yet but Quicken generated a Survivors report and a Details report of my accounts.

Next, the Quicken Home Inventory promises that you can “create an inventory of your entire home in about an hour.” It’s possible to do so if you accept the default entries that Quicken suggests and don’t have many things. I spent over half an hour and was only able to list the large items for 5 out of 12 areas. It will take me just as long to finish all areas without any details. For the inventory to be of real use, I need to enter a lot more data. This will take several hours. It is a separate program but you can send the valuation to your net worth in Quicken.

One of the things I really hate about Quicken version 6.0 is the lack of a place to store addresses about the companies I deal with. The Quicken Address Book answers that need by providing the perfect place to store addresses, phone numbers, individuals, personal information, and more. You can print lists, labels, and envelopes from the Address Book. You can also use the addresses when printing checks.

Small Business Center
Since I don’t have a small business, I can’t properly review this part of the program. Here’s what the Help File has to say about this center. “The Business Center gives you a quick look at the current state of your business, including profit and loss, money owed to you, and money you owe. You can create customer estimates or invoices, track accounts receivable, enter customer payments, track accounts payable, create and track projects and jobs, and handle payroll. You can also create several business reports such as balance sheets, profit and loss statements, outstanding invoices, accounts receivable reports, and accounts payable reports.”

Planning Center 
The Planning Center provides tools that help you set financial goals for major life events (retirement, college, buying a new home) saving for a special expense (vacation, wedding, home remodeling project), saving more money, and reducing your debt. This is the home of my favorite feature, “Savings Goals”. “The Savings Goal Planner creates a special account. You transfer the necessary amount to this account each month; the Planner tracks it for you and lets you know how it's adding up. The money actually stays in your bank account, but is "hidden" until you reach your goal and want to withdraw it.”

Tax Center
The Tax Center summarizes your current tax situation. It includes areas for Tax Alerts, Income Year-to-Date, Tax Calendar, and Projected Tax (or refund). This reflects tax law at the time the program was published in late 2000 so it might not be totally accurate. >From here, you can go to the Tax Planner, or visit Web sites with more information about taxes. The Tax Planner allows you to set up several different scenarios and see how they will affect your tax situation.

Desktop Icons
When I clicked on “QuickEntry” I got access to my account registers so I could enter transactions quickly. You can’t open Quicken 2001 Home & Business while QuickEntry is open.

When I clicked on “Get Internet Postage!” it led me to the Stamps.com Web site and the following message: “Thank you for visiting the Stamps.com Web site. Unfortunately, Quicken and Stamps.com are no longer offering the special promotion you are looking for.”

When I clicked on “Quicken Online Backup”, it took me to <http://www.backup.com/> where SkyDesk is offering a free 30-day trial. However, when I went to File\Backup within Quicken 2001 Home & Busines, and followed the links to the free trial I saw a notice that new subscriptions to Quicken Online Backup are no longer available as of Feb 5, 2001.

Other Comments
Although Quicken 2001 Home & Business has many great features, I really miss the appearance options from Quicken version 6. My favorite color scheme, Shocking Purple, is no longer available. Instead of the 40 to 50 colors available for the various registers, now there are only six. Forty were too many; six aren’t enough. I found the new color schemes lacking; they’re either too dull or too dark.

Bottom Line
If you use Quicken and haven’t upgraded for several years, do so. The improvements make it worthwhile. However, if you’re not running a small business, there’s no need to get Quicken Home & Business. Quicken Deluxe or Quicken 2002 Suite has all the tools you need. 

If you’ve never used a personal finance program before, Quicken has every thing you need. Just be prepared to spend some time learning to use the program. Don’t try to learn everything at once. Remember, Alamo PC has a Quicken Special Interest Group. If you’re brand new to Windows computing, make sure you know how “Windows Help” works before using Quicken.

System Requirements
100% IBM compatible Pentium 90 minimum, Windows 95/98/2000/Me/XP, Required RAM: 24 MB RAM; Recommended RAM: 32 MB RAM, Free disk space: 70 MB minimum hard disk space; an additional 45MB hard disk space is required for Internet Explorer 5.5 unless Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher is already installed, 2-speed CD-ROM drive or faster required, 4-speed CD-ROM drive or faster recommended to view multimedia, Soundboard and speakers recommended, Monitor: VGA with 256 colors minimum; SVGA 16-bit color recommended, Works with any printer supported by Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, and XP, Modem is required to access online features: 14.4 Kbps or higher baud; 56 Kbps recommended. Internet access is required for all online features, including online banking, online investment tracking, bill payment and Help videos.

Vital Statistics
Main Web site: Click on “Quicken 2002" link for all versions of Quicken. At the bottom of The Quicken Family page is a link to a comparison chart that will help you decide which version of Quicken you need. You can find other information about Quicken .

You can purchase the following programs directly from the Intuit Web site:

  1. Quicken 2002 Deluxe for Windows – CD-ROM for $59.95
  2. Quicken 2002 Suite  – Includes Quicken 2002 Deluxe, TurboTax Deluxe, TurboTax State, and Quicken Lawyer 2002 Personal Deluxe – CD-ROM for $99.95 
  3. Quicken 2002 Home & Business - All the business features you need with the ease you want, plus all the power of Quicken 2002 Deluxe – CD-ROM for $79.95.
  4. Quicken 2002 Home & Business Suite – Includes Quicken 2002 Home & Business, TurboTax Home & Business, TurboTax State, and Quicken Lawyer 2002 Business – CD-ROM for $139.95.
All the above programs include a $20 mail-in rebate for previous Quicken users in software shipment. The rebates are good for purchases made by October 31, 2002. You must send in your request by November 30, 2002.

You can always buy Quicken programs at Best Buy and CompUSA locally. They frequently have specials in their ads. Quicken products are usually presented at Alamo PC General Meetings every year with special user group pricing.
 


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