Free Budget Software Review: Quicken Online


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The kind folks over at Intuit have recently released a free Online version of Quicken aptly titled Quicken Online.  Really what can you expect out of free online software?  How about trending data, text messages, iPhone apps among other features? From Quicken Marketing Info:

Our interactive charts automatically categorize transactions so you can see the big picture up close and personal. Want even more information? You can also:

  • See how you’re doing month-to-month
  • Quickly access your average expenses for any given category
  • Know instantly whether you’re spending more than you make
  • View income vs. expenses side-by-side
  • Focus on one particular category

Alright enough marketing fluff let’s get under the hood. Let’s get one thing straight before I continue, FiscalGeek is a huge proponent of budgeting and the zero based budget. So this will temper any review of any personal finance software looking at it from the standpoint that we want to manage money not just see where it went.

Setting up Your Quicken Online Account

Quicken Online Signup Setup is incredibly easy merely head to their site enter a few details and your in. Once you are there you’ll find an extensive collection of financial institutions. They had all of mine including my local credit union which is impressive. The interface is dirt simple, for my bank they asked for my login and password at the bank and were able to connect no problem. You can add multiple accounts without any trouble and it will aggregate them in your financial summaries in your left control bar.

The Transaction Registry

Quicken Online Register This is where you’re going to be doing all of your work and mirrors what a traditional check registry looks like.  It’s where you’ll categorize your transactions and enter expenses before they’ve shown up at your bank. On the left hand side you get a summary view of all of your accounts and the main screen shows your current month view.  With a click and a drag you can can change your view to be a range of as many months as you want that’s very slick.  You then can categorize your various expenses which will help you with budgeting.  It does pretty well out of the gate and I’d give it about a 40% accuracy classifying my transactions just on it’s own.  As you enter more and more it will automatically classify expenses based on your patterns.

Quicken Online Money Trends

quicken_trends This is where Quicken Online starts to get interesting.  Assuming you have Adobe Flash installed you’ll get a very cool view of your transactions including a dubious rating of how you are doing living within your means.  The graphing is gorgeous and can show your trends in 1 month, 3 month, 6 Month or custom data ranges. You can also pick whether you want Quicken to report on your spending, income or savings.   There is some serious graphing sexiness going on here.  Below that trend you’ll get a roll-up of the detailed data as well.

Set Budget Goals

quicken_savings_goal In Quicken Online you can set budget targets for each category and see in a polished interface how you are doing for that month.  It’s based off the categories you set in your transaction register and you can adjust what you want the budget goal to be for that month.  It’s a very simple interface and is quit easy to use.  This is as close to a budgeting interface as you’ll get with the free Quicken Online.

Quicken Online Mobile Features

Another interesting aspect of Quicken Mobile is that it will send text alerts to your cell phone a sweet feature if your bank doesn’t already provide that service.  You merely text any of the following commands and you’ll get some banking data. Note that Quicken Online only updates your accounts once each day so your data might be slightly out of date if you are running close.

  • BAL – Get a message for each checking and credit card account. It shows your balance and last 5 transactions.
  • BAL ALL – Get a message for every 5 of your accounts (including savings and investments). It shows only your balances.
  • BAL CHK – Get a message for each checking account. It shows your balance and last 5 transactions.
  • BAL CREDIT – Same as BAL CHK for your credit card accounts.
  • BAL SAVE – Same as BAL CHK for your savings accounts.
  • STOP – Stop getting messages from us

quicken_iphone_expenseIf you want to login directly from your mobile phone with browsing options just point it to and you’ll get an abbreviated interface.   Finally there is also an Iphone App you can download that integrates directly with Quicken Online. The App is Quicken Online Mobile and it gives you some high level capabilities to use your Quicken online but most importantly it allows you to track and categorize your expenses when you are out and about. That way you’re not going to run into trouble with expenses you haven’t reconciled.  You’ll find it of course at out that Apple iPhone App Store, it’s a free app as well.

Who’s it For?

Quicken Online is for anyone looking for a really simple way to track your expenses and do some basic budgeting and trending.  For a free package it’s quite good and can handle the basics.  If you are looking to do more planning and budgeting and really want to develop a Zero Based Budget this is not the software you are looking for.  You’re going to have to spend some money for that level of budgeting and look for future software reviews where we’ll look at some of the paid options.  But if you are looking for an easy way to track your expenses with a myriad of access options this is a good choice.  At the very least give it a try it’s free after all you’ve got nothing else to lose.

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Kosmo @ The Casual Observer 2009/08/28 at 6:18 am

I feel like such a laggard when it comes to Quicken. I’m still using a version that shipped with a computer 7 years ago. I’m to the point where I’m quite comfortable with it, and hate the idea of using something else.

Still, at some point, I’m sure I’ll shift to Quicken Online – the feature set is definitely much better than the version I have. And it’s hard to beat the price.
.-= Kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Welcome to =-.

Niki 2009/09/06 at 3:15 pm

I have been using a free online budgeting site called ( ). Quicken Online looks nice as well but I’m just nervous about sharing my banking information for it to work. With I can create a budget, create custom subcategories, and track my expenses against my budget. There are also nice Adobe Flash graphs, reporting, searching, email alerts, etc. I believe that the premium option supports electronic banking transaction uploads but I like the free version. Just my price. 🙂

Bob Kintigh 2009/09/22 at 2:52 pm

I have used Quicken 2002 since January 2002 for my small business. It does everything I need and a more fancy program would be of no advantage.

When I got a new computer a year ago it had Windows Vista 64 bit on it. My data all transferred and ran fine, however it would not print anything.

If I would purchased and installed Quicken deluxe would : (1) my data all transfer and (2) the results run and print out?

paul 2009/09/22 at 4:29 pm

I’m relatively sure the data would transfer between quicken accounts, I truthfully haven’t used the new version of Quicken Deluxe. Although check back in a few weeks I’m going to do a full software shootout and try them all out. As to your printing issue that matter might be better taken up with Intuit.

Diana 2010/02/18 at 11:29 am

Thanks for this post!

I’ve been using Quicken Online for the past year and it’s “okay.” Sometimes it’s a bit glitchy – meaning doesn’t record my transactions properly. But for the price (free), I can’t complain.

I did hear that Quicken 2010 came out a few months ago, and have been contemplating on using this version over the online version? Does anyone have any suggestions of feedback on which one would be better?

Thank you!

Chris 2012/02/19 at 12:57 pm

Quicken is boasting a “free” trial of the online version… FAIL
I signed up and canceled after a few hours for lack of required features I needed
they charged me 14 bucks anyways and are denying they charged it and are claiming only the bank would charge me for signing up for the free trial. Odd that the charge said it came from Intuit. I only get canned responses back
filed a chargeback with credit card
be leery of their “free” trial

Lori 2012/02/22 at 9:34 am

I used to do my math in Excel spreadsheets, but with the advent of online personal finance management and budgeting tools I just couldn’t help myself from trying some of them. I’d tested different tools before I finally made up my mind. I’ve been using for almost half a year in order to plan and track my monthly budgets and I like it. I just don’t trust all these sites that ask for my banking information and that’s why I looked for a money management software that wouldn’t connect to my bank accounts. I’d rather manually record my expenses or upload them from CSV/OFX files and sleep soundly than worry about my financial data being compromised.

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