Quickbooks vs Quicken 2013 – What’s the Difference?

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QuickBooks 2013 and Quicken 2013 are supposed to make financial decisions and everyday activities easier, but they focus on distinct categories. QuickBooks 2013 is a financial software best suited for companies who need to track and organize everyday activities, while Quicken’s 2013 strength comes from its experience and focus on personal finance management and small home-based businesses.

 

What’s in QuickBooks?

QuickBooks 2012 is designed to help organize and operate a small business. The initial installation is fast and simple and the bulk of your time will go to setting up clients, vendors, and products and services your business provides. If you’re new to the software and have many clients, it might take some time, depending on how much details on clients and vendors you decide to include, but once that is taken care of, QuickBooks 2012 let’s you navigate it quickly and effectively. The product is very automated (you set up direct link to credit card processing, email accounts, bank accounts) and allows you to conduct business virtually paper-free. The main attributes of the software are: automatic billing, business reports, and simple chain of events in a business cycle: creation of an estimate, invoice, payment collection. The same is true when creating purchase orders, receiving a product, and issuing and sending a payment.

What’s in Quicken?

Quicken 2012 goal is to better organize your finances. Whether you’re going through some financial difficulties or not, it is important and helpful to know exactly where your money is coming from and more importantly, where it is going. The software offers different versions depending on your specific objectives. If you simply want to organize your bank accounts, credit cards, and bills in one place, Starter Edition is the product for you. Other offerings from Quicken will help you set goals and manage your debt (Deluxe), manage and grow your investments (Premier), and manage your personal and business finances (Home & Business). Depending on your financial goals, Quicken 2012 will help you better understand your finances, assist setting up goals, plan for retirement, set up bill reminders, organize and optimize your portfolio, and search for tax deductions for your home-based business.

Which one to choose?

What makes QuickBooks so great in today’s economy is that it allows for both online and mobile access. If you decide on QuickBooks Online version, you will be able to access your company information from anywhere, as long as you have access to the Internet. If you’re constantly on the go and visiting clients, mobile access allows for immediate contact with your customers and other important business matters. It also doesn’t limit you to a location as you can set up, sort of a virtual office. Another important consideration is the fact that Online version of the software backs up your data daily, so if your computer malfunctions or you lose your phone, no information is really lost.

What’s similar between QuickBooks and Quicken is the presentation of the financial information. Both programs have options to display numerous business statistics to better understand the current situation. The starting point is a company snapshot (QuickBooks) or a pie chart breaking down spending or asset classes (Quicken). In QuickBooks you are able to see side-by-side comparison of income and expenses, as well as comparison versus previous year or some other reporting period. New in QuickBooks is a trend chart where you can compare your financial condition to that of industry. Once shortcoming of that is that we don’t know how reliable this data is (perhaps the reason for this feature to be in Beta version) and although it might be interesting to get a feeling how other similar companies might be faring, I wouldn’t consider it a reliable tool for comparison.

Two updated features in this version of Quicken that I find quite helpful are Debt Reduction and Budget tool. After you enter all the related information, Quicken plots your debt against time giving you visual understanding of where you currently stand. It then let’s you experiment with different payment amounts and one-time payments to see how would that affect your payment schedule. As you move a slider on the payment amount, you instantly witness a difference in time of becoming debt free. Budget tool creates a spending plan for you based on your spending history and tracks your progress and you can make changes to it if you have to. I believe visual effects have a better effect on people sticking to their budgets and making more informed financial decisions, that’s why I consider this feature so important.

Although Home & Business version of Quicken 2012 is quite rudimentary, I would still recommend it for a small business run from the comfort of your home. The biggest advantage of it is that you can combine it with your personal finance and keep everything under one financial “umbrella.” The neat feature of this version is that it will search for tax deductions for your business and break it up by categories. It will also allow you to export all the information to Turbo Tax if you choose that way of reporting to Uncle Sam.

What I didn’t like much about Quicken are some features in Premier Edition. The one in particular refers to helping you make better buy/sell decisions for your portfolio. Quite frankly it only provides a list of different mutual finds and their Morning Star ratings, potential risk and return. There is nothing personal about it, just a simple and generalized list, which should not dictate you investing decisions.

One last feature I find interesting in both products is the website support. Quicken includes suggestions on how to manage your personal finance and make better decisions. Even if you don’t implement all the suggestions made on the website, at least it’s a great place for money management tips. Similarly, QuickBooks users can look for help at Intuit Community to find articles and tips related to small business, look for local help, or search for live events (watch previous event online) and join groups to help one another.

The Verdict

Choosing between the two products depends on what your needs are. Because they fall into different categories, they don’t compete directly and offer distinct solutions. Both products are quite popular and among the best in their categories. QuickBooks Pro earned a 2012 Silver Award mainly for making everyday accounting and bookkeeping much easier. Quicken also received 2012 Silver Award in its category. The biggest accolades were for the ability to import and support numerous bank files. It came short on the fact that it was missing mobile apps (at the time of writing).