Migrating from Quicken – A User’s Perspective

Customers often ask us to assist in helping them migrate from one application to another, in this case it was migrating from Intuit Quicken. However these changes have their own challenges: this is one customer’s account of her experience.

After more than twenty years of using Quicken for our household accounts, even after the 2006 issue proved to be the last for European customers,quicken I decided enough was enough and I should make an effort to move into the modern age. I thought I must be one of the last dinosaurs, but since so many current budgeting programs give help for migrating Quicken users, accepting their data as HAZ files, there must be plenty of us still roaming around.

So which to choose? I initially picked Home Accountz v3 — and found myself struggling in a bog of trouble. I had that solid rock of support, Rob, at my back to help me import my old files, but straightaway even he had surprises: for instance, we had to import all accounts, the data files, in one go, regardless of whether we still wanted them or not, nor could we use one as a trial run.

In setting up my imported files, my biggest mistake was to assume the account names (eg “Credit card”) implied a group description into which your individual accounts would fit, so I entered all of them under that title. As a result, my three credit card accounts, for instance, all merged into the one “Credit card” account, and our two ISAs became one “Savings” account, so I had to delete them all and start again, entering them as separate files in their own right. Then I was foxed by the fact that the Balances columns bore no relation to either the imported data or bank statements, in spite of all of them being reconciled in the past. (More of that later…)

Standing Orders were Automated Transactions, operated as Recurring Transactions, which I found best to enter manually as automated, and definitely not to “Enter Now”. But all these were just minor details compared with trying to use the program at all.

For a start, it was not just agonisingly slow, but repeatedly stuttered to a complete halt. It was impossible to know when it was simply thinking very, very, slowly or had given up altogether. I was always having to start again. Was it me, was it my computer? Rob downloaded it and had a go in his lab, and lo, it crashed his computer! At that point, I gave up.

Rob did some searching around for me (bless him) and found Home Accounts 4, from EZPZ software, and — mostly — it’s been bliss. It is simple, perfect for domestic use. It has a massive (117 pages) User Guide, which, being anxious and cautious, I printed out, and it is one of the most comprehensive and helpfully accessible guides of any program I’ve come across. You can also use their forum, or even personally email for help, which their advice-guy, John Beachill, answers impressively quickly.

We were able to import only what we wanted, it was easy to set up accounts, and to work with them. BUT. I’ve met the same old problem of weird balances, which seem calculated utterly anew from the original file, in spite of all the contributing data coming through exactly. Since our accounts date from the beginning of time, the total figures are gigantic. I was so puzzled by the first bank account I examined that I simply turned it into a dormant one, and started again from the current date with an opening balance. Then I realised that some at least of the problem might lie in the fact that transferred transactions (for example, paying into a credit card account from a current account) were omitted. Why? They were all there in the imported data. When importing accounts I had carefully not ticked any entries that had been marked as duplicates — had I got that wrong?

I searched the users’ forum without success, so I asked for help. John replied: “When importing transactions the file contains the transactions for a single bank account. If there are bank to bank transfers involved then these would be added from the first file and should then not need to be duplicated when transactions for the other bank account involved in such transfers are imported. So no, you weren’t wrong to untick the duplicates.”

That didn’t really help, so I repeated that no transfers seemed to have gone through, and got this advice: “I see, so none of the transfers between accounts have been imported. Did our software fail to pick them up or did you not tick them to include them?

“Make a backup in case you need to go back to your current position. Try importing again from the same file. Transactions that have already been imported should come up as matched to reduce the risk of importing them twice. Concentrate on any transfers you spot. Based on the account you are importing the transactions into, think about whether the transfer will be paid in or out for the bank account. You should then be able to select the other bank account, assuming it already exists, from the Category dropdown. You can then just tick those transfers and import them.”

Simple, yes? I offer this to anyone who has the same problem, but at the moment, I can’t face re-importing everything. It may be lazy, but for purely personal, domestic records, it seems to me easier to repeat my first solution, and start the accounts again with a correct opening balance. I won’t have lost any information other than balances (dates, what bought where, memos etc), and that’s my only reason for looking back.

It’s still a mystery to me why both the programs provided weird balances (because presumably other people must be managing all right!) But apart from this, I’m quite happy to battle on with Home Accounts. Wish me luck.

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