Here’s a scenario a lot of us have faced. You’re about to make a major purchase and you want to pay with your debit or credit card, but you have to ask yourdself: “Is there enough cash in my checking account to cover it; and how much room is on my credit card?”
If your financial institutions offer mobile access you could log into each account separately. If they don’t, you’ll simply have to guess.
But with Intuit’s just-released Quicken 13, you won’t have to guess or access multiple accounts. The latest version of the personal finance manager has added support for smartphones and tablets running iOS or Android, including the Kindle Fire.
To take advantage of this capability, you’ll need to create an account with Intuit that places your Quicken information in the company’s cloud, where it is encrypted, and download the free app from the appropriate app store.
When you log into your account, you’ll see an opening screen that gives you a quick summary of your finances. As you’d expect, the screen you see when you log in with a tablet has a lot more information than the much smaller smartphone screen. The larger screen gives you a look at budgets you’ve set up in the Quicken desktop program.
If you want to go to a pricey restaurant, for example, and you’re one of those lucky people who can actually stick to a budget, you can see how much you’ve allocated to dining out (or whatever you want to call it) and how much you’ve already spent.
Once you’ve made a purchase, you can add it to your Quicken account and tag it any way you want. If, for example, you run a small business and buy something for it, you can easily tag the expense as something you can deduct. That’s especially handy if you use Intuit’s tax preparation program, TurboTax, which can pull data out of Quicken.
Another nice feature lets you look at pending charges on your accounts and see exactly who you owe the money to. If you’re using Quicken mobile on your tablet, you will also see a little map showing exactly where that merchant is located.
In addition, Quicken will now send you SMS and email alerts about unusual spending, low balances, upcoming bills, and other matters that are important but easy to overlook or forget.
My experience with Quicken 13 was limited to a demonstration of the program’s mobile features, so I can’t say first hand how easy it is to actually use. But it does appear to be a worthwhile enhancement to a program that many people have used for years.
Quicken 13, which is Windows only, goes on sale October 3. Pricing ranges from $40 for the Starter Edition, and $70 for Quicken Deluxe, through pricier versions designed for a small business or someone managing rental property. All versions of Quicken 13 are compatible with the mobile apps.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.