Depending on how you want to look at it, Quicken Home & Business is either Intuit’s top of the line personal financial software, or Intuit’s bottom of the line business software. Either way, its potential lies in the small business owner working from home either as a single employee, or with a spouse. Basically, if you are the kind of person who just uses their “regular” checking account as their business checking account too, then this is your product. If you’ve gone through the trouble of setting up separate accounts, you should probably get separate software too.
The benefit of Quicken Home & Business is that it allows you to get an overall view of your financial picture by looking at your personal and business finances as a whole. For example, your net worth calculations would include the positive balance in your business checking account, and your negative balance from your home load in the totals. This works especially well for people who own a business on the side of a full-time job, and keeps you from running a business accounting program for something that maybe doesn’t really bring in enough revenue to bump around your overall taxes.
The biggest plus of Quicken Home & Business is that it can link electronically to your accounts. Tons of banks, credit cards, and other financial institutions play ball with Quicken because of their large market share. That means that in some cases the software can be setup to automatically download all of your transactions in an account. That way, there is no way you’ll forget about the $18 you paid to park for that client meeting last week. When an $18 transaction shows up in the software, you’ll remember and therefore get to claim that deduction.
Other accounts that do not support the automatic method are likely to support a manual download in which you log in to your account and then download a specially formatted file that contains all your transactions. It isn’t quite as streamlined as the automatic method, but it will still make sure that $18 ends up in your records whether you remember to get that receipt out of the glove box or not.
The drawback of Quicken Home & Business is the same as its main benefit, namely that it combines your Home & Business together in an overall picture. For people bringing in limited income with limited expenses on the side, there probably is no harm in thinking of your business checking account as a place to get money to transfer to your personal checking account when there are bills to pay, and transferring money back to your business account from your personal account to pay bills. But, for someone bringing in a substantial amount of income, or as a sole source of income this can start to get dicey. And, if you have investors, or if you are taxed as a corporation, transferring money around like that is right out. (Which transfers count as pay, and which count as dividends or distributions?)
Another annoyance if not an overall con is the Deduction Finder. Most of the time, the deduction finder comes up with non-deductible things and asks to deduct them. On the other hand, it never seems to notice the things that are deductible. The problem lies in the fact that you should know which things are obviously deductible (the $40 at Dave’s Business Supplies that you categorized as Supplies is recognizable as a deduction to blind socialist mice playing with knives.) For items with non-business sounding names and categories, the Deduction Finder will sit quietly by when you just might be missing a deduction after all.
Expect your accountant to sneer if you walk into his office with a data file from Quicken Home & Office. In fact, if you need an accountant to handle your business taxes, then you have outgrown this product.
Overall, Quicken Home & Business is better than not keeping any records at all, but maybe not worth the time and hassle. If your business fits into the size and structure restraints of Quicken Home & Business, you might be better off with a notebook and a pen with an accordion file to hold receipts.
If you do need or want software to help, then you should probably head over to the QuickBooks side of the Intuit empire. After all, Quicken Home & Business has a list price of $99.99. QuickBooks Simple Start has the same $99.99 list price, so you might as well get the product that is designed from the ground up to be your business accounting software.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars for single person on-the-side business; 1/2 out of 5 stars for everyone else.
>» Quicken 2008 Premier - Where Is Your Money?