Prepare for an avalanche of ex Quicken users

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13 Dec, 2022 07:21 PM

Without going into details, I suspect that a large number of Quicken for Windows users are currently (or soon to be) looking for a new personal finance application.

Of the apps I have looked at, Moneydance appears to be more "Quicken like" than the others. I bought MD and am painfully working my way through various sets of instructions on importing Quicken data via QIF. So far, I have not succeeded. The resulting numeric data is painfully mangled even though the account structure comes through fine via the Toolbox extension.

What I am getting at is that some expert should write an extremely detailed step-by-step set of instructions for getting data from Q to MD with the best possible result. It would be worth it for MD staff to do this because ex-Q users will be looking for the path of least resistance and will become paying customers wherever that path happens to be. If they can come to this forum and find instructions that work, I see much future happiness for both Infinite Kind and its new MD users.

If such a guide exists, I apologize for not having found it and would love a pointer to it.

  1. 1 Posted by -Kevin N. on 13 Dec, 2022 10:13 PM

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    Hi RJS,

    Have you looked into any of these Moneydance KB articles on import data?

    -Kevin N. (not a member of MD support)

  2. 2 Posted by RJS on 13 Dec, 2022 11:13 PM

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    Yes, I read them. It doesn't inspire confidence that one of them says "Unfortunately, it appears that some versions of Quicken might have removed the ability to export data in the QIF format." because Quicken still exports QIF.

    Ironically, Q has as much trouble importing QIF as MD does. Both applications are confused by transfers between accounts. So maybe the guide I'm wishing for can't exist because the process is highly likely to fail in any case.

    If not for investment accounts, I could start from scratch with empty accounts and populate them via download, leaving the past in the past. It's those darned security lots which contain the valuable cost basis information. I have actually considered selling all my securities and buying new ones just to get 1 lot of each, but the taxes would kill me.

  3. 3 Posted by dtd on 13 Dec, 2022 11:42 PM

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    just a user - I wrote an EXTREMELY long thread when I moved from Quicken to Moneydance, and wrote about the problems you've encountered in excruciating detail.

    Therefore, I doubt you should read it. That said, I came up with two scenarios: one that "works" and is about as quick and dirty as you can get (nothing in this is quick and dirty), as well as a comprehensive methodology to get everything moved over "correctly" (and that took me almost 120 hours of work over 3 months to get done - although I implemented the first method first, then slowly cleaned up more).

    I'll try to dig up the method, but one of my principles was to get results that were satisfactory somewhat quickly so that people wouldn't give up. As I told MD/IK at the time, they are about at the 5 yard line and about to score a touchdown, but they leave the last five yards to a user who has no clue how to run or pass the ball.

    As you say Q is actually even WORSE than MD in importing Quicken files. But, there are missing pieces for both.

    I'll try to describe the quick/dirty approach soon, I won't even bother with the complicated approach, though I have mentioned it to some.

    But here's a BIG start - that should work for you. If you can export a QIF file (a single one, containing all accounts [reopen them if necessary] and every box picked, then import into Moneydance, then IGNORE ALL BALANCES especially those that contain transfers between investment accounts and regular accounts.

    However NOTE this: all securities should be correct. [Tell me if they are not!] So, the issue at hand, is how to fix the balances. That's another topic, but seeing the transactions all seem right - MD, if what I'm saying is correct, is most of the way there, but the wonky balances make it all seem wrong.

  4. 4 Posted by dtd on 13 Dec, 2022 11:45 PM

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    oh, and this: "Unfortunately, it appears that some versions of Quicken might have removed the ability to export data in the QIF format." - is true. There were some versions of Quicken that removed the ability. Luckily it seems new versions do have it again, and some have it, but hidden. But some versions don't have it.

    So, I don't know why that doesn't "inspire confidence". It is a true statement.

  5. 5 Posted by dtd on 13 Dec, 2022 11:49 PM

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    I'll throw out the cliff's notes on the balances - for each account, look at the final balance. Determine what it should be. Go to Accounts/Edit Accounts for that account and enter WHATEVER value necessary to make the final balance correct. Ignore the man behind the curtain (i.e. the balances of the past) and concentrate on the present once you adjust each account balance (if needed).

    Hopefully, if you can ignore past balances, you can look at the present and say, hmm, TODAY in Moneydance seems pretty decent.

    More later.

  6. 6 Posted by dtd on 13 Dec, 2022 11:57 PM

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    PS - this should have come first, but you've said you've seen the kbs. There are other things to prep - like making sure date formats are correct and other things like that. There is a pretty comprehensive document covering that so you will get the comprehensive QIF imported at the "5 yard line" versus having more initial issues.

  7. 7 Posted by dwg on 14 Dec, 2022 12:01 AM

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    Alas we have seen some editions of Quicken where the QIF export option has been removed, in some of then it has been hidden and if you know the key sequence can temporarily be enabled, more recent versions of Quicken for Windows seem to have it enabled. Quicken for Mac has its own story.

    For Bank and Credit card accounts imports generally work pretty well, depending on the version of Quicken the QIF file may not include opening balances, this is a pretty easy fix.

    These accounts though are fairly simple hence why they general import easily and well.

    Investment Accounts are a pandoras box!

    Differences in the available actions, the way some transactions are handled, even the way institutions present transactions and thus how Quicken handles them all come into play. The underlying design model of Moneydance is the Double Entry Accounting model, Quicken does not follow this model hence some of the things it does directly violates the accounting model, some things Moneydance compensates for, but there are limits and some methods may not be what you desire, other things the software does what it can but it is likely to require manual intervention.

    There are those of us that have been working with Moneydance for years and indeed Quicken, and yet new things keep cropping up. A guide would never be complete.

    It must also be remembered that the QIF format was not designed with the intention of being used for migration it was intended as a support tool, but there is not a better format available and it is debatable if any vendor for support it for output if there was.

    Quicken are also not interested in your migrating so do not expect them to do anything to help, so changing what data can be exported should not be a surprise.

  8. 8 Posted by RJS on 14 Dec, 2022 12:43 AM

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    Thanks for the replies. I've learned from them.

    The thing is, when Quicken finally stops circling the drain and gets flushed, Moneydance will have a large number of potential new users. I personally am a Q expert and MD novice. If I can't migrate without serious pain, neither will thousands of others.

    I'm thinking of tips like this: MD does not support the ShrsIn investment transaction (Add Shares without buying them, e.g., when transferred from another investment account) which is common in Q. So the user has to mass convert these to Buy transactions and offset the buys with the right amount of money, all within Q before exporting to QIF. I'm sure there are other similar tidbits of knowledge that would be nice to have in one tips jar, so to speak.

  9. 9 Posted by RJS on 14 Dec, 2022 12:52 AM

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    oh, and this: "Unfortunately, it appears that some versions of Quicken might have removed the ability to export data in the QIF format." - is true. There were some versions of Quicken that removed the ability. Luckily it seems new versions do have it again, and some have it, but hidden. But some versions don't have it.
    So, I don't know why that doesn't "inspire confidence". It is a true statement.

    Maybe you're referring to Quicken for Mac, about which I know nothing. Quicken for Windows has always had QIF export.

  10. 10 Posted by dtd on 14 Dec, 2022 01:05 AM

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    just a user - and I'm trying to propose a methodology that will get users at least to MD usability with their prior data. Your "tip jar" comment(s) will go right over the head of a very high X% of quicken users who want to move.

    It would help you, yes. So, if you want tons of unrefined tip jar comments, sure go read my Vicissitudes thread here. It certainly can be condensed, as I wrote it as I learned it, but as dwg said, Investment accounts are a Pandora's box. I wish Sean would improve Investment accounts (even within the parameters of MD) by adding more action items, but MD seems content to stay on the five yard line. [I converted almost 3 years ago, and there have been no changes to conversion protocol].

    As to your final comment, the point is that one can make a true/correct statement that someone else will criticize because that "isn't their experience". Bluntly, that's why no one (at least as a user, and for free) will bother to spend the time necessary to write a complete compendium of the issues. There are TONS of written items, and many of us users repeat them almost as a mantra, but I think people forget we do this for no real reason other than we try to help others, and often get bit.

    And as I've already stated, it seems fairly clear that MD/IK is satisfied with the conversion process as it stands.

  11. 11 Posted by RJS on 14 Dec, 2022 05:43 PM

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    as I've already stated, it seems fairly clear that MD/IK is satisfied with the conversion process as it stands.

    But it's such a high barrier to entry that some potential new users will struggle with it and finally give up. I intend to persevere, and if I discover anything significant that makes the process easier, I will share it.

  12. 12 Posted by dwg on 14 Dec, 2022 10:07 PM

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    Switching between financial programs is a high barrier in most cases.

    The importer has been significantly improved and it is better than most to be fair. In the case of Bank and Credit card accounts with imports there is not much to really complain about, what can go wrong no amount of work would resolve the data needed is generally not in the QIF file.

    Investment accounts has been the subject of a lot of debates and suggestions, I've made a few of them.

    You are correct that ShrsIn and ShrsOut not to mention Add and Remove are not in Moneydance, I may have suggested them at one point, on reflection and after considerable thought I do not think I would suggest them now, they have no basis and validity in accounting and given Moneydance's design basis would not fit.

    There are some that do like Return of Capital, the difficulty is that Moneydance has to extend the Accounting model to handle the amounts on a per share/lot basis not just the total as you do in the accounting books with per share data maintained in worksheets.

    So there are some actions types Investment users would welcome seeing, there are some that actually work the some as exiting actions. Ones like Int work exactly the same in Moneydance as Div and MisInc, so if we had some new actions that just aliased existing actions it would be helpful for users.

    Outside of the missing needed actions, and I do not think there are too many of those, the real problems occur with "transactions" that work in the source program but really have no valid basis, so how do you map them, what is the best way to handle those within the confines of the accounting model, Moneydance already does some of this, some could be done better and it could be extended.

    There are users who would happily work with the developer to extend Moneydance, refine its operation to make it work better not only with importing but also with Investment operations.

    Given what we are dealing with it will never be perfect, there will always be problems, we have some creative developers in what they have done, some extremely creative users in what they enter, the limitation of the formats we have and of the models that are used.

    My position is always to make Moneydance the best we can, some of that will be in the software, some will be in documenting how to do things within the boundaries we have.

  13. 13 Posted by dtd on 15 Dec, 2022 12:03 AM

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    @RJS - Your post 11 sounds like you feel as if no one has done what you plan to persevere at. Users here have been dealing with this issue for a very long time and work hard to "solve the issue" - even though it is complex.

    Many have tried to simplify the issue for those who don't totally understand how to fix the issues that aren't right. I mentioned a "starting methodology" that simply shows "this can work", even if a lot of the method is to hide the things that seem wrong.

    My post 66 in the Vicissitudes thread is what I basically proposed in this thread to get you (or anyone) going.

    If I read your post 11 correctly (maybe I'm not reading it correctly), you are now going to figure it out and let us know your findings. May I humbly suggest you look over and read the edifice of information that has been created over many years, and use that as a foundation? I'd think that would be helpful, as you could then add new "tips" by harvesting the information, and then adding new knowledge because you didn't try to reinvent this wheel we've all been pushing for years.

    Definitely check out the Vicissitudes thread which I created, but there are many discussions on this topic that pre and post date that one.

    At minimum, please check out all posts from this one onward, as they are partially directed at you and your efforts.

  14. 14 Posted by dtd on 15 Dec, 2022 12:09 AM

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  15. 15 Posted by RJS on 15 Dec, 2022 12:18 AM

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    May I humbly suggest you look over and read the edifice of information that has been created over many years, and use that as a foundation?

    Of course. I'm not trying to be a wise guy, I'm trying to learn. Humbly. But the fact seems to be that getting Q data into MD requires much effort. IK "could" write an importer that does better than the current one, given that Q's QIF content is known. Absent that, I continue working on my own data migration.

    Thanks for the responses and the pointers you have provided. I will keep to myself unless or until I have a breakthrough.

  16. 16 Posted by dtd on 15 Dec, 2022 12:24 AM

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    Actually, no need to keep to yourself - well, at least in my opinion - obviously I posted quite often in my thread from 3 years ago, and benefited from folks like dwg and derrekkent23 on what they often already knew.

    I currently have 35+ years of data with about 35 accounts, and it's all pristine (hey, you stupid account, I buried you deep, just keep quiet...!) - but as you say, it took some time, and lots of "tip jar" items.

    So, no need for a breakthrough - we'd love to hear one more conversion story, especially from someone who "gets it" in what is missing.

    And given your (correct) assessment that getting Q data into MD - totally cleanly - is indeed a great chore, I'd appreciate it if you tried my quick/dirty method and let me know if it at least makes things look somewhat clean and might convince some less knowledgable users that this does "work", and for some, might even be "done" - even if for folks like me (and it definitely appears - you) it's just a starting point.


  17. 17 Posted by dtd on 15 Dec, 2022 12:30 AM

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    re - IK "could" write an importer that does better than the current one, given that Q's QIF content is known.

    Your messages do sound like deja vu to me. Welcome to the club....

  18. 18 Posted by Randy on 01 Jan, 2023 04:49 PM

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    I found it easiest to start over. I did a transaction report in quicken for each account, then saved to a PDF. I connected to almost all of my accounts via the moneydance+, and "touched up" when necessary.

    So much old junk in categories in quicken that I never used and now I am much more streamlined.

  19. 19 Posted by dtd on 01 Jan, 2023 11:36 PM

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    Glad this worked for you. Fresh start!

    I don't know that I could have given up my 35 years of "financial diary", and yes there are tons of inactive accounts, and abandoned categories, but it makes me happy when I look up things like trips from years ago and such.

    Welcome to Moneydance!

  20. 20 Posted by dwg on 01 Jan, 2023 11:54 PM

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    My accounts are so interlinked that bringing them all in was the best approach. I have far more interactive accounts than active ones but funds have moved between accounts and investments over many years and many investment are still active even though some of the accounts that they were involved in transfers are now long closed.

  21. 21 Posted by Randy on 02 Jan, 2023 02:48 AM

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    Yep..Multiple strategies for what you need and what you want to bring over.
    But it's worth it!

        On Sunday, January 1, 2023 at 05:36:51 PM CST, dtd <[email blocked]> wrote:


  22. 22 Posted by RJS on 02 Jan, 2023 07:32 AM

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    OP here. This process is so daunting. I've tried a few approaches and they're all painful. I could start fresh in MD with banking and credit accounts, but for me the painful part will be preserving investment information.

  23. 23 Posted by dwg on 02 Jan, 2023 07:56 AM

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    Migrating to any other financial program is going to be painful, no vendor is gong to make it easy and some will try to make it as hard as possible.

    My initial move took a couple of weeks to bring in all accounts, with refinements occurring since then, I still do little tweaks to this day. I think my data is now better than in my Quicken days.

  24. 24 Posted by dtd on 03 Jan, 2023 12:35 AM

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    As we've discussed, the process of moving decades of information is painful between any financial program(s), as QIF is inadequate.

    As we've also discussed, MD is better than most, but it isn't perfect, and it could be better.

    I have shown you the thread of how I accomplished my 35 year bit, and also said how long it took. And yes, banking and credit is fairly dirt simple - it's the investment information that takes effort, given the multiple action steps.

  25. System closed this discussion on 04 Apr, 2023 12:40 AM.

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