I’ve written previously about the effect of cloud accounting on our industry and how it is replacing our industry’s jobs of the future, but today I’ll give an overview of how we can use this software from a personal point of view.
So many personal finance blogs sing the praises of Mint and Personal Capital as the only ways to track your personal finances, but for us in the land down under neither of these apps is available. We are therefore left out in the cold somewhat, and I’m not sure that anyone has given a lot of thought to what is really available for us Australians (and probably New Zealanders) in this space.
I have historically used a very old version of MYOB, which was so old school that it relied entirely on manual data entry and had none of the time-saving advantages of modern software. I figured that it was well past its used by date, and took too long to keep things up to date, so I set out to explore what is actually available and understand which of these options is most suitable for me (and presumably the wider personal finance blogosphere downunder).
So what is out there?
When I made my initial enquiries (via Google of course), I was surprised to find that the most common products identified for us Australians were actually those that we use for our accounting clients at work. These are probably the bigger names, including:
- Intiuit Quickbooks Online
- Reckon One
- MYOB Essentials
Now I have experience with all of the above packages from working with clients at work, so I had some sort of feel for what they can do, but to be honest, one of the biggest deciding factors in which one of these to choose has simply been price. Because all of these packages are reasonably powerful in terms of their accounting capabilities, I knew that all of them would be able to get the job done, but could they get it done in an affordable way?
The following table summarises the pricing of these packages:
Given the above selection options, it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I chose Quickbooks Online. Admittedly its pricing reverts to $1 more per month after a year than I would otherwise pay with Reckon One, but Reckon’s product was completely rewritten earlier this year and hasn’t really been put to the test by much of the market. The limits on bank transactions are also a big negative in my view.
I have actually found Quickbooks Online to be very simple to use, and it’s been a great upgrade from my old manual version of MYOB. Admittedly I also find Xero and MYOB Essentials to be easy to use as well, but probably not quite as easy as Quickbooks Online, which is another reason why it’s my preferred product out of this group.
Here is a snapshot of the features of Quickbooks Online “Simple Start” version:
- Allows you to track your income, expenses and profits;
- Send unlimited quotes and invoices on the go (not that I’m in business, but my wife sometimes sends out some invoices for some consulting work that she does);
- Download transactions from your bank and credit cards automatically, and there is no limit (that I could find) on how many accounts you can link up;
- Access your data online from a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone (Android and Apple)
- Complete your Business Activity Statement (Australian tax reporting)
- Free payroll for up to 10 employees (we don’t need this, but if you’re in business it’s another reason why this package is great value).
- Intuitive rule making system that allows the software to suggest where transactions should be allocated. This makes data entry incredibly simple and quick.
- Ability to attach images of invoices and receipts to transactions so that you’ll always have the detail available. Whenever I get a receipt from a place that supplies a lot of different things (like a department store), I take a photo of the receipt, and then I can just attach it when the transaction appears in Quickbooks the next day.
I tend to log into Quickbooks Online every couple of days to allocate any transactions that have occurred in that time, and it really does make the process so simple. I can access it anywhere at any time, so it’s even something productive that I can do if I’ve got time to kill.
As well as the above products that are capable of general accounting work, my search also showed up some other options that seem to be meant more for personal use, these being:
- PocketBook; and
- ANZ Money Manager.
Because I had already settled on Quickbooks Online I haven’t actually used any of the above apps, but the reviews that I have read would indicate that all three are quite good apps. Pricing for these apps is summarised below:
Have you used any of these packages before?
At some stage I wouldn’t mind checking out the free ones just so I know what they’re like, and if they work well then it might even be worth switching over, if only to save the $12/month that I’m currently paying for Quickbooks Online.
I’m curious to know if anyone else has actually used these packages before though – if this is you and you have any feedback on them (good or bad) can you please let us know?