Considering a switch from SEE Finance to something else

I retired a few years back but still do some contract work. I was using an online service intended for sole traders which did billing, expenses and tax (it pays tax directly to the Australian Tax Office before the remainder comes to you).

I found a little problem with it so spent a few weeks writing my own solution in Filemaker (I have a perpetual licence). It does everything I need and I’ve tailored it so the data input is about 200% faster than the online system. It calculates my tax based on YTD income and I can either make the payment when I’m paid, or wait until the end of the financial year and pay it as a lump sum. I can also generate whatever reports and charts I desire, and it can happily import (and ‘clean’) bank records. I’ve used spreadsheets in the past but the Filemaker solution is so much more elegant.

There’s something very satisfying about using a perfectly personalised solution.

One thing I don’t track is share investments. We have a significant share portfolio but the trading platform I use keeps track of everything; dividends, capital gains, foreign exchange rates, buying/selling, highs and lows etc. It would be fairly easy to add but would require constant updating to be accurate - I prefer using the live platform.

I’m a happy user of Moneydance. They have a very nice free trial. You only need to pay once you have manually entered 100 transactions. Imports don’t count. If you handle most entries via import from financial institutions, you can put the app through its paces before deciding whether it works for you.

So, check the website, and if the app seems to meet your use case, run it in parallel with SEE to evaluate it.

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One other thing that I forgot to mention - Banktivity is updated frequently. I just checked - there have been seven updates since I started using it in late March.

A semi-unrelated question as it’s post-conversion: How has Moneydance been for importing investments from places like Schwab or Vanguard? I’ve dealt with some mergers in recent years and between those and changing software twice, things are a little jumbled. Wondering if it’s worth the subscriptio for a month to try and get things back in order.


I can’t answer how it would deal with Schwab and Vanguard. I know that dealing with any files from my broker (Merrill Lynch) is a disaster. I manually enter the investment transactions from my broker’s activity history weekly.

Handling mergers or divestitures Is always messy. My goal is to get the contemporaneous values (holdings and share prices) correct, even if it messes up the cost basis calculation. Moneydance does have a convenient form for handling splits.

One difficulty is that Moneydance does not have any relationship with market reporting services. There is a user-developed extension for scraping data from Yahoo Finance and the Financial Times, but if you own a large collection of securities (in my case, over 200), you can only reliably get daily data rather than historical data. So, if you worry about your daily position, you must update daily.

I don’t use the Moneydance+ subscription feature. For banking and credit cards, I download the data from those providers in QFX format and then import them. That has not caused me any issues. Moneydance can also upload CSV files, but, of course, you’ll need to define the correspondence between the fields in the files and those in the Moneydance register. If you can download the data from Schwab and Vanguard, you can then upload the information and avoid any need to subscribe. Imports don’t count against the 100 entered transactions allowed before you buy.

Agreed. I manage my finances with Excel spreadsheets, so these are particularly ugly. Fortunately, Merrill (I also use them) has excellent reporting on the web page and on the monthly statements. So when this happens, I wait for the merger to complete, then I just visit the web page and view my detailed position - it will show every block, including the adjusted dates, shares, basis, etc. I then just update my spreadsheet to match what I see. It may take some time, especially if years of dividend reinvestment had produced dozens of blocks of small numbers of shares, but these things don’t usually happen very often, so I’m OK with it.

I use MoneyDance to handle the minimal finances of a small local nonprofit group of science writers. The previous treasurer set up the bank account about 20 years ago and the Moneydance files date back that far. I took over in 2016 and have continued using Moneydance since then. It’s fine for a small that group with a few transactions a month, but I find its capabilities rather minimal. It is being maintained, but it’s not keeping up very well. I used to be able to download bank transactions into the bank account, but I lost that capability after the bank changed its system; now I have to download a PDF statement and enter the transactions by hand. Perhaps I’m missing something.
When I had to upgrade from the old Quicken 2007 in 2020 for my personal and business banking, Moneydance was totally inadequate for my needs, and I went to what is now Quicken Classic. It costs more but it does much more.