Is Quicken unreliable? How to best reconcile if Online Balance doesn't match Ending Balance?

enikon Member ✭✭
Hi all. This might end up being a long post, but I have a practical question in the last paragraph.

I will start with saying that I love Quicken. I have used it for over 20 years, I use it for everything from family finance tool, to record keeping of items we buy (eg model number of electronics, etc) - so it is a very critical tool in my life.

When it works fine, it is great. I go through all downloaded transactions and reconcile everything periodically.

But unfortunately I often encounter issues that leave me wondering if the program is reliable enough; especially for long time use. Some specific examples:

1. At one point I opened some older paychecks and none of the regular paycheck-style breakdown was there; it basically opened a blank window. The total was there, but none of the categories (salary, taxes, etc). I had to reenter all those from scratch.

2. The other day i had to reenter a bunch of transactions that are split transactions with tags. Each amount in the split has a tag, say i entered as Tag1. In the registry, it looked fine. But in a report, it looked like it had TagA:Tag1. I was unable to get rid of TagA; even if i removed all tags, the report still showed TagA. So i had to redo all of those (these were monthly insurance payments)

3. This happens with some frequency and it really bothers me. I often check that my Ending balance matches the Online balance, and when it does, all is good with the world. But then (maybe every 2-4 months? it varies) it is not the same. And then i know that I have to dedicate a full day to fixing it. I already know this to be an issue, so I download all transactions from my bank websites to Excel for backup (which i really should not need to do if i could count on Quicken). So when this happens, I go back to Excel, and try to find the earliest balance that matches, and work backwards from there. Often there is a missing transaction (which I am not sure how it became missing, it was there before, obviously).

Now I am facing this again, where my Amex balance is off. I went back as far as 2013, and my balance is off even there. How did that happen? I usually filter transactions to last 12 months when i edit/reconcile them, how did a transaction pre-2013 got deleted or changed? So then I started looking by year (first, matching just the number of downloaded transactions - but even that is tricky, because Quicken has slightly different dates than what my excel download has, and so end of Dec/beginning of Jan can throw the count off). So i have to manually look for the transactions a few days before/after the end of the year. As I am doing this yesterday, there is a particular transaction in Quicken listed for 1/1 that I don't see in Excel; then i find it in October. How on earth did a date change in Quicken??

All in all, I am losing confidence overall.

But the practical question is: now that my balances are off, what is the best way to reconcile it? As i said, I use quicken to know how much gets paid from where and to where, so adding a dummy line item with the difference to make the balances match doesn't cut it.


  • splasher
    splasher SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭

    Personally, I have no confidence in the Online Balance provided in the downloads from the financial institution whether they are providing it or the aggregator is coming up with it, especially now that some are including pending transactions.

    I always reconcile to the paper statement, but you can do it more often using the current balance from the FI's website and the current date.

    -splasher using Q continuously since 1996
    - Subscription Quicken - Win11 and QW2013 - Win11
    -Questions? Check out the Quicken Windows FAQ list

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